’08 Apr: Lisbon, Portugal

But first getting there with no money…and tine in Sintra.

I cannot CanNOT believe…

April 19

I cannot CanNOT believe what happened this morning. Everything has run so smoothly time after time year after year I just forgot to be careful. Don’t use ATM machines when the bank is closed! Plan ahead! Because the ATM Machine ATE MY CARD. My atm card is g.o.n.e. gone. It’s Saturday morning, I’m due to leave and I have No Money. This is going to be interesting…

BUT, first all transport…

BUT, first all transport to Tarife was cancelled due to bad weather and second I couldn’t even get to Algeciras because all credit card connections at the port were ‘no good’. No cash, no boat.

Good thing I like Tangier! So I spent a couple hours finding a place that was ok and took credit cards. All the decent bargain places want cash, all the really upscale places were Saturday-Night-Sold-Out so I ended up, just as the constant drizzle turned into a downpour, paying a Lot for a very ok place, Hotel El Oumna Ouerto, with a restaurant, a bar, and in-room internet. Here it is. It was fun.

I found a travel agency that would sell me a boat ticket to Algeciras (forget Tarife they said, bad weather) and will attempt an overnight bus to Lisbon arrving early Monday morning and all will be well. That’s that plan.

I´m writing this mid-morning…

April 20

I´m writing this mid-morning of the 21st and I have five minutes before I have to race to the bus that will take me to Lisbon where I will arrive at 9pm. What a Transfer this has been!

A guy at the port said it was the worst storm around here in 25 years…the boat that was to leave at 11am left at 5pm and took an extra hour in the passage.

I hung out with these guys All Day and stayed at the same hotel in Algaceris that night, everyone having missed our connection out. We had some good fun. They have very interesting stories and I will tell about them later. I really Really don´t want to miss that bus!

The Rock of Gibraltar….

The Rock of Gibraltar.

At this point during the passage through the Straights you can see three countries all at one go – UK, Morocco, and Spain. That’s pretty cool.

Oh YES, the Might…

April 22

Oh YES, the Might Euro! And I’ve got a fist full of ’em.

I had made that mad bee-line to Lisbon (which took 3 days due to ‘the worst storm in 25 years’) because there was an American Express office there and help in times of trouble is their claim to fame, but No. No office, No agent, No help. And a local bank called for me and said that anyway American Express Portugal said that they cannot confirm an American Express Gold Card from America, so way too bad, no euro for me. Whoo, bummer.

BUT Let’s hear it for Bank of America/Visa! Really, they totally came through…they came through smelling like that delicious fragrant aroma of a fist full of euro.

I got the money And they took care of my eaten atm all painlessly for me With Many obrigadas to the local bank who made all the calls on my behalf. I am actually glad I made my way to a capital city where such things are familiar.

And another one. …

And another one. This promenade of trees and monuments is quite lovely and must provide a most welcome canopy of shade during the cooking hot summer.

On the other side…

On the other side of the gate, the end of the Avenida de Liberdade.

There are literally thousands of indoor/outdoor cafes lining street after street down here. I was tempted, but not impelled to eat in one of those places.

…and here’s Pop. …

…and here’s Pop. The grown-up sons were running the place. This was one down-home delicious meal!

That’s the entire kitchen, including all the dish-washing. Both guys could reach everything with the least little shuffle of feet. Good prep, that’s the key!

From another faabulous dinner…

April 23

From another faabulous dinner last night. I haven’t carried on yet about the pastry here. A-Ma-Zing. I was about to say it’s not possible to get a bad meal and then I did, for lunch today. But still, overall, the food has been phenomenal.

The view from the…

The view from the ramparts of the castle. This is a good orientation for yesterdays photos. You can see the big square by the sea right in the center of the shot.

As you can guess by the jumble down there, no streets meet at right angles.

These yellow trams are…

These yellow trams are the signature tourist image from here and are painted, drawn, etched, modeled, on every kind of surface with every kind of material and the uniformity of the look is frankly weird.

The Cathedral, and a…

The Cathedral, and a really old one at that. (Sorry about the nasty lean! It’s not really going to topple right over.)

This guy was first built in the 1100s (many restorations followed), around the same time the book Pillars of The Earth is set which made looking at it especially interesting. You could really feel too how the developments in architectural technology had not yet been implemented here.

So I’m walking back,…

So I’m walking back, more than 8 hours on-the-road and I hear the lilting notes of the universal Peruvian Pipe Band but there’s something about it, the rhythm, the drums, what is it?

It is this. Those guys were totally a Peruvian Pipe Band yesterday and pow-wow Indians today. And they totally knew I knew…

The wall tiles. …

April 24

The wall tiles. I’m sure there are books of designs and scholars who have done their PhD on the topic. The newer buildings don’t have them and for good reason I’m sure, but they are a delight.

You might have noticed…

You might have noticed them on walls in some of the city-scape scenes from other days. From a distance you can’t see the specific detail, only a hint of design.

Some of the newer buildings will put a square or an oblong of some tiles as a ‘picture’ but that so doesn’t do the trick. To make it work, you’ve got to cover the whole dang wall.

LP: ‘The lavender-, lemon-,…

LP: ‘The lavender-, lemon-, and rose-tinted turrets and battlements of the ludicrous, magical Palacio Nacional da Pena…delivered in 1840…this Bavarian-Manueline epic’ is a one-of-kind for sure.

Check out these details….

Check out these details.

Under the creature the door surrounds are a coral forest embeded with sealife of all description.

No pictures allowed inside but ‘the kitsch, extravagant interior is equally extraordinary.’ The rooms have been arranged much as they were, with All This Stuff, left by Queen Amelia after the 1910 declaration of the republic.

This is one of…

This is one of the many sights in the Parque da Pena that surrounds the Palacio.

It’s a huge park and entirely up hill. Also the map was so bad, everywhere I wandered I ran into tourists just standing, staring at that map, turning it around in their hands, pointing, trying to figure out where the heck they were!

…and there are a…

…and there are a few more sights I didn’t go too.

But I’m tired and I’m done. I don’t feel too bad about quitting, rather I feel sensible and since sensible is a quality I enjoy, it’s enjoyable to quit. That was a clever bit of word play I’d say.

Tomorrow morning I’m up…

Tomorrow morning I’m up with the dawn and off to Evora.

Exciting photos await – Alberto Rosa and his Mama! Hey all you Berkeley-ites, it’s gon’na be Alberto Rosa. Wow. Just the concept of Alberto after all these years, Wow should about do it.

Back in Lisbon for…

April 28

Back in Lisbon for the night before heading home.

I didn’t have any particular expectations of Lisbon and it turned out to be a highly recommendable place. Good tourism opportunities, yummy food, and a cheerful cosmopolitan vibe.

Oh yeah, The Smart…

Oh yeah, The Smart Car. He was pulled up a little over the curb, but what a concept! However I’d not be so eager to be running at highway speed and passed by a giant truck.

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