When you walk on cobblestone for long periods of time, it feels like you are drunk

I spent yesterday cruising the city on foot. It was an absolutely gorgeous day – the temperature was about 65 degrees and it was all sun and blue sky.

I took a nice walk from Roccio Square down to the waterfront to kick off my tour. I love being by the sea (in this case, a river). I then walked down to a train station to try to find the Tuesday flea market. The first 1/2 hour or so of my walk was mostly flat, which was nice. Once I reached the train station, I headed up a steep hill. I did lots of hill work and stairs yesterday. In a sweater. And in flat shoes that rubbed the shit out of my Achilles heels. I am notorious for wearing bad shoes when I am on walking vacations. The next time I plan a sightseeing trip, I’m going to have to walk a lot a week or two before leaving Seattle to test out my shoes. My poor dancing feet are worth it! Today, I am resigned to wear my zapatos de goma and be an OT (obvious tourist).

It was fun to wind my way through the flea market. I love looking at the old family photos and postcards that are for sale. I picked up some tiles, a table runner and a small painting.

After leaving the flea market, I ambled down the cobblestone streets in the direction of Chapito, a little bohemian restaurant with funky music and a gorgeous view of the city. I asked them to open the window near my table and spent about an hour gazing at the river and at Cristo Rei, the Portuguese homage to Corcovado that was built in 1959 to thank god for sparing the country from the horrors of WWII. I had some delicious soup which was crema de mariscos with a few mejillones hidden at the bottom.

I made my descent down to the waterfront to catch a ferry to Cacilhas. Carlos had mentioned a restaurant over there that had a deck and a great view of Lisboa. The ferry ride was only about 10 minutes long and nothing compared to the choppy ride from Fajardo to Culebra (Puerto Rico) where they hand out barf bags to all of the passengers. As I made my way to restaurante Ponto Final, I passed several men fishing off of the piers. I also passed a long row of ‘abandoned’ and/or burnt out buildings that were obviously home to some sort of inhabitants. Many of the building doorways had been closed off by brick and mortar, but I found small knee-height holes in the building walls where someone could crawl in and out. Human beings are driven to survive, so I understand these makeshift abodes. What creeped me out were all of the barking dogs (I did see one pitbull – eek) that I assume are home security.

I spotted Ponto Final from around a bend and was excited to sit in the sun and enjoy a glass of wine. Sadly, when I reached the restaurante, I found that it was closed. I don’t know if it is closed on Tuesdays or if I arrived in between lunch and dinner. [ETA – Carlos called the restaurant and found out that the owner had been in an accident]

I sat on a bench for a while to gather my thoughts and figure out next steps. It was then that I realized that jet lag had set in and that I was crazy exhausted. I hopped on the ferry back to Lisbao and started my ascent up to the B&B. although it was only 6pm, I was hungry (I had been saving room for some seafood at Ponto Final). I stopped off at a cafeteria for a sandwich and a pastry and called it a day. I do love that the Portuguese eat dinner late, as that is more my speed, but I couldn’t muster up the energy to leave the comfort of my room.

Ola Lisboa!

File this one under ‘what in the world am I doing?’

I arrived in Lisboa this morning to a beautiful sunrise and clear blue skies. I am here to attend the Afro Fever dance conference. As some of the dances that I enjoy were born and or grew up in former Portuguese colonies (Angola, Cabo Verde, etc), they are wildly popular here in Lisboa. I wanted to experience mature dancers and world-class teachers (some of whom I’ve met in Seattle), so I planned a trip to visit Portugal.

I have a really bad habit of sleeping very little before I travel, and this trip was no exception. I slept about three hours before heading to the airport and then off-and-on during the journey. I was totally pooped when I arrived.

Fortunately, the Zuza Bed & Breakfast folks totally took care of me and let me rest in one room while preparing the room that I rented. I have great luck with guesthouses. Carlos helped me to plan an itinerary for this evening and provided a power plug adaptor so that I didn’t have to buy one. They also provide a local mobile phone, so that I can call for help if I have a question or am in trouble (Carlos assured me, “my brother is a police officer, and if you call me, I will be right behind you in a few minutes.”)

I accidentally slept until 6pm (oh boy, jet lag) and then cleaned myself up to go out in to the world. I tried to memorize the map as I hate pulling it out in public – I don’t want to be the world’s easiest mark. The Zuza B&B is up on a hill overlooking Lisboa. It is a beautiful landscape that I can see from the window in my room. I walked down to Roccio Square. A few blocks east, I was able to catch the tram 28. This tram takes a scenic route of Lisboa and is good for looking at architecture as well as people watching. I also found a great lookout point – I didn’t have time to hop off the tram today, but it had a view of some old world buildings lit up by the full moon with a backdrop of the sea. Awesome! I’m going to try to hit this one up tomorrow.

After about 30 minutes riding the tram, I arrived at my destination, Casa do India. This is a cute little restaurant with a good mix of tourists and local. The seating is family style. I sat next to a cute couple (man was Mexican and woman was Spanish) who were having as much trouble with the menu as I was. That was comforting. I knew the basic words but had no idea abut the cooking styles and sauces. I ended up ordering arroz com mariscos and drank a couple of glasses of vinotinto. It was divine! I loved the atmosphere because people were enjoying each other and no one was on a phone.

After dinner, I was off to find some fado music. Carlos had recommended a small tavern near the B&B. He told me, “don’t get there later than 21:00.” I arrived at 21:40 and the place was completely full. Oops! I’ll have to try again on Wednesday.

I made my way back to the B&B along the narrow, cobblestone streets, admiring the tiles that adorn the building facades. This is a charming and romantic place. I’m so glad that I came!