Lisbon at Full Throttle

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October 13th 2021
Published: October 19th 2021
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After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, we set off on our adventure of the day. Lisbon has many hills, trolley cars and similarities to San Francisco, where we had all lived at different times. Our mission if we chose to accept it, and we did, was to find the yellow tram number 28. Tram 28 is known as a touristy tram for good reason, but was well worth the time. We took the Metro down to the start of the 28, waited in line for a good 40 minutes before boarding and securing window seats. I always enjoy watching the world go by as I sit on public transportation, so the window is a must. On a side note, I have to say that mask wearing here in Lisbon is very common. I haven’t noticed much fuss regarding it, which is a nice change. Perhaps I don’t see the behind the scenes drama of it all, but in buildings, on crowded streets, and this tram, almost each person is masked.

Down a tree lined street, our tram rattled along. We turned a corner and started up the hill. Buildings stand right up against the tram along the route, meaning we could peer into store windows and get a good feel of the area. Our thought was to ride this to the end of the line, turn around and ride it back down, hopping on and off as we came to stops that interested us. A large arch overlooking the water caught Merry Jo’s and my eye, so we made note to find it again. There are some truly amazingly beautiful overlooks on this tram’s journey. At the end of the line, we had to disembark, and queue up again for the ride down. Several people in front of us was France’s version of a male Karen. He and his girlfriend bought a ticket on the tram, but it was the wrong tram. The ticket was for a one-way ride, so was not transferable to the other tram. As we stood there, he argued, cajoled, berated his case to the operator who was having none of it. Off the tram they went, only to pop up like an angry Jack in the box right in front of us. They started the BS again, until they finally relented and bought a new ticket. Seriously, this was all over less than a $5 ticket. I didn’t get it, but it did make me realize how one can choose to be unhappy or choose to be happy. On this day, I was choosing happy, and loved it.

With the drama behind us, we clattered our way back down the hill. One tree, a burst of purple, had stood out as a reference point. Sadly, when it came down to remembering this reference point, I was caught with my metaphorical pants down. The car was crowded with people standing in the aisle blocking the view of the other side. I remembered the tree, but never saw the arch we wanted to see. Down we went, until it was inevitable that I had missed the stop we needed. We got off, and waited for another tram to take us back up to where we did find a scenic outlook for some postcard perfect pictures. If you are really nice, I may post a few of them at the bottom of the blog. And to be honest, I will most likely post them regardless. Up we walked, until we strolled into a non-descript restaurant. This restaurant broke so many of our travel rules, that it shames me to say that we ate there, but, darn it, we were hungry. For them, it was the rule of too many menu pages. For me, it was pictures of every item on the menu, plus translation into probably 8 languages. They brought out the obligatory plates of rolls, butter, croquettes and whatnot that had seen better days, and even more table trips. We passed. The food was better than I had anticipated, but then again the bar was pretty low. Soon enough, we were back out in the sun, walking up the hill.

Eventually, we found the arch that we wanted to see. As it turns out, it had been built as a gateway to the city. Nice views, nice architecture, tons of tourist crap for sale. Since we had taken our time, we had to Uber up the hill to meet our guide for our Lisbon off the Beaten Track tour. The guide was a personable woman named Rita, who asked us up front what we were looking to see. Our response pleased her and led us to a very informative tour. We wanted not a tourist tour, but a traveler’s tour to find out how people live in Lisbon. How much is rent, what about healthcare, how long does someone go to prison for murder? All of these and many more were discussed. It was a fun afternoon, and I think all of us came away learning something from it. I ended up getting a cutting board made locally. Sure, I thought. My luggage came in 3 pounds under the weight limit on the way here, so a cutting board makes perfect sense. Guess who is throwing away clothing he is tired of. At the end of the tour, we took a city bus back to the hotel to rest up before dinner.

Dinner tonight was a big deal. When I was 18 and leaving my parent’s house and farm to head to culinary school, I left on October 13, 1984 (please, for crying out loud don’t do the math. Just say how young I look and let it go at that). Today was the 13th of October, so Dave and Merry Jo wanted to take me to a special dinner. I did not know this and was not being very helpful in picking a restaurant. To me, some potato chips and a tub of ice cream would have been enough for dinner. Finally, we spoke with the gentleman at the front desk who recommended a place close to the hotel. The chef/owner loved to come out to meet his patrons, and them create special dinners. The desk clerk called the restaurant, and even though they were speaking Portuguese, we could tell it was not going to happen, when suddenly he used the word chef, smiled at me, and worked his magic. A dinner reservation was ours at Horta dos Brunos, and off we embarked on a truly amazing evening.

For appetizers, we selected fried sardines, samosas, beans, rabbit and octopus in olive oil. I often tell the waiters at work to roll their eyes and moan when talking about a dish, so it was fun to be the one sitting there, eyes rolling, moaning in culinary ecstasy. I picked red wine, so we ate, drank and celebrated. The chef had more energy than should be allowed and was very pleased to chat with us and decide on what we should feast. He sent out salted fried peppers, crispy garlic bread and the absolutely most delectable chorizo omelet. This was infused with the flavor of chorizo, was soft and silky, had thinly sliced chorizo on top, and was to be honest, divine. There, I said it. I looked up synonyms for it, but that is the only one that fit. Although we were wined and dined full, we moved to white wine to pair with a simply grilled grouper on thinly sliced green beans, balsamic and a drizzle of oil. This was followed by grilled tuna on sauteed greens. At this point we called ourselves done. Dessert was a platter of each dessert offered that evening including quince poached in port and sugar, cinnamon cake, chocolate heaven (my word not theirs) candied walnuts and an egg cake. These were paired with port. Once again, the brotherhood of culinarians came through to make a magical evening that will not be forgotten. I tell my culinary team that we are paid to make people happy, to create memories. How remarkable it is to be on the other side taking these exquisite memories home with me.

Additional photos below
Photos: 33, Displayed: 27


The ArchThe Arch
The Arch

Yes, somehow I missed this the first time

19th October 2021

The chopping board
What a great memory of your Portuguese sojourn that you can bring out, admire, hold, chop on, wash, dry and caress daily...brilliant buy Brendan!!!
19th October 2021

I thought So
Thank you David, I thought that it would be a great reminder of a great time. MJ bought one too.
19th October 2021
masked bandits

Masked bandits
The Three Amigos are now the Masked Bandits. What a great name now the Band is back together!!! And gotta say...better to be safe than sorry...Great Look!!!
19th October 2021
masked bandits

That is a great name
I didn't think of it when I wrote it, but you're right. Now that the band is back together, the Masked Bandits shall become our name. And doesn't the Dangerous One look even more dangerous here?
20th October 2021

Enjoying my virtual vacation to Lisbon
Hi Brendan - I'm enjoying the blog, reliving some Portugal through you and love seeing the food you enjoy. Glad they got you in for that special dinner, you deserve it! Keep the stories and pictures flowing. We head to Scottsdale Thursday for 10 days but will continue to check in. Enjoy!
21st October 2021

Travel Brenno is set free
Friend, chef and world traveler.... it has been too long since you traveled and far too long since you traveled with us. Our next caper is in the planning stages! I swear the night before the food at the restaurant was significantly better. That poor sad chicken was embarrassing. Better things came after that meal. Love exploring with you! Pastry, coffee and chocolates always improve things. I'm glad you didn't go to the top and try any stunts on the monument to the explorers! MJ
21st October 2021

Fantastic Lisbon!
Hills, hills and more hills. We conquered the metro, the trams and the funiculars. Isn't it a dream that no one makes a deal out of masks wearing. It is refreshing. Thank you for finding such a great off the beaten track city tour. We learned so much! We had such a great time celebrating your adventure going to the culinary institute. Such amazing food.
26th October 2021

Very Fantastic!
You are so true on all of this. This was a great day, and was the start of an amazing adventure.
21st October 2021

Lisbon at Full Throttle
Oh my gosh… looks like you’re having a great time! Wish I could be…..oh wait a minute….I am with you! No wonder we are having such a great time! - The Dangerous One
26th October 2021

You Know it
The Dangerous One was there adding his dry wit and antics to make it even more fun.
23rd October 2021

Crunchy Salt
I can taste the olive oil in these pictures! How do you ever leave these places?! I enjoyed reading your adventure Brendan and I miss you!
26th October 2021

Mmm, Olive Oil
Thank you Shannon. It was difficult to leave, but I knew there were even more adventures and foods around the corner.
28th October 2021

Purple tree
Brendan , it’s bougainvillea. What a fabulous feast you had there...I guess it made up for the horrible chicken previously. I’m following you and MJ and Dave’s travels avidly because I haven’t done travelling in Portugal yet , unless you count Madeira. I always seem to buy souvenirs for the kitchen , then you have great memories when coking.
29th October 2021

I would highly recommend Portugal
It was a beautiful tree. If you are able, I would recommend Portugal. Beautiful scenery, history, food, friendly people. And yes, I like buying souvenirs that I can use. It's nice to be reminded of trips in my everyday life.
7th November 2021

Wow, Lisbon looks like a beautiful city, and it looks like you had a great time there. I also love riding public transport and looking out of the window, and also seeing the daily lives of the people who live in places, away from the tourist circuit. What a lovely celebratory meal you had, and good words in choosing to be happy. Thanks Brendan ?
9th November 2021

Choose to be happy
Thank you so much Alex. Travel can be so rich when one takes time to sit back and watch. I am so glad you are following this trip.
9th November 2021
The Arch

Beautiful arch!
I did the are the same age as Andrew - a good year indeed :)
13th November 2021
The Arch

I knew some would do the math, but am glad to know Andrew and I are of the same era. A very fine year indeed.

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