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Falling For Portugal: A Mai Tai Tom (Trip) Report

Falling For Portugal: A Mai Tai Tom (Trip) Report

Old Nov 20th, 2022, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by maitaitom
Still in So Cal. We just flew out of SF because it was non-stop.
Darn, got all excited for a bit! But yeah, we've gone down to LAX for the same reason.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2022, 01:54 PM
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Yay, another Mai Tai Tom trip report! I visted Portugal in 2018 and absolutely loved it!

I finally finished reading your England/Scotland trip report. You guys had GREAT weather! I was there about the same time, and while I can't really complain about the weather, my locations and timing did put me in chillier, rainier spots. I also don't think I realized how much ending the trip with COVID marred my memories. I've been pretty lukewarm about Scotland until now. Suddenly I'm back into loving all things Scotland and wanting to go back!
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Old Nov 23rd, 2022, 01:22 PM
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As you know, we always try to pack a lot into a day. After a slight glitch in our “foolproof” plan to get there, we toured the historic Castelo de São Jorge, the most visited attraction in Lisbon. Next on the agenda, we enjoyed the tombs, tiles and tales at Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora. We then headed over to see Portugal’s National Pantheon, Igreja de Santa Engrácia-Panteão Nacional, a place that took a mere 284 years to construct and finally finish. Our final stop would be the fascinating Museu Nacional do Azulejo, and its incredibly ornate Igreja do Antigo Convento de Madre de Deus. Those attractions, broken statues and more on Day Two in Lisbon. Story w/photos in link below ... without photos below photos ... Happy Thanksgiving!


Day Two: Out Of Order, Early Birds, By Jorge, When You Gotta Go, Tombs Tiles And Tales, Portugal’s National Pantheon, Greenhouse Effect, Astounding Azulejos, Eavesdropping Helps, Selfie Goes Awry, The Wrong Duque and An Impressed Waiter

I was the first to sample Sunday breakfast on the Altis Avenida rooftop and was quickly joined by this feathered friend. He looked over at the buffet of eggs, cereals, sausage, fruit and other items and decided he’d rather not consume all the calories, I, on the other hand, partook of this decent array of morning sustenance.

We decided to get an early start because our first stop of the day was one of Lisbon’s most popular attractions, Castelo de São Jorge
(St. George’s Castle). Since I knew we’d probably exceed 10,000 steps on this day, I had a game plan for an easy way to get there. First, we’d grab an Uber to take us to a small grocery store named Pingo Doce Chão do Loureiro. Next, we’d take the Elevador Castelo up to a restaurant terrace, and from there it would be a short stroll to the castle. A perfect idea, except for the fact the elevator was “out of order.” Oh well, we needed the extra exercise to burn off those bacon and eggs.

Up, up, up we walked to Costa do Castelo, and the cobble-stoned street walk to the castle was a fairly easy one in this Alfama neighborhood.

Tracy was ecstatic to get a photo of some Climbing Morning Glories flowers along the way.

Interesting buildings en route caught our attention.

Hitting the entrance a little after 9, there was no line to enter the 11th-century castle resting upon Lisbon’s tallest hill.

Despite a slightly hazy day, the views out toward the Tagus River and the Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge, formerly known as Ponte Salazar, and renamed after the Carnation Revolution on April 25, 1974, a military coup that resulted in Portugal’s transition to democracy, were great. The bridge was inaugurated in 1966.

A medieval cannon on the battlement meant no one would attack us on this day, which would be another warm one in Lisbon.

We pondered our next move (we really could have a used a map, but it is us). Actually, just meandering the castle grounds before the hordes of tourists ascended was a great way to start the day.

A nude female statue caught my eye. From a few websites I’ve read, the statue is of Olispona, who (according to some legends) was a woman whose arms turned into serpents and formed the hills of Lisbon. I’m guessing there is a more coherent theory.

Peacocks roam freely in the gardens here, and this guy was very colorful.

Once upon a time there was a Moorish royal residence that was eventually dedicated to St. George, the patron saint of England, commemorating the 1371 Anglo-Portuguese pact. We walked into what remains of the Alcaçovas Palace, which was heavily damaged in the 1755 earthquake.

Tracy got this cool shot.

Now it was time to ascend some rather steep stairs. Tourists and locals alike wondered in astonishment if the old man walking like Methuselah in this picture could make it. He did, but it wasn’t pretty.

It was about 9:40 a.m. when we spied a sign for the castle’s Camera Obscura at the Tower Of Ulysses, which I heard was quite an Odyssey. Not opening until 10 a.m., I told the woman at the door we would return later. “Oh, no, no,” she exclaimed, and took me by the arm and led me inside for a Mai Tai Tom personal mini-tour. The Camera Obscura offers a 360 degree view of Lisbon in real time. My phone camera was acting up, but that’s why they invented the internet (below photo).

We walked the ramparts for a bit …

… and explored the archeological digs and moat.

In the courtyard is the statue of King Manuel I, aka “The Fortunate One!” It seems this statue wasn’t so fortunate, because a sign next to it pictured part of his toe broken off, presumably from someone leaning on it. It has since been repaired, and the sign requests, “Please do not lean on the foot.” I told everyone I’d toe the line. It would not be our last “broken statue story” of the day.

Signs for refreshments were seen, but because I have not had a “Daikery” since college, we passed.

