Good evening Friends, Amici, Freunde, Amigos, Romans …..
Off I went, Feb 20…. – was kindly driven to SFO … from where it was champagne all the way to Lisbon/Lisboa in Portugal … with very merciful winter temps. (Think: California coastal winter)
(Btw: Business Class is dominated now by youngsters in jeans … vastly disappointed. When I flew it last, it still had some class !) In Frankfurt (where I switched planes) I met up with a friend who was on his way to New Zealand via Japan. lovely to meet friends all across the globe. Anyway, I arrived in Lisboa all well … taxi to hotel . and then resting and enjoying the view from my room, a hot bath, etc .... and slept 13 hours afterwards.
But uh-oh, upon awakening I thought: “What have i done? Time-travelled back into the Spanish inquisition???”
That mattress was the worst ever in decades! Hard, and I could feel the spirals … horrid. Thus: off I went to the bath tub again to soak the muscles flexible and hoping for the best…..
I did the best I could to improve the situation – believe that in the end i had the staff add several blankies, etc onto the mattress so that at least I won’t feel those spirals/wires) I wasn’t amused … but it worked thanks to those hot-bath and lots of wine and caffe’.
perhaps I was the sister of the Princess on the Pea after all ??
After being somewhat restored, then, off to explore! all was well. our group was from 8 countries, about 25 – 29 of us. The Studies went well, and I loved taking the classes … listening, learning … and the caffe’ was mega yummy and inexpensive (50 cents for a Garotto. meaning: a young boy, -in a cup- sort of macchiato / (espresso w/ a spot of milk) And of course, you may know up front the reasons for my weight-increase: plenty of pastries!
But but but … I WALKED EVERYWHERE … and had hoped that this would be enough to keep that pastry off my bones, but alas … thought wrong 😦 another not-so-clever way how I managed to deceive myself.
Truly … for 6 days in Lisbon, I never was on wheels. walked up and down and up and down …on COBBLESTONES.
I ate the best Bacaljau – codfish – Kabeljau … great wine. Good conversations … or just being silent while watching Lisbon breathe — and did I mention good caffe’? I had several a day of those without feeling that I am buzzing beneath the ceiling…. really really nice.
Then after 6 nights there, we traveled to Obidos, a small town surrounded entirely by that ancient wall. Those pics below were the view from my room . All was quite well organized … and well chosen (in terms of location/hotel, etc)
The studies continued for three more days … as well as three full meals a day. My tummy is clearly not used to that. Eating very late dinners … at times when i am usually in dream-land already. So, after a while i resorted to dinner of: a cup of hot milk with cardamom and saffron. Washed down with some wine …
All was very very good. I actually had FUN !! with a group. Would have never believed it … when I first heard about this event/trip … something within perked up: I simply had to try to attend. And it was spot-on. Precious! But there it was: nobody bit my head off …I connected well with everyone except perhaps two women … but I am sure they’ll survive it.
Much laughter; hours spent in front of the fire place to rest from studies and the continued walking on cobble stones up and down and up and down those hills.
Actually walked ON that city wall … which was quite an experience. Especially when it was already dusky. and … to increase the fun … there was no railing on one side of the wall, just a steep drop … (can’t find that photo to show you … blast )
I loved it how in Portugal one can actually still experience a monument or such without the sights of vending machines or other commercial trappings ( or signs as: “no life-guard on duty”)
It appears that people are expected to use their own good common sense without needing to be alerted to use it by some lawyer-aware officials who post gazillion signs to avoid law-suits.
But I can tell you this for sure: no one in the middle ages would have needed a gym of any kind with those wall and streets!
I really enjoyed being with most of the people in the group. much laughter… talking shop about astrology … wicked humour about ghastly aspects and pesky eclipses looming 🙂
all mixed with more good food.
And did I mention caffe’? And cherry liquor drunk from cups made of dark chocolate (I kid you not!! been there, done that! AND alive to tell the tale! it’s apparently a speciality of Obidos. And we avoided by a day the famous chocolate-festival of Obidos … lucky us!)
