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Day 7: Ponta Delgada to Lisbon

We had an early start this morning, with our flight departing Ponta Delgada at 08.30. That meant that by 6am, we were leaving the apartment and setting out to walk to the airport. Walking to the airport felt like a very novel thing to do :) It looked like it was going to be a nice sunny day in the Azores, and it was already warm enough to walk around comfortably in shorts and tshirts.

We were flying to Lisbon with Ryanair, so it wasn't quite as glamorous as our experience with TAP had been on Saturday, but we only paid around £45 each for the flight (including baggage), so we can't really complain. 

As the plane took off, we had a final beautiful view of the south coast of the island.

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We could see there were clouds hovering over the mountain which is home to Lagoa do Fogo, so I don't think we would have got quite such a good view this morning.

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As the plane flew onwards, I caught sight of the Vila Franca islet.

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As we got closer, we could see the lake in the middle of it, which had been hidden from view when we were on the harbour in Vila Franca.

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I think from above is definitely the best way to see it :)

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Our final shot of the Azores was of lake Furnas, which you can hopefully just make out towards the centre of this photo :)

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After that, there was nothing much but sea until we landed in Lisbon around 11.45. Unexpectedly, Lisbon looked rather cold and grey, as if it had recently been raining. Oh dear!

We successfully retrieved our baggage and caught a metro into the city centre. The metro in Lisbon is very good value and we only paid €1.65 each for the journey. We are staying for two nights in a small hotel in the city centre; it's pretty basic, but it's in a really good location near to the main Rossio train station, and check-in was possible from 12.30 which meant we were able to go straight there and drop off our bags :)

We were starving by this point, so once we'd unpacked a few things we went out to get lunch. Luckily in the time it had taken us to travel across Lisbon on the metro, the weather seemed to have significantly improved and it was now warm enough for us to sit outdoors. 

Once we'd eaten, we set out for a stroll through Lisbon, soon coming to Praça do Comércio.

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At the far end of the square is the Rua Augusta arch, which was built to commemorate Lisbon's reconstruction after a devastating earthquake in 1755.

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From the far end of the square we could also see out to the sea/river (Lisbon is built at the point where the river Tagus enters the sea, so I've never quite worked out whether this bit is technically the sea or not!)

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On the far side of the water, we could just make out the statue of Cristo Rei, which overlooks the city. It was built in the 1950s to give thanks for the fact that Portugal was spared during WW2.

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As we don't have very much time in Lisbon, we had decided in advance that we wanted to concentrating on seeing the things which we had enjoyed most last time around. That meant that our plan for this afternoon was to visit Belém.  Belém is a suburb of Lisbon which is home to all sorts of interesting monuments.

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Our first stop once we arrived in Belém was the botanical garden.

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We really enjoyed it last time we were here, and in particularly I had been impressed by this avenue of enormous palm trees.

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It is definitely a pretty place, but somehow it didn't seem quite so impressive after all the amazing flowers we'd just seen in the Azores xD

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I was more excited by the fact that, upon exiting the botanical garden, we found a row of blue (or possibly, on closer inspection, they're actually purple!) trees, like the one I'd seen in Ponta Delgada earlier in the week.

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The trees were just across the road from the huge Jerónimos Monastery.

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From here we walked to the other side of Belém in search of the Belém tower.

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The tower was built in the sixteenth century as part of a defence system on the Tagus river.

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Originally the tower was on a small island, but after the big earthquake which Lisbon suffered in the eighteenth century, the course of the river changed, with the result that the tower is now right by the shore.

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Now that we'd seen the tower, there was just one more sight in Belém that we really wanted to see again.

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This huge statue is called the Monument to the Discoveries, and was built to commemorate Portuguese exploration.

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It's so big that we were able to make it out from the air when our plane was coming in to the land in Lisbon last Saturday!

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It was about 6pm by this point so we decided to call it a day and catch the train back to the hotel to do the blog. Lisbon is a really beautiful city and it's nice to be back here again (though it does feel very busy compared to the Azores!!).

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