6/10/10: Lisbon, Portugal
Two important things are occurring in the world today:
- It’s my southern hemisphere birthday
- It’s Portugal Day
If my math is correct, the southern hemisphere takes up about half of the world’s surface and Portugal takes up about 1/5,000th of the world’s surface. Therefore we had a 50.02% chance of celebrating something today, yet despite these good odds, I have never had any reason to celebrate on June 10. It’s been as depressing as flipping a coin 24 times and calling tails each time, only to always have it come up heads. Kids, the lesson today is to never give up – one day your coin will land tails. Here, on my 25th try, I’ve finally come through. We’re in Portugal!
We wanted to celebrate the monumental occasion by doing something we’ve never done before, so we picked a day trip to Belem, home of some custard tarts that had been hyped up to us as the best food in Portugal. (Because it is Portugal Day and not my half-birthday, Zhou had some say in the reward; thus, the custard tarts.) But before Zhou got to the tarts, we had a few other stops to make, two of which I have deemed worthy of blog inclusion. Sorry Jeronimos Monestary, Padrao Dos Descobrimentos, mediocre garden and delicious Chinese restaurant – you’re all cut. You too, small lighthouse. Go home.
First, we spent some time at the Tower de Belem, an 500-year-old castle-like tower on the riverfront.
Normally we wouldn’t think about paying to enter places like this, but remember what day it is… entrance was free! The most interesting thing about the four-story tower was that it only contained one staircase – a cramped, dark, tiny staircase not fit for people walking in both directions. And because we weren’t the only ones who enjoy free things (read: the tower was packed with tourists), it sure made for some long ascents and descents, and some passes of other tourists that sure made me glad it wasn’t a nudist tower.
The only reason I’m including this stop, though, is because I really like some of the pictures we took. Check them out.
Our next blog-worthy rendezvous was with the Berardo collection at the Centro Cultural de Belem. This was some rich guy’s massive modern art collection, and once again, entrance was free! Right off the bat I could tell I would like this place, as the first exhibit we came to was a big colorful room devoted to music.
The best part though? The piece was interactive – you could actually play all the instruments on the floor of the room!
Right next to this masterpiece was another colorful room done by the same artist (Eric Corne). Unfortunately we couldn’t touch this piece, but we could photograph it, so have a look.
After this exhibit things went downhill quickly for Zhou. The exhibit contained a series of images and videos that had her so creeped out that she had to leave before I had finished looking at all the rooms. Later she saw a statue that had body parts where they shouldn’t be (legs instead of arms, a head coming out from between two other legs, feet all over the place – I’m pretty sure it was representing birth), and she refused to look at it. As we walked through the room, I had to strategically position myself to be directly in between Zhou and the statue – as if I were the earth, Zhou the moon, and the statue the sun during a lunar eclipse. Shortly after that she came up to me practically in tears after watching an exhibit that picked up a pile of clothes higher and higher until suddenly letting them fall to the floor with a thud (her guess was that it represented someone dying repeatedly). This is what happened when I went to watch the exhibit and the clothes started to rise, creating a ghostlike shape.
Z (hiding behind me): I can’t watch!
K: Why, what happens?
Z: It’s scary.
K: It can’t be that bad, can it?
Z: I know, but it scared me.
K: Now I don’t want to watch! All that’s going to happen is the clothes fall to the floor though, right?
Z: Just watch.
K: Now I don’t want to.
Z: It’s fine, it just scared me.
Thud! The clothes crashed to the floor with a loud bang. The old couple watching next to us simply laughed. Zhou remained hidden behind me. I didn’t take a picture of this one because I didn’t want Zhou to remember it when we looked back on our trip.
Eventually though, we left the museum. I bet by this point you’re all wondering how the custard tarts were.
Zhou’s review: mediocre, at best.
[Editor's Note: Tomorrow's post will be a mind-bending celebration: our last Puzzles for Postcards. For those of you who like these, come early and solve quickly. For those of you who don't, please don't waste your time by dropping by at all. Come back on Tuesday for our first post from Egypt!]
Pictures of the Day: Dueling pictures of me on top of another interactive art exhibit.