“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” – Vincent Van Gogh
Falling in love with a city…
I need to wander the streets of a city, imagine myself living there then like a dress that catches my eye I need to try in on. If the fit and the look come together, then I enter another realm. The one, which makes me want to rent a room with view of the city rooftops. Going out in the morning for coffee and croissants, at dusk for wine and olives, in-between times I write; keyboards clicking replicating Hemingway at his peak.
As with Paris, Lisbon grabbed my soul. Under the cerulean sky the streets where vibrant, buzzing with life.
Yet as with Paris if you strip out the colour, it does not become dull, instead the City becomes sultry; inspiration oozing from each raindrop that gently fell on the cobbled streets.
Shrugging off the jet-lag…
Our travel time from Auckland to Lisbon was 22 hours. The plane docked at the last gate of its large terminal. My disposable carry-on bag not really suitable for the long walk ahead. Our back-bags, of minimal weight had been checked, as we needed to stow our walking sticks. Inside an airplane they become a lethal weapon.
The non-European Union passport line snaked around four lines of ropes, the air inside the terminal lifeless. Thankfully the waiting time to get our passports stamped and entry into Portugal minimal.
Knowing our state of post-flight being, we had prearranged transport to take us to our hotel. The temperature dial tipped over the 30 mark, the azure sky was cloudless, as we got our first sighting of Lisbon. Like Auckland CBD the area of the city we were staying in was under construction, a maze of narrow one-way streets.
We arrived Friday mid-day at our apartment building. Due issues on a construction site opposite the building there had been a power cut. Our room, of course was on the top floor. The main stairwell stopped at the last floor. The last part of the journey was narrow steel steps. I was grateful we’d left our luggage in the office. The view from our apartment though was worth the effort.
Before discovering Lisbon, we had to shrug off the jet lag and find a Correios (Post Office) . We needed to send our post-Camino clothing off to Ivar Rekve; he runs a luggage storage service in Santiago de Compostela.
With lack of sleep, minimal Portuguese and the soaring afternoon heat finding the Correios, purchasing packing boxes, filling out Customs forms, required the combined brain power of both Chrissy’s and myself. The parcels got handed directly to the courier driver. We both made utterances about ever seeing those boxes again.
We sat outside in the nearby square to recover some energy, eating our first Pastel De Nata (Portuguese Tart) – light, crisp pastry – custard not too sweet and oh so creamy – we are in food heaven and ready to explore the hillside streets of Lisboa.
Thirty-six hours in Lisbon…
As happens when you travel with other people compromises are made. Instead of starting the Camino Portuguese on Monday morning the date was pushed forward to Sunday morning.
We had two non-negotiable items on the team agenda – our Crediencial Del Peregrino’s – go to Belem to taste the world’s best Nata’s – to be elaborated on in yet to be written blogs.
Mike and Lisa were not arriving until Saturday mid-day, leaving Chrissy and I with lots of time to explore the streets, find Cathedral Sé and pick somewhere nice to go to dinner – casual, as we had minimal clothing.
After a few hours of roaming the fashion shopping quarter we were both wishing we had not bought any clothes with us. It was the best range of clothing, at a fraction of the price we pay here in NZ and Australia. So, so cruel that we could not purchase.
The hilly streets, with the tram cars yelled San Francisco.
While the mustard buildings with crisp white trim and the drifting sounds of Fado music whispered Cuba. It was as though Lisboa wanted its traveller’s to savour her atmosphere, slow down their gait and match the locals non-harried pace. We did.
That is until on the Saturday when the four of us took a tuk tuk to get our Credencial’s from Basílica dos Mártires in Chiado, as Cathedral Sé had run out of stock. Hills and tuk tuk’s…suffice to say we returned in a taxi.
At night Lisbon comes alive, the cooler air making it pleasant to walk the narrow cobbled streets. As in Spain people eat late, so the streets are busy, outdoor cafes are full on people eating, drinking and talking. Music wafts up from bars and Fado clubs mingling with the warm air.
Sunday morning as we head off to start the Camino Portuguese, party goers were heading home.