So yeah… my third cold this year. I feel like absolute crap today, as I did last night after getting back from an afternoon exploration of the castle. We both lasted about 2 hours up there, did fine, then suddenly Gabe announced that he had bonked and needed to start heading home.

As soon as he said so, I realized that I was feeling the same way. By the time we walked home and did a grocery shop, I was about ready to curl up and die. From scratchy throat to full-blown head cold in less than 24 hours… wow. This thing hit me like a freight train! (But NO, it is not swine flu, don’t worry.)

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln…! Yesterday was a nice day. We had a lazy morning, then took the tram up to the castle, since we hadn’t actually been inside yet. We were hoping to see a free concert later in the afternoon, but it turned out that the free tickets were all gone (how does that work exactly?!)

Undeterred, we continued on into the castle, which was well worth the 5 euro entrance fee solely for the views of the city. It was definitely a change in perspective, as we are used to seeing the castle from everywhere else in the city… and now we were seeing the rest of the city from the castle.

It was great fun to sit up there and pick out all the places we knew, like a giant 3D topographical map spread out before us. I was amazed at how much we could already identify in the areas we’ve explored (and yes, we could almost see our house from there), although the suburbs to the north of the city were a mystery, as were the giant skyscrapers that stuck out on the horizon like strange transplants from another place and time.

At one point, I likened our own experience in Lisbon to those skyscrapers: part of the city, and yet always removed, distinct, separate. From an outside perspective, we were just another couple of American tourists visiting the castle — and yet we are so much more than that. We live here now, we are starting to learn our way around, and at least one of us speaks the language fluently. I even found myself grumbling at the large crowd of tourists that drove us into the street as they stopped on the narrow sidewalk to take photos — just like I say to the tourists clogging the summer roads in Santa Cruz, “Some people actually live here, you know!”

So we have one foot in both worlds, the foreigner and the native, and we belong in neither. After a while, I think you just get used to the discordance that brings, but it’s constantly playing like a low hum at the back of your mind, and you don’t realize it’s there til you go home and suddenly it’s gone. Even so, like the skyscrapers, we have a unique, sometimes uncomfortable, but often enjoyable perspective on our adopted city.

But yesterday, we were able to put all that aside for a while and play at being tourists: climbing the castle walls, having a drink at the cafe while the band was tuning up (we did get to see them after all!), then walking through the small archaeological museum until we bonked and had to go home, where we ate chicken soup and watched a silly movie.

Best historical coincidence of all: we saw the castle on October 25, which I had discovered earlier (on Twitter no less) was the anniversary of the day the first king of Portugal defeated the Moslems after a seventeen-week siege of Lisbon and entered that same castle in victory. Very cool!

And now, without further ado… photos! With lots of trees and walls, trees and arches… basically, trees and rocks. Also, please note that the area surrounding the castle is called… that’s right… Santa Cruz. Heh.


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