We had quite a variety of adventures in the past two days. Yesterday began with a Segway tour of the Alfama (the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon). Our guide/instructor Peter was wonderful. He gave us a brief lesson in the parking lot by the ship and then we headed out. The Alfama streets are all cobblestone and VERY hilly. We thought it was going to be pretty scary but our guide didn't take us on very busy streets and we spent most of the tour in the alleyways which are not even big enough for a car and are mostly residential. The tour was so beautiful and as we passed by the residents waved at us out of their windows. It was like a movie. We said that we thought the residents got paid to wave at us and say hello, that is how perfect it was.
When the tour was over we took a moment to go back to the ship and change our clothes and then caught the metro to the Edward VII Park. We noticed that there were some pretty dark clouds coming our way, but we couldn't just stay on the ship. When we came up out of the metro near the park the rain was just starting so we threw on our rain coats and then it started to POUR!!! We ran to the nearest overhang in front of a store and we sat there for about 20 minutes while the skies opened. Luckily that was the last of the rain…at least we thought it was. The walk to the top of the park was about 300 yards uphill. In the center of the park are rows and rows of geometric hedges. It is a beautiful place! There was a very large screen at the bottom of the hill where everyone had gathered the night before to watch Portugal and the US play in the world cup.
We got some lunch on the way back to the ship and then came back here to rest up for a late dinner. We decided to find a local Fado club. Fado is a traditional Portuguese music usually sung by a woman. It is usually about heartbreak and love lost and has a heart wrenching chest/belt sound. We realized we were a little intimidated as we wandered around the narrow winding streets of the Alfama but eventually we found a restaurant with an amazing Fado singer. We had some wine and cheese and dessert and enjoyed two sets of this amazing artists voice. We meandered back to the ship around 11:30.
This morning we left the ship around 10am and went to a Portuguese cooking class. We had such a great time. We made a wonderful fish stew dish and an appetizer of caramelized apples with Portuguese sausage. Wow! What a great meal.
Then we headed back to the Alfama because we heard that there was a huge street market. We wandered around for about an hour until we found some beautiful tiles from the 1700's. We also visited an artists shop who made the most interesting pottery that looks like lace was laid on top of it before it was fired.
Really we were just putting off the inevitable, going back to the ship. We had to be on the ship tonight by 10pm but we got back around 5pm so we could prep for classes tomorrow and get off our tired feet. We have really enjoyed our time here in Lisbon. The city is beautiful and alive and the people are very kind. Now back to work for two days and then Bilbao, Spain.