Belem Pastry in Lisbon

An intersection between culture and history, Lisbon is a place of multiple overlappings. One moment speaks to an enormous history surrounding the moment that preceded it, and the future is always visible, if not palpable. It’s a cultural paradise, and one that’s certainly informed by its history, and there are moments when this is more keenly felt than others. In some of the more densely-populated areas, there is a present that is only eclipsed by a future that’s just a split-second away, and the contemporary waves of world trends and events washes through the atmosphere. In some of the isolated areas, or even in the city centers, in times of quiet, it’s possible to imagine a time when the Visitgoths came calling, and the ghosts from earthquakes might be glimpsed.

It’s always only for a moment, and they leave as quickly as they come, but they repeat. One of the brilliant things about Lisbon is its capacity to host a repeatable moment, and some are more repeatable than others. Anyone who’s ever had the chance to visit Pasteis de Belem can understand this. It’s an unusual sensation to recall that time when, sipping a coffee and eating one of their delectable goodies, the world was felt as a vibrant, quaking whole. It’s not hard to fall in love with Portugal, and sometimes in Lisbon, it’s easy to fall in love while in Portugal.

There are other places to enjoy a great espresso, like the famous Cafe Nicola with its complex and deft treatment of the bean. It’s difficult, however, to repeat the ambience of the Pasteis de Belem, with its history that goes back almost 200 years where people from the monastery started selling the pastries for the first time. It’s sometimes palpable just how close those moments fold into this one, where it also seems as though everybody here is here and there at the same time. Recalling it later, in the luxury of a Lisbon hotel , there are dreams of a pleasant repetition.

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