Saturday, February 14, 2009

day 1 in Lisbon

up at the crack of dawn in Berlin, out of the house with the kids still fast asleep, and off in a taxi.

Changed planes in Zurich where it was snowing hard, there were rows and rows of snow plows out on the runway with blinking orange lights and we had to wait a long time to pull up to a gate; our outbound flight was then delayed quite a while before and after we boarded - we had to be de-iced before we took off.

And then Lisbon. Sunshine, beautiful tumbling streets of cobblestone and steps and graffiti and views across to the other hills, castles and painted townhouses (a little like San Francisco, only older and more Moorish and smaller). 

(Different from San Francisco, of course, that's just a starting point. But we were there for our twentieth wedding anniversary last fall and here we were in Lisbon on Valentine's Day. I'm just saying.)

Anyway, it's been glorious. We were so lucky in the weather, and we've just been walking around, with breaks for naps. I got a phrasebook and that helped a little; one place I was I spoke Spanish till my Spanish ran out and then I spoke English, and the guy said you know what, just talk English why don't you (he said it in a more Portuguese way than that, bu still). So I've decided to start with English from now and if that doesn't work we'll go to Spanish, and maybe from there to the phrasebook.

At ten p.m. the tiny cobblestone streets squeezed between the crumbling streetlong walls of townhouses were starting to fill with partying young people, and all the restaurants were full, full, full (Valentine's Day) - one place he said something that said something like "no poking? no table" but I finally realized was "no booking . . . " - we hadn't booked. Finally at 11:30 one place said we could come back in an hour and then they'd have a place. We went off to find the vegetarian restaurant close to our hotel but on the way we turned into a side street (no more or less narrow than the main tiny street we were on, and no more or less completely contained by the unbroken walls on each side) which had a restaurant in the middle of it which had tables completely covering one length of the street. So we sat down there, and stayed a long time because it turned out they'd completely lost our order when they briefly lost power, but they hadn't noticed we were sitting there foodless while everyone around us was eating supper, eating dessert, and leaving. 

If it sounds like I'm complaining, I'm not. We had a lovely time. Now we're back in our room and hubby was, when I started, watching a nature show about porpoises or walruses or something, in Portuguese, which was wonderfully soothing as background for me, but then he switched to something in English, something in Persian, and back to something in English. 

It's 3 a.m. in Berlin, 2 a.m. in Lisbon, and I think we're about done for the day. 

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