Hello Lisboa #ola

From Cape Town to Luanda.  Luanda to Lisbon.  A good flight with Angola Air,  award winning Portuguese wines and the option of fish with every meal.  Not much to do while in transit but at least the long haul flight is split into two very manageable portions.  Just when you feel the cabin fever coming on its time to disembark.  Customs took a while but before long we were ready to explore with the convenience and speed of the underground situated right outside the airport. Our first stop was the Praça do Comércio or Commerce Square located on the banks of the Tagus River. This square is commonly known as the Palace Yard because it was the location of the Royal Ribeira Palace which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755. After a quick browse it was time for our Pilgrim Passport to be initiated with the first ceremonial stamp at the cathedral.  All formalities completed we headed for the pièce de résistance at Pastéis de Belém.  The ride to the confectionary was totally worth it.  Any place that has been producing the same product since 1837 must know what they are doing.  It was evident that every visitor to Lisbon put their faith into this place as it was a bit of a bun fight to find a seat.  No effort would have been too much for the pleasure of savouring these flaking pastries with the creamy custard centre.  The pastries were invented in the beginning of 18th century by Catholic monks of Jerónimos Monastery, at Santa Maria de Belém, simply because they needed to find a use for the egg yolks after the egg whites served to starch the monks robes.
The Liberal Revolution of 1820 saw many convents and monasteries closing down and the monks of Jerónimos Monastery began to sell pastéis de Belém at a nearby sugar refinery to bring in funds.  Sadly the monks had to sell their secret recipe in 1834 to the sugar refinery and the new owners opened their own pastry shop by the name of Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém in 1837.  This shop has been going non-stop – baking and selling an estimated 20000 pastries every day.  It is said that a bride who eats a pastry will never take off her ring and true to form many newly-weds visiting the Pasteis de Belém on their wedding day.  It could be custom or it could simply be the irresistible taste of these little tarts that has people making the stop.  Whatever the reason nobody leaves Pastéis de Belém disappointed.

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