We had a distinctly unromantic Valentine’s Day, although Gabe claims that bringing me to Portugal for a year is romantic enough. Ha. Nice try, buddy. (Actually, he’s right — we only ever use V-day as an excuse to go somewhere nice, and since this whole year has been full of great dinners, lunches, coffees, etc, well… I’m content.)

Sadly, the most exciting part of our day was when our landlord brought us a futon for our guest room — three days before our first guests arrive. We chose the flat we’re in largely because it has two small but separate rooms, as we wanted to be able to have guests without making them (or us) sleep on the couch. So we have a guest room, which we mostly use as an office.

Luckily, so far we have had no guests, as we have had a very Goldilocks-esque time trying to get the proper furniture for our second room. First, we had a bunkbed. Then, the bunkbed was gone, but we only had a single futon. One was too big, the other too small. But yesterday around noon, our landlord came over with the just right solution: a double futon. He and Gabe unloaded the boxes (ah, Ikea, assembly always required) into our flat and then packed the other smaller futon into the trunk. Meanwhile, I stood watch to make sure no one drove off with his car.

We thanked him profusely, and Gabe then spent the next hour assembling the couch, discovering in the meantime that the kit was short three screws. Of course. But it hung together, and so, nearly five months after moving in, we finally have a double bed in the guest room. It’s remarkably comfy, and the biggest bonus is that it’s bright red — which made it kind of fitting for Valentine’s Day.

By the time this project was done, the afternoon was half way over. All I really wanted to do was curl up on the new couch in the warm office and read, but the day was again cold and wet, and I had been freezing for hours. I knew that a trip to the gym (and more importantly the sauna) was required if I wanted to feel my fingers and toes again.

So down we went to the gym, and I hurried through my workout so that I could finally reach the sauna. Normally I can only handle a few minutes in there, but yesterday I reveled in the baking heat, knowing that it would be the one and only time that day when I would truly be warm. (Again, see earlier comments re: my cold-bloodedness and likelihood of my being a lizard.)

I did feel better after that, and was in fact warm for the rest of the afternoon — at least until we went out into the freezing rain again later that night. Oh well, it was good while it lasted. We ventured out again to have dinner chez a colleague of Gabe’s, which I realize is not the most romantic of Valentine’s Day activities, but we had a great time nonetheless. Gabe discovered that his colleague enjoys cooking; I discovered that he is a voracious and omnivorous reader, so we were both supplied with nearly endless topics of conversation.

Our host is from the Alentejo — the region literally below the Tejo river, which runs through Lisbon — so he treated us to several traditional Alentejan dishes for dinner. For the main course, we had a kind of egg scramble with asparagus in it, served along with excellent red wine, a hard white cheese that was a saltier, drier version of feta, toast with a mixture of olive oil and crushed herbs spread on it, and a salad with olives, feta, tomatoes, and walnuts in it. Dessert was the crowning glory: a bowl filled with a crumbly white cheese in one half, pumpkin jam in the other, and cinnamon and walnuts sprinkled over the top. The contrast of flavors and textures was exquisite, and the perfect end to yet another fabulous meal.

To our great relief, our host very kindly offered to give us a ride home when he dropped his kids off. As it was now quite late, and the rain hadn’t stopped throughout dinner, we welcomed his offer with alacrity. Sometimes, I really miss having a car. So we got home in much greater comfort than we’d left, and went to bed late again, bidding adieu to another successfully social weekend. That’s two in a row now — we’re setting a high precedent here!