Fulbright in Portugal

Steve Doig in Lisbon August-December 2010

Lisbon skyline

Lisboans at last

We have been Lisboans for three action-packed days now. Tuesday morning we got off the plane, shuffled for an hour through the passport control line, crammed our hugely overloaded dufflebag suitcases into a cab, and checked in to a hotel near the airport. After a much-needed shower, we met Otília Macedo Reis, the director of the Comissão Fulbright Portugal, for a lovely lunch; Ellyn, the adventurous foodie, ordered pig cheeks and declared them delicious. After lunch, Fulbright staffer Carla Silva helped me negotiate the bureaucracy to get my tax number, necessary for opening a bank account. And we bought cell phones (but I miss using my iPhone!)

Wednesday morning we moved into our apartment just below Castelo Sao Jorge, on a high hill overlooking the city and the Tagus River.

Great place with everything we need — including wifi! After unpacking the enormous bags, we began exploring the neighborhood. Within a few hundred meters we have nice little cafes, bars, and small food markets. We ate grilled whole sardines the size of your forearm and bought the essentials — vinha, queso e pao (wine, cheese and bread, if my utterly rudimentary Portuguese is correct.)

After a good night’s sleep, having kicked the jetlag by spending the day in bright sunlight, we went out this morning for some serious exploration. We walked down the hill to Baixa, the central city shopping district our apartment overlooks, and ate succulent porco leitao (roast piglet — I’m a carnivore) for lunch. Then we boarded one of the Yellow Bus tourist double-deckers for a two-hour guided jaunt around various sights in Lisbon and nearby Belem. I failed to plan for this sunny excursion; with no cap or sunscreen on, I glow in the dark this evening. (Okay, not quite this bad.) After the tour, we took the infamous #28 tram — like a San Francisco trolley car, but more crowded — back up the hill to near home. (Infamous because of tourist-targeting pickpockets; it’s hard to hold on while clutching your wallet nervously.) Finally, after walking a few hundred more meters uphill, an icy shower and chilled vinho verde. A few more days of this kind of hiking around, and I’ll have calves the size of cantaloupes. More adventure awaits tomorrow!

2 Responses to “Lisboans at last”

  1. August 21st, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Teruca says:

    Welcome my friends to the Iberian Peninsula!!! Enjoy this first week discovering Lisbon!!
    We´ll visit you when you have free rooms and after our return from Buenos Aires… we leave Salamanca on sept 1 and be back on 14th….
    Chears uping and dowing hills!!!
    Teruca Rivas (and JL)

  2. August 21st, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Steve Doig says:

    Obrigado, Teruca. Bom viagem a Buenos Aires!

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