Windstar Cruises – Cuisines & Cultures of Spain, Portugal & France

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Port of embarkation – Lisbon, Portugal


Lisbon sailaway

Lisbon has become one of the hottest travel destinations in the world. The capital of Portugal, Lisbon is continental Europe’s westernmost city and the only capital in Europe located on the Atlantic coast. This vibrant and colorful hilly city has much to offer visitors and is more affordable than many other great European cities due the combination of lower costs and the strong U.S. dollar.

Praça Dom Pedro IV

Sailboats in Lisbon Harbor

Lisbon has an interesting history, particularly around religious battles for control between the Christians and Muslims (the city was eventually settled under Christian rule in 1147). Lisbon became very prosperous in the 15th and 16th centuries during the time of exploration and the colonization of Africa, Asia, South America, and the Atlantic Islands. It was also a strategic seaport allowing for trade between the Mediterranean Sea and northern Europe. However, the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, combined with subsequent fires and a tsunami, nearly destroyed all of Lisbon and the neighboring areas. Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 1st Marquis of Pombal, was instrumental in rebuilding of the city and created the commercial and financial districts known as Baixa Pombalina (Pombaline Lower Town).

Cristo Rei statue (Christ the King)

Tomb of explorer Vasco da Gama at Jerónimos Monastery

Some of the highlights of the city are its two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Jerónimos Monistary near the Tagus river in the parish of Belém, in the Lisbon Municipality, and the Tower of Belém, built on the Tagus River. While in the area, don’t miss the famous warm custard tarts with their creamy filling and buttery rich flaky pastry at Pastéis de Belém, where they have been making this Lisbon tradition since 1837.

Jerónimos Monastery

Another view of the monastery

Belém Tower

Pastéis de Belém

Custard tarts

If you love to nosh and want to try several small bites of local and regional specialties in a casual atmosphere, visit Time Out Market. What the Portuguese call fast food, and what we think of fast food, are two totally different concepts and I’ll take their version any day. Prego, a thin steak sandwich served on a soft bun, topped with shredded lettuce, and garlicky shrimp sautéed in olive oil, is very popular and far more exciting than a fast food burger in the U.S. For dessert, a must try is the O Melhor Bolo de Chocolate do Mundo, a cake that has been trade-marked as the “Best Chocolate Cake in the World” by Lisbon chef Carlos Lopes. Made without flour or baking powder, this treat is composed of chocolate meringue layered alternately with rich chocolate mousse and topped with a chocolate ganache and is decadently sweet, even for a chocoholic.


O Melhor Bolo de Chocolate do Mundo

To get a glimpse of local life, visit the city’s Alfama neighborhood, listen to the traditional melancholy folk music of Fado, head for the hills to visit one of the city’s spectacular viewpoints such as Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte (Our Lady of the Hill Viewpoint), to see the city from above, and spend the afternoon at one of the city’s local squares to enjoy a cocktail or sip a glass of wine and listen to live music.

Festival preparation in the Alfama

Our tour guide Pedro and local women in the Alfama

View of Lisbon from Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte

Enjoying the afternoon at a local square

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Port of embarkation – Lisbon, Portugal

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