Friday, 7 September 2012

The river and the fountain

A week, as far as lengths of vacations go, is a period that would mostly fall in the adequate or even perfect category. Sometimes, depending on the time and place, it can feel like a bit much. Occasionally, you find yourself wishing you had a fair bit longer.

There are some places, where a week starts out seeming just about right. But then, the more you explore, the more it begins to feel like not nearly enough :).

The weather in Asker, while not terrible, had been a bit on the wet and freezing side. Lisbon was perfect! I showed up wondering if the lack of a jacket would trouble me unduly. As it turned out, the evenings were indeed a bit chilly, but more refreshing than truly misery inducing.

On my prior visits to the city I'd stayed mostly in the new part of town, the one of shopping malls and high-rise hotels. And on one occasion, on the boat while it was alongside, rather close to one of the several marinas of the city. This time, I decided to stay further down-river, closer to Belem.

Belem itself is fairly steeped in history, with palaces and old gardens and squares practically strewn about all over. But that doesn't stop it from being one of the more densely populated parts of the city.

I spent a lot of time around St. Jeronimos and especially the rather spectacular, if somewhat temperamentally timed fountain. (Honestly, I stared at it for days, and never quite figured out what logic is followed for switching the water on and off!) The monument of discoveries and the Belem Tower are both quite close by.

On the Sunday, we decided to take a trip along the coast and visited Cascais and Sintra. The Pena Palace had been recommended to me by a friend, the USP being that it looked remarkably like a Disney palace :). I have to say, I couldn't agree more!

Set as it is on a high craggy hill surrounded partly by rolling green parkland, the tops of forts and castles peeking through the trees, and partly by sloping, sparsely filled land running all the way down to the sea, the views on all sides are quite breathtaking!

While in Lisbon, I spent a lot of time along the river. No matter how hot the sun, there always seemed to be a thrilling cool that radiated out from the lazily flowing water :). As on my previous visits, I was almost continually entertained by the imaginative use people seem to make of the promenades and side walks there!

I had visited most of the historical centre last year, but it's too beautiful to ignore, so I wound my way through those streets a few times as well, and while I was at it, decided to visit the national monument which I hadn't been able to get to before. I must say, I was a wee bit disappointed to note that there seemed to be no way to actually get to the island at the centre of the circle. Not without risking getting run over that is :S.

I was a bit happier once I caught sight of the flag :). I'm a sucker for gigantic colourful pieces of cloth getting thrown about in the wind. As an added bonus, I was a little surprised to see that the gentle upward slope of the path from the banks of the river manages to prop you up high enough to grab quite a commanding view of the city. I spied on the ramparts of St. George castle and happily reminisced about my afternoon spent exploring those walls last summer.

I have to say, one of the fun things about the trip was the variety of food! There was ice-cream for lunch, superb spreads for breakfast, Italian, Argentinian as well as a healthy dose of the local of both the street side and the posh restaurant variety :).

Before long though, it was time to leave, and suddenly I realized that what had seemed at the beginning to be a longish visit, had turned into something that left me feeling like I still hadn't seen so much :). But then again, I had decided this was going to be a somewhat lazy vacation. On that front, I really have nothing I could possibly complain about :).

In the end I said my goodbyes and flew out as I had several times before, only this time, I was wishing I could have stayed a little longer.

Currently: weathered
Listening to: Geoff Zanelli - Righteous buttkicking

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