Yesterday was a lazy recovery day for us — we stayed in our room til almost noon, then ventured out slowly to check out an art museum not too far away (i.e. only 30 or 40 minutes’ walk each way, and that on flat ground.) The city more or less shuts down on Sundays, so it was like walking around a ghost town — a welcome relief from the usual hustle and bustle.

The museum was set in a lovely park, and the collection itself was incredible, especially considering it all belonged to one man, Calouste Gulbenkian, who got rich on oil money and decided to buy art. And of course what would a private collection be without a few Rembrandts, a Monet, a Degas or two, and some Rodin thrown in for good measure? Don’t forget the priceless 14th century Persian tiles, or the illuminated and gilt-encrusted Bibles, or the entire room of Chinese vases. And that was just in the one building — the modern art building wasn’t even open! Amazing. It was well worth a visit, and allowed us to spend a quiet afternoon together in an air-conditioned building.

Our Portuguese culinary adventures continued that evening. First, the Indian guy on our floor saw Gabe making tea, and offered to treat us to some proper Indian chai. This involves boiling the milk, adding a great deal of sugar, then putting loose tea leaves in, boiling it again, and straining it out into a cup. Powerful stuff! I was afraid neither of us would ever sleep again, but thankfully, it doesn’t seem to have had any lasting effects.

Later on, we ate dinner at a small restaurant near where we’re staying, which Gabe’s colleague had recommended we try. We needed to eat before sundown, since today is Yom Kippur, so we were predictably the only people in the entire place. That ensured us good service, however, and apparently also the choicest parts of the chicken soup we ordered: chopped chicken livers and hearts as well as an entire semi-formed egg in mine.

We politely ate the broth and left the rest, causing the waiter to ask, “Are you done?” when he took my bowl. I sheepishly admitted that I was, no doubt offending the poor chef to no end. Oh well — that dish was slightly too exotic for my tastes, but as usual, entertaining to no end. The rest of the meal was great, and I waved Gabe off to find the synagogue, leaving me to enjoy my first alone time in at least a week, if not much longer.

Today I will get more of that, and it will be the first time I venture out into the city by myself. That is still a daunting prospect, but not as much as it would’ve been a week ago. I may go to a museum, which seems like a safe option, or perhaps return to the areas we saw last week to investigate the shopping situation. But as that will mean more stuff to move this weekend, well… perhaps not.

DSC00461Gabe in the park.

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