As we walked toward our next destination, we passed a place outside where people who have too many Daikeries can make a quick stop.

I told you there were an abundance of tourists who invaded Lisbon, and it seems there are differing opinions on what locals think of them.

There’s also an abundance of graffiti in Lisbon, but some of the “street art” is pretty cool.

As we walked to Igreja de São Vicente de Fora from the castle …

… we saw lots of it.

This guy played a good guitar, and I thought with his friend he might play “Hound Dog.” He didn’t, but he garnered a few euro from our group anyway.

Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) was our next stop. Although the church was closed, the monastery, that also doubles as the Royal Pantheon of the Bragança Monarchs of Portugal (€4), was open. Forty-nine members of the family that ruled from 1640 - 1910 are buried in this building.

We entered the Baroque Entrance Hall (Sala da Portaria), featuring a Lecturn, frescoed ceiling and more of those 18th-century blue and white azulejos.

In the next room we saw a processional bell on the left. On the right, I started singing “What A Wonderful Night For a Moonstrance,” which aren’t actually the words to the song.

Along with a beautiful oil painting we saw St. Anthony, Doctor of the Church. I wouldn’t need a real doctor for another 24 hours.

After seeing the statue of Moses, we parted ways with that room.

More tiled walls could be found in the cloister area and stairways.

We visited the Royal Tombs. The Chapel of the Meninos de Palhavã, has a couple of Skull and Cross Bone tombs that contain two of the illegitimate sons of King João V.

The statue of a woman crying over two tombs is the centerpiece of the room. She is weeping above the tombs of King Carlos I and his son, Luis Filipe, who were assassinated in the Praça do Comércio in 1908.

Nearby is the tomb of Amélie d’Orléans, the last Queen consort of Portugal and wife of King Carlos I.

We passed the tomb of Dom Pedro I of Brazil, known as “The Liberator,” who for a short time reigned over Portugal.

The Chapel of St. Anthony is supposedly on the same spot that once contained his cell.

Finally, we witnessed the very cool tiles depicting the Fábulas
La Fontaine (Fables of La Fontaine). Jean de La Fontaine was a French fabulist and poet, and his fables are told in 18th century azulejos at Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora. There are 38 of them here created by Azulejo master, Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes, between 1740 and 1750. I took a bunch of photos, but my iPhone deleted them. Fortunately Tracy snapped a few, including my favorite one about a well-meaning bear …

… and a revengeful dog.

We thought about spending time taking in the views on the roof to take in some views, but felt we might get as warm as Icarus, plus it was time to depart for our next destination.

It was another short walk to Igreja de Santa Engrácia-Panteão Nacional, a place that only took 284 years to construct (La Sagrada Familia, eat your heart out). In fact, it’s said that when a builder begins to construct a house in Portugal, the owner pleads, “Don't take as long as St. Engrácia." Although it was chosen as Portugal’s National Pantheon in 1916, the building wasn’t formally inaugurated until 1966.

Since we were on our first full day exploring Lisbon, it was fitting that the National Pantheon holds the cenotaphs of Vasco de Gama, Henry The Navigator and other famous Portuguese personalities. We bought the combo ticket which also gains you entrance to the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, which we would visit after lunch.

From the main floor came the first ceiling photographs of the trip detailing Santa Engrácia’s cross-domed ceiling “made according to the centralized Greek cross.”

An elevator whisked us to the upper choir and inner gallery, where I discovered my phone was going bezerk (that is probably how I lost some of my photos).

As I not-so-happily worked to get that fixed, Kim, Mary and Tracy climbed the 187 steps to the dome, where this photo was taken.

In search of a restaurant for lunch, we became a little confused on our directions, and walking aimlessly would be too kind a description of what we were doing. We found ourselves near the waterfront (the giant cruise ship gave it away), where we began at least going in the direction toward the National Tile Museum. It was mostly industrial and certainly not on any tourist map. We passed by some interesting dwellings, and the crew was hoping this mural of Moses might give us a commandment where to go.

Mercifully, we stumbled upon Ferroviário Bar Terrace.

Quickly checking TripAdvisor, we found it was listed as the 4,561st restaurant out of 4,698 restaurants in Lisbon. Fortunately, we don’t always trust TA (plus we were starving), and our lunch, which included Kim dining on bacon pancakes and me on a ham, brie and honey panini. Both dishes were pretty tasty.

The downside was that although the restaurant was situated near the water, it was covered in plastic “curtains” creating a Greenhouse Effect (AKA, very hot). Although a good way to grow certain vegetables, it was a little too warm to be comfortable. Fortunately, Tracy had one of her new fans with her, or I would have been toast, literally and figuratively.

After lunch, we resumed walking toward the Tile Museum, but after a couple of steps, Tracy forcefully said, “I’m calling a taxi!” After 28 years of marriage I recognized that tone of voice and within a few minutes a taxi miraculously appeared and whisked us to the museum. It was a short ride, so we doubled the driver’s tip as we did often in Portugal since the rides were consistently inexpensive, whether it be taxi or Uber.

Located inside the Convento da Madre de Deus, Museu Nacional do Azulejo is the only museum strictly dedicated to this type of art. We learned some designs can be painted directly on the smooth tile, without the colors mixing during baking.

The cloisters were colorfully decorated with these tiles.

… while these had a more religious theme.

This large panel formerly adorned the Church of Santo André, located next to the Castelo de São Jorge.

