Ok, so there we where, on the way back to the
Sofitel in Lisbon after touring numerous places in this City. It was time for a rest. But before the afternoon rest, we need to stop at the store and pick up a bottle of wine for our early evening, err, late afternoon, err, dusk, cheese, wine and crackers. Wow, that was a flashback. I feel like I’m running the old Steve Martin comedy routine, “No never at dusk”. Anyway, it is a great way to rewind the day’s activities, reminisce and converse about the experiences.
After the rest and the warm up for dinner, the exploration continued. This time our goal was to find that ‘off the main trail’ place for dinner. A location where English was the second language, maybe. Out the entrance of the
Sofitel, we went. Which way left or right? How about right this time. Wander we did. We wandered some more. We wandered right into a neat section of town not high on the tourist grid. How did we know we had left the tourist trail? First clue presents itself with the lack of people menu reading out side the main door to the restaurants. Second clue eliminates English menus posted on the front doors to the restaurants. Third clue is the recognition of the first two clues.
The area known as the Bairro Alto District was “Old Portugal” looking, if you can picture cobblestone streets, buildings in close proximity, short entrance doors and small windows. If you have ever been to Boston’s historic district located down by the Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in the US, then you have somewhat of an idea of the picture I am attempting to paint here. However, the area covered in Lisbon is comparably immense. In the years this area was constructed, horses were the mode of land transportation. So the roads are, well, you know.
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world. It was ruled in the fifth century by what history calls Germanic Tribes, not German, but a name referring to less civilized and physically harden bodies. To me, a description like that translates to marauders, bandits, and the likes of thugs causing murder and mayhem. My kind of place. The moors, conquerors from Algeria and Morocco regions, took over in the eighth century. The crusades took over in the 1000’s. Baldwin of Boulogne, King of Jerusalem in the first crusade then European kings like Louis the VII of France, Pope Eugene III may have been involved in that crusade. With the Crusades came the European and Catholic influence in Portugal’s history. Which it is very rich in.
Ah, there it is, just what we’ve been looking for. No English menu on the front door, quaint atmosphere with inside and outside seating, and packed to the rump steak with seemingly satisfied customers. It is not a big place, inside maybe enough for thirty seats, and outside maybe fifteen in the street.
“I’ll have the steak”. Glass of wine? Sure. Typically, the camera was not present at the crowded time, so the pictures were taken early morning, our bad.
A debris field we did create. The atmosphere was cozy, and being the only English-speaking people in this restaurant, privacy was not a problem. At least that is the story we are sticking too. If I thought people were evil I could convince myself into believing that maybe everyone spoke English instead of no one, and we just unveiled our deepest dark nothings to the city of Lisboa. But that would be absurd, neurotic and in need of a shrink, to which I hope that is not the case, being in need of a shrink. Anyway, you can tell if anyone is bluffing with the language or not. The story of The Ride posted here provides an example of such bluffing and how to recognize it. But for now, nothing to worry. Most of these people are genuine, and only interested in creating their own experience.
The stroll back to the Sofitel was relaxing, safe, and needed for digestions of such a pleasantly gastro affair. So when in Lisboa, just start wandering, you too will come across a fantastic place to create you own memorable experience. For another idea, check out our story in Portugal, But the Fado is Free