Friday, August 30, 2013

3 Miles, 2 Convents, 1 Day

When we plan out our day, we have intentions of only being out a couple of hours.  I guess we should know by now that with variables of children and public transportation it is always going to be longer than a couple of hours.

On Thursday (Aug 29th), our goal was to visit the Carmo Convent and the Convent of Madre de Deus (which is now the National Tile Museum).  With temperatures in the 90's and no clouds in the sky, we walked and walked and walked some more.  In looking at Google Maps I see that we only walked around 3 miles, but I promise it seemed like 50!  I am going to blame it on the heat and the hills and not the fact that an exercise routine has not been apart of my present in quite some time now.
View from Santa Justa Lift which was right next to the Carmo Convent.
I was surprised when we made it to the Carmo Convent as we had stood outside of it's walls our first day in Lisbon and I was completely unaware.  The Carmo Convent was built between 1389 - 1423.  It was ruined by the 1755 Earthquake, and is the main trace of the great earthquake still visible in the city today.  The kids had a fun time playing and dancing and acting like crazies.  At one point an elderly lady stopped to talk to me, and at first I was mortified that she would be getting on to me about my children.  Instead she remarked about how beautiful they were in her broken English.  It was very nice.
Playing follow the leader around the grounds while climbing in and around as much as possible.
Playing tag, peek-a-boo, and red-light-green-light.
Amelie loved looking in any crevice and hole.
Liam wanted to touch and point out what he knew.
Here he is saying, "castle" as he pointed out this crest. 

Even Bobby joined the fun by "falling" in a well.
The square outside of the convent is one of Bobby's favorite in the city.  We stopped and enjoyed the live music followed by the antics of skateboarders.  Amelie and Liam had a moment of stardom while they were dancing to some accordion music.  I wonder how many pictures of my children are floating around the world right now.

We were able to walk through a less touristy part of Lisbon to the Convent of Madre de Deus.  There were definitely points in this walk where Bobby wanted to leave me behind because I was whining in my own way.

This is Bobby's theme for me for the day. ;)
Trying to turn over a new leaf of eating fruit instead ice-cream.
Liam almost demolished the entire thing...seeds, stem, and all!
Don't worry, I stopped him just in time!
However, we made it and I'm glad we made the trek.  We knew getting to the Tile Museum would be challenging as there is no Metro or Train stops nearby.  On one website that gives information about the museum it says, "a rather secluded venue which can only be reached by taxi."  They obviously don't know the Walkers!  When we arrived all hot and bothered, the ticketing staff laughed and was amazed at our efforts.  He pointed us to the nearest bus stop that would take us back into Lisbon to our train station.  I don't think I could have made it home without his help. ;)
The National Tile Museum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo) is housed in this beautifully built convent which dates back to the 18th century (again had to be rebuilt due to the Earthquake of 1755).   We were able to learn about the different methods the Portuguese have developed in painting on ceramic tiles.   We were able to see works that dated back to the 15th century.  My favorite was a work consisting of some 1,300 tiles and measuring 53 meters in length. The work renders the city of Lisbon as it used to look like before the 1755 earthquake, dating back to 1738.  As Bobby and I were admiring this work, we allowed our children to run around since it was an enclosed room with no other visitors.  At one point an Italian tourist joined us and laughed at the energy of our children.  She asked where we were from and we told her.  She then asked where we were originally from, like our roots.  Both of us don't really know.  She was dismayed at our answer and shocked.  It was the first time I have ever felt bad about not knowing the distant line of my heritage.  In our travels, we have definitely seen the deep roots that are entrenched in the places that we have visited.  After she left, Bobby and I laughed that we totally did not expect to have that conversation!
Amelie and Liam watching the work of cleaning old tiles.  There were bins and bins of tiles to be cleaned. 
Bobby teaching Amelie about the process of making the tiles.
Amelie and Liam like to play with cars.  They usually come out during our train rides or while waiting in line, but today they came out a lot while we were walking around.
In a vestibule, Amelie and Liam ran around the metal obstacles.
We allowed them to run off some energy since they rode for awhile in the stroller. 
Inside the chapel.  The paintings were floor to ceiling.  There was also tile artwork in various places.
A very ornate chapel.
Amelie and Liam sitting for one second in front of the panoramic view of pre-1755 Lisbon.

As we are walking around the city, I have been taking pictures of the tiles that are on the buildings.  
This is one of my favorite designs while at the museum.
 Can you tell which of the tiles below is the original artwork and which is an imposter?

This is the real one if you couldn't tell!
We ended the tour of the grounds in the garden.  We found turtles in the fountain.  Bobby picked up a small turtle that was swimming and both kids were in awe.  

We rode the bus as described above to the train station.  We made it home in one piece to work through the evening.  Busy day, but a good day.

Zoo Time

What kid doesn't love visiting the zoo?  As we drag our children around the world with us, we have decided that the least we can do is take them to the zoo in each city.  On Monday (Aug 26th), we decided it was the perfect day to head to the Lisbon Zoo.  The Lisbon Zoo was founded in 1884 with it's mission including the conservation and breeding of endangered species, scientific research, and educational activities.  I think they are doing an excellent job holding to their mission.  We were able to see a lot of information regarding Extinction is Forever.  I was impressed that Amelie came home talking about this providing great examples as she went.

In addition, they held different educational activities throughout the day that we were able to witness.  Sea Lion feeding, Dolphin Show, Enchanted Forest, and more kept us busy through the day. Understanding Portuguese would have been useful as the trainers lectured through each demonstration.  They did play fun music before each show to which Liam especially loved dancing to the beats!
At the sea lion feeding we were able to sit right up against the glass.  They had the sea lions do different tricks both in and out of the water.  At the very end, the very large sea lion on the left side of the picture stole the bucket from the girl and took it into the water.  They had to work for a while for the sea lion to hand them back the bucket.  It was not a part of the show and it was very funny.
The dolphin show was awesome!  It lasted about 40 minutes and was very entertaining.  
Liam would laugh out loud and become very excited each time the dolphins would do flips. 
This is after the Enchanted Forest bird show.  During the show, they flew many different birds.  These birds actually flew right over our heads a couple of times.  At one point they flew a falcon and even let a couple of volunteer children from the audience help catch the falcon.  We thought of Aunt Katie and knew this falcon must be very tame to have it near children!  It was a big one too!!  
This Emu ate lettuce leaves out of the first row of the audiences hands.
We were able to see this beautiful white owl up close too.  Liam and I actually had this owl and parakeets fly so close to our heads that they brushed our heads with their wings!
One of our favorite parts about this zoo was the free cable car rides.  You hopped on a moving cable car  (kind of like ski lifts but without the awkward skis) and circled around the entire zoo.  It was so fun seeing the animals from a birds-eye view.  We were able to see some animals better from this perch.  The ride was fun enough that we rode them twice (once when we first arrived and then once more before we left).

Some of our favorite animals of the day included the following:  the hippo family, watching the bison run around the pen, the sleepy rhinos blowing bubbles in the water, the monkey families playing with each other, the giraffes eating leaves out of people's hands, the grizzly bear swimming in the water, Pride Rock with lots of lionesses, and that's just to name a few.
There was another area with just baby hippos playing.
Watching the bison running around was exhilarating and funny at the same time.  In this picture they are just standing.
The rhino would take deep breaths and then go under water and let it out.
It was quite humorous for the kids watching the bubbles.
The snake and lizard house was one of Liam's favorite.  He LOVED all of the different turtles.

Liam napping under the giraffes.   

Not having a public library accessible in Lisbon has forced us to read our own copy of The Lion King multiple times.
  We counted 10 lioness and 1 lion in this area we deemed Pride Rock.
One of the creepiest sections of the zoo,  the Pet Cemetery was expansive and elaborate.  Crazy to think of the money people have spent to bury their pets here.
The entire family had an amazing time.  Of all the zoos we have visited, this zoo has been my favorite.  The amount of time it took us to see it all meant eating both lunch and dinner at the zoo.  A perk of eating at McDonalds at the zoo was that we were able to sit next to two crocodiles (in a cage) right next to us while we ate.  To combat a day of eating nothing but hotdogs, french fries, and cheese burgers, we've had to rely on an diet of almost all fruit and veggies for the past few days (almost ;) )!
Riding the train to the zoo.  As you can imagine, Liam does not sit still.  He climbs up and down and all over!
One of our transfers includes about a 5-8 minute walk in between train stations. The path in between is riddled with street art.  Our favorite is a face that is not spray painted, but is chiseled out of the building.
Really cool, huh?!  

Ajuda Botanical Garden

I love gardens.  Maybe in my future life, I will try my hand at gardening.  I am not sure what it is about botanical gardens that draw me to visit, but there is something about the beauty in variety and seeing new growth.
In order to get to the Botanical Gardens, we had to go on a quest.  The picture above was taken from our apartment building.  We had to travel past the abandoned building and then through the forest to the buildings seen in the distance.  Yes, this was the walking directions Google gave us to take.  I was expecting to come along a homeless compound at any moment while we were walking, but thankfully we never did.  I made Amelie not talk during our entire walk through the woods.  So although I had my super alert on for any persons lurking in the woods, it ended up being a quiet walk.  Although the walk was long and hot, we were glad to finally make it to the Ajuda area.

The Ajuda Botanical Garden is the oldest garden in Lisbon.   Around 10 years after the huge earthquake that devastated Lisbon in 1755, the king commissioned a naturalist to construct a garden near the royal residence.  He wanted to create a garden for his grandchildren, where they could play and learn about horticulture.   Over the years, they were able to collect around 5,000 different plant seeds from all over the world.

On Sunday (Aug 25th) we started off our visit observing (smelling, touching, looking) the herb plants from all over the world.  Although not all of the labels were in English, the map included allowed us to see at least where the plant originated.  Many times we could deduce the name of the herb, but other times we had fun guessing.

In the main portion of the gardens there again were plants from all over the world.  We were able to see some varieties of plants that were completely new to us.  We thought about Pop-pop during our visit because of his love for horticulture and his expertise with growing plants of his own.

These rose petal look-a-liks were similar to succulent leaves...almost cacti without any spikes.
It was really neat!
Me in an Amelie-and-Liam sandwich under a 400 year old Dragon Tree.

Liam has been very affectionate to all 3 members of his family.
He will randomly come up and hug or kiss and say, "Luv you," breath, "too."
Fountain of the 40 Spouts
Our walk through this area outside of Belem (Ajuda) was beautiful with steep slopes, color houses, and views of the Tagus River.
Clock Tower or Rooster Tower near Ajuda Palace which is now in the middle of a parking lot.
Ajuda Palace near the Botanical Gardens.  We did not tour the inside as the line was extremely long wrapping around the building.  We did walk in the open courtyard and there were 2 live small orchestras playing as people waited to enter.  We enjoyed the cool of the shade while listening before we continued our exploring of the area.
When you are hot and tired of walking, what is the cure?  ICE-CREAM!  :)
Not exactly sure what this building is, but it was really neat and we happened upon it on our walk towards the train.