One of My Fav’s – LISBON, Portugal
As most of you know by reading my blog posts, I really enjoy visiting Portugal. It’s such a beautiful country, the salt cod and custard tarts make the local culinary experience a unique one and the locals are so friendly.
I’ve been to Lisbon enough times that I know my way around quite well. I therefore encouraged my passengers to book a tour that offered free time in 3 parts of the city and I would look after showing them around.
Luckily, the school children are out for holidays so many families have left the city. The streets were therefore easy to navigate and our coach driver experienced no hold-ups.
I took my passengers to the cafe where the famous Portuguese custard tart was created. They serve thousands of them every day – their record is 56,000 in one day and they average over 40,000 a day. This is the first time that I’ve been to this cafe which holds 400 where there hasn’t been a long line of people waiting to get in. We enjoyed excellent service. Our young waiter had an excellent personality. I ordered everyone 2 tarts and a beverage of their choice. The tarts arrive warm and melted in our mouths. Our waiter claims that only 3 people currently know the secret recipe for these tarts. The same family has been operating this business for 5 generations. You can purchased custard tarts all over Portugal but the original secret recipe is for some reason a cut above all the others I have tried – let me tell you I have tried MANY versions.
I also provided another treat later during the tour. While downtown I took everyone to a tiny shop on a busy street corner that only serves homemade cherry brandy. It’s stored in large wooden casks and is poured into glass shot glasses. It costs a bit more if you want some of the marinated cherry’s included but they are a must. I don’t think this shop attracts thousands a day like the custard tart bakery but it certainly gets huge crowds. I haven’t experienced anything like it anywhere else in the World. Another unique Lisbon offering that warmed our tummies!
I did not bring the tour coach back to the ship as I wanted to spend more time in downtown Lisbon. I’ve been enough times that I know which shops I like to visit. The shops were busy with just a few days before Christmas but certainly not unmanageable.
Meeting a few locals was definitely a highlight of the day. I purchased some street art from a young, trendy looking artist. He spent a long time chatting with me – he is truly passionate about his modern art. I also purchased some jewelry from a middle age couple. I never thought I’d get away from them but I truly enjoyed our conversation. They were so excited to hear that I was from Canada and I was buying some of their creations. Their English was often difficult to understand but we managed fine.
When in Lisbon I always stop at the same stand to purchase a couple FADO music CD’s. FADO is the local music and I am a big fan. I can always trust the shop keepers recommendations.
It’s a must that I visit the Salsa jeans shop – this is a chain store. The young salesperson told me that she is saving so she can visit her relatives in Toronto.
I was a back on board the Queen Elizabeth in enough time to enjoy the Afternoon Tea. Most of my group was also in the Queens Room for this wonderful tradition. One of the two piano players that I have got to know on board provided the entertainment. He plays by ear and in honor of the season was playing Christmas medleys like the Nutcracker Suite.
My date for dinner last night was Gloria. She has traveled with me more than anyone else, traveling on this departure so I wanted to treat her. We tried the, “Smokehouse” – an American Steakhouse experience. The menu was appealing – food was scrumptious – a relaxing evening filled with wonderful conversation.
Afterwards I decided to invite everyone to the Smokehouse as a, “Travel With Bradley” surprise on the last night of the cruise. Gloria agreed that everyone will enjoy it.
Last nights entertainment in the showroom featured 2 brothers (23 and 24 years old) from Scotland. They were so polite on stage and what an accent they had. They played a few instruments and sang everything from the Everly Brothers to Celtic Hits. Once again there wasn’t a single seat available in the showroom. When talking with my passengers this morning everyone really enjoyed their show – possibly a future Walters Theatre act?
Today the seas are smooth, the skies blue – we are very fortunate. On my morning walk I noticed a few people already in the pool.
We are all going to gather for lunch again today in the Britannia Dining Room.
Tonight is the final Formal Night followed by a Christmas Production Show in the Main Theatre. Four of my passengers have blocked one of the box seats for tonight’s festive occasion and are so excited. They have reserved Box #15. I told them to practice their royal waves.
A few have said they are going to start packing today and I want to do the same.
I’ve arranged our disembarkation and have all our tags to distribute at todays lunch.
Sadly this cruise is quickly coming to an end. The final couple days will fly by. It’s been a wonderful experience cruising with Cunard but Christmas is around the corner so we are all anxious to get home for the holidays.