After our time in Obidos was over (and what a place it has been . LOVED it. The hotel “Hotel Real de Obidos” was based on a medieval theme (easy to do … the foundation of that house was laid sometimes in the 14th century or thereabout).
I slept in a room fashioned to the style of king Sancho (who apparently had better beds than the ones left over by the Spanish inquisition in Lisbon!!)
Sintra was lovely . Oh my !! Have been there in 1979 and was utterly enchanted. Much to see, so little time.
The after-dinner moments erupted often in serious laughter … took me all night to calm down my facial muscles.
After Sintra it was off to Evora … to our last two nights together. Another splendid li’l boutique hotel, good chats and laughter … Diana temples … umbrellas made of cork ….
Amazing pastries of course … and more cobblestone streets to walk on. Amazingly enough … I never once got lost in those ancient, curvy streets. … I just flowed along and always ended up where I had intended to go, to visit.
….. most ancient standing stones in all of europe … so we were told. but who’s counting? one century more or less, or even a thousand years ?!?!
After Evora, (and that “chapel of bones”, ahem) our tour ended 😦
whoa … what a time it has been.
Gracious host and support staff …. a even more marvelous host-country; great treats of sights, sounds. learning and flavours …
a very rich time for me! and happy though to have met new friends and that I could spent many days in the company of people who shared a passion of mine: Astrology.
Early, too early, we were off back to Lisboa to drop off people at the airport, then hotel … and lastly just a handful of us near the train-station. All went very smoothly, and before I knew it I had my ticket and was on the train to ride to Sintra to enjoy another two days there. (I had booked/paid a place there before I returned)
Felt like a li’l orphan a bit … being without the company of my astro-friends … but so enjoyed also more sights and flavours. The Palacios National and the 8th century Moorish castle up that hill again. (but this time i took a bus !!!) the view from that castle was breath-taking. The wind too … had to be mindful not to be blown over, literally …. one sees the Atlantic from up there … hence the breeze … and hence the castle (once built as a defense of course …)
Again, those chaps working in that castle … no need for a gym whatsoever … EVER!!
In the evenings again I mellowed out even further with port-wine at another fireplace … (after my dinner of a cup of hot milk)
My incredible splurge in Sintra was NOT food … but a lacy, fine cotton nightgown I found in a store full of lacy stuff ….. linens etc. Marvelous. Again, I have champagne tastes with a beer-budget
The Palacios national … just up the street (and when is say UP … i mean UP!!! …)
This palace was truly amazing. I believe it’s the only medieval palace still in existence in Europe. Felt right at home …
The last night i spent in Lisbon near the airport …Radisson Blu. Now that was a surprise how actually pleasant that hotel/room was. have to thank my new Portuguese friends for this recommendation.
(Got a 200 Euro room for 57 euro. Don’t ask me how I managed that … but this is how it was for me in Portugal …things fell into place without much effort.)
And in the afternoon of my last day I went back – using the Metro – to the center of Lisbon … just enjoying it again. Going into small churches, lighting candles of thanks for a most blessed time.
That’s how I had started my time there … going into each church I came across to light candles …
bought Port wine … and braved the Metro again. (They mean business @ the Lisbon metro during those stops at the station … one has about one minute to either exit or enter that train before the doors slam shut – taking no prisoners – regardless of how many people jam the place .) Nobody doodles around mindlessly there (as for e.g. the characters I observe here in oh-so-bloody-laid-back CA… — but lets not go there…)
Everything felt just very blessed … and it FLOWED …
felt like a fish in water in Portugal … mellow and sweet. the atmosphere really touched me …
and I felt grateful having been there to experience it again.
To trip back also went safely and well, just veryyyyy looooong.
the fun part was meeting with friends at the Munich airport (I had a 6 hr lay-over) – we haven’t seen each other in 5.5 years, so it was great to meet, even at an airport restaurant, eating cheese )
The flight to SFO did not seem to end … and even after arrival it took me 2.5 hr to get home … but lets not go there either.
Eventually I made it home, sank onto my delightful mattress … and at 4 am I was up again, checking my hundreds of work-e-mails… head over heels …