Our Sunday was for the most part quiet and unremarkable, involving mainly sleeping in, a trip to the gym, and researching a trip we’re planning to Morocco next month. We did go out in the evening though — that’s two social outings in one weekend, folks! We often aren’t that social even at home. But when you have new friendships to make and wonderful wine bars nearby, how can you resist?

We went out with the French couple we’d met at the dinner party a couple weeks ago, and asked them to try out a different wine bar with us. This one is half a block further from our house than the other, equally fabulous but much different in character and atmosphere. Whereas the one we went to on Friday is small and intimate, and both the prices and the atmosphere make you feel like you’re sitting at home, having a glass of wine with good friends, this one was much fancier, more of a restaurant, but no less amazing for it.

What made it really great was the building it’s housed in: a giant vaulted chamber called a chafariz, or fountain, at the end of the aqueduct system that runs throughout Lisbon. This was the watering hole, the place where people came to get the much-traveled water for their own use — seems highly appropriate for a wine bar!

We sat in the upper part of the enormous cavern, which had been divided into three layers by sleek modern floors made of wood and metal. We sat perched in one of the windows, which fit an entire four-person table due to the thickness of the massive walls. The lower floor of the great chamber still contained the chafariz, a small pond of water eternally filled from the water burbling into it.

The water itself came through the hill above us, originating in the cistern at the top and carried underground by channels all the way down to the chafariz. Of course when the guys spotted the tunnel leading up into the hillside, they immediately followed it upwards, even though I am pretty sure we were not supposed to. The water ran in channels beside the cool stone passageway, creating a constant background noise throughout the restaurant, and all the wines were stored along the walls. The long line of metal wine racks looked somewhat incongruous against the 18th century stonework, but it was a clever reuse of space, as was the entire place. It was beautiful, unique, and again, right down the street from our house. We are truly spoiled for choice!

So we sat in this crazy space, drank good wine, and got to know our new friends, who moved here around the same time that we did. We had much to commiserate on about the idiosyncrasies of Lisbon, the ordeals of international moves (although their moving company nightmare made our experience seem blessedly simple in comparison!), and our difficulties in making Portuguese friends. We all agreed that it’s much easier to make friends with other foreigners, since your difference makes you similar — which is precisely why we were there with them last night.

To my delight, I also discovered a fellow book lover in the young woman, and we were soon lost in discussing the joys of reading and the virtues of physical vs. electronic books. I especially loved her phrase in defense of print: “I like to possess a book,” spoken with a gusto that only another book lover can understand.

Another thing we share with our new friends (or at least I do) is an earlier schedule than the Portuguese, so we met when the restaurant was just opening, and parted ways before most Portuguese people had even left their houses. (Could be another reason we don’t make Portuguese friends!) Gabe and I came home, well pleased at having expanded our social circle again, and ate a late dinner.

Gabe, nightowl that he is, went out again later on to watch the Super Bowl at the Hard Rock Cafe with our American friend. But since the kickoff wasn’t til 11:30 GMT, I bid both him and the weekend goodbye and went to bed.

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