Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Ups and Downs of Travel

David was interested in the Gulbenkian Museum because one of its founders is a famous American oil tycoon, WW2 Vet, lover of Portugal.  Wanted to give his oil wealth back to his beloved country.  David looked at the Metro map.  We took the metro 3 stops, walked for 3 blocks in a light rain and thanks to Google Maps realized we were going the wrong way.  As soon as we turned around I could see our hotel in the distance.   AHHHHHH--for the same time it took us to walk to the Metro in the opposite direction, we could have been at the museum.  Oh I was SO MAD.

Here's the top of the famous park, across the street from our hotel.  You can see the ocean in the background and the statue dedicated to the city after the Earthquake.

crossing this bridge, we looked back and saw our hotel!

This was an interesting exhibit called "YES".  These are real cassettes and they take turns saying "Yes".

We were lucky enough to catch a current exhibit called "The Brain"--very scientific and fact oriented with hands-on activities.  One was to record peoples brain waves that was then translated to music.  The line was too long or I would have loved to hear my brain waves.  Have you ever heard yours?

Friday, April 19, 2019

Day 3 Lisbon, March 2019

I try to capture my memories right away otherwise it just doesn't get done.  There are so many trips I didn't finish telling you about that I regret-especially Tibet and Japan.  For now they will have to stay in my head.  Here's the end of the Lisbon trip.

I was dying to take the historic tram 28 through the winding small streets of Lisbon.  Concierge gave us a great tip--take a cab to the end of the line and get on there instead of waiting on the long lines at the beginning.  We took a cab to Cemiterio dos Prazeres (cemetery).  We had a great Uber driver who warned us of pickpockets.  There wasn't a person who didn't warn us of pickpockets when we asked about the tram.  You can learn a lot about local culture from cab drivers.  He said although Brazilians shared a language with Portuguese people, they secretly (or openly) aspire to be like Portuguese people.  He also said since Portugal joined the EU, many Romanians have flooded in.  These are the pickpockets, beware, they have different values and lifestyles.  He said when they enter, the tram driver cannot announce, "pick pocket, pick pocket".  That's not allowed.  I smiled.  He also said it was appropriate we were going to a cemetery (the end) of the tram and gave us instructions on which one to take.  The people of Lisbon are so friendly.


This is the beginning, not the end.
Are you a pickpocket?  You?

Everywhere you go, you see these beautiful tiles on the building.

Mosteiro de Sao Vicente de Fora

We took the metro to the famous Sao Vicente de Fora church.  We paid $5 to view the Monastery which the lady in a little coffee shop across the street told us was beautiful.  Just amazed at how breath-taking each set of tiles were, only to find more and more & more.  Glad we did it, as the Church was "just another church".  Plus it always pays to have a bathroom handy!

We climbed to the top to see the beautiful view. You can see the Palacio Nacional where famous Portuguese legends are buried behind us.

Practice that jump!
Also saw the Lady of the Mountain viewing area where we were a few days ago


Read about this restaurant and then a local Portugese native from my conference recommended it.  Luckily we went at lunchtime & had to wait in line about 15 minutes.

No words necessary

David was cracking his crabs too hard and the waiter came over to show us how its done

We tried the local snack-barnacles!  Reminded me of eating steamers, you have to take the skin off the edge.  Crunchy!
Lisbon is famous for trams, funiculars, metro and buses as it is a hilly city.  Tons of scooters (the ones where you pick them up in one location, and leave them on the street when done) all over.  We found the Tram at Bica and took it three stops up.  Everyone said we could have walked but the novelty of the tram is intoxicating.  People do crazy things like get in front of the tram as it comes to take pictures.  Luckily we familized ourselves with the buses that went to our hotel.  You can get on a small local bus instead of the tram which is 100% less crowded and you get to see cute old ladies & men.

Cafe Brasileira

We went to the famous Coffee Shop where writers, poets & artists used to hang-out before taking the Metro back to our hotel

You can even see some writers writing in their journals to the right while having coffee

Museum of Tile

I'd heard so much about Sintra, a castle 40 minutes away from the city, good day trip.  While I was intrigued, I didn't want to leave the city.  Didn't feel I had enough time to explore.  Most of the time I was inside at the conference.  I wanted to get lost in the city and discover little shops and winding streets.  The Museum of Tile, (Museu Nacional do Azulejo) was featured under "unique museums", and since Lisbon is famous for tile, thought it would be worthwhile to see.  Boy was I glad we went!

Downloaded the museum app which told a great story by each work, how tiles are made, history, etc.

Add caption

Wish I had taken more pictures.  This is beautiful.  Bottom half is tile, top a traditional "Italian-like" church.  Isn't it amazing?