We learned that azulejo is Arabic in origin and comes from “az-zulayj,” which roughly translates to “polished stone.” The museum “traces the evolution of tile-making from Moorish days through Spanish influence and the emergence of Portugal's own style (the blue and white azulejos seen in so many places) and is displayed in chronological order starting in the 15th century.” Our photos are not in chronological order.

These Sala da Caça (Hunting Room) 17th-century tiles are from Lisbon’s Palácio da Praia.

One of the highlights of the museum is the incredibly ornate Igreja do Antigo Convento de Madre de Deus, but when we saw this sign about 2:30, we were understandably unhappy. However, Mary has a way of overhearing conversations, and she discovered that the church would re-open at 3 p.m.

We bided our time by admiring more tiles.

Some tiles depict the history of Lisbon.

Sure enough, Mary was correct. At 3 p.m. the church opened back up. Good ears Mary!

Before entering the church we saw the oldest Portuguese baroque nativity scene that was built around 1700, the Presépio da Madre de Deus. The nativity scene is composed of 42 pieces.

The interior of the church is something to behold. 17th-century tiles from the Netherlands, which can be seen decorating the walls, depict the lives of St. Francis and St. Claire.

It is ornate to the tenth degree. In the 17th century the nave and main chapel were painted by various artists.

The high-choir is where the nuns would hang out peering through the trellis to view the celebrations below without being seen by people attending church. I believe that became a Habit for them.

Even for a group that occasionally deals with church overload, this was place was pretty stupendous.

Before we left we saw this tile, which I thought I saw once in a Minnie Mall …

… and this guy looked as tired as we were as we headed down through the museum cafe to exit.

There was no way we were going to walk back to the hotel if I wished to remain married, plus I hate a mutiny on our first full day of vacation. We were pretty tired, but managed a few minutes of rest before dinner.

I had made reservations at Oficina do Duque. We’d first make a quick stop at the Estação de Caminhos de Ferro do Rossio (aka Rossio Train Station), where Tracy just happened to take a photo of a statue, which turned out later to have an interesting tale plus another cautionary one of stupid people taking selfies.

After we returned home, I attempted to see if the statue had any significance. Turns out the original statue, which was finished in 1890, was of Dom Sebastião, a man who died in battle while on crusade against the kingdom of Morocco and who was also Sebastian, the King of Portugal and the Algarves, from 1557 to 1578.

Fast forward to 2016 when a Portuguese tourist decided he wanted to take a selfie with the life-size statue that stands on the façade near the train station’s entrance. Somehow, the man managed to climb onto the pedestal. For a moment Dom Sebastião teetered on the edge, but sadly he finally fell to pieces, a broken man.

The replica of the original was installed in 2021.

Now it was time for dinner, and as so many things are in Portugal, it was an uphill walk. After nearly blowing a lung going up the stairs, we made it to Oficina do Duque. Dinner was fine, but not as wonderful as anticipated, however there was a reason for that. Tracy took a photo of the surroundings after dinner (and even one of our restaurant), but it wasn’t until after our dinner the following night when we walked by Oficina do Duque that we realized we’d not actually dined at Oficina do Doque, but at Solar do Duque. Those stairs can play tricks on your mind.

We meandered down the hill to our hotel along the mostly quiet streets, although there was still plenty of action near the train station and our new buddy Dom Sebastião.

Back on the hotel rooftop, the four of us partook in a glass of wine or two. Tracy snapped a photo of our server pouring the wine, and he asked Tracy if he could see it. He liked it so much that he asked her to email it to him to share with the sommelier. We are awaiting the royalty checks.

Tomorrow our plan was to utilize Lisbon’s subway, hit the streets early to visit one of Lisbon’s famed art museums, and then ostensibly walk back to our hotel via a park and a stroll down the tree-lined Avenida da Liberdade, “Lisbon’s Champs-Elysees.”

Unfortunately, I took “hitting the street”one misstep further, forcing Tracy and me to explore Portugal’s health care system for a few hours. As we would discover later in the week when we visited Sintra, my episode paled in comparison to a much worse outcome.
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 11:30 AM
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Well, it didn’t take me long to need medical assistance in Lisbon. Exiting a metro station I slightly miscounted the number of steps and my head received a cobblestone sidewalk “hello.” After a quick ambulance trip, I was checked out at a hospital and after a CT Scan the hospital confirmed what most people already know … my brain showed nothing. We hightailed it over to Lisbon’s most famous art museum, the fabulous Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, where Tracy once again was able to view a painting by her all-time favorite artist. All this, and a fantastic Italian dinner complete with a very decisive waiter made for an unusual, but memorable, day in Lisbon. Story with photos link below ... without photos below photos.


Chapter Three: Fall Comes Three Days Early In Lisbon

Day Three: That’s The Ticket (Finally), Underground Transportation, What Goes Down Must Come Up, Good Samaritans, Siren Song, Farewell To The Queen, Just A Flesh Wound, Kim Chickens Out, Singer Sargent Strikes Again, Hotel Guests Only, Italian Dinner “Suggestions,” and “Lisbon Is Killing Me”

Our third day in Lisbon started out just like the day before with another filling breakfast on the Altis Avenida Rooftop with a table overlooking Praça dos Restauradores. My Portuguese needed some help, so at my request our server helpfully wrote down a few key phrases with the correct pronunciations.

