Yesterday was a day of music. We didn’t plan it that way, it just seemed to follow us from one place to the next. I’m glad that whichever beneficent being provided us with a lovely, sunny afternoon also very kindly thought to give us a soundtrack.

We decided to take a late lunch break and go to one of the cafes in front of the Convento do Carmo, the skeletal ruins on the hill that fell down in the earthquake and were never rebuilt. We hadn’t eaten there before, but had always admired the outdoor seating in that cool, leafy little square, and yesterday seemed like the perfect day to try it.

Turned out it was a great day for it: the food was excellent, the afternoon gorgeous, the one waiter efficient, if slightly harried from serving a huge table of loud Brits with only an ineffectual young colleague to help. Best of all, a man and his guitar were set up in the middle of the square, singing beautiful covers of Brazilian bossa nova songs, many of which Gabe recognized and sang along to. The guy’s voice was so good it sounded like a recording, and set the scene perfectly for our lazy late afternoon lunch. His mellow voice followed us even as we went to explore the random set of archaeological exhibits in the convent itself, nicely amplified by the ruined walls.

After we’d finished there, I struck out on my own to do a bit of shopping, you know, since we were in the area…! Traipsing home through the crowds of Chiado, I noticed a good-looking couple dancing on the street near an old-fashioned van that parks itself along one of the pedestrian areas and plays fado music in an effort to sell CDs. “Oh,” I thought, “look at those tourists dancing in the middle of the street. That’s really sweet.”

I looked up to find a TV camera pointing directly at me — or rather, them — and realized that the crew we’d seen setting up outside the convent as we left had now made their way down to Chiado. Why they were filming their subjects dancing to music from a cheesy tourist trap in front of the H&M, I do not know, but whatever the reason, I walked right in the middle of their shot.

As soon as I was clear of the cameras, a frenzied-looking lady stopped me and asked me to sign a waiver, which would probably have been unintelligible even if it were in English. I didn’t mind filling it out, because it gave me a chance to ask her what they were filming. She told me it was The Bachelor, an ABC reality show, but when I looked it up at home, it turned out to be The Bachelorette (apparently too fine a distinction for a stressed out non-native English speaker.)

So there you go — I am now going to be on TV, either in the middle of that shot (doubtful), or in a later one where they caught me walking straight down the street towards them. Since they’re filming the entire season here, I doubt it’ll be the last time I run into them. My fifteen seconds — they’re here at last!

Riding high on the laurels of my sudden fame, I returned home to get Gabe and go up to the mirador again, where we were meeting our French friends for coffee. Again, we discovered that our casual excursion came with an unexpected soundtrack, this time a DJ who set up and started playing very loud but good music about half an hour after we sat down. Pretty soon, the old men playing cards at the tables got up to leave, and were replaced by hordes of painfully hip young twenty-somethings (I’m almost 30, I don’t count any more), with their big sunglasses, lanky hair, airy cheek kisses, cigarettes, and cheap beer.

Suddenly we were in the midst of a hip club scene, even though it was just past 6 PM and still light out. It made me feel so very European, to be sitting at a table overlooking the entire blindingly white city at sunset on one of the most gorgeous days we’ve had this year, drinking coffee, talking and laughing with good friends over the rhythmic beat of good, chill music. All that and we were only five minutes’ walk from our house. Bliss. A scene like that really summarizes this year for me: doing things we can’t do at home, being people we aren’t, seeing things we can’t. So wonderful, and all the more so because it is so fleeting.

Less wonderful was the fact that even the decaf coffee I drank at 6 PM then kept me awake til well after 2 AM. Note to self: don’t drink the Portuguese version of decaf at night. Ever. Ah well. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

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