After our cramped, crap food odyssey on Royal Pain Airlines (aka KLM), we finally arrived at Lisbon Airport where we attempted to claim our baggage. Attempted because our baggage apparently didn’t arrive. As I stood stressing on the long baggage claim line, A. decided to check every other flight baggage queue. Miraculously, and thankfully, he returned ten minutes later with our two bags that simply went astray.
From that point on, Portugal delighted. Their metro train took us quickly to the Baixa District in the hip heart of the city. A mere block from the metro station, our hotel, Browns Apartments, turned out to be a gem of a converted apartment hotel with all the necessary amenities and perfectly located to access all the other interesting neighborhoods.
We dropped our bags in the room and walked down to the river to the main plaza for our first real food in 36 hours– a glass of wine and a bowl of garlicky clams. Then, after more wandering to orient ourselves and to stay awake so we could adjust to local time, we had a fantastic dinner at Sacramento Restaurant in the nearby Chiada district. It was upscale, traditional Portuguese food. I had the bacalau (cod) and A. had grilled octopus. So so good. Then we stopped for gelati at Santini, a phenomenal artisan purveyor that was still packed at 11 pm. And then home to bed where I slept happily for nine dreamy hours
Tuesday, June 10
Today was all about the heights and the views. And they were spectacular. This is a red-roofed, hilly city with homes cascading down to the broad Tagus River.
We took the #28 electric tram up to Graco to the best miradora or viewpoint in the city–Senhora Do Monte– for panoramic vistas from bridges to cathedrals and those gleaming red tile roofs. Then we walked down to the funky Alfama district for another great viewpoint neat the Castle of Sao Georges.
And, then off to find lunch, which was …Sardines! Spotted a cafe tucked away on a side street that was brimming with people eating plates of freshly grilled sardines. So we ordered some. What a revelation. Salty, crispy, garlicky, meaty. And so tasty we inhaled them. Therefore, forgive me dear reader but you will have to settle for my portrait of naked to the bone sardines and imagine them ten minutes earlier.
Tonight, we scoured the back streets of Bairro Alto trying to find Cantinha Lusitano, a restaurant that ranked in Tripadvisor’s top 10 of 2179 Lisbon restaurants! It was a little hole in the wall run by a husband and wife. Everything was delicious and inexpensive but the star was the baked goat cheese with honey and rosemary. Someone should make skin cream from this amazing elixir of sweet and creaminess.
The most memorable moment, however, was my “papele flambé.” No that’s not a flaming dessert. That was me setting my napkin on fire by accident when I obliviously placed it too close to our tabletop candle. Moments later, I was frantically dousing the immolating paper with our glasses of water! Nice way to make an impression on all the other people in the restaurant! We won’t be back, but you should.