September 25, 2021
We’ve changed cities. First time here for Natalia and I; a place I have always wanted to visit. In fact, we had airplane tickets and hotel reservations in March last year that we had to cancel when the virus started spreading and creating havoc.
Paris is a beautiful city; Lisbon, I would say is pretty, unassuming. Paris is mostly flat, Lisbon voluptuous. And the Tagos is more imposing than the Seine. The Tagos is a mature river, already exchanging waters with the ocean when it reaches Lisbon; the Seine would still have to wait several miles before meeting the Atlantic at the town of The Havre.
We have been walking up and down the narrow cobbled streets, at some points with unobstructed vistas of the city and the river. One wonders how the houses manage to keep their orange roof tiles in such pristine condition; the architecture and colors are suspiciously homogeneous. We have enjoyed the food, of course bacalao and sardines, but especially the wines that are right up there with the French. Yesterday, over dinner, we ordered a bottle, Serra OCA’15 from a small winery. The wine was smashing, robust, the color almost black, and I would bring a few bottles with me if I wasn’t traveling with only my carry-on.
The hotel where we are staying, Le Consulat, is located in the middle of old Lisbon. The building used to house the Brazilian embassy for over a century. A French family bought it and it was converted into a boutique hotel. Yesterday, after dinner, we went to the hotel bar to have a night-cap. I wanted to have a Laphroigh in honor of Webb Chiles but they didn’t have. Instead, the barman introduced me to Ardbeg, something I had never had before or even knew it existed, and it was excellent.
While at the bar we met the curators of an art-expo that is taking place at the hotel. They introduced us to the artist who told us about some of his artwork and lent me his hat for part of the soirée (see pic). His most powerful piece is an installation: thousands of white papers glued to the back of the infrastructure that holds the elevator, each representing the life of those who died in Portugal as a result of COVID (see another pic).
Today is Natalia’s birthday. We started the day with a run down to the Tagos and along its north bank. Back to the hotel we showered and went out for brunch at a low-key restaurant near-by that has a terrace overlooking the old-city and the river. A a sailing race was taking place but, of course, I didn’t follow. We shared a cauliflower soup that was excellent and some tapas — anchovies, octopus, and boquerones — that we accompanied with a bottle of Cava. After, we continued to walk around town with no specific destination.
We are now back at the hotel, Natalia catching up with e-mails, me writing this post. Soon I am going to ask her to get ready to go out. I have ordered flowers, Portuguese caviar and a bottle of champagne that should be delivered in an hour. A car will be waiting at 7pm to take us to the place where I’ve made reservations for dinner. I will report, but certainly not tomorrow…