Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Today I walked past a Starbucks without going in and other small Portuguese miracles

Today we headed down to Belem, a seaside area of the city with gardens, museums and monuments. We saw the PadrĂ£o dos Descobrimentos, a monument to Portugal's many discoveries, at which my hat kept blowing off because the wind was so strong. We found Ben and Jerry's (which is Kosher even here) and sat outside the Tower of Belem, which is a famous and historic tower, but it cost 3 euro to go in, so we just sat outside. I'm more of a "spend money on coffee" kind of girl.

Which is why we next walked past Starbucks and into some cute Portuguese cafe for a cappucino. Over a year ago, Sara made me promise that I'd actually experience Portugal, and not just spend my time and money in an American coffeehouse. It is quite the experience to stand and sip a cappucino at the bar. And since I'm blogging about things one never sees in America, the cafe had a cigarette vending machine.

Sara and I hit our biggest score at the Museu Nacional dos Coches, which was free because we're students. The museum is full of coaches, Berlins, carriages, and other modes of transport used in the last six or so centuries. Immediately before we walked in, a busload of middle-aged American tourists had entered along with their tour guide. Consequently, we got a free guided tour of the museum simply by surreptitiously following them. The coolest part was seeing the stagecoach in which King Carlos I was riding in 1908 when he and his eldest son were assassinated. You can see bullet holes on the coach from where stray bullets missed.

Lisbon is not the place for the shopper in me, in terms of its signature souvenirs. It's famous for its cork products, but excuse me for not wanting a cork purse. Ditto on embroidery. I am sorry to say that the only real shopping I've done has been at El Cortes Ingles, which was a very Western and Macy's like department store, if Macy's had a full food court and supermarket in the basement. I bought a cute blue glasses case.



At 3:44 p.m., Blogger Michael A. Burstein said...

You walked past a Starbucks? Are you still the same Aliza Libman we've come to know and love?


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