Sundays said to be the day of rest, but not when you are on vacation. After our late night, we did sleep in, but after breakfast, we were off to Museu Nacional do Azulejo-- the National Tile Museum. Evelyn had her eye on this little gem from the outset. She is a huge fan of handicrafts, but the tiles in this museum were pure art.
The museum is located in an old church and monastery, with the cathedral still in its pre-museum state. The museum devotes its three floors to the history of tiles in Portugal. It should serve as a lesson to Donald Trump. "Azulejo" is the Arabic word for tile. It was the Moors who introduced painted tiles to the Iberian Peninsula, but the Catholics, who eventually threw the Moors out, were quick to recognize the beauty that the Moors created through their artisanship.
After quick snack in the museum's restaurant, wWe decided to head back to Belém so that we could visit the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, which is housed in old power plant that has been beautifully restored--maybe too restored. Rust is not necessarily a bad thing. Just ask any Urbex photographer. The museum has a number of interesting exhibits on lighting and technology, which include several engaging videos. We enjoyed our self-guided tour through the power plant, taking in all the furnaces and other equipment used to generate electricity. The museum also has temporary art exhibits. i was particularly intrigued with one video that used Teletubby-like pink and blue characters in a mock advertisement that attacked consumerism. It ended with one of the characters beating the consumer who had been featured throughout the video to death.
We then walked along the Tagus River, taking in views of the 25 de Abril Bridge, the first and only bridge crossing the Tagus River, which is an extremely wide river--it has the appearance of a lake, particularly with the sail boats tacking with their sails billowing in the wind.
I had been admiring the bridge for three days. It is a virtual replica of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, which is not an accident. It was built by the American Bridge Company, the same company that built the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge was initially designated the Salazar Bridge, but in 1974 was renamed to commemorate the Carnation Revolution, the military coup that overthrew the dictatorship and that eventually lead to democratic Portugal--not a shot was fired, hence the name. I also had the opportunity to take a closer look at the Cristo Rei statute that serves as a beacon located on the Almada side of the river. It is not a coincidence that it is similar in appearance to Rio's famed Christo Redentor statue
As we walked back toward central Lisbon, we reached our next destination, the LX Factory, which is a series of shops and restaurants in an abandoned factory that caters to hipsters. The highlight was the Ler Devagar bookstore.
After hanging out for about an hour and half, we took a tram back to the Mercado da Ribeira, which is a marketplace that Timeout purchased and converted into a food hall with lots of restaurants and food shops. Not so unique, but nicely executed. We took a pass on dinner because we were headed back to the Bairro Alto to Adeba Machado for dinner and our first Fado experience.
We have always avoided places like Adeba Machado. It is nicely furnished and the food was more than acceptable, but at the end of the day, it is a tourist trap, just like Flamenco bars are in Spain, the belly dancing rooms in Istanbul, and the Hofbräuhaus in Munich. We admittedly enjoyed the performance--3 to 4 songs at a time, with three sets, but it was not worth 235 Euro. Although the restaurant was remodeled in 2012, it has a lengthy history and played a key role in the development of Portuguese Fado, but the authenticity that might come with being one of the original Fado bars is long gone. Only tourists were present.
After the performance, we took a slow walk back to the hotel, and called it a day.
Copyright 2016, Jack B. Siegel. All Rights Reserved