Belem and the sweet art of doing nothing

June 16, 2023

   The cab ride from our hotel to the apartment seemed to leave the thriving Lisbon behind for a chock a block residential sterility. But a fully stocked grocery store was just around the corner, as was a metro station. We were not to be isolated after all, and my first trip to the grocery yielded snacks, dinner, breakfast as well as a good, initial  store of room wine. Our second night in Lisbon promised to be a quiet one of hamburgers, fries and wine. It followed a fairly active day of walking the hilly environs of the city that included a visit to the sprawling Time Out  covered market, Pink Street and ended with our first and only trolley ride through the city aboard the famous 28E. Yasmine, our hotel clerk, had graciously provided a thorough itinerary (the “informations”) that gave us a leg up for the day’s travels. The only real excitement of the day occurred during cleanup after dinner that evening.

“The 15E tram deposited us at Belem Tower, one of Lisbon’s most touristy areas, redolent with tuk tuks, cotton candy and tour bus hucksters. Just my kind of sightseeing.”

Torre Belem at a distance

   Carol had just stacked the last of our four dinner plates onto the wire dish rack. The kitchen floor was a hard, solid tile. The plates were a thin but weighty porcelain that would have been fine in the microwave but not otherwise unbreakable. Evidently, the weight of that last dinner plate was too much for the rack, which immediately gave way, sending all four plates crashing to the tile floor. And when I say crashing, I mean that two days later, we were still finding tiny shards of porcelain in the carpeted living room area. As the crash unfolded, Carol and I simply watched in a stupefied wonder, as all four plates disintegrated before our eyes. It was as if the plates had been chemically reduced to their molecular form right before our eyes. We would still be talking about it the next morning as we continued to pick the tiny molecules of dinner plate from between our toes. 

The classic way to get around

   Our first sightseeing trip the following morning would have far less fireworks than the impromptu Greek wedding reception of the night before. The 15E tram deposited us at Belem Tower, one of Lisbon’s most touristy areas, redolent with tuk tuks, cotton candy and tour bus hucksters. Just my kind of sightseeing. Even Carol was ready to bail, taking a distant shot of the famous tower before she declared she was ready for a sit and a glass.

Pink Street – a touristy must…

   What Belem may have lacked in old world charm, it more than made up for with a string of cafés with wide open views of the strand and the Tagus River. Our choice – GASTROBAR 38°41′- (the name probably had something to do with the ancient Portuguese exploring that originated here at the tower, but I’m not looking it up) featured a panoramic view for people watching in plush sofa-style chairs. It proved to be one of the rare times Carol was as happy to join me in just sitting and staring as I was. We sat practically catatonic and passed several of the sun’s meridians before peeling ourselves away. Then it was back to the apartment, where Carol was visibly happy we were not cooking that night.

Doing nothing in style

   After only two days, we were both slowly falling in love with a city that seemed to be loving us right back, dish racks notwithstanding.

  1. Bonnie says:

    I love Portugal! Have you been to Sintra yet?

  2. Suzi McCoy Shriner says:

    Loved Lisbo!

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