Monday, May 4, 2009

Of All the Gin Joints...

We started our morning with yet another fabulous breakfast at our hotel followed by a morning stroll and...liquor! That's right it was not yet 11am when Betty Lou and i had our first drink! We walked back down to the Rossio Square to see what it was like on a non-Sunday (lively and bustling) and we happened by this little hole in the wall bar. I use the word 'bar' loosely however, as all it is is an opening the size of a small walk-in closet with a bar, a bartender and several bottles of red liquid. The place is called Ginjinha and it has been there for about 150 years serving only one drink to locals buy single shots of this boozy concoction and drink it standing outside. We had to indulge. I heard it called gin, but it is sort of a cherry brandy; not offensive, but far too sweet for my liking. Betty Lou thought it pleasant and clinked glasses with the local men. I know it was early for drinking, but it had to be 5:00 somewhere, right?
BL drinking with the locals
After that, much of the rest of the day was spent exploring. We went to the ruins of a medieval church and had lunch on a cafe patio on the square, but mostly we just walked.
I really can't explain how fascinating the streets are. These super narrow alleys, lined with buildings that were once brightly painted, but are now mostly faded and peeling, while others are tiled in exuberant colors and patterns. Many of the street are quite shabby looking and seem almost desolate, but then you turn a corner and there is a charming and unexpected hole in the wall restaurant or vegetable market. And have we mentioned the laundry? Strings of drying clothes hang from every window like streamers for a parade. Simply delightful.
Anyway, we are basically done with Lisbon and are ready to head to Sintra, which we will do in the morning.
me: map reading in Lisbon

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