We arrived on a very hot day, exhausted and headache-y, staggered into the metro which of course goes directly from the airport (oh, USA, when oh when will you get with the transit program in every city?), and were quickly at our stop. Free WiFi on the train platform alerted us to connect and get our map up. We had 2 hours to kill before our airbnb was ready, and with our luggage we could just squeeze into the restaurant across the way…taking 2 of the 12 seats in this tiny neighborhood hole-in-the-wall. Three small tables and three seats at the counter, and a steady stream of regulars in and out.
We had been advised to rely on Google translate for menu help. You open the app, select “camera” and aim at the page for instant translation. Wow. A few glitches…the second carne (meat) item was translated as “cub scouts.” We went with the fish.
Our apartment is modern and sparkling clean…and after we met the host and she was finishing up cleaning (we came in as the previous guests were leaving) we fell onto the bed and were fast asleep in minutes–didn’t even hear her leave. Refreshed and ready to get our bearings we headed to a recommended restaurant but on the way encountered Mercado da Baixa, a cluster of vendors of food, wine, sangria, crafts, and jumping with locals and tourists. It looked like such fun and we were so hungry we dove in. Little plates of cheeses, meats, bread, some with tiny cups of fruit jam to spread on the cheese, sandwiches of ham and spread with strong white cheeses, cups of olives, all sorts of nuts and dried fruits, recorded fado serenading the noisy eaters, boys on skateboards, German tourists drinking teeny cups of orange liqueur chased with huge glasses of beer…on a still hot evening it was a welcoming and welcome party.
After food and alcohol we strolled a bit. Yup, the cobbled streets and mosaics are amazing to look at and a bit treacherous to walk on. The patterns change by streets, sometimes by the block, and they are in mixed repair and often rather slippery. Another reason to be glad we have backpacks and not roller bags…most older tourist couples struggle to maneuver and we do feel especially smart. Thanks to Hannah and Mark!
We headed home and took a pedestrian walkway which looked perfect on the map but was a seemingly endless climb, finally depositing us on the street where the recommended restaurant was…it looked casual, friendly, and delicious so we will eat there our second night.
Welcome to Lisbon. Now, to fall into a long night’s sleep.