Monday 20 April 2015

Slow Road From Lisbon

It would be nice to say we have stayed longer than planned in Lisbon because we have been having a wild and crazy time - drinking through the the night with new found friends, wallowing in the melancholy tunes of fado, watching the dawn sun pink the roofs of this pretty city before adjoining to a nearby cafe for intellectual and political conversation about Portugal after the dictator Salazar and life as one of the Europe's PIGS.
A street where the sun hardly ventures through the windows.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. I have been in bed for most of a week with a raging sore throat and a cough that was enough to wake the dead. At times, it felt as though death was not far away and that I was in a coffin - our apartment was long and narrow and so dark it felt we were buried underground. The only hint of daylight came from each end - at the rear was something that might be politely called a light shaft, though no direct sunlight reached down it. At the other end was a window in a narrow lane of windows designed as if to ensure sunshine never reached them.

Not that I cared much - I just buried myself under the duvet and wondered whether the rising and falling damp would finish me off before the racking cough.

Judy did an admirable job as Nurse Yeoman, but after a day or two she began exploring - a bit like a horizontal yo yo that defied gravity to spin further and further away from our apartment. She came back with tales of sights and sounds that finally stirred me.

Palace e Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra, a favourite day trip for the residents of Lisbon.

We went to the local hospital. I was examined standing up in an emergency ward full of the nearly dead. Eight of them lay on stretchers - all elderly, mostly women. One woman had a terrible purple eye - did she have a fall on a cobblestone street or something worse? A bald headed man displayed an impressive array of scabs all over his scalp. I felt embarrassed standing among these seriously ill and apologised to the doctor for taking up his time. He laughed, handed me a prescription and told us both to go and enjoy Portugal.

No shortage of work repairing Lisbon's cobbled streets.

So we are. Together we have managed to visit Lisbon's main tourist sites, catch the number 28 tram without getting pick pocketed, visit the fado museum and one dedicated to the history of Portuguese tiles. The latter was not as boring as it sounds.

We escaped having our pockets picked on Lisbon's most popular tram, no 28.

Tile museum and a jig saw for grown ups.

After the coffin experience, we had a delightful stay with Brazilian born Luciana and her mother. Here Luciana shows off what's in fashion in the bedrooms of Lisbon this spring.

And yesterday we took the opportunity of a quiet Sunday morning to gently ride the tandem to the ferry terminal where we caught a boat across the River Tejo to Cacilhas where we began our riding proper - south to Setúbal on the Atlantic Coast.
We left Lisbon by way of a ferry on a quiet Sunday morning. Three little Optimist sailing dinghies were enjoying the light breeze. In the background is a city bridge reminiscent of a (smaller) Golden Gate in San Francisco.

We have a plan of sorts. We want to cycle into the interior of Portugal - Alentejo, up to the Douro River and out to Porto. From there, we plan on northern Spain before crossing by ferry to the UK and Ireland. And hopefully we will have a wild and crazy time for at least part of it.

1 comment:

  1. Maria, Jan, Emilia and worm no.226 April 2015 at 08:29

    Dear Mike and Judy,
    what a unpleasant start! So it can be only better from now. We wish you a great time and looking forward to read more.


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