Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Tuesday, May 10

This morning we could see the edge of the Feira da Ladra from our little balcony. This is the big street flea market in Lisbon. It was next to the little park we sat in the evening before, next to the National Pantheon. It was a great mix of antiques, junk, more junk, new stuff, and your typical street vendors selling imported clothing.

I got lucky and found someone right away who was selling paper ephemera, old letters, and postcards. As I was looking over a pack of handwritten letters, an American woman leaned over me and said, “Please buy those so I don’t!” I offered them to her, and offered to split them with her, but she was serious. I asked her if she was a mixed media artist, but no, she said that she collected paper. Then she advised me on how to bargain. Sandy and I are NOT bargainers, but I showed the seller everything I had that should have totaled up to 20 euros and offered 15. She accepted, then as I walked away she came up behind me and handed me this. “A gift for you.”

It was a napkin with a handwritten note in ink on it, dated 1929.

I want to go back on Sunday and buy some old keys.

We had brunch at a little cafe next to the market, an omelet and scrambled eggs with toast that came with marmalade and a soft cheese that resembled the taste of ricotta. We went back through the market and bought sunglasses and straw fedoras to save our scalps from the sun. Mine was from an artist who was upcycling clothes into other items, especially neckties.

Sandy was struggling. He had to sit down every few minutes and there wasn’t any seating around. At one point he leaned against a tree and an older woman ran over with a folding chair for him to borrow. We walked back to the apartment, and I blogged about the day before, as I’m doing now. 

wp-1652284785720wp-1652553804284wp-1652284844176A few hours later, we decided to take a ride on the iconic tram of Lisbon, #28E. Actually, there were several other trams but this one happened to have the closest stop. Ouch, the stop was back uphill through the flea market and on the other side of a large church. When it got there, it was full so we stood with others in the aisle and nobody offered to give up a seat. Sandy finally snagged a seat about 20 minutes later when someone in front of him got up, and I leaned against his seat. It was a beautiful ride, but he was pretty miserable because he felt sick. Then at the end of the line, the tram stopped, and everybody had to get off. Fortunately there was another tram there that had seats for us both and we got on. I didn’t know where it went and we didn’t care. Then it happened again and again. Finally I spotted a Metro stop, and we took it back to the train station near our apartment.The Metro is underground, modern, and easy.


After we departed the Santa Apolonia station, we sat down at the first restaurant we saw. Continuing with my plan to get in the special things of Lisbon, I ordered a ginginja, a sweet cherry liqueur, and grilled sea bass. Whoops, it had a face! But it was simple and delicious. Even Sandy liked it, and he is not a fan of fish. His dish, however, was horrible. He ordered shrimp with spaghetti, which was drowned in a pink sweet sauce that tasted like a combination of Japanese steakhouse white sauce and Velveeta cheese, something neither of us would ever have guessed to put on pasta. Truly one of the nastiest things I have ever put in my mouth, and I will try almost anything. Hopefully we will have better luck tonight.


The walk to the apartment was very short but very steep. The stairs to the apartment are very steep and uneven. When we got there we both collapsed, but I spent the next few hours getting advice and researching a new plan for the next portion of our trip, which was meant to be Porto. I told Sandy that this vacation is not worth killing him. So we resolved to go next to a flatter place, and to use Uber. I cancelled the room in Porto and I found a nice old place in the center of Tomar with a terrace with a view, close to a train station. That’s where we will go after Lisbon. And then, I did not sleep until about 3 a.m. I am worried. This is a huge reality check for both of us.


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