I sat for quite awhile admiring this beautiful church.  You get the feeling you are actually in the tiles.

In this panorama, you can see David sitting on the left, while a person walks down the aisle.  Cross over the alter & see the tiles on the right.

There weren't many people at the museum at all but couldn't wait any longer until there was no one in the way.  Get out of my picture tourist! I wanted this angle, walking up the stairs in to the church because there are no words to capture the surprise you see when you enter.  Dark, top half totally expected & typical of a church while the bottom is typical of tiled Lisbon!  Mix and Match but it doesn't match.  That's what makes it so unique.

Can you imagine how hard it is to do this?  Each tile in of itself is difficult to paint, but then to put them all together in a scene/story is remarkable.
This is a mural of Lisbon long ago.  It depicts landmarks we still know today and some destroyed by the earthquake.  The detail is magnificent.

This is the name of the church attached to the museum.

Passed the Commercial Square where we started our bike tour.  Didn't get many good pictures.

Time Out Market (Mercado da Ribeiro)

Grilled Octopus

Suckling Baby Pig sandwich with crispy skin
Our typical snack back at the hotel

Famous Cheese--didn't want to take a chance and bring it home, even vacuum sealed

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Day 2: Lisbon Up The Hills Tour & Castle St. Jorge

When was the last time you smiled for two hours?  Seriously?  I didn't know what to expect and to be honest, I was a little scared.  Once I got comfortable on the bike, felt the sunshine on my face, wind in my hair, excitement of the power of the bikes, and charm of the winding streets, I didn't want to stop.

We got a quick lesson on how to use the bikes around Commercial Square, then off we went to Alfama.  I have a little trouble getting on & off bikes since my knee replacement so our guide, Peter made sure to help me.  I was hoping to learn something about Lisbon and was pleasantly surprised about how much history we learned about the country and how knowledgeable Peter was.

The Portuguese conquered much of the world.  Lots of Africa, Asia, Europe, etc-->  got far by boat.  The honesty of Peter to say, that doesn't happen by being nice....and how Kings and Leaders had no problem taking land/ routes was really refreshing.

This is where we started, the famous Commercial Square.  

We practiced riding our bikes around this square.

We rode through these beautiful narrow streets with tiles on all buildings.  So charming.

We rode uphill to Alfalma.  

Thank God we had the electric bikes to take us up the steep hills.  All I could think was how scared I'd be going down.

Famous Portuguese dignitaries are buried here.  

Even the famous soccer player Eusebio is buried here and perhaps Rinaldo will be buried here.

Rested during the bike tour at the Lady of the Mountain Saint monument.  Best view in Lisbon.

Practicing my jump

Portuguese started the first Templar Church order. 

Lisbon is a city of 7 hills.  Here we are at the free elevators to go up to the Castle St. Jorge.  Saved walking up the equivalent of 10 floors up steep hills we just blew through on the e-bike.

Ate lunch at a restaurant called Tram 28.  Tried bacalhau, salted cod.  This version was a mushy salty fish texture.  Not great, not bad, good experience to try it.  Wish I could have tried other versions too.

Castelo de St. Jorge

After lunch we went to Castelo de St. Jorge (St. George Castle).  We missed the 2 pm tour but lucked out and were 2 of 20 people in the Periscope room.  What's a periscope?  Its a set of two mirrors (top & bottom of tower), reflecting an image.  Basically you can see outside through this instrument.  It was fascinating, we saw the river Tagus, bridge, different neighborhoods full of cars and people! During the war, the castle was used as a base to see intruders coming in off the waters.  It was like a live movie of real life.  Felt like we were spies in the tower of a castle.

See the trees?  We saw the place where we rested on the bike tour from the Castle (Lady of the Mountain Saint monument)

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David felt tired as we left the Castle.  I was annoyed at him because I had told him to exercise, walk around the block and get ready for our trip.  Don't know if he was jet lagged or just tired.  He said he was tired from the bike riding {hello, it was electric, how can you be tired?} so we rested.  I wanted to take the elevators back down to the metro because the elevators are such a big part of the city.  He saw some taxi's and wanted to take one.  Ugh.  Finally I said yes (what a waste of our Lisbon cards which includes free metro)!
We asked the driver how much to the Intercontinental and he said no more than $15 Euro.  We said ok and he knew right then and there we were tourists as it should have costed no more than 8-10.  To top it off, I handed him a 20 Euro bill and somehow he switched it and said, "this is a 5".  Caught off guard and believing I handed him a 5, I said, ok and handed him a new 20.  It was only when we got in to the hotel that we realized he switched my 20 for a 5.  Ugh.  Took Uber from there on in.

Rested in the room with our red wine from Douro, cheese and tangerines.