It’s Lisbon and I’m writing late at night. I’m exhausted but I figured I oughta finish this before I slip into dreamland.
Today we climbed into an electric Tuk Tuk driven by the terrific Portuguese native (yet educated in USA and UK,) Isaac. Riding in one of these vehicles over cobblestones is an experience similar to riding a jeep with absolutely zero shocks or a lame horse, (you pick). Even so, it was fun and informative as we wove in and out of traffic, climbing hills reminiscent of San Francisco, stopping at a variety of neighborhoods to hop out, to walk around and be thankful we were not doing this all on foot (though that was to partially happen later). Along the way Isaac pointed out churches and towers, the Alfama – current home to Fado and former home to the Jews, Baixa with the oldest bookstore in the world, at least that is what is claimed, the pantheon filled with kings and other privileged cadavers and on Around the town to Belem, to the giant statue of De Gama at the location from which he set sail for India.
The place is crawling with loads of tourists. I imagine some of these folk are literally crawling, crammed in a tram or looking for an Uber. And this month is festivals of the saints so there are tons of decorations about, hanging over streets and on buildings making the city a Mecca for those wanting an old fashioned grilled or canned sardine, a cup of tinto or a daily pasteis de nata in the streets, plazas and alleyways into the wee hours.
We had our three hour tour, some of which was in rain, some in sun and a lot in wind. This city is a windy one, and the weather this week is abnormally cooler than is usual, we are told. For me it’s a relief from the heat we experienced in Madrid and Seville.
Once we returned to our apartment on the hill, another FB friend, former Bay Area native, Morgan, met us. We set out for a tour on foot, uphill mostly, which here is a workout not for the faint of heart nor someone without compression stockings, especially at the clip with which we were going. I did well for the first hour, with only brief and very welcome respites – one particularly pleasant at a sidewalk cafe on a charming walking street to have drinks and snacks of fries with sriracha mayo and a plate of assorted grilled mushrooms dressed with an unusual tartar sauce of pickling spices, mustard and mayo. There we talked and watched passers by.
Once slightly resuscitated we moved on to continue our climb to yet another neighborhood, a pleasant park, another brief rest, another trek uphill, a welcome and relatively flat walk, and finally a decision to get dinner somewhere that would take us without a reservation. As luck would have it we found such culinary oasis on a narrow one way street: Petiscaria Ideal. Here we shared plates consisting of sweet potato chips, some tasty, tiny steak and grilled mushroom sandwiches, and a shallow casserole of pork stew with mashed potatoes- All foods cooked and seasoned to perfection, me consuming just the right amount to stem my hunger yet keep me from needing to roll down the hill or requiring an Uber to return me uphill to our apt.
We talked until late then proceeded to aforementioned digs, then said tchau. I am going to sleep like a rock.