Lisbon Day 4

This morning all of us slept until about 8:30. We had breakfast and headed out for another adventure involving the public transit system. Chris went to the Terreiro do Paço station to recharge our transit cards. Then we chased pigeons for a while, and then looked for the #15 tram to Belém. The tram goes right by the front door to our apartment but the closest stop is Praça do Comércio. The problem is that both the eastbound and westbound trams go through the Praça in the same direction, and we had no way of knowing which was which. Plus, the marquee on the plaza said the next tram was in 17 minutes. So instead we took the train to Braixa-Chiado, switched to the green line and got off at Cais do Sodré where we could be more confident of getting on the #15 tram in the correct direction. The first tram was packed with people, so much so that we couldn’t get on. We barged our way into the second tram and experienced a sense of closeness to several hundred Portuguese people as we were jostled through about a dozen stops. Upon exiting Everett said “That made me feel hot and squishy!”, which is a perfect description, and made us joke about the situation Pru gets into in Where’s Tumpty (Pru is the chicken between Doodle the alligator and Tumpty the elephant).

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We went to the monastery in Belém. Then we stopped at Pastéis de Belém for milk, espresso and pastel de nata. In case you haven’t heard how delicious these are, see #15 on this list: Then we stopped for sandwiches and ate them in the gardens by the river. Lastly, we walked to the Belém Tower. When we bought tickets at the monastery we debated whether to spend an extra 3 Euros to also see the tower. In retrospect this was the best 3 Euros we have ever spent. Everett LOVED the tower. We explored every single nook of every floor. We looked out every window and every parapet while he delivered a running commentary. His sense of wonder and enthusiasm seemed to have an infectious effect on the other tourists who watched us with amused smiles. Not only does he not need the stroller, he has extra energy to burn.

On the way to the Tower Everett found a giant palm frond and dragged it for quite some time, to the amusement of several passers by. And as we waited for the tram ride home he ran circles around the fountain and chased pigeons. We generally don’t get to any destinations quickly with him. This is contrary to our nature, but it is more than made up for by getting to experience his sense of wonder about the world. And because he provides a running commentary we have a window to his inner world, as we did this day:
“Do NOT step on the cracks!”
“That’s a sword!”
Interpreting icons in the walkways
Touching the unusual grass
Seeing the waterway
Finding a palm frond
Walking over volcanoes (aka cracks in the paved walkway)
Finding piles of sand on the steps
Exploring the castle (Belém Tower) which was THE BEST THING EVER!

On the tram ride home Everett finally got tired and put his head down in Chris’ lap. Within a couple minutes he was asleep. Let me pause for a moment and convey to our readers what a remarkable occurrence this is: Everett almost never falls asleep in our presence, certainly not in public during the day. We stayed on the tram until the terminus at Praça da Figueira. Everett stayed asleep on Chris’ shoulder the entire way home, and Chris has the drool marks on his shirt to prove it. We carefully, quietly entered the apartment and gently set him down in his bed. The instant he touched he pillow his eyes opened and he said “Woohoo!” He bolted up in bed and was ready to go again.

That night we had abatement dinner at the apartment and started thinking about getting ready for the next day. We put Everett to bed around 8:30 or 9pm. Sometime after 9:30pm he appeared in the doorway to his room and said “I’m feeling a little bit peckish.” So we made him a snack, against our better judgement (we want him to eat at mealtimes!). While he was eating we got to hear his thoughts about the trip.

“So far I love Portugal. It’s up to one more than exquisite.”
“What do you love about it?”
“Eating this cheese and this ham and seeing new things.”

Final note about Lisbon: did I express how intensely irritating it is when other countries don’t do things the way that we expect? The transit system in Lisbon appears to be fantastic. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to use because to our knowledge they don’t provide critical pieces of information. Generally speaking, to use public transit you need to know where it goes, when it goes there and where to get on. Our assessment so far is that under the best conditions only one of these three pieces of information is partially available; in rare circumstances you might get partial answers to two out of three. We plan on bringing this to the attention of the Portuguese authorities. Come to think of it, this gives us an excuse to learn who the leaders of Portugal are.

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