Libson – October 8

Today is the day we will visit the Colorida Gallery where hopefully the work has arrived and all is ready for the opening on October 9.

Since the gallery didn’t open until 1 pm, we spend the morning getting to know our neighborhood and looking for an Internet place. We found a nice big one on Rossio Square, which is the main hub of downtown Lisbon. The large oval square is lined with lots of cafes and has two large fountains in the middle. It’s a bustling place with lots of tourists and locals.

Characteristic seasick making patterns on the streets of Lisbon
Gregg in Rossio Square

We are trying to put our finger on the atmosphere of Lisbon as we’ve seen it so far. It’s definitely European and yet somehow beyond Europe. It just feels much more down home, not as sophisticated and cosmopolitan as Paris or Madrid but with a rather faded, Old World charm about it. The closest comparison we can find is Naples but not quite so frenetic and without the feeling of danger.

After an enjoyable hour in the Internet cafe getting caught up with emails, we emerged into a rainstorm–the first of what would be many  more! Since we really didn’t know exactly where the gallery was and the tourist map we had was virtually unreadable, we hailed a taxi–not a hard thing to do in Lisbon!

We became rather fond of Lisbon taxis. They are ubiquitous, fast (sometimes a little too fast!), and cheap. We can take public transport for 2.60 euros or we can take a cab for around 4 or 5 euros. No contest, particularly when the rains started in earnest and we didn’t know which trolley went where.

The ride to the gallery in the Alfama district took us up and down many more narrow cobbled roads and finally deposited us at the top of a steep staircase leading slickly down to a narrow doorway. The sign said Colorida gallery so we knew we were in the right place, but the ambiance was anything but reassuring! The sign on the door informed us that the gallery would not open for another half hour so we wandered down the street to a rather dubious looking restaurant on the corner. But there was nothing else around and the rain was really starting to pick up.

The restaurant smelled of a thousand fish dinners and was completely empty at 1 in the afternoon. Still, we had to get out of the rain and we were hungry so we followed the young waitress (who spoke some English) in and settled at a rickety table overlooking a kitchen that I confess didn’t look quite as spic and span as one might like.

Anyway, lunch of tuna salad for me and an omelete for Gregg was more or less edible and certainly cheap. We’ve definitely had worse (although not so much on this trip).

When we returned to the Colorida Gallery it was open and we were warmly greeted by the Rosemary the owner. She and her husband are Brazilian and had moved to Portugal a few years ago to start the gallery. They like to show people from around the world. The space is quite large and very beautiful–all white archways and pillars. The gallery is divided into four quadrants so at any one time four artists are exhibited. Gregg is showing with an artist from the States, from Norway, and from Brazil.

The gallery had already unpacked and hung the paintings so there wasn’t much for us to do. Gregg asked for a few adjustments and once they were done, we really had no reason to hang around. We returned to the street and into a light rain that within minutes turned into a deluge. I have seen some good rainstorms in my time, but this one ranks right up there as one of the most powerful. I at least had a hood on my jacket, but Gregg had neglected to bring his hat so within seconds he was drenched. We felt as if we were standing under a waterfall. This was not rain–it was water poured from a giant bucket in the sky!

And of course, the famously available Lisbon taxis were nowhere to be seen! We dashed from doorway to doorway, peering through the curtains of rain for taxis with the green lights on, but every taxi that passed us was full. Actually, a few free ones also passed us but didn’t stop. I have a feeling they didn’t want us dripping in their back seats and I can’t say I blamed them!

Finally, a kindly taxi driver took pity on us and stopped. He good-humoredly waved away my apologies for getting his seats wet, and then took us on a wonderfully wet and wild roller coaster ride up and down the Lisbon hills back to the Bairro Alto. I asked him if this type of weather was normal and was told that no, it was not normal. Well I guess that was a relief!

So home again to sit out the rainstorm until it was time to venture forth for dinner. The rest of the evening alternated between light rain, no rain with bursts of sun, and deluge. I don’t think I’ve ever seen weather change so rapidly.

Typical Lisbon side street in our neighbohood

Another narrow street in Lisbon

 We ate dinner at a rather lovely Italian place. The food was hearty and good and the atmosphere cheerful. And another day ends!

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