Today we go to Belem. In this part of town are the only two historic buildings that survived the 1755 earthquake. The earthquake hit at All Saints to when almost everyone in the church Sat It caused a tidal wave hundreds of fires and then collapsed buildings full of burning candles. At least 40,000 people died. This is a very traumatic experience for the Portuguese and remains to this day still felt.
The history of Portugal has bad times, like the earthquake, but also good times. The Tower of Belém and the Monastery are inspired by the exploration and financed from the resources that Portugal and Lisbon were great. This is reflected in the manufacturing line masterpiece, the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. The monastery was built in Manueline style and is a Portuguese version of late Gothic architecture, inspired by the discoveries at the time of Dom Manuel I. Characteristic of the Manueline style is the use of elements from the sea. Windows and doors are richly decorated with stone sculptures of knotted ropes, anchors, globes, exotic flora and fauna and other maritime figures. Two symbols that you always encounter in Manueline architecture are the emblem of Dom Manuel and the Cross of the Order of Christ.
Rolling into the church
I am very impressed with this beautiful monastery with all its details. There are ramps everywhere laid out, so I can admire the interior. We look in our eyes. The sun illuminated the courtyard. It is to be silent. It’s Sunday and there’s a mass going on.
In exceptional cases we may the church. Although we understand nothing, it makes it impressive. Quietly listen to the Mass and look at the walls, ceiling paintings and all the tombs of Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões. The chapel at the beginning of the church is all gold with a central image of a suffering Jesus. Silent Mouse and see how we leave a lot of people waiting to be allowed to visit the church after mass.
Tower and cakes
The Tower of Belem Unfortunately we can only look from outside. The tower stands on the waterfront and was built between 1515 and 1520 access to the port of Lisbon to be monitored. This is also a work of art manufacturing line.
To relax after we go to the Tart Confeitaria de Belem Belem to taste the famous Pasteis. These crispy pastries filled with custard and eat wherever you are in a centuries old recipes. Monks at the monastery invented the recipe and centuries later they sold it to a family. There are only three people who know the recipe and they work behind closed doors. Per week, more than 200,000 sold Pastel. We get some pastéis served. Self-spreading icing sugar and cinnamon, we still have. The taste is delicious. Before we go any further, I have to go to the custom bathroom.
We leave the old times and dive into the modern era in the Berardo Museum. Always surprises me about modern art. Some paintings and objects I find so ugly, but there are also very surprising and wonderful to work with. Everything here is debatable.
In the evening we dine extensively in Lapa Palace, a former palace, now a hotel. This hotel is very famous among the royals and rock stars like Mick Jagger, Sting and Paul McCartney.
The next morning, we visited downtown Lisbon, Baixa. This part of town was completely rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755. We arrive at Praça do Comércio, the symbolic gateway to the city. Here are driving really old trams. Unfortunately we do not fit.
We walk under the triumphal arch and out on the Rua Augusta. “Look out Monique”, Tinus calls. Just in time I see the hole in the asphalt. The transition from the sidewalk to the street is not really wheelchair friendly. Once we are on the street, we no sidewalks anymore. This is a car free zone, so here you can shop at your leisure, shopping and shopping again.
Via a scenic route along the coast we drive half an hour to Cascais. Cascais, traditionally a fishing village, is a growing resort. In the Grande Real Villa Itália Hotel & Spa to get a great facial. We then continue our tour towards the restaurant.
Suddenly we hear a bang in the car. The wheelchair has a flat tire. Luckily I brought a spare tire. We drive to the nearest gas station where Tinus and Luis, our second guide Accessible Portugal, my tire replaced. Little later than planned, we now have well adapted to the Portuguese, we arrive at the restaurant. We again enjoy a delicious menu and then go to sleep.
So is there a beach wheelchair
We get up early and go to the westernmost point of mainland Europe, Cabo da Roca. From here you have a wonderful view over the beautiful cliffs and wild seas.
We drive to the beach access, beach Adraga. I believe this is one of the most beautiful and relaxing places we have visited during our trip. The wooden hill we come to the beach and yes, there he is: the beach wheelchair. Unfortunately it is not warm enough to swim in the sea. Still, I go sit in the chair closer to the sea and under the rocks to.
Tinus hard doing his best to pull me through the sand. He likes to tease me and pull very quickly, so the chair rears. “Do not, I will soon lie in the sand,” I say smiling. The seat is quite comfortable and it is wonderful to be on the beach. At the beach is a small restaurant where we enjoy fresh fish. Soon into the custom bathroom and back into the car.
In the afternoon we go to Sintra. It used to be the summer residence of the kings of Portugal. It is still a place where people come to the bustle of the city to escape, with whitewashed houses and fairytale palaces green hills between the pines. Again, the steep streets, but very beautiful.
In the center we visit the Museu do Brinquedo, the Toy Museum. In the former fire station to see the collection of João Moreira Arbues. He has been collecting toys fifty years. Since I can not lift the curve to make, I get into my old ‘barrel. We are guided by the collector himself and his wife. We are surprised about the quantity and diversity.
We drive back to Cascais, where our hotel was. Here we prepare for an evening of casino in Estoril. These two resorts are linked by a promenade and form the heart of the Lisbon Coast. This makes Lisbon region so interesting. You can combine a city break with a great sun holiday. You are culturally Lisbon within one hour on the beach at Cascais and Estoril.
• In nearly every city, find disabled parking spaces. Only almost everywhere there is already a Portuguese car parked without disabled parking badge.
• In Lisbon, a large proportion of public transport should be accessible for a normal wheelchair. Theoretically, you can take the bus from Lisbon Airport to the center and you would also be able to get the tourist attractions. In practical terms it is a challenge, because one in three buses accessible. The stations and trains to major cities are accessible.
• Almost all toilets are low in Portugal, so bring your own toilet seat with it.
• Assistance dogs are welcome in Portugal. Everywhere I’m informed, restaurants, hotels, museums and beaches, they say, “No dogs are allowed, but dogs, which help someone, of course.”
• In some places you can so easily at the tap. Wet disposable washcloths have me at all times, clean and fresh feeling.
• Considering the many steep cobbled streets is tough, in Portugal, with a manual wheelchair to ride. Do you have a (docking) or make your hand bike (also) use an electric wheelchair, take it above them.
• Can you use public transportation, it is very advantageous to buy Lisboacard. It is free to travel, and have access to many museums.