Day 101 April 14 (Lisbon, Portugal)

Breakfast in the room. 9:15 AM excursion which included visiting the Monument to the Discoveries (built to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. He wasn't an actual explorer but was the moving force behind the Portuguese exploration explosion). Did you know that at one time the Pope divided the world into halves giving one half to the Spanish and the other to the Portuguese for colonization purposes? They were the two superpowers in the Pope's dominion and he didn't want them fighting and wasting resources in competition over the same territory. The line in the western hemisphere gave them Brazil. Ergo the Brazilian national tongue is Portuguese. What do you know, I learned something on this trip! LOL.

From the monument we rode down the road a bit to the Belem Tower. The early explorers were given a rousing send off from this structure. Nearby is Jeronimos Monastery. It was closed today but we drove by and had photo ops.

We then bussed to the other side of the Tagus River to visit the Christ the King monument. This is modeled after the one in Rio de Janeiro. Very impressive. If I remember correctly it was built in gratitude to God for keeping Portugal out of WWII. Great view after the elevator ride and two flights of narrow winding stairs.

Then to the city center (back across the bridge - looks like a shorter version of the Golden Gate Bridge) to view Black Horse Square and Parque Edward VII viewpoint. Lisboa (Lisbon) is a beautiful city in part because of an earthquake. A substantial part of the city slid into the river forcing rebuilding. There are still old things around but much of the city is quite modern due to the earthquake.

That was the excursion but I had them drop me off in the Commerce Center Square where our ship's shuttle bus connection was so I could spend the afternoon in town. I walked up the hill (toward the viewpoint we had visited) through a lovely pedestrian walkway lined with shops, restaurants and artists selling their work. I found a sandwich shop and thanks to a few phrases our guide had given us and some almost Spanish phrases I was able to order a ham and cheese sandwich (OK, the pictures on the menus helped too and it was really Presunto E Mozzerella but I'm not going to give away all my secrets!) and a Coke.

I shopped a bit and then went up in the Elevador (very good, you're learning Portuguese - it does mean elevator). This is an elevator in a frame structure inspired by or similar to the Eiffel Tower in Paris (yes, over 100 years old I think). At the top, again following two flights of stairs (this time a tight spiral staircase but not so claustrophobic since it was open steel mesh construction) was a small restaurant. I, needless to say, had to have a beer while I sat up top enjoying the view and atmosphere (no pun intended here, sorry). At some point I walked around the top platform a bit and discovered that rather than taking the elevator you can climb a hill behind the structure and walk out to the restaurant free of charge. That would explain the relatively small fee for a round trip ticket on the elevator. But it was still cool! I have pictures to prove it. I was told that the elevator was actually originally constructed to help in construction of nearby buildings. There was a nearby Church ruin. Perhaps that was the main need but I can certainly see how helpful it would be to be able to use an elevator to lift the heavy blocks of stone used in its construction. This is one of the places I'll want to return to to learn more about and see more. Very pleasant. The last time I was here was in 1970 and the country was still ruled by a dictator named Salazar (if I remember correctly). He was overthrown in '74 and they have really transformed the city (hopefully the country as well; it was very very poor in '70). By the way, the beer was Sagres and it was just fair.

After sitting and sipping for about a half hour I went down and did some more shopping. Eventually I passed a coffee shop and since I like to try local coffees I had a cup. Much like the Turkish variety but without the nasty grounds. Quite good.

On my way back to the shuttle meeting place I passed through the artists again. There was one guy with a bunch of woven name bands on the ground. I stopped to glance at them and he went to work on me. (Well, not in the Vietnamese sense, but he told me the bands were €3. He asked me what name and I smiled as I said "Thatcher". Heh, heh. What are the odds he would have my new grandson's name? As I suspected he didn't. I figured I'd won but he said, "I can make it in 2 minutes." Well, this I had to see. He got me. I had been trying to think of what you buy a 3 month old and the name band seemed like a good idea. Besides, the curiosity in me had to see this done in 2 minutes by hand. I have video! It is neat. He started with about seven or eight strands of white braided thread and held them in his hand. He put a thin strip of clear plastic behind them and started to wrap the strip/threads with a thread of whatever color you chose. I chose blue of course. As he wrapped he flipped various strands back over the already wrapped end so that they would show after the next wrap or two. This is how the letters were created. Essentially it is a hand loom. Cool. If you can't picture it perhaps it will help if you ever created big letters on a typrewriter or computer by typing characters and blanks on several lines to make the image of letters. Oh, here... I'll try to show you:


Well, that doesn't work as well as it did on a typewriter but if you imagine the letters on each line being the white thread which was flipped back during some blue thread wrapping so the white showed for a bit like the letters L, O, V and E (ok, I cheated with a W once) and then laid back down to be wrapped )and covered by blue again perhaps you can visualize it. If not I'll be glad to show the video when I get home. I might even be able to put it online. It won't be long now. Anyway, as you can tell by the amount of time and effort I have put into trying to explain this I thought it was really cool!

I returned to the ship around 4 PM. We were sailing at 6 and I was satisfied I had done a good job in a day of sightseeing.

The evening show was a comedian named Jeff Stevenson. He was very funny.
Afterward I worked on my pictures and this blog.

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