Today’s plan: Go to the metro stop next to the hotel and purchase a ticket to the station nearest the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian (one of the few museums open on Mondays), then take a stroll along the lovely Parque Eduardo VII and Avenida da Libertade and, if time, go up to Convento do Carmo.

Of course, first we had to figure out how to get a one-way ticket at the machine. Two young ladies next to us were also trying to buy tickets, so we thought, “They’re young, so we’ll just watch and learn.” They were having trouble.

We figured it couldn’t be that hard, but this is the same group that put the wrong petrol in a car and couldn’t figure out reverse on a rental mobile. Luckily, someone nearby took pity on us and helped with the tickets.

We rode the metro to the São Sebastião stop (why Tracy didn’t tell me I had exaggerated Pee-wee Herman hair, I don’t know). As is always the case, or so it seems, we didn’t know exactly how to exit the metro. Finally, I said, “Let’s take this one.” We walked through a department store, where just outside the exit was a set of stairs. There weren’t many stairs, but it turned out there was one too many.

As I neared the bottom, Tracy yelled out, “Tom!” Thinking I was already on the cobblestone pavement, I turned around. Unfortunately, there was still a half-step left, well actually just an inch as this was one of those steps that is tall at one end and lower at the other.

Suddenly, I looked like a drunk ballet dancer as I tumbled and pirouetted in an attempt to regain my balance. The fall felt like it was in slow motion. For a second, I thought I’d stay upright. I was incorrect. Unable to stay on my feet, I hit the ground butt first. I made a herculean effort not to hit my arms or head on the pavement (yes, I have attempted this before with mixed results). I only felt a slight contact with my arm, so for a split second I thought I was good. Then, I heard that terrible thud (crack) of my head hitting the pavement. Instantly, I knew the art museum would have to wait.

Realizing I was still among the living, Mary and Tracy helped me get up, while Kim photographed the aftermath for TMZ. While the security guard at the department store looked on doing nothing, a young lady (who turned out to be a student from Indiana) and another man rushed over to help.

Our resident doctor (aka Mary), quickly ascertained that I was bleeding from my head, and since I am on a strong blood thinner, that’s not a good sign. Meanwhile, I had a pretty good headache.

In an abundance of caution, we decided to grab a taxi to a nearby hospital ER. Both people who had stopped to help recommended that we call an ambulance otherwise it would take too long to be seen (just like in the States). Ms. Indiana pulled out her phone to call, but because she was not fluent in Portuguese the other gentleman took over the call. We waited for the ambulance and as it approached, the man stood in the middle of the street waving the ambulance to the spot where a stupid tourist had fallen and cracked his head.

The woman from Indiana said she thought he might be a person living on the streets as she had seen him before wandering around the area. I wanted to give the guy some euro for his advice and help, but as quickly as he had appeared, he disappeared.

The paramedics examined my head, and when I explained I was on blood-thinners, they immediately said I needed to go to the hospital. Tracy was not allowed to go with me in the ambulance, so the crew followed in a taxi.

The Serviço de Urgência do Hospital de São José not been on my list of Lisbon attractions, but soon I was there. The ER was quite busy, so Kim and Mary departed for the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, while we said we’d see them “whenever.” Very quickly after checking in I was directed to a room where I would be seen, but not before we saw some interesting ER action. A woman in handcuffs was beyond crazy, while another man took it to the next level watching Queen Elizabeth’s funeral. The man would stand up from his chair to salute the Queen, then a few minutes later stand up and flip her off. He repeated this the entire time we were in the waiting area. When I departed to my room, Tracy watched Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, albeit with a few distractions.

Fairly quickly, I was seen by three young (and incredibly nice) doctors who, fortunately for me, spoke English. They noticed a cut on my arm I hadn’t even realized happened. They cleaned out the wound, applied a bandage and wrap on my arm and wrapped my head so I looked a little like a swami. Tracy showed them my list of medications and they immediately realized I needed a CT scan to be certain I did not have a brain bleed.

I was wheeled away for a CT Scan, waited about half an hour, and after conferring with my new medical personnel friends, I was given a clean bill of health and told we were good to go.

As it turned out, it was “just a flesh wound,” albeit a painful one.

“Where do I pay?” I inquired.

The reply was, “All we need from you is a copy of your passport and you can leave.” From the time we arrived at the ER until the time we left, it was just under three hours. At my local hospital it would have two or three times that long. As far as payment, we have not yet received a bill, so it is unknown what’s going to happen.

As we were exiting, the lines into the ER were very, very long, so my tip is if you get injured in Lisbon do it early in the day.

While all this was transpiring, Kim and Mary wandered off to the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, which they enjoyed very much, and, although they said the Parque Eduardo VII had an event that precluded their visit, they enjoyed the stroll down Avenida da Libertarde. For lunch, they hit Bonjardim so Kim could sample the world famous Piri Piri Chicken.

Following their lead, we hailed a taxi and scooted over to Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, named after Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkia, who is shown in a statue in the museum gardens with an eagle, which is an ancient Armenian symbol for nobility. An oil magnate art aficionado, Gulbenkia’s collection comprises more than 6,000 pieces and covers more than 4,000 years.

Here is just a sampling. These three Greco-Roman pieces date back as far as 250 BC.

Since visiting Granada, Spain, I have been intrigued by Middle Eastern lights and accoutrements. I loved these Mosque lamps from the 14th century, and also the colorful piece in between.

