Day 16 – Family about town

Thanks for waiting around for the next installment – in real time, we have been on the road and away from our handy-dandy internet access. We have stopped in a hotel for a few days, so I will be able to hang out in the lobby and (hopefully!) get a few posts up.

Day 16 = March 27, 2012 – Tuesday

A few hours of surfing expat sites on the internet for massage therapists led me to Equilibrium Vitae in Baixa. I emailed for an appointment, and got a quick response from Carla that she could see me on Tuesday at 10 AM. Hooray!

Not being familiar with either the location or the therapist, I forced David and Quinland to go with me just to be sure the place was reputable. (I had no reason to think it wasn’t, but I know that at home “massage therapist” can have a couple of different meanings, so I wasn’t taking any chances.) To say that Quinland was less than thrilled to have to get up early and travel downtown for no reason would be an understatement. She was sleepy and uncommunicative (and unsociable and taciturn).

At any rate, the place was lovely, and Carla, the therapist, was awesome. I can’t say enough good things about how friendly and helpful she was, and about the time and care she gave me. I came out of there feeling a million times better than when I arrived.

Meanwhile… David and Quinland got back on the Metro and took it up to the Martim Moniz station, which was close to one end of the route of the famous Tram 28. They rode Tram 28 from its terminus at Estrela, through Graca, Alfama, Bairro Alto and Chiado – and all the way back. They passed the Se (Cathedral), but didn’t go inside. Finally, they rode it back to the Praça do Comércio.

Since we still had not figured out our whole cell phone situation, we had made plans to meet at noon at the Praça do Comércio, which was just a couple of blocks from where I was. Fortunately for my body – but unfortunately for the time – my 90-minute session ran long, and when I showed up, David and Quinland were nowhere to be seen. (They were there, but we were all in motion and kept missing each other.) Luckily, their Tram 28 adventure had run long as well, so they didn’t have long to wait – and they were happily entertained by a juggler/statue guy.

We headed up the pedestrian zone, stopping at a small market to stock up on groceries for lunch. We ate bread, meat, cheese, and yogurt while sitting on a bench – very old-school style for us, and some nice grocery-lunching practice for Q.

We had purchased full-day passes for the transit system instead of our usual per-trip “zapper” passes, so we set out to get our money’s worth. D and Q had already ridden the subway (twice) and the tram, so our next stop was the Santa Justa Elevador. Built by a prodigy of Mr. Eiffel himself, the elevator is designed to take you from the Baixa (lower) part of downtown to the Bairro Alto (upper neighborhood) beside it. When you get to the top, you are treated to yet another beautiful view of Lisbon; then you cross a little skybridge and arrive at the ruins of the Convento do Carmo.



Founded in 1389, the Carmelite Convent’s church was ruined in the 1755 earthquake and never rebuilt. In 1864, the Association of Portuguese Archaeologists turned it into a museum. David and I took photos in the ruins while Q rested on the grass.

Q: “It was very calming and quiet.” D: “It was fantastic. Because of the (nominal) entrance fee, you felt