There is a very important tip for the traveler who finds himself in Lisbon — white wine, or vinho branco, is relatively free and poured indiscriminately to the tourist and local alike.
Consider that a good bottle of local wine in Lisbon, served ice cold, with bucket, on white tablecloth, and overlooking the Rio Tejas is about 8 euros. Compare that to a single glass of Barefoot Chardonnay, served from a bar gun, on red checkered plastic at TGI Fridays, and overlooking UFC on a wall-mounted TV, which is about the same price.
This is not so for things like bottled water or beer. A bottle of water may cost as much or more than wine.
Worse, the ban on discriminatory profiling in Lisbon is lifted for things like selling sun screen where a bottle of SPF 30 will cost about 20 euros, clearly taking advantage of the fact that no local Lisboan will need such an extravagance and thus allowing the pharmacia to gouge the tourist with a concealed level of plausible denial.
A quick Google search by the reader will find a local high ranking official recently quoted in a London newspaper,
“Hey, its not profiling! We pay the same price,” snicker. “That is, if we need it!”
Not finished, the Portuguese chemists and product marketeers seem to take some kind of twisted thrill in producing a white paste that will not absorb into the skin when applied. This is especially true for those of us with hair on our arms and legs which outside of the cycling and transgender communities represents the entirety of the US male population.
Rubbing this lotion into leg hair is like beating egg whites into meringue.
And so, even at 20€ and unwilling to shave, I kept trying. I tried a plastic bottle first. I looked like a geisha in the 50’s. I went to another store and bought a spray bottle, got it home and watched in dismay as the thick ooze came out like white silly string.
Undaunted, I tried again and got a brand for children (who would make fun of a child?) and in a metal pressurized can resembling the light aerosol spray we can buy. Nope, my legs and chest looked like a winter’s morning after 3 feet of snow the night before.
5 bottles and 120€ into it, I simply ran out of time and pharmacies in walking distance.
The next day we had planned to go to the beach again, and I was still debating on what was worse — getting laughed at for wearing a swimsuit by the nude sunbathing locals or being laughed at for a rear-end that has never seen the sunlight in its 50 years of existence and with white sandy goop all over it.
We solved the problem by opting for a different beach destination from the one previously. We were to go to Cascais by train and less than an hour away from Lisbon to the Atlantic on the same side of Rio Teja (or the Tegas.)
Ah, Cascais! According to sources including my cousin who lives there (I will introduce him along with Fado in another blog) Cascais is a beautiful, small cosmopolitan seaside town that is surrounded by popular beaches, such as Guincho Beach to the west and the lush Sintra mountains to the north that I’ve already described. This would the perfect day trip from Lisbon and I piled my 120€ of SPF 30, swimsuit, and towel into our bag for tomorrow’s journey!
So, we were disappointed when the next day was cloudy and a bit too cold to lay out — beachwear or not.
At breakfast (a 4 min egg, cheese, bread, and coffee) we decided to walk a short distance and spend the day at the contemporary art museum housing famous artists from Portugal and Lisbon.
The Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado is housed in the São Francisco da Cidade monastery, rebuilt after heavy damage in the 1755 earthquake. The religious orders were abolished in 1834, and the building was purchased by an Englishman who installed a biscuit factory.
The building is not much changed with its large oven room with 6 huge brick ovens. I cannot imagine working in this room during the heat of the Portuguese summer. The architecture is simple but beautiful with high rounded ceilings. They have put in scaffolding and modernized the floor, walls, and lighting to perfectly display the art.
In 1944, while Salazar was in power, the museum began its selective acquisition of works by modern Portuguese artists for the state. Since the Romantic period, the neighborhood of Chiado has been the home of modern art in Lisbon. There were many artists represented in the museum, but I was struck by one, Almada Negreiros, who was one the pivotal figures of Portuguese modernism in the 20th century. He hung out across the street at the Teatro da República and close by at the A Brasileira café in the 1920’s where Kathi and I had a coffee the day before.
The painting below is called The Nap which he did in 1939. This is obviously on the same beach Kathi and I went to days before as evident by the swimwear each is donning.
Below is Harlequin and Woman which I really liked. He did that in 1929.
And below you see his influence by Picasso, a contemporary living in Barcelona, Spain that he did in 1947 titled Acrobatas.
Below is a self portrait of him and a group in what I presume to be the same cafe in Chiado where Kathi and I stopped on the top of Rua Garnet which is across the plaza from our hotel.
After two or three hours, we began walking down towards the river. It was then that we decided we were thirsty and needed free wine. Without checking yelp or a travel guide on our iPhone, we ducked into a nicely air-conditioned tapas and wine bar called Restaurante Tágide that catered to the locals. The decision process in picking this particular location was fairly straightforward; It was down, and the others were up the hill. This place was a gem with a view of the river edge and cobblestone streets below.
As we looked at the menu and sipped our wine, we decided we had to eat. We simply weren’t that hungry and reluctantly passed over items like cod loin confit in extra virgin olive oil on vegetables bras, or the Magret Duck seared in its own fat with raspberries. Instead we had the tapas: sautéed shrimp, the clams, and the Chourico roasted in rosemary. This is a must go for a leasurely afternoon or dinner. Chef Luis Santos (who I did not know until after eating here) does a fantastic job and the ambiance is perfect.
In all, a great day in Lisbon.