Lisbon, Rio Tejo

I left the hostel early this morning with the intention of walking along the Rio Tejo promenade to the reputedly beautiful Mosteiros dos Jerónimos. The six-mile walk was highly enjoyable and filled with thousands of other folks taking pleasure the perfect weather by running, sailing, roller skating, biking, paddling, snacking on roasted chestnuts, and every other thing people do along a lovely riverside in great weather. A community event was taking place at the large public space, the Praça do Comércio, including a foot race, and as I walked west along the river, swarms of runners passed me in both directions. Along with them, I got to hear the rollicking jazz band playing on the roadside for encouragement. It was a real treat.

At one place, I found a bar called Hawaii; lei festooned the walls, along with Kim Taylor Reese posters!

Sadly, the monastery was packed and the line to just buy tickets was blocks long, so I took a pass. Next visit!

After returning to my neighborhood, I discovered performing arts college students showing off their talents in the streets (to raise money). Good fun!

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

Here are some photos. They’re not the greatest, but they give an idea of this Sunday Lisbon outing.

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Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.

Lisboetas are kind

I took a tumble this morning, right in the middle of a busy street. Lisbon’s roads and walkways are paved, oddly, with small squares of tile and marble, making them both slippery and uneven (see corroborating photo of the scene of my misery below). Boom, down I went! People rushed to help me, leading me off the road. A woman, cigarette dangling from her lips, used her kleenexes to mop the blood flowing from my elbow. A couple pointed to my glasses in the street. I turned to look just as a car smashed them, bending the frames. No matter how much I adjusted the frames, my vision was still blurry! When I thanked the couple who told me about them, they looked at me pityingly; I thought perhaps there was blood on my face. I trudged back to my hostel for a bandaging and my spare pair, and when I took off my glasses to try to do more adjusting, I discovered the lenses had been popped out. No wonder those people looked at me weirdly. No amount of frame adjustment was going to help me see better. The hostel folks patched me up, and off I went – gingerly! – just in time to catch my appointment with a walking tour company. As it happened, I was the only person to have booked this time slot, so it turned into my very own personal tour.

The friendly and knowledgeable guide led me through various neighborhoods, up and down the hilly city, pointing out things I would have otherwise missed. I tried ginjinha, sour cherry liquor. I had lunch (fig and Gorgonzola pizza) at a large and lively food court full of Portuguese specialties. And I wandered some more. And I think that’s it for today. My knee and elbow hurt. And I have a bottle of wine and a good fat book, The Little Friend.

Fun facts: Lisboetas are also know as Little Lettuces, and the symbol of Lisbon is a ship with two ravens.

Here are some photos (none from museums!):

Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.

Meeting Lisbon

Lisbon! It’s a big city, quiet for being so large, charming, quirky, and thick with awesome architecture and colorful buildings. The hostel I’m staying in is the Old Chic Funk style. All kinds of people were at breakfast: oldsters like me, oldsters older than me, families with toddlers, hipsters, Europeans, Asians, etc., just as things should be. It’s a building from simpler times, meaning no elevators; my room is on the 4th floor.

Today I walked for miles along wide, tree-covered boulevards and visited the entirely fabulous Gulbenkian Art Museum. Prepare thyself for photos of art!

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Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.

Leaving Gozo

Heavy slate clouds rolled in last night, veiling the perfect skies I was blessed with during my time on Gozo, and easing the terrible fact that I had to leave this near perfect island, with its abundant hiking trails, kindly locals, warm October, and busy marine traffic.

As I flew onward to Lisboa, I saw Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica from the sky, and later the lights of the European continent, the towns and cities scattered in valleys between mountains.

I love Europe, where fast food is rare, trails are rough, and I hear languages I can’t discern. Portugal will be fun – I know only one Portuguese word: obrigado.

Fun fact: the Frankfurt Airport has a piano in the waiting area, and people stop to play between their flights. How cool is that?

Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.

Camino and salt pans

I left early this morning to catch a small boat to the nearby island of Camino for a circle island hike. When the boat arrived there, I was the only visitor, and it was spectacularly calm and beautiful. I walked for about five hours and saw only two other humans on land – scientists banding migratory birds – for the first four. Definitely my kind of place! When I returned to catch the boat back to Gozo, ten billion tourists has descended upon the bay and were swimming, sunbathing, parasailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, eating, drinking, etc. I’m so stoked to have seen the place at its basic best.

Back on Gozo, I traveled to its northern coast with its vast array of saltpans and small villages.

It was yet another lovely, perfect-weather, Maltese day.

I fly out tomorrow.

Boo hoo.

Here are some photos:

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Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.

Gozo, better

This new hotel I’m staying in is super cool: it’s a grand old hotel, a little bit faded, but huge and interesting, with excellent mattresses and a lanai with a view east to the harbor. Funny how things turn out; I booked it in desperation after deciding to skedaddle from the original place I’d reserved, and this is way better.

After rising early to catch the sunrise, I took one of the many hikes described in the booklets created by the generous Malta tourism agency. This one is called Hondoq Ir-Rummien, L-Imgarr to L-Imgarr. It took me through villages, along the coastline, through farms; a lovely way to spend five hours.

Here are some photos, sunrise to sunset:

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Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.

Gozo

I arrived yesterday to Gozo, after a short ferry from Ic-Cirkewwa, Malta. Unfortunately, my fantasy dream of a pastoral paradise was shattered by roads clogged with noisy vehicles – all praise, though, to the bus drivers who navigate the tiny, snaky roads. But worse was my arrival to a rather unsatisfactory accommodation, which I ditched as early as possible this morning. I’m now sitting by a pool on a very hot October day, fully dressed, waiting to check into my new room, and fuming because the although the owner reluctantly agreed to charge me for only one night, I see that he fudged the charge by entering the amount five separate times. I thought the nightmare was over, but now I gotta deal with that.

FYI, they have ingenious ferries here.

Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.

Live all you can. It's a mistake not to.

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