As predicted, George was totally worn out from our Sintra adventure and wanted to spend the day in our room. I pretended to be disappointed, but the thought of walking the streets as quickly as I wanted, and going where I wanted without thinking how many steps it takes, sounded wonderful. With a quick smacker on his hairless head, I was out the door before he could roll over in bed.
Another beautiful day in Lisbon. We have been totally blessed with great weather. The temperature has been around 73 degrees Fahrenheit, but feels warmer to me. That sort of sunny warm feel that toasts my bones, but doesn’t roast them. Aahhhhh.
Over a nice morning espresso (without a pastry!), I study a map to pick out random places we have missed. I love nothing better than perusing supermarkets in different countries. It probably sounds about as exciting as counting how many mosaic tiles it takes to make up a sidewalk, but I get a thrill checking out different foods and seeing what similar products there are.
At the bottom of the mighty Castelo de São Jorge (Castle of St. George that we visited earlier) there is an elevator that shoots straight up the hill, close to the base of the castle. My map says there is a market next to it. It’s about a mile from our hotel and off I go, in search of who-knows-what on Aisle 6. Of course there are wonderful sights along the way, small parks with benches, stores, museums, and just beautiful cityscape.
And the supermarket? Well, let me tell you – it did not disappoint! One feature in a lot of mini and supermercados are fresh squeezed orange juice machines. A giant basket of oranges (laranjas to those of us who speak Portuguese – Ha!) sits next to the machine with a pile of empty jugs. Make your own and sip down the sweet juices. Oh, I wish we had that in Oregon!
It is always interesting to see a familiar product – but this one really surprised me:
I couldn’t resist buying a few things, including a jug of fresh squeezed orange juice, a chunk of bread and some cheese. I decided to eat in a park and enjoy the ambiance. We are leaving soon and I get a bit emotional every time I think about it. I love coming to new places and hate leaving them.
I wandered through meandering streets and found a small square tucked in between buildings. It had one tree in the center and three benches spaced on the three sides facing the street. I didn’t take a photo because on the center bench sat an older man, eating his bread and sipping a coffee, who did not look like he wanted to have his photo taken. Another older gentleman, nicely dressed in a jogging suit, walked up and greeted me in a friendly manner. He then walked to the old gent on the bench, introduced himself and shook hands. They spoke for a couple of minutes. Then he started towards the third bench. As he passed the lone tree in the center, he stopped. Seeming very unconcerned. He pulled down his breeches and peed on the tree. As he was old, it took quite a while. Those old prostates just don’t let a fellow go like in the old days of their youth. My fellow bench sitter looked at me, I started looking at my phone, and we were both happy when he finally finished. He then sat on the unoccupied bench, got out his newspaper and started to read. You just never know what kind of entertainment is going to appear right before your eyes. Sorry there isn’t a picture, I just didn’t have the nerve….
When we were here several years ago, I remembered visiting the ruins of a Roman amphitheater. I looked on maps, my travel guides and googled it and couldn’t find a trace of it. George said I was thinking of another city, but I was sure it was in Lisbon. While my new friend was providing the tree with some liquid nourishment, I checked out my Google Map app. I didn’t want to stray off and get lost, so I had been keeping an eye on it. Lo and behold, the Roman amphitheater appeared and it was right down the street. More accurately, right up the street – straight up a hill that should have had a funicular to transport folks.
Because my bladder is old, watching the man pee set my mind to thinking that I needed a bathroom. There is a museum at the Roman ruins, so I hustled up the hill. I forgot to ask for my senior discount, but the museum was only three Euros, plus it had a nice toilet. By the time I was up the hill, I would have paid any price. I didn’t want to repeat my old friend down the hill’s trick with a tree.
Built by the first emperor of Rome, Augustus, around 100 AD, the amphitheater sat 4,000. Rome fell, the Moors came, and the walls and many stones were used to build houses around and over it. In 1755 there was a 8.5 – 9.0 earthquake that destroyed 85% of Lisbon. The amphitheater was uncovered by the earthquake. It was duly noted in the official city assessment notes, but it was a low priority when there wasn’t food, water or shelter for the remaining population. It was built over again, this time a mill was over it. When the mill was torn down, the remains were discovered. Fortunately, archeology was all the rage, and it has slowly been worked on over the years. Much of it is still covered by homes, but where the mill stood is excavated.
I love Roman history, so it was a joy to find it (and the bathroom – Save a Tree is my motto!).
Right below the museum was one of the more interesting churches that I have ever visited. I am not a Catholic, but a soul cannot help but have reverence at the architectural splendor of European churches. This church, however, is truly special.
The Lisbon Cathedral is the oldest Catholic Church in Lisbon. Kings and queens were married here. They have recently been excavating the cloister and found a Roman street with shops, and above that Moorish buildings.
This church has had a rough time. On November 1, 1755 it was All Saints Day. Just as churches all over the city commenced, the giant earthquake hit. Some wondered if it was retribution from God – I’ll let you speculate on that one! Most of the city residents were good little church goers (the King wasn’t one of them – he was home in bed). The roof of the church fell in and crushed most of the parishioners. Aftershocks immediately followed and residents fled to the shore of the bay; away from buildings. In astonishment, the looked out on the water. Suddenly there was an extreme low tide and old ship wrecks were revealed. What they should have noticed was all the animals fleeing for the hills, because the tsunami that rushed in drowned most of them. Fires broke out and the city burned to the ground. More than 500 aftershocks occurred for the next year. The King refused to sleep inside a building afterwards and slept in a tent/hut for the rest of his life.
But the walls of the church stood. And it was slowly rebuilt, but evidence of the earthquake remained in the walls. Then in 1959, a fire broke out and the roof once again fell in and the walls were again left standing. The roof was again replaced and it was refurbished. Instead of redoing the inside, the fire and earthquake damage stand, almost proudly, for all to see. It is raw and powerful, and a testament to the faithful parishioners. The inside of the church is as rough as the outside, in contrast to the many gold covered fancy shmancy sister churches throughout Europe. I’ve oogled a lot of churches for their beauty, but none were as powerful as this testament of faith.
By now, I had been toting a backpack full of groceries up and down hills for a few hours. I decided to head back along the bay and then up the hill to our hotel to get rid of my load. Good exercise this day, and I’m still working off the pastry rush earlier in the week.
It was late afternoon by the time I got back, and George was just getting up. He actually looked pretty good and decided to head back out with me. I had been going to hike to the Mercado Ribeiro, a new touristy market I saw on several TV shows over the last year. Down by the river, it is a giant food court of trendy eateries, along with small shops.
Fortunately for George, the metro stops right in front of it, so we rode on down. George sat and sipped on beverages at the large communal , while I walked around. He should have stayed in the room, and quickly tired out. Back home we went. I picked up takeout food and we called it an early night. Only two days left before we head to the cruise ship!