The lighthouse at Belém

So when is a lighthouse, not a lighthouse? The answer it seems is when it’s the one at Belém. The red brick lighthouse was never actually used as an official working lighthouse. That doesn’t stop it being fascinating to look at, or photograph. The bluest skies helped too.

the lighthouse at belem is fenced off

Belém is west of Lisbon on the Tagus river, and has many tourist attractions, we arrived by train but buses and trams also head out this way. Lisbon, and its transport system, is easy to navigate and cheap too, especially compared to travelling around London (sadly).

Belém was originally the location of Lisbon’s shipyards and docks and many of the 15th century voyages to India, East Africa and Brazil left from this area, and the first monument we saw - the Monument of the Discoveries - gives a very large nod to that too. But more on that another day.

looking up at the lighthouse at Belem

I was fascinated with the brickwork. If you look closely you can see the bricks are laid horizontally, so they stick out (technical term) from the structure. The square windows too, are fascinating.

A closer look at the brickwork

The other thing that struck me about the lighthouse? It’s size, it was tiny. If I remember I’ll remind you of that when I share more from a more modern monument in the same area. But for now, let’s just admire the brickwork.

Dinner at The Pharmacy

When we go away I always set MOH a challenge of finding us somewhere to eat, and when we went to Lisbon that was no different but there was an addition this time as it was our wedding anniversary while we were away and so our plan was to celebrate this while we were in Lisbon. The actual day was during the walk, and even I think that might have been too much of a challenge for him, but to be fair, the boy did good.

In fact he excelled himself, and it’s definitely a challenge I’ll be repeating on future holidays. His sense of direction though isn’t anywhere near as good as his restaurant choices, as he’d been trying to manoeuvre a walk past of this restaurant on our travels around Lisbon. And while we came close, when he set out to find it, i realised why he was heading in the wrong direction, and wouldn’t have it.

The restaurant of choice was The Pharmacy - or Pharmacia, not to be confused with The Old Pharmacy which his internal navigation system was veering towards. It’s in this pretty grand building, and is very popular. We didn’t have a booking, but thought we’d try our luck

The Pharmacy restaurant in Lisbon

We arrived at these ornate gates, which hadn’t registered on my gate scale at the time, and we were in luck. There was a bit of a wait but we were promised a table. Result.

queuing at the gates for a table

While we were waiting I decided to check out the garden, which was mainly beds leading up to the gates and raised beds which acted as a retaining wall for the sloped grassed garden. And after a day in the sun, you can just imagine its scent.

admiring the honeysuckle in the garden

I still don’t know the name of these pretty pink flowers, and I’m still fascinated by the square central parts of the white flowers. Unusual, and pretty aren’t they?

pretty flowers at the Pharmacy

Much further away from the main part of the garden, and stuck out of the way I discovered this succulent beauty with its frilled edge leaves, and delicate pink colour. It’s a bit cabbage-esque isn’t it?

A frilly edged succulent

While I was still exploring and snapping parts of the garden our table became available, and so inside we went. The decor inside is eclectic and has a medical feel, which is carried through onto the menu, which arrives on a clipboard. Of course.

wall art in the restaurant had a medical theme
fun wallpaper and spotlights

Check out the wallpaper. And the curiosities.

As we were celebrating (and to be fair even if we hadn’t been) we ordered cocktails. MOH went for an LSD which arrived in a medical looking receptacle, and my antihistamine arrived with the instructions to eat the flowers. OK…

our cocktails with edible flowers

They were great, and tasty as well as pretty. His tasted like cough candy, and mine was much preferred. Having seen the decor where we were, and in the main restaurant, I had high hopes for the loos. And the signs above the lift fed the anticipation. However, as it turned out, they weren’t anything special at all. I think this is because the restaurant shares the building with a municipal space, and well, the loos were distinctly uninspiring.

I had high hopes for the loos

Back in the restaurant though, our table overlooked this cupboard which proved a popular stop for staff and something that provided a great people watching opportunity too.

a drinks cupboard to envy

The food was good, it was the sharing type and we had a good meal. I even took some photos, but let’s be honest there was no way he was sharing my matcha and pistachio panna cotta, which is an unusual pudding choice for me. I could have perhaps eaten at least another one.

i loved my pudding

But with these scales in sight, that didn’t happen.

thankfully we didn't need to step onto these

Jacarandas and agapanthus

Yes, more agapanthus. Can you tell they’re a favourite of mine? But these have a slightly different slant, not only are they blue (mine are white), they’re also Portuguese. Well based in Lisbon if you’re going to be picky. And they’re great, I’m not sure I’ve seen them quite like this before.

agapanthus unable to keep their flower heads upright

Usually in the UK you’ll find agapanthus in pots. Not in Lisbon, there’s rows of them almost as edging plants.

rows and rows of agapanthus

These were outside the Jerónimos Monastery, and came shortly on the heels of the strange, but beautiful, lilac flowered tree we’d spotted throughout Lisbon, but had no idea what they were.

flowering jacarandas in Lisbon

Eventually curiosity got the better of me and I realised, with the help of Google, that they are Lisbon Jacarandas, and by chance we’d arrived in Lisbon the very month they flower. Aren’t they beautiful.

lilac jacarandas against deep blue skies

I wasn’t the only one to think so as plenty of people were posing for their photos with them, in the same way they do here in Greenwich with the cherry blossom.

And it’s easy to see why.

the lisbon sky through the in bloom jacarandas

So for trees I’d never seen, or even heard of before, I’m a convert. What do you think?