Tracy liked the Chinese vases, as flowers never really escape her mind.

A couple of pieces that commanded our attention were Riding St. Martin Sharing His Cloak With A Beggar and a 19th century bronze of Louis VIV that had to be humming the Beatles’ song, Here Comes The Sun King.

On our first afternoon in Lisbon we stopped in the Lisbon Sé. There we saw the tombs of Lopo Fernandes Pacheco, comrade-in-arms of D. Afonso IV, and his second wife Maria Vilalobos. On Maria’s tomb, she was reading the Book of Hours, this page at the museum being the Holford Hours.

The Portrait of Hélène Fourment by Rubens was Gulbenkian's favorite painting.

We’ve seen many versions of Cupid and the Three Graces in our travels, and this 18th-century oil on canvas is one of the best.

Be on the lookout for Houdan’s 1780 statue of Diana, who seems a shadow of her old self.

Another painting we enjoyed was Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Conynham.

Renoir’s Portrait of Camille Monet made quite an impression.

But it was the next painting that Tracy liked best, because it is from her favorite artist, John Singer Sargent. Sargent’s Lady and Child Asleep in a Punt under The Willow, is from his Impressionist period during the latter half of the 1880s.

We found this little sculpture to be whimsical.

There is quite a collection of jewelry and glassware from René Lalique.

None of the jewelry pieces were ever worn, except this one. The Dragonfly Woman Corsage Ornament was worn once onstage by actress Sarah Bernhardt. The museum calls it, “Without doubt one of the most spectacular pieces of jewelry ever created by René Lalique.” It’s said that when Lalique presented it at the 1900 Paris Universal Exhibition, where “it was seen by about 50 million visitors.”

Before exiting, we saw one last painting, the eye-popping, The Mirror of Venus.

It was late in the afternoon, but after grabbing a couple of pastries in the museum cafeteria we wandered into the adjoining gardens for a little while.

Another tranquil oasis in Lisbon.

As we went through out photos, I remarked to Tracy that I didn’t remember this sculpture. Then when I found out The Maternity was located in Amália Rodrigues Garden, I had no recollection of having been there. “I must have hit my head harder than I thought,” I said. “Either that,” Tracy replied, “or this is a picture Mary texted me that day when they visited on their way down to lunch.” It’s good to have a wife with a memory.

We motored back to the hotel where we had made early evening rooftop reservations (hotel guests only on Monday and Tuesday) for a little vino before dinner, as we would not be dining until 8:30.

It was another lovely evening in Lisbon.

For dinner on this night we would go Italian. Ristorante Casanostra (Travessa do Poço da Cidade, 60) has been in Bairro Alto for 36 years. As we walked to dinner we discovered that this neighborhood is a happening part of Lisbon. The only thing “happening” for me was food. It had been a long time since I ate.

It’s a charming, intimate restaurant (photo from internet, so we did not disturb the packed dining area). Our waiter Mariano told us he has been here for 21 years.

Our dinner was excellent, but we couldn’t take credit for our selections. Mariano suggested that we stick with the pasta dishes, because they were the best. After Mary ordered pasta with truffles and grilled eggplant, Mariano took over. He declared we should all try different dishes, so by the time the dust had cleared we also had orders of Tagliatelle with gorgonzola (me), pasta with clams (Kim) and pasta with lemon and saffron (Tracy). All were fantastico.

Since Tracy and I had not eaten much since breakfast, I also had a fabulous prosciutto e Portuguese melone (oh my, that melon was sweet!), which could have served the entire table had I been willing to share (sometimes that sympathy card comes in handy). Tracy had a yummy Burrata salad. This, and a couple of bottles of wine, came to a little less than €75 a couple. I was digging dining in Portugal.

We bid farewell to the amiable and personable Mariano, and started back down the hill to the hotel. Bars were packed, music was blaring, the sounds of raucous young people having a blast and that slight wafting of vomit filled the air (I told you the bars were packed). Had I been 25, this is where I’d hang out. Being a few years older, we kept walking, and, lo and behold, walked past Oficina do Duque, the restaurant we were supposed to have dined the previous evening. Now, I really felt old.

A few steps later we passed Solar do Duque, where we had dined in error, and it was doing a booming business once again.

Getting to the bottom of the stairs (safely, this time), I looked back up and tried to determine how I had mistaken our restaurant the previous night.

We headed off for a good night’s sleep, but not before one more misstep. There was also a half step out of the bathroom into our room, and once again I didn’t see it (in my defense, the carpet was black as was the wall and with the lights out, the room). Falling forward I was able to stay standing thanks to the wall. Unfortunately, my knuckles took a good scraping, and once again blood was the order of the day. I think it is ironic that one of my favorite Moody Blues’ albums is A Question of Balance, and I seem to have none.

Tracy just looked at me and said, “We didn’t bring enough bandaids.” I replied, “Lisbon is killing me.”

The following day, we’d get into the full swing of things. We’d ascend one of Lisbon’s hacks to get to a famed convent and archeological museum located off a busy square, an ornate igreja, then take a crazy mode of transportation to a 1789 basilica (well, sort of), have lunch in the garden, visit an art museum where I got to see a tryptic from my favorite artist and end the evening at a restaurant that not only served good food, but was a place where Mary almost left Kim for the waiter.
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 01:40 PM
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Oh my goodness, have you thought of writing a blog just on medical aid while traveling? A few of us here could probably add a chapter or two.

