Yesterday I flew home after 24 days in various cities by myself in Portugal and Spain. It was a wonderful trip: I walked, I wrote, and I ate, ate, ate. And though I came home with over 900 photographs of buildings, the food I ate went woefully undocumented. So I've decided to post selected entries from the travel diary that I kept throughout the trip and to illustrate the food: the good, the bad, and definitely the ugly (squid stuffed with hake, anyone?). Enjoy, or should I say: Bon Appetit?
Day One: Lisbon
It was a nerve-wracking check-in on the Toronto end of things, not enough staff at the counter, a huge line, and just getting to my gate as the boarding started, but a very smooth flight. Not sure whose great irony it was to play Eat Pray Love on the flight, and I tried to resist drawing similarities between what Elizabeth Gilbert was doing and what I am about to do (not looking for my spiritual side in Spain, for instance) but darned if I didn't cry. Twice. Stupid watching-people-cry-on-film-inducing-tears reflex. That's what I'm telling myself, anyway.
As usual I've walked too much on my first day, and I've got blisters on the soles of my feet. But, tram ride to Belem, Pasteis de Belem (albeit shoved up to the counter when I didn't understand what the Portuguese man was saying - turns out he was saying "you go first") and 2 pasteis nata that were so creamy and flaky and warm.
When you get them "to go" they throw them in a bag or tube along with packets of cinnamon and icing sugar, but I wolfed them down au naturel as I wandered towards the contemporary art centre. Then I had to clean my coat and scarf from all the of the flakes of pastry, get my ticket and enjoy the art: some great quick pencil landscapes, photos of the Acores with President Bush's plane landing, and that freaky life-size human figure sitting in front of all those mirrors.
Lisbon is not exactly a beautiful town. It has its charming streets (especially when decked out in their Christmas finery) but a lot of it is peeling, covered in graffiti, or a bit squat. Tomorrow I should just take it easy - eat some more pastry - and fado!