After my time at the castle, I started wandering back down the hill. I soon found myself drawn into a little garden area next to the church of Santa Luzia, called the Miradouro de Santa Luzia. The exterior walls of the church were covered with azujelos, the blue and white painted tile mosaics you see everywhere in Lisbon. The garden had a little portico area opposite the church, with a view of the city below and the river beyond. Sitting in the garden was an older gentleman painting views of Lisbon on canvases. I paused to watch him work for a moment, enjoying the peace that this small garden exuded. There were tourists there, of course, but since the garden was quite small, they would filter in, glance at the view, and continue on their ways. It didn’t feel cluttered or hectic. But then again, a lot of Lisbon did not feel cluttered or rushed like other European cities I’ve been to so far.
I eventually continued on my way, briefly walking through the Lisbon Cathedral, and then navigating down towards the river and the Praça do Comércio. After seeing the square and the river front below it, I gave in to the rumbling of my stomach and chose one of the restaurants on the square. The best part of the restaurant was the mist they had blowing over the outdoor seating. In fact, it was the only good part. The food was far from stellar and I was left highly disappointed. The service was also horrible and I was actually tempted to just walk out of the restaurant when I couldn’t get anyone to bring me the bill! I guess I should have known better and not given in to the hunger. The restaurants in the most touristy area are usually never any good!
After my less than favorable, rather late lunch, I was feeling quite tired and started heading back to my room, keen on a nap. One of the biggest perks of traveling on my own would turn out to be the ability to stop and rest whenever I needed! Just down the street from my temporary home in Lisbon I found a little grocery store for some snacks and cheap water. Then I napped! When I awoke it was just before sunset and I set out in search of somewhere for dinner.
I eventually found another little lookout area for a view of the city, the Jardim de São Pedro de Alcântara. I stopped to take some pictures of the city in the post sunset colors. When I stepped back to take a picture of a fountain with the light and city behind it, was when I met with my first, and only, questionable encounter throughout my two week trip. A young Indian man interrupted me, asking if I would take his picture on the fountain. Why not? I had been doing the same myself, throughout the day. So I snap it quickly, hand his phone back to him, and return to taking my pictures. He interrupts me a second time, to ask if I would retake his picture, but closer up this time. At this point I was a little agitated to be interrupted again, so I took it quickly, hoping to be done with him for good this time.
Go figure, though, he wasn’t done with me. He tried to introduce himself, he’s from Indian, lives and works in Germany, and oh, like me is traveling alone. Could he travel with me? I must have given him quite the look, because he quickly changed it to “would I like to get drinks?” My no was not enough for him, so he again changed it to “coffee?” At that point I was desperate to be away from him. A strange guy in a foreign place insisting on getting drinks with me after dark? Not a great idea when traveling on my own! Even if there was some slight chance this his intentions were honest. It just wasn’t worth it. I adamantly told him, several times, no, I’m going back to my hotel, people were expecting me there… I promptly walked away, and thankfully he let me go.
At this point, I still had not eaten dinner, so I walked a few streets away, scouring restaurant menus, looking for a place something tempting, and an available table! Everywhere was packed! I finally stumbled upon a promising restaurant, that I can not remember the name, how I wish I could though… Unlike my lunch experience, the service at this restaurant was amazing, and the food was out of this world. Restaurants in Portugal will bring you a variety of appetizers, including cheese, meats, breads, and olives. This is free, if you don’t eat it. Whatever you do end up eating, you get charged for. I couldn’t resist the creamy sheep’s cheese, and smothered plenty of bread with it, absolutely fantastic!
As I sat at my table on the street, waiting for the main course, I glanced up at one point to see the very same Indian man standing just down the street!!! I instantly dropped my gaze and held my breath. I don’t know if he saw me, but if he did, he had apparently gotten the hint. He never came over to me. When I eventually dared to look back up, he was no where to be seen. Talk about a “phew!” moment!!
The grilled rabbit that I had ordered was stellar, although it required full use of the hands to eat it. After seeing another table presented with a pitcher of sangria, I ordered myself a glass. Meanwhile, as I was enjoying my meal, various street musicians would come along and play for some money, which really set the mood all the more. For dessert, I ordered a simple bowl of fresh strawberries that I slowly ate while sipping on the sangria, reveling in the fact that I was in Portugal, experiencing this, and doing it on my own! I was in heaven and so excited for the rest of my trip!