I am really enjoying your report and photos.
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 02:01 PM
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Oh whew, glad it wasn't worse. However, it's amazing how many European ER stories put me in an insanely jealous state. Why can't our ERs be that efficient??
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 03:44 PM
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At this rate your traveling companions will have to hold your hand non-stop. Glad you're OK.
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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 12:00 AM
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Good to hear that the medical drama was met with excellent care.

The head strike hasn’t affected your photography, so that’s good 😉
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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 07:35 AM
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Hoping the rest of your report is accident free!
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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 09:09 AM
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"The head strike hasn’t affected your photography, so that’s good"

As long as Tracy doesn't fall on her head we're good, because most of the photos are hers,
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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 07:21 PM
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I'm so glad you've lived to tell us this tale. My sympathies to Tracy for having to spend so much time in a hospital! I'm enjoying your trip report; it's good to see you all together again.
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Old Dec 1st, 2022, 08:20 AM
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Enjoying your trip report as Portugal has always been somewhere that I've been interested in visiting.

As I read your most recent chapter, you had my sympathies - I had a fall this past summer while traveling in Boston (sidewalk maintenance in Boston is terrible and is uneven and full of potholes) - luckily I only sprained a couple of fingers badly but for a while I wasn't sure if I had fractured them.

I was texting home with a couple of my sisters, telling them about my fall and one of them told me "uh, you fall a lot when you travel" - I thought back and realized it's true - I am incredibly clumsy while traveling and have tripped and fallen a bunch of times. Luckily none very seriously. Probably because I'm looking around rather than where I'm stepping.
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Old Dec 1st, 2022, 11:04 AM
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So sorry to hear about your fall. Luckily it wasn’t worse. And you have the right attitude. You continue on with the show and you are obviously still enjoying yourself.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2022, 06:31 AM
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"I had a fall this past summer while traveling in Boston ..."

Glad you escaped relatively unscathed. As you'll see, tripping can lead to tragic consequences a little later on our journey.
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Old Dec 6th, 2022, 11:49 AM
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My computer photo problems semi-solved (Apple has not been my friend lately), here comes Day Four in Lisbon. Thanks to a post by Maribel, we saved a lot of steps heading up to the ruins of Convento da Ordem do Carmo and Museu Arqueológico do Carmo. We visited a church that took opulence to the next level, survived a Tuk-Tuk ride to a basilica that gave us a few problems in time management, lunch in a pretty garden and on to a museum displaying a piece of art by my favorite crazy painter. We’d have what was, up to now, the best meal we had in Lisbon, and turned out to be one of the best we had on the trip (and we had a lot of good ones). Post with a ton of photos in link below … without photos below photos.


Day Four: Justa Wrong Way To Go, Escalators To Heaven, Carmelite Treasure, Don’t Judge A Church By Its Cover, Tuk-ered Out, Timing Is Everything, Banana Appeal, A Date With El Bosco, The Temptations, The Old Ones At “The Old Ones” and Mary’s New Boyfriend

As the sun rose high over Lisbon, and we were out early to explore more of the city’s historic sights. Our first stop was the Convento da Ordem do Carmo (Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel), where I thought it would be fun to take the Elevador de Santa Justa up to near where the convent is located.

But after looking at the line, I shook my head and said, “Justa too many people waiting.”

We’d have to walk. It was then I remembered a tip from a fellow Fodor’s travel board member, Maribel, who had written on various ways to avoid the uphill walk. Her “Destinations With Maribel” website has an abundance of information on Portugal, Spain and France, and she even customizes tours.

There are about a million steps (give or take a few) to get from the Baixa neighborhood to the Chiado area. However, Maribel shared a hack that could save lots and lots of those stairs. She recommended going to the Baixa-Chiado metro station and taking a series of escalators to the top.

Entering the metro station, we must have looked confused (that happens a lot) because a woman asked what we were looking for. I told her the escalators up to Chiado, and she took us under her wing and began speed walking to where the escalators were located. I told you the people in Lisbon are friendly. We started our journey upwards.

The first two escalators worked to perfection. The only fly in the ointment was that the third escalator was out of order, but after walking up that flight of stairs, the last one was in working order. We (carefully) exited the metro station and soon found ourselves part of the crowd waiting to get into the packed and lovely restaurant, Café A Brasileira, one of Lisbon’s oldest cafés.

I spotted the famed #28 tram coming our direction. “We should hop on this at some point,” I said. As it approached, we thought better of it as I harkened back to those packed sardines we saw on the first day.

It was just a few minutes walk to the convent, where we purchased our tickets (€5 I believe).

Like so many other Lisbon buildings, the church, built between 1389 and 1423, was demolished during the earthquake on All Saints’ Day in 1755. It had once been considered among Lisbon’s “most distinguished” churches.

Only the chancel remains of The Church of Santa Maria do Carmo, which houses the Museu Arqueológico do Carmo, containing cool tombs and some other (some macabre) items.

I think this guy escaped from the cat-acombs.

Speaking of cats, I came across the saint who double-crossed me in Prague in 2008, St. John of Nepomuk, who was thrown off the Charles Bridge drowning in 1393 (I took this photo in 2008).

