Lisbon (Santa Maria de Belém)
Up early and out the door to explore the Lisbon parish of Santa Maria de Belém (better known simply as Belém) - a 20 minute bus ride from our Lisbon residence. Our first stop? The Jerónimos Monastery, which, in my opinion, is better viewed from outside (partly due to the hoards of people who visit the monument).
Eager to get away from the crowds, we spotted a small and free(!) archaeological museum next to the Monastery and decided to take a gander. The premises was almost deserted, but was full of interesting artefacts - a definite winner for a history wonk like me!
We then set off to the Belém Tower, but instead found ourselves at the nearby Padrão dos Descobrimentos (better known as the Monument to the Discoveries) - a similar, but far more modern structure that provided a great vantage point for some photos of the area.
Sightseeing complete, it was time for the day's main event: Pastéis de Belém. In Melbourne, Portuguese egg tarts are one of my favourite indulgences. As such, I was especially eager to try the "real deal". The store was bursting at the seams with likeminded folk, determined to try the illustrious treat and, as hard as we tried, it was impossible to secure a table. Ever resourceful, we headed next door to a Starbucks store (I know: eww!), grabbed a "coffee" and devoured our pastries away from the watchful eyes of the staff (not that I think they would have cared). The pastry was flaky, delicious and still warm and the custard boasted a great consistency (though strangely, I thought it could have done with a little bit more "egginess", not unlike Chinese egg tarts).
Numerous tarts consumed, my beloved and I split from our travel companions and headed back into the centre of Lisbon for some further exploration. We stumbled upon a delightful arts and craft market (I'll say it again, I was blown away by some of the local artistic talent in Portugal), a free design exhibition and then ate a light lunch, while listening to some truly, truly hideous busking.
In case we hadn't eaten enough for the day(!), we picked up a dessert for afternoon tea that really piqued our attention while walking past the shopfront. This was one of the most simple and delicious desserts I've eaten - an entire apple (core replaced with cinnamon stick) wrapped in pastry and baked until tender. So simple, in fact, that I think my beloved may even be able to replicate the treat (this'll test if he's reading!).
Reunited with our travel companions, we took an evening walk around the local area and were pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a local, outdoor jazz festival. As only drinks were being served, we headed to the nearest, quickest, easiest dinner eatery - Pizza Hut. I know, I know - bad, bad food blogger - Pizza Hut and Starbucks in one day - please forgive me! I have to say that the quality of my pizza was infinitely better than what the company serves Australians. Additionally, the chain is licensed in Portugal...and beer makes everything taste better!