This was our final breakfast of the tour. I made a sandwich of ham in a croissant for myself. For dessert, I chose something we had not seen since we left Lisbon, a pastel da nata. This one was just as good as I remembered, with a flaky crust and a creamy custard filling.
At 9 AM we met with our group in the hotel lobby for a walking tour. As we stepped onto the top level of the bridge designed by Eiffel, Maria told us that teenagers jump from the bridge into the water in the summer for fun. It seemed miraculous that they would survive, but they do! Then we walked to the train station to see the tiles on the walls there.
We walked on to the Stock Exchange Palace, which is neither a stock exchange nor a palace. The building celebrates Portugal’s dedication to international trade. As such, it contains rooms decorated with materials from Portugal’s former colonies. The last room is the Arabian Hall, which is is inspired by Spain’s Granada and took eighteen years to construct. It is decorated in Moorish style, using wood, plaster, and gold leaf. The room is dedicated to Queen Maria da Gloria, who died at the age of thirty-four while giving birth to her eleventh child, who survived.
After the walk, several of us waited for the bus to our hotel. When we got back to the street on which our hotel was located, Nick and I sat down at the Majestic Café, famous for the tiles on its walls. We shared a primavera (spring) salad of shrimp, mussels, smoked salmon, hard boiled egg, lettuce, carrots, and purple cabbage. Next to our hotel, there was a French pastry shop that sold macarons. We selected orange and raspberry. This was, indeed, a fantastic lunch.
Our final group dinner was held in a restaurant just a few streets from our hotel. We enjoyed our last typical Portuguese meal together, but it was bittersweet because we would all be going our own way the next day.
I have not said very much about our hotel guide, Maria, all along. Let tell you about her now. She is incredibly knowledgeable. In fact, in Rick Steves’ Portugal, he recommends hiring her as a private guide. Maria is easy going and absolutely loves helping people. She is kind and thoughtful, and she goes way beyond the call of duty. In fact, she sent her husband to pick up the tiles we made in Coimbra. She is a fantastic tour guide as well as a lovely person, and she made the trip especially enjoyable for all of us.