He is the “Patron Saint of Bridges,” and the legend promises that if you touch his statue on the Charles Bridge your wish will come true within one year and one day. I wished that our cat would be alive when we got home but he died a few days before our return. So much for legends and wishes.

I took St. John’s photo at the convent, but I had nothing nice to say to him.

Inside the museum lies the tomb of Queen Maria Ana of Austria, who was Queen of Portugal as the wife of King John V of Portugal.

There is also the 14th century Gothic tomb of King Ferdinand I, nicknamed “The Handsome.” Coats of arms decorate one side of the tomb, while scenes from the life of St. Francis are on the other.

On the capstone is this cool relief of a Flying Angel.

The walls are lined with historic figurative blue azulejos, including one of my good friend, Archangel Michael, who seems to travel with me wherever I go.

Terramoto is Portuguese for “earthquake.”

In the library are two mummies from Peru that date as far back as 1,000 years. I couldn’t get a photo with all the people around them, but found this on the internet.

There is also an interesting and informative video on the history on the convent.

Back outside we passed the 16th century Manueline-style (a Portuguese architectural style originating in the 16th century) tomb of Bishop Dom Francisco de Faria.

We exited onto the historic Largo do Carmo, a beautiful square covered with trees originally from South America. In the center of the square is Chafariz do Carmo, a baroque fountain constructed in 1771. It once brought water in to Lisbon from the Águas Livres Aqueduct through an underground tunnel.

If Tracy can’t find flowers, nobody can.

As we walked by the restaurant we had planned to dine at on our second night in Lisbon, Tracy and Mary asked if they could peek inside at the menu and restaurant, but were told (rather rudely) to look at the one on the side of the building. I now didn’t feel so bad for not dining there.

Next to the Igreja-Museu São Roque is a statue of Padre António Vieira, who was (according to never in doubt and sometimes correct Wikipedia) a “Portuguese Jesuit philosopher and writer, the 'prince' of Catholic pulpit-orators of his time.”

You would never know by its rather unassuming exterior, but Igreja São Roque has an extraordinary interior. Wow!

Commissioned by King João V in 1742, the church has a single nave, a chancel and eight side chapels. The chancel features the Altar of Igreja São Roque.

Its 16th-centuy painted wooden ceiling had us once again looking up.

Opulent chapels abound included the Chapel of Our Lady of Piety which is also the burial place of Martim Gonçalves da Câmara, a royal official of King Sebastian of Portugal.

The last chapel on the left before the altar is the exquisite 18th-century Capela de São João Baptista (Chapel of St. John the Baptist). The most famous of all the chapels, it was designed and made in Rome, complete with mosaics and rare stones that resemble oil paintings.

The Altar Of The Holy Martyrs dates to the end of the 16th century.

There are two paintings depicting the life of Saint Francis Xavier by José Avelar Rebelo, the royal painter of King João IV, in the chapel named after the saint.

The Sacristy of the church is reminiscent of an art gallery with three rows of paintings and a magnificent chest of drawers on either side.

I don’t know which chapel this is… It must have been all those floating heads and cherubs.

You’ll have to throw the book at me.

The Chapel of St. Roch is from the 16th century.

All in all, a pretty remarkable church, but we decided to pass on the museum as it was a glorious day and we wanted to spend some time outside.

We loved the various tiled buildings throughout Lisbon. There were also a lot of dilapidated buildings, but these shined.

Outside the Sabor Auténtico de Lisboa in the Largo Trindade Coelho is the O Cauteleiro Statue, a bronze statue of a lottery ticket salesman. I didn’t buy one.

As we neared the Praça de Luís de Camões, I made a quick stop at Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation.

The Praça de Luís de Camões is a smallish square separating the Barrioa Alto and Chiado neighborhoods. We checked out the large statue of the 16th-century poet Luis de Camões.

There was one more church to visit before heading to an art museum where one of my favorite artists is featured prominently. However, the Basílica da Estrela was about a 25-minute hike from where we were, and judging by the faces of my traveling companions, especially my wife, I didn’t think walking was a wise idea. Plus, we hadn’t yet ridden in a Tuk-Tuk, a veritable “rickshaw on wheels.” We flagged down a Tuk-Tuk driver who said he would take us up to the Basílica for 5 euros per person.

I didn’t think these things traveled very fast. I was mistaken. Our “driver” zipped through the streets of Lisbon like Mario Andretti (or
more like Mário de Araújo Cabral since we were in Portugal after all). Sometimes he even looked at the road. His non-stop chatter including pointing out landmarks and providing local history was well worth the price of admission, plus we lived to tell about it. My favorite line, “There’s Parliament. That’s where they steal our money!”

The basilica was built on the order of Queen Maria I and consecrated in 1789. It had a lovely interior, but since a service was going on we decided to grab a bite and return after lunch.

We scooted across the street to Jardim da Estrela, a lovely green space that was inaugurated in 1842. Located inside the park was the Bananacafé. I had planned for us to have lunch at one of its location on Avenue da Liberdade, but my little mishap the day before meant no lunch.

Bananacafé was a winner scoring points for a fantastic burger and paninis.

Now it was back to the basilica … or not. It was 2 p.m. and it was now closed until 3 p.m. I believe that Kim and Mary surreptitiously called the church, so they would not have to endure exploring yet another house of worship.

Another 20 minute walk, but with our stomachs full, we were up to the task. Plus, it was mostly downhill.

