Belém neighborhood is one of the oldest in the city and in it, besides the Tower, is located the famous Jeronimos Monastery, a masterpiece of Manueline style erected to commemorate the return from India of explorer Vasco da Gama. At the beginning of the 19th century, near the monastery there was a small sugar cane refinery and a little store. When the convents of the city were closed in 1834 following the Liberal Revolution, it appears that a member of the clergy began selling in that store some cakes that he called Pastéis de Belém. We are now going to the exact place where the tradition of that typical Lisbon sweet began to weave its own legend. Inside the store-bar, which actually takes the name of Pastéis de Belém, they still keep the secret of the very true prescription for these desserts. Entering the shop is, like everything in Lisbon, a wonderful trip back to the past. Once served and after sprinkling sugar and cinnamon on them, you have to eat them slowly to enjoy the distinctive flavor and the crumbles inside the mouth. Since the first customers discovered this feeling, the old 'secret recipe' pastry has been passed only to the employees who work in the so-called 'secret atelier'.
While it seems that in Lisbon time does not exist, ours runs fast approaching to our appointment. Today we will meet a good friend in which is undoubtedly the most famous square in the city. But for that to happen, we must leave Belém and take a tram to the station of Cais do Sodré at Duque de Terceira Sq. The route, along the banks of the Tagus River, leaves us on our right the Vasco de Gama Bridge and its red color and also the Discoveries Monument, built in stone and caravel shaped to commemorate Portuguese heroes linked to the Discoveries. Across the River and over the mountains, the towering statue of the Christ of Almada crown the city with its 110 meters high.
After enjoying the yellow color of the square, Inês leads us through the arch to cross the Rua Augusta, full of shops and bars, life and people. The street ends at Don Pedro IV Sq, better known as Rossio Square, Lisbon's busiest area and meeting point for locals and outsiders. Here the National Theatre Dona Maria II and Rossio Train Station are located. Although Cafe Nicola draws our attention, Inês has reserved us a little surprise and guide us to the Largo de Santo Domingo, near the church of the same name, where the tiny bar called Eduardino invites us to test the ginjinha or ginja, one sweet cherry liqueur traditionally from Lisbon and the Baixa area, where we are now. Nearby, in the same neighborhood, is one of the favorite spots of our friend, the Casa do Alentejo. It is a place that is often overlooked by visitors but that hides inside a beautiful mansion Arabic style where it is also possible to learn about the culture of the Alentejo region, located in the south of Portugal, and try traditional dishes of the zone.
Lisbon and its hills, its ups and downs, are enjoyed in the streets and from its many viewpoints, including the one of Nossa Senhora do Monte, the favorite of our friend Inês, which gives the entire horizon to the sea, to watch the streets of Lisbon surrounded by the blue color of the Tagus.
Still with the strong memory of that cherry liquor in our throat, it seems that we will stop a bit to enjoy life in Lisbon before leaving. The Palmeiras bar, near the Baixa-Chiado metro station, is a traditional tavern that keeps the same look from the 50s and offers delicious homemade potatoes and lupines with the mid-afternoon beer. Here we are witnesses of the best show in town: the life of its people. There was a moment in history when time stopped in Lisbon but it keeps running in bars where there are laughs, friends and some fados. Inês and her camera, opens our way to portray the soul of a city, which, between tram and tram, has managed to reach the stop of eternity.