My friend Kelley and I just savored Thanksgiving lamb chops and potatoes at a restaurant where a curly-haired waiter instructed us that whenever our glasses needed replenishment we should yell at him, “More wine, you incompetent Portuguese dwarf!” Per Kelley’s advice, I softened it to, “More wine, you competent Portuguese giant!” Before ordering, Kelley had asked if the potatoes were good and our funny waiter replied that they were the worst potatoes in the world. The process of preparing them, he said, consisted of mixing powder and water. He was joking, of course, and the food was amazing, but the crowning glory of Thanksgiving was the green wine. This, I learned tonight, is a Portuguese specialty. It’s made from grapes before ripeness sets in and the result is a fresh, crisp, and satisfying wine. Perfect for Thanksgiving dinner in Lisbon!
Lisbon has quickly earned a place in my heart as one of my favorite cities. I felt giddy and nervous upon arrival because I’ve wanted to visit for years. Finally making it here was like going on a highly anticipated first date. Now I have mellowed out, thanks to the Fado music and great wine, and I can easily imagine myself living here.
Kelley and I visited Jerónimos Monastery and saw where Vasco da Gama, the first European explorer to reach India, is entombed. We also roamed the beautiful courtyard in the monastery and visited the archaeological museum. For someone like Kelley who is passionate about history, Lisbon is a treasure trove. I’m also interested in history and all the stories this city contains. After going to the Lisboa Story Centre Museum and going on a fun interactive tour made up of audio, aromatic, visual, and tactile exhibitions, my knowledge of Portugal’s history is richer, especially the history of the Praça do Comércio, the humongous town square where the museum is located. So much has happened in that vast yard, I’m sure that statue of King José sitting atop his horse could tell some crazy stories.
The negatives have been very few and just require brief mention. Yesterday, Kelley and I rode up the Santa Justa elevator, a contraption whose only purpose is letting tourists go up high to take photos. Kelley doesn’t like heights and I’m claustrophobic enough to dislike elevators, so both of these vulnerabilities made the elevator a bad idea. But then to make it worse, the elevator operator lost his temper at some French women and screamed relentlessly at them in French for the entire ride down. I told him to chill out, but he was psychotic and psychotic people are incapable of chilling out. Then tonight we had a rude cab driver who made us get out before our destination and walk in the pouring rain up to our hotel. Earlier, I had learned a Spanish curse word from Kelley, and I used this word, which is the same in Portuguese. Kelley was a little embarrassed that I used this word but I thought the situation called for it.
More stories and photos to come! I am having a fabulous time. Happy Thanksgiving!!!