The first thing we did when we got to Lisbon was check into our hotel and decide that eating was our number one priority. We headed straight to Pasteis de Belem.
The Pasteis de Belem has been around as The official Portuguese pastry spot since 1837, making us feel very lucky to be able to visit, while simultaneously making me feel very, very young. I love eateries with a bit of history and a good story; Pasteis de Belem has got that plus the pastries to back it up. What I love most about it all is that they are still using the same recipe to make the house specialty, pastels de Belem, as they started out with in the nineteenth century. I just imagine Pasteis de Belem in human form as the cutest old man tucked away in the hot kitchen wearing all white and making each pastry with his secret recipe out of love, passion, and tradition. Smiling as each one of them comes out of the oven perfect. That’s precisely when you order another round of these soft, warm little guys.
For a mere 1.05 Portuguese dollars you can get one pastel de belem. So you could (should) eat four of them and it would still cost less than that large coffee you probably have in your hand right now! And how amazing would one of these taste along side said coffee, you’ll have to fly to Portugal and find out.
Pasteis de Belem does offer more than just pastries of course, but I would say forgo those delicious toasties and maybe order a round of Bacalao croquetas in addition of the four rounds of pasteles de belem and see how you go. I learned the hard way, but this is no place to order a meal you could easily get across the street at McDonalds or make at home. This is the type of place to go crazy, and try everything you’ve never had, and never heard off, and probably will never understand; the cute old man working away in the kitchen would have wanted it that way!
AND JUST ABOUT 10 MINUTES WALKING FROM PASTEIS DE BELEM IS…
…Padrão dos Descobrimentos! We didn’t really know what the monument was when we first set eyes on it, we were just gravitating towards the water. My mom didn’t even want to cross the underground pass way to see it up close but once I set my eyes on it I had to meet it up close and in person. Padrão dos Descobrimentos is a monument on the northern bank on the Tagus River made in 1939 in honor of the Portuguese explorations! A total of 33 statues of famous explorers and travelers are featured on the eastern and western sides of the monument. I wish we had had enough time to learn about each and everyone of them but instead we worked off our pasteles the belem by climbing to the top of the monument to get breathtaking views of Lisbon. Uh, actually we definitely took the elevator.