Prior to moving on to Lisbon there are two events worth noting from our day in Madrid. Or at least, we thought that they were very funny but perhaps you had to be there to appreciate them. Anyhow, I shall include them here for you.
There had to be some local news breaking as there were film crews everywhere and posses of police were posted on major junctions and outside important looking buildings with their riot vans, jolly big guns and fierce looking batons. Most of the film crews were filming and re-filming and they had minders to keep the locals away from their backdrops but we decided that we should attempt to get onto Spanish TV. In the centre of the large square in Madrid we came across a very nervous looking presenter who was glancing at her watch and fidgeting around – her crew were agitated and they were obviously preparing to go ‘live to air’ on the hour. We hung about and hung about …until she began speaking to camera and then we nonchalantly wandered across behind her, and stopped to consult our map directly over her right shoulder. Judging by the glare that she gave us when she had finished it was mission accomplished! We had got ourselves onto Spanish TV.
The second event took place when we were wandering along and chatting quite loudly together. A man stopped BF and insisted that he ‘hush, hush’. BF replied ‘sorry dude, I’m English and don’t understand’ and continued to chatter away. A second bloke approached and told BF again to ‘hush, hush’. BF gave him a withering look but this simply provoked the man into whispering another ‘hush, hush and cupping his hand he indicated what he was trying to convey. Hush, hush was obviously hash, hash and he obviously thought that BF could be a potential customer.
Anyhow, fast forwards to Lisbon. We managed to spend a day and a half exploring aside from bouncing at the festival. Our first tram ride from the railway station to Guida’s had been free as there had been no room to manoeuvre with our rucksacks at all once we were on the tram, let alone work our way down to the ticket machine on board (result!). On our first afternoon we got the tram back into town and walked up the massive hill to the Castelo de S. Jorge. The views across the city from the ramparts were amazing although much to BF’s disgust we arrived at the Tower of Ulysses just five minutes after they had closed off visitor access to the periscope. The camera obscura is an optical system of lenses and mirrors which had been invented by Leonardo da Vinci and I have actually seen one in action in Havana, Cuba and BF was rather hoping to see one for himself. The castle is quite large with complete walls and seven towers to climb, and rather than visiting the tower with the periscope in first, we faffed about climbing the others beforehand.
BF was placated slightly when we stopped off at a bar on a roof terrace and had a drink.
The Zambeze restaurant looked as if it would charge the earth but the beers were no more expensive than the UK and the views were to die for.
We then wandered around tiny narrow streets in the Amalfa district on the hillside which were all steps and cobbles . Coloured garlands criss-crossed the washing lines between the balconies, children played in the gutters, and most of the houses were faced with painted ceramic tiles.
These tiles are common all over Lisbon and they lift common looking buildings into works of art. We then stumbled upon a ‘World Fair’ in a large square and sat and drank caipirnhas from the Brazilian stall and listened to Latin American music whilst watching the Lisboans promenade.
That evening we ate in a tiny restaurant and I had the most delicate grilled sea bream that you could wish for whilst BF opted for a Portuguese steak. Our waiter looked scarily like Tom Daley and he got very embarrassed; bless him, when I asked him to pose for a photo for my mum.
We also struck gold with our tram ride home when for the late night journey the sleek modern tram had been replaced by an original bone-rattling wooden carriage.
On Saturday morning we walked along to the Belem area and visited the Torre de Belem (Tower of Belem), wandered along the waterfront to the Padreo dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries), chatted with a Marine who was guarding the war memorial (see separate blog entry), poked our noses inside the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (Jeronimos Monastery) and find of finds, had coffee and the most exquisite pasteis at the famous Cafe de Pasteis. Our hostess Guida had recommended that we hunt out this little treasure and we were so glad that we did. Reminiscent of tearooms with little ante rooms off from the main hall we were served by waiters who glided silently around and surrounded by glorious tiled walls, these pasteis were a little bit of delicious
I shall be returning to Lisbon at the end of August and I look forward to immersing myself again in its history and beauty.