Trollies, Tarts, and Tiles are My Three Favorite Things in Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon-Belem tower
Belem Tower

Forget the whiskers on kittens and packages tied up with string my three favorite things are trollies, tiles and tarts; in Lisbon, Portugal, of course. Warm weather, fresh seafood, old buildings and churches what’s not to love. Portugal is fast becoming a great place to retire and has moved to the top of our list, at least for now. This was after just one visit.

Lisbon-buildings
Lisbon

Several years ago we traveled to Lisbon, Portugal. It was extremely brief but in a few short hours we  fell in love with the city. It could have been all the  pastries we consumed or the coffee. We were definitley ready for a andventure.  We wandered the old tiled streets, rode the famous trollies and of course we ate the most famous egg custards tarts in the world.

Even in late September is was hot, at least to me anything over 70 degrees F is hot. Lisbon is  also hilly. Hills and heat and I’m looking for the easiest way to get around and beat both. The best way to get around cheaply is Lisbon’s trolly. Up and down the crowed and very narrow streets. During the hot summer months you can find them, packed with hot and sweaty tourists and your every day locals. This is one of Lisbon’s best touristy things to go. It’s always fun to explore the city using the transportantion system. We’ve mastered the Athen’s subway, London’s Underground and Paris’s metro with out assistance. A good map Is all you need and away you go.

Lisbon-trolly with monkey
“Monkey” Trolly
Lisbon-trolly-yellow
Yellow Trolly
Lisbon-trolly-tram tour
Green Trolly

What ever mode of transportation you choose, take the time to wander the city and the side streets and stairwells. The facacdes all around are adorned with tile work. Which is my number two of favorite in Lisbon.  Mosaics are around every corner and you certainly don’t see repeated patterns of tile work. The history and rise and fall of the tiles can be found all over the city.  These tiles served several purposes, they kept the damp ou in the winter  and has a cooling effect in the hot summer. Once everyone started to cover their facades with tile it quickly grew out of favor with the elites and began to fade into obscurity until the 1950’s and the building of the metro. If you have the time and want to get the full history of the tiles you can visit the Tile Museum of Lisbon.

Lisbon-tiles-facade

Lisbon-tiles-multi colored

Lisbon-tiles-green and blue

Lisbon-tiles-blue and yellow

Lisbon-tiles-city scene

Lisbon-Pateis de Belem-tiles

Lisbon-tiles- green

Lisbon-tiles-stairwell

I have saved the best for last and my number one favorite thing about Lisbon. Is its food, why yes! I’m all about discovering the food of a city. You can take the metro, cab or if you need to walk you can. But the lines are long and nobody wants to wait too long for pastries. At least not me. We took a cab from down town, our driver was awesome, she gave us tips and tried to teach us a few words in Portguese! Still can’t speak a foriegn language well even after over a year on Doulingo!

Lisbon-pastel de nata

The pastéis de nata were created before the 18th century by Catholic monks at the Hieronymites Monastery or in Portuguese: Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. At the time, convents and monasteries used large quantities of egg-whites for starching clothes, such as friars and nuns’ religious habits. It was quite common for monasteries and convents to use the leftover egg yolks to make cakes and pastries. I am so glad they did and the resuls were a proliferation of sweet pastry recipes throughout the country. Thank you monks! The monks started selling the pastries in the aftermath of the Liberal Revoluntion in 1820. In 1834 the monastary closed and the new owners opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, it is still owned by the same family. We grabed a seat and ordered a couple and a cup of coffee. Then we ordered another round and then an other. Too much coffee and pastries. We purchased several to go boxes. Never let a good thing go.

 

Lisbon-pastel de nata pastries

Lisbon-Pasteis de Belem bakery
Pasteis de Belem bakery, Lisbon

It took me two and half years to find a recipe that I felt comfortable I could replicate in my kitchen. And with a help of a video and then recipe from Food Wishes and Chef John,  was able to recreate the crunchy shell and creamy eggy custard filling. Not bad for my first attempt.

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My version of pastel de nata
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My first attempt at Lisbon’s most popular dish, pastel de nata

 

Once Covid is gone and it is safe to travel I am not sure where my food adventures will take me. It maybe from memories for now and I hope you will join me.

 

 

 

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