Well, Kongo wrapped up his latest European adventure with a final day in Lisbon. A break in the weather made for a beautiful day for the simian pair to see some of the sights they hadn’t been able to get to earlier as well as visit some of their old favorites.
By this point in the adventure, Mrs. Kongo was tired of having her picture taken. Kongo gets that. He doesn’t like a camera in his face either. Besides, there was enough other great things to photograph so Kongo left her alone. For a little while, at least.
Belem Tower was one of the sites the monkey for sure wanted to see up close. Built in 1520 on the north bank of the Tagus River to protect the city of Lisbon from attack it was later used as a lighthouse and customs house. Its architectural style is late Portuguese Gothic and the fortress is adorned with stone fireplaces, armillary spheres, Venetian balconies, and rhinoceros gargoyles.
Tons of tourists flock here. East of the tower the Golden Gate Bridge lookalike and the Christ the Redeemer copy are visible. From the water, the tower presents a different view and it’s easy to see how it could prove a formidable obstacle to an invading navy. Today, this area of Lisbon is a fashionable suburb with many expensive homes.
Walking along the waterfront the monkeys passed marinas and parks.
Nearly a mile east of the Belem Tower and adjacent to the Belém Marina, is the imposing Monument of the Discoveries. Built on the site where Portuguese ships departed on their voyages of discovery around Africa, to China and Japan, and the New World the limestone monument was finished in 1960 to mark the anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator.
Each side of the monument is adorned with statues of key figures from the Age of Discovery, culminating with a statue of Henry the Navigator holding a model of a carrack, a 4-masted sailing vessel developed by the Portuguese in the 14th and 15th centuries.
An interesting addition to the monument is the intricate tile work of the plaza surrounding the large statue. The tiles simulate ocean waves and from the eastern side, they are arranged to form an optical illusion of rolling waves that the sailors leaving here would have sailed across. Although the tiles give the appearance of depth, the whole area is actually flat.
Across from the Monument of the Discoveries is Saint Jerome’s Monastery, a beautiful building that took 100 years to build, starting in 1501. It’s situated near where Vasco de Gama departed on his voyage of discovery. The church has plenty of Manueline ornamentation on its Portuguese Gothic architectural style.
As the monkeys continued their walk east they passed some classic Lisbon doorways and balconies and the modern version of the trams that Kongo appreciated in the old section of the city.
After about 12,000 steps, the monkeys headed back to a favorite seafood restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner before retiring to their hotel to pack for the flight home.
Getting back to Los Angeles was a bit of an adventure by itself. A strong storm crashed into Lisbon overnight and the flight out was delayed an hour. Since we only had an hour and half to change planes in Paris, the Kongos contemplated getting stranded in Paris and that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world but the Paris flight was also delayed so the monkeys were able to board their 11+ hour flight from CDG to LAX and their luggage made the trip as well. Of course, on the flight to LA, there was no water working so the toilets were iffy but the pilot pressed on and Kongo made it home, quickly cleared customs, met is driver, and was home by 9 PM after being up about 26 hours. The zombie monkeys crashed and are still recovering. Travel seems to be getting harder than it was 10 years ago.
Travel safe. Have fun.