Rainy Lisbon Monday

I’ve been amazingly lucky with the weather. There have been a few early morning showers over the past four weeks, but this is the first rainy day, although it held off until after lunch.

After morning coffee, I took a long walk down from Graça to the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, but it was closed. When I walked in, the rather Soviet functionary seemed pleased to inform me that most museums are closed on Monday. Oh well, I should have checked.

I walked around the interesting neighborhood before popping into Restaurante Picanha for their prato del dia, which was a Cuban beef dish-very affordable and tasty.

I decided to walk to the beginning point of the famous Number 28 tram, which is supposed to start at Campo de Ourique, a 24 minute walk up and down from the restaurant. Lonely Planet needs a new Lisbon expert. There was no sign of tram tracks with a kilometer of the site. Then it started to rain, but fortunately I’d brought an umbrella from the apartment. I waited 15 minutes for an Uber moron to show up, but he couldn’t find me and cancelled. Lovely! Then I walked up the hill to a big intersection and tried again. After a 20-minute wait, the second driver showed up and got me back to the apartment. I decided to run a wash and perhaps grab an Uber later to the highly-praised Museu Calouste Gulbenkian.

Since the Museu closed at 6:00 pm, I didn’t think it made sense to head all the way out for an hour’s tour, so I decided to visit the cathedral, Sé de Lisboa, built in the 12th century. It was a 20-minute walk from the apartment and it hadn’t resumed raining, so I left the umbrella. Although I’d ridden past the Sé twice on bike tours, I was happy to finally visit it. The admission of €5,00 is worth it. It’s built in a trapezoidal shape over the ruins of a Roman temple and a Moorish mosque. As in many places in Southern Europe, old ruins are always put to new use. Visiting pre-Reformation Roman Catholic churches in Portugal and Spain, I’m struck by the prominence given to the Virgin Mary. She assumed a greater prominence than Christ himself. Now I understand the critique of the Protestant low churches and the hundred thousand sects and offshoots of the Reformation that Rome wasn’t “biblical”.

After the tour, it started to pour, so I stopped by a cafe across the street to sit under the umbrella and have a glass of wine. The Muslim server couldn’t recommend a wine given his abstemious piety, so he offered me a sample. It’s ironic that ten centuries after the Reconquista a Muslim-owned cafe sells alcoholic beverages to tourists in the shadow of a cathedral built on the ruins of a mosque.

Cities look different in the rain, especially one that recently has seen little of it. Fortunately, I’d brought my trusty Arc’teryx rain jacket.

I checked out O Pitéu around 8:00 pm, but it was packed and I really didn’t feel like a big dinner, so I walked across the street and had a serviceable salmon salad. It was still pouring when I left. I leave for the US late morning, so a good night’s sleep is in order.

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