Once again the tiled homes and buildings enchanted …

… as we leisurely walked to Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (National Museum of Ancient Art). We were greeted by this guy in the foyer. I had specifically wanted to visit this museum for the triptych by the great El Bosco.

The museum had a decent crowd, so we didn’t want to take a lot of photos and get in the way, but we did catch a few things.

Gustave Courbet’s Winter Landscape made us feel a little cooler.

Tracy thought this would look good on our dining room table.

Although the glare wasn’t good, this colorful cabinet stood out.

We entered one room, and gazing into the next saw just a frame with no painting. I flashed back to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston where an empty frame remains on display to mark one of the 13 works stolen from the museum in an art heist. This time, the empty frame was actually highlighting the ornateness of the frame.

I was here for the Triptych of Temptation of St. Anthony by Hieronymus Bosch (El Bosco), who we first met at the Prado in Madrid.

His stuff is always fascinating (at least to me).

Staying with the morbid theme, we saw Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist by Lucas Cranach, the Elder. We’ve seen a few of these paintings in our travels and it takes me awhile afterward to hear anything by The Platters.

A few more paintings …

… and we called it a day.

Returning to the hotel in mid-late afternoon, we put our feet up for a few minutes and then took advantage of the Hotel Guests Only On The Rooftop Tuesday.

We celebrated with some bubbly …

… and enjoyed those expansive views over Lisbon.

Dinner on this evening was a four-minute walk from the hotel, however for this directionally challenged crew it took more than 15 minutes. We must be getting old. Speaking of which, our dining establishment on this night would be As Velhas (R. da Conceição da Glória 21), which literally translated means “The Old Ones.”

Our server Antonio was as personable as they come. He told us the restaurant had been at this location since 1925 and was opened by two sisters affectionately called “the old women.”

We admired the charming atmosphere and decor of As Velhas. Although there is outside seating, we sat inside under the timber beams offering a little old-school charm. Antonio was delightful throughout the evening as he and Mary became chummy.

As great as the atmosphere, the actual dinner was even better. Antonio suggested we start with the tempura green beans, which garnered a “wow” from the table. Also good was the alheira de caça, crispy game sausage made with rabbit and deer.

The main courses all shined: I absolutely loved my Bife do Lombo à Café (beef fillet with coffee sauce and fries) as did Kim with his Rojões à Transmontana (roasted pork, potatoes and chestnuts with sautéed greens).

The ladies also raved about their meal. Mary opted for Bacalhau d'As Velhas (baked codfish with onion stew and crispy potatoes, while Tracy went with Bife do Lombo à ‘Marrare' (beef fillet with black pepper sauce and fries). Mains ranged in price from €19 to €23.

Note: There was one dish that went by us several times that seemed very popular and smelled divine. Antonio told us it was the Coelho à ‘Caçador' (rabbit with onion stew, fried potatoes & toasted bread). Velhas vaulted to the top of our restaurants in Lisbon (of course, we’d only been here four nights) and we discussed returning the next evening.

We passed on the dessert cart, but I was tempted by the lemon meringue pie.

Finally, Antonio and Mary couldn’t contain themselves, and an after dinner photo was in order. We dragged her away before an international affair started.

People were out and about on a starry Lisbon evening.

The Eden Teatro on Praca dos Restauradores really stood out. Check out the actors performing before a film crew and cameras on the façade of the 1931 building.
Deciding we’d consumed enough wine for the evening, it was time for sleep in advance of our busy day tomorrow when we’d visit a nearby district chock-full of famous attractions.

We’d start out at one of the most celebrated historic monuments in Portugal where we would also check out Vasco de Gama’s real tomb. Then we’d head over to what is perhaps Lisbon’s most recognizable building. We would walk a short distance to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) where that darned de Gama and several other Portuguese historical figures loom.

Finally, we’d check out a museum highlighting what transportation was like long before the days of Uber.

Oh, and on this evening, we’d head down to another excellent restaurant located on a delightful square for a night of al fresco dining. An Elton John greeted us and introduced me to the best gin and tonic I have ever tasted!

Chapter Five: Tell ‘Em We Loved Bélem!

Day Five: Manuel Labor, Get Here Early!, Boy Are They Strict, Tower Of Power, Navigating The Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Put Me In Coach, A Royal Ride, First PopeMobile?, Cranking Up The Heat, Please Let The Sun Go Down On Me & Gim Tônica Impecável

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Old Dec 7th, 2022, 06:09 PM
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Enjoying all the wonderful photos and descriptions as you go along your latest journey and rooting for you to stay upright for the remainder. 🤞 Always so much fun to read a MaiTai TR. 😂
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Old Dec 7th, 2022, 08:32 PM
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Great photos and of course continuing to enjoy the ride!
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Old Dec 8th, 2022, 06:34 AM
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Love your report and photos! As Velhas sounds wonderful. How did you find out about it? We had some hits but definitely some misses with restaurants in Lisbon.
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Old Dec 8th, 2022, 07:38 AM
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Enjoying your report and making lots of notes for our hopefully upcoming trip to Portugal in 2023. As a fellow El Bosco fan, you have probably already come across this but just in case you haven't, here is a link to a report where you can click on a couple of links to some of his paintings that you can get very up close and personal with.

Up close and personal with The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch
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Old Dec 8th, 2022, 11:14 AM
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Love your writing and photos! Thank you so much for always doing these. Looking forward to chapter 5!
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