Day 3 dawned with a twinge of sadness. It was my last day in Portugal, a place I had quickly grown to love. For a moment I wished I had planned for longer in Portugal, but I quickly reminded myself of all of the adventures to come on my trek through southern Europe. I got ready and set out for the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. Remembering how far the monastery was from the train station when I had been in Belem the night before, I opted to walk the 100ft to the little square near my room and grabbed a taxi to the monastery. Sometimes, it is worth it to pay the extra money. Especially since I knew the day was going to involve a lot of walking…
I got to the monastery about 20 minutes prior to its opening at 10am. Turns out this is the one major tourist spot within Lisbon (or at least seems that way). There were several tour buses unloading in front, most of these went straight into the church on the right of the main entrance to the cloisters, which was free. The main entrance was for the cloisters, which was where the long, slow moving ticket line was formed. Once I started to get near to the entrance, I noticed on the left, across from the church entrance was the entrance to a museum. I decided to try buying my entrance ticket there.
Sure enough, I could, but it was a combination ticket for the cloisters and the museum. It wasn’t a bad deal, and the museum had a little section with artifacts from ancient Egypt, so I bought that, rather than waiting in that long line outside… I highly suggest you do this, if you’re ok with the museum. Once you have that ticket, you can skip the ticket line for the cloisters and just head straight on in.
So I browsed the museum quickly and then crossed back through the ticket line to the church on the other side. Because the tourist groups were all in there, it was extremely crowded and noisy, but beautiful none the less. The church has a path roped off around the perimeter of it, so I worked my way through the throng of people until just before reaching the entrance again, I stumbled upon Vasco da Gama! Again! I know I explained that the tomb I found earlier was actually just a cenotaph ( a memorial tomb for someone buried elsewhere), but I didn’t know that at the time! I was very surprised to find his tomb for a second time! I chuckled at the absurdity of it, greeted him for a second time, and continued on my way. As I later found out, this was his actual tomb and resting place.
After browsing the church, I moved into the cloisters, the truly beautiful area of the monastery. The building is constructed of limestone, which is extremely soft and easy to sculpt. They took full advantage of that when constructing the monastery. It is absolutely gorgeous. This too was quite crowded, although not as much as the church, but it was almost impossible to get any decent pictures without people in them. It was such a pity, Lisbon never felt touristy to me and I was never in any truly packed and crowded area. Until I went to the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. When I finally left the monaster, I caught another taxi to take me to the Rossio train station to catch a train to Sintra for the afternoon.