Bittersweet and lightning fast

Cafe Nicola at the Rossio and restaurants waiting for lunch patrons
Cafe Nicola at the Rossio and restaurants waiting for lunch patrons

In 2008 I decided not to return to Portugal ever again. In that year we came on a lightning (goodbye) visit to my Mom-in-law, with the knowledge that it would probably be the last time we’d be seeing her. As it turned out it was also the last time I saw my Gran and my Uncle. My Gran and Mom-in-law passed away that year, and my Uncle passed away last week. So here I am again, on another bittersweet and lightning (sorry guys, I’m not able to see you this time around) visit.

Lisbon is awash with tourists, foreign languages heard everywhere. I’ve watched with amazement huge tourist busses squeeze their way through the narrow streets of the old parts of the city. Despite the economic and political crises there is an interesting vibe about this historical city – something funky, cosmopolitan (off-course :-)) and young. The fact that it’s summer probably has a lot to do with it.

In spite of the reason for my visit, I’m enjoying the coffee – it’s sublime – I’ve yet to find a bad cup of coffee. Every second shop is a coffee shop, the ubiquitous “pasteis de nata”, “rissois de camarão” and “pasteis de bacalhau” a must-have companion.

It’s scorching hot, 38 degrees on most days. Clothes stick to the body which have to be peeled off. It’s almost 10pm and it’s still light, and hot. Fires have started, already decimating acres of forest land. Just walking on the street guarantees sunburn. Walking into an airconditioned shop is marvelous and finding an airconditioned taxi is heaven!

One cannot understimate the state of mind that such visits bring along with them. The future will in all likelihood include visits to Portugal once again, longer ones, and I’m counting on happier ones.

Never say never again, isn’t that what it’s all about?