Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Lisbon, Day 3.


Oy! Finally managed to sleep through the night!

So in the morning and in great spirits I made my way up to the Alfama district with its great leg-shaping ascent up to the Castelo de São Jorge. The Castelo itself is not particularly exciting, mostly only ramparts left, but the views of the city are spectacular (for pictures, see here). Afterwards, I headed down to the Sé Catedral and hung out at the cloister and viewed the small "Treasures of the Cathedral" exhibit, whose pride and joy and centerpiece is the Custodia (where the Eucharist is held). Nice, but not as rich/ostentatious as other similar items seen in the rest of Europe (National Swiss Museum, for instance, let alone the Vatican Museums), in spite of the 4,000 precious stones and the 20-something kilograms of gold from Brazil it took to craft it. Not surprising, then, when Adam Smith, in writing back in 1750 about general colony management principles, always likes to use Portugal as an example of what not to do in terms of economic policy. {shrug}.

Anyway, later in the evening I convinced three folks I had been befriending over the YH hallways, elevator, and breakfast table to go listen to some fado with me. The trio are Mexicans living abroad (Andrea, living in Switzerland, David, living in Madrid, Murielle, Belgian, speaking perfect Spanish, girlfriend of David), and they are all very good-natured and cheery, in a familiar and rather nostalgic (for me) kind of way, so it was a good combination for company. We headed up to Bairro Alto at 10:30ish, and upon arriving at the Metro station, seeing the people walk in without presenting the ticket to the machines, we did so also. I had no ticket myself at the time, since I tend to buy them right at the machines, and asked about this custom of walking through, and why people did it (for the locals seemed to have no issue with it), and got just shrugs as response.

Well, you know what's coming, right? Apparently they never inspect tickets, but lo and behold as we were about to exit the Baixa-Chado station (where we were going) here are a bunch of uniformed security folks checking the throng of people for their tickets. David and Murielle passed through in the crowd and confusion, but Andrea and I were held up, me doubtless attracting a lot of attention since I was wearing my wonderful fluorescent yellow jacket, a nice little bullseye in a sea of darkly-collored and fast-moving people. Andrea managed to produce an old ticket, to which the security guy paid no careful scrutiny, but I, of course, not having one, am at this point delaying and pretending to have more difficulties with the language than I usually do (this served me nicely some time ago in Poland--I "didn't understand" my way out of a jaywalking ticket once). By this time, the rest of the crowd had passed through, and me and Andrea, who was waiting for me, were the only ones left hanging back. Sucks. Around this time, Andrea headed over to where Murielle and David were, and upon seeing this I started to get a little worried, for I figured they would probably just go on along, but instead shortly afterwards as I kept dilly-dallying with the guard I felt Andrea slip something into my back jeans pocket. Well, lo and behold, the "misplaced" Metro ticket suddenly appeared!!

The guard was not stupid, though. He immediately demanded to see Andrea's ticket again, to which I paled, because I figured she had just given me hers. Ha ha. Nah. Mexicans are clever and good with "transas" (we even have a name for it, you see!)--the ticket was David's. So we passed, laughing and reviewing and marvelling at how shaky and nervous we all had been with the trickery on our way up the stairs to street level.

So that was my brief stint as an outlaw. ;P.

Anyway, the fado was pretty neat, the restaurant was rather upscale and had a lot of traditional elegant ambiance. When we left at 1:30 a.m. (so much for trying to get rid of my jet lag) the streets outside were teeming with people, clubs blaring jazz here and techno half a block away and in general as lively as if it were a busy midday Sunday at the market. Tell that to the South Bay engineers who have nothing to do weekend evenings. Me party 'till the morning on a weekday, hee hee, and me no go to work tomorrow! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Sorry folks, but gloating is a big part of the fun, you know.


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