We were rudely awoken from our deep sleep at 6am by the local dogs ‘morning chorus’, a cacophony of barks so loud it could wake the dead. We’d got back at 8.30pm the previous evening full of good intentions to write the blog, sort the photos and most importantly to make a plan for the next few days, it being Christmas and not everything would be open. But alas, it wasn’t to be. In true Maice and Angela style we were fast asleep by nine thirty. At least we had a good eight and a half hours sleep which is a miracle for me who usually survives on just four hours a night! I can blame the old repping days for that.
The dogs did us a favour really as we had a multitude of tasks that we needed to do so we set about writing the daily blog and sorting out the photos from the comfort of our beds. Before we knew it it was eight o’clock and we still hadn’t finished what we were doing nor had we made a plan of what to do during our stay so we gave ourselves a good talking to, got up and made it down to breakfast for eight thirty with the intention of putting together a plan over breakfast. That didn’t materialise either so back in the room we gave ourselves another talking to and and finally wrote a plan of the things we were going to do over the next few day. Okay, you could have written it on the back of a postage stamp but at least now we know what we’ll be doing each day. So with one item now ticked off our ‘to do’ list we went on to finish the blog, sort out the photos and finally managed to exit our hotel by 11am, a little bit later than we’d anticipated. We walked down the avenue which didn’t seem to take as long today and went in search of the oldest bookshop in the world, item one on our plan and quite incredulously found it almost immediately. The bookshop dates back to 1732 and appears in the Guinness world book of records…..now there’s a question for any budding quiz master to ask. We had a mooch around and then enjoyed a lovely cappuccino in the coffee shop at the back of the store. We were feeling quite smug having ticked off our first and second items from our daily plan, coffee being our second item!
Item three on our list was a trip to the Castle of St George. Bruno at work, who’s Portuguese recommended that we go to the café by the castle and try the Caipirinha, the local cocktail whilst enjoying the view. So we headed off in the direction of the castle, towards the hills but somehow found ourselves along the promenade at this huge square, the Terreiro do Paco Praca do Comercio. Oh well, it was a bit of a detour but it was a lovely area and the sun was now out and it was getting quite hot. We regrouped besides the enormous man-made Christmas tree to deliberate our next move then disrobed due to the heat, so off came the coats, the hats and the jumpers until we were just in our dresses and off we went in search of the castle. We eventually found it by way of some very interesting detours, Maice snapping merrily away with her camera. You get to see so much local stuff when you get lost, it’s a great way to explore. As we were walking through some rather unkempt streets we were approached by this guy who offered us a package of drugs. Of course we declined, but this was in broad daylight in a tourist district, in Lisbon. Well, that’s a first for us! As we were wandering around we came across this local craft and artists shop where I bought myself a really nice painting which will look lovely on my wall at home. Maice has told me in no uncertain terms that I have to get it framed unlike the koala bear painting I bought in Australia last year which is still sat in its wrapper leaning against the wall! Another item to add to my New Year Resolutions (NYR) list then!
We eventually found the entrance to the castle but at €20 we thought it a bit steep (not that we’re Scrooge’s you understand) so we went in search of the ‘recommended by Bruno’ restaurant. We couldn’t find it anywhere so asked at the tourist information office who reliably informed us that it was Actually inside the castle. So we struck that item off our list and went in search of an alternative and found this lovely little café, Café 28, in the square by the church. We sat outside and ordered bread, olives and two glasses of Portuguese white wine. It was delicious. So far we’ve not been disappointed with any of the wines we’ve had and we’ll certainly start buying it when we get back home, apart from when I’m observing dry January that is! You may be astounded that abstaining from alcohol is on my NYR list! So we sat with our wine, people watching, a great pastime…….. don’t you just love it. It’s a great way to enjoy a glass of wine only on this occasion we also took to car watching. The square we were sat in was only small but the number of cars parked there was ridiculous and how, we wondered, did cars manoeuvre around these very narrow streets without being pranged. Well, the answer to that is they don’t. We sat and watched as one car came up the ‘only room for one car’ narrow street whilst another attempted to go down it. It was deadlock before finally the female driver who was heading down the street had to reverse back into the square right in front of us. Honestly, she made a right hash of reversing until finally she reversed into a parked car, we all heard the crunch, and then she drove off leaving the poor parked car with a massive dent in its backside! You see, there’s never a dull moment when you partake in al-fresco wine drinking! We paid the bill but before doing so we used the facilities. Now this café has quite a unique toilet facility as it caters for both men and women together in the same cubicle. Can’t see it catching on in the UK somehow but if it does remember, you saw it here first!
We regrouped outside the church to consult ‘the plan’. It was very exciting wondering what was next on the list which just happened to be an Art Deco shop we’d passed the day before where the pictures are painted in coffee and red wine! We wandered the streets, Maice certain she remembered where it was, only she didn’t, so we stopped, had a conflab retraced our steps and there it was, we’d found it. I loved the pictures, all hand drawn by the owner, who has Mongolian, the majority of which were of cats. As we were mooching around the owner called me over and handed me a picture which was of me in my mustard coat. He’d literally just drawn it, and he’d signed it too. He did the same with Maice but portrayed her as a cat playing the guitar. He was such a lovely guy and gave us a YouTube address that shows him ‘acting’ in a beer advert. We watched it when we got back home…..it was hilarious…..he was in it for all of a millisecond. Bless him, he was so proud of it. We both bought a picture whilst in the shop then headed off in search of Tapas n’ Friends, the next item on the list. We found it quite easily and decided to eat there on Christmas Eve as it’s lovely and has a really nice vibe.
Earlier in the day Maice had seen a picture she liked in a local painters art shop, Au Petite Peintre so we made our way there, bought it and headed off back to our hotel. The woman in the shop was very impressed with the key-ring locks on our bags, telling us that pickpockets were rife in the city. They’re a great idea but very infuriating for me trying to open the key ring as my long nails keep getting in the way and it takes forever, which I guess is the whole point.
Instead of walking up the avenue we decided to walk up the streets that run parallel and would you believe it, we came upon The Wine Hotel. Well, it would have been rude to just walk on by so we sat outside, people watching again, and enjoyed yet another excellent glass of Portuguese wine. We got chatting to the waiter who told us everything about his life except his name. Anyway, we’ll find that out tomorrow when we return for the wine-tasting session we just happened to book with him. So the Man With No Name (MWNN) is twenty four, comes from Brazil, is doing his Bachelors in Engineering in Lisbon but wants to do his Masters next year in London. His girlfriend is an American living in Paris, whose doing her Bachelors in Architecture. He’s going to propose to his girlfriend at the top of the Eiffel Tower, it’s all arranged, and his family and her family will all be there, although both families have never met and the girlfriend hasn’t met his family yet but MWNN has asked her parents for permission to marry him and they gave their approval, so he is now returning to Brazil to get ‘the ring and his family’ and is going to fly them all to Paris so they can all witness ‘The Proposal’ and let’s just hope she says yes!!! Can you believe there are at least three film titles in there?
We eventually made it up the avenue back to the hotel, had a quick spruce up and were off out to another of Bruno’s recommendations. This one was a restaurant called O Galeto, approx ten minutes walk north of our hotel. We had the map app on the phone to guide us there……well it was dark and unknown territory to us. Suffice to say, and what will come as no surprise to everyone, we arrived at said restaurant forty five minutes later having walked round in circles trying to find the place! All was not lost however. We did pass by a Canadian restaurant that we could fall back on should we not find O Galeto, although whether we’d be able to find it would remain to be seen!.
We arrived at O Galeto and stood inside wondering what the set-up was. Do we sit down? Do we wait for the Maitre’d? This was no ordinary restaurant you see, it didn’t have tables as such, it was set up in rows of bars where you sit on bar stools and the waiters are on the other side. In the end we just sat anywhere. If I have a complaint to make it’s about the bar seats. They have to be the most uncomfortable seats I have ever sat in, with absolutely no leg room at all and I couldn’t swing my chair to the side and sit sideways as Maice was in the way so I spent the whole evening with my legs spread to the left and right, it was most unladylike. And, the seats, which were unmoveable were so close to the bar that your body touched the bar. I have to say for me it was a most uncomfortable dining experience but it’s saving grace was the delicious food and wine. So well done Bruno for a good recommendation.
It took us all of ten minutes to get back to the hotel where we set about blogging and sorting our photos and before we knew it it was eleven o’clock. A late night for us then! We’ve had another super day, met some wonderful people and we’ve got a plan. Now, let’s see what we’ll be doing tomorrow……