Today I wore my ‘Better Call Saul’ T-Shirt (Breaking Bad). In the lift going down, a couple joined us in there, and commented on the shirt – turns out they were from Albuquerque, New Mexico !
In order to comply with our friend Sheila’s strict orders, we embarked on a mission and headed down Avenida de Liberdade to Pastelaria Suiça in Rossio Square; there to sample a traditional Portuguese custard tart.
I managed to interpret enough of the instructions on the screen of a ticket machine in the Picaos Metro to buy 24 hour travel passes, and we finally made it onto a bus which wasn’t even the wrong one – a minor miracle in itself for us.
We ambled around the end of Rossio Square, which seems to be beggar and hawker central for Lisbon – and unknowingly ended up outside the instructed destination – Pastelaria Suiça, where we sat down at a table and I fiddled with Google Maps trying to find it. Aideen interrupted me, pointing out that we were actually sat outside the ****ing place!
We ventured inside to buy coffee, custard tart and a beer. Heading back outside, the heavens opened and we dived under an umbrella covering one of the tables. Another group of people were also clamouring in, and one lady bumped into Aideen’s chair. She apologised, and A told her no problem, you’re grand. The bumper then looked at A and immediately said “you’re from Dublin…” – turns out she was from county Clare and a conversatin ensued. She was over with her (English) husband, grown up son and daughter (who were deep in conversation with some apparently local guy, poring over maps).
We talked about a few things, and the husband says he reckons Breaking Bad was the all time best TV series, I’m not gonna argue that one – and best ending to a series even though he is gutted it had to end. Damn right. Hopes the new ‘Better Call Saul’ is as good though he is sceptical. I hope so too.
I have hit a snag with the hotel TV, as it’s actually an older model and has no HDMI port, and I don’t have any way of getting an input signal into it from the laptop. I’ve decided that we can just about live with the small screen on my laptop as long as we have some audible sound. So – I need a pluggable USB speaker. We decide to enlist the help of the local guy who has by now just about finished helping our new friends son & daughter, and I explain to him what I need to buy. He just says, simply – “no problem, I’ll walk you there – it’s easier than trying to translate and you will just get lost.”.
He was bloody right. We walk south and along a few blocks, then we turn into this doorway that looks like it would lead to apartments. Honest to God, if I’d taken AIdeen there she would have ripped me apart! We are wondering whether to be suspicious, but other locals are also heading in there, and there are lifts there. We get in, head up a number of floors and emerge right into a shopping centre – weird!
Our guide/new friend’s name is Sorin, and his help is again enlisted in translating what I need. I finally (thanks to him) manage to pick up a decent TDK mini rechargeable USB bluetooth speaker which should work fine for what we need. We offer to buy him a beer and lunch for his help, and he says he is more than happy to join us for lunch, but will pay his own way. We ask where he would recommend, and he says he knows just the place. We follow, and he leads on, out of the shopping centre and down a hill back towards Avenida da Liberdade, according to Sorin passing the world’s smallest shop (which sells gloves)
We walk past a lot of restaurants, with owners standing outside desperate to drag in anyone they can. Sorin just rolls past them, the owners ignore him and focus on us – we seem to have ‘the look about us’. We stop to look in a church, which apparently was burned, and is fabulous inside but also has beggar turf wars going on at its door. Sorin recommends a bar, but entering it requires climbing some pretty steep stairs, and whilst A can cope with going up them, there is no way she will be able to get down them after a drink – they are evil. We tell Sorin and he is relaxed about it – we walk on, back to the main Avenida da Liberdade stretch, just as the heavens open and we almost run for a pavement cafe/bar with umbrellas to ride out the storm. I grab some beers for us all, and A explains her condition (MS) to Sorin. He says he understands and it’s no problem, it’s really not much further but ‘real’ Portuguese.
Anyway, it took about 40 minutes for it to recede to a level where our little umbrella would not be snatched away by the wind. We venture off again, but we cross A.de L. and the ***ing monsoon notices us and comes back to get us – AGAIN. We try to shelter under some shop canopies, but it’s not much use – all of us are totally bloody soaked now, me especially. Sorin promises it’s only 3 minutes more, so we head out into the deluge. We turn off the main drag onto a side street, and finally end up in the Floresta Restaurant…
It’s PACKED – but Sorin knows the family who own it and a table is quickly cleared for us. I end up with steak with madeira sauce Aideen has some beef dish and Sorin goes for ‘Black Pork’ – all come with very thin cut potatoes which I have to say are pretty good. The local wine is of course a great feature also.
After a very boozy and pleasant lunch, we manage to grab a taxi back to the hotel, but not before Sorin has invited us to a ‘Tea Dance’ with him and his girlfriend on Thursday – I mean – US at a Tea Dance. What next?
We’ve managed to leave our umbrella behind in the restaurant, which will knock on into day 5. We’re really amazed how friendly people are in this town, what a funny day.
For now though we are pretty knocked out from all the walking by the time we get back to base, so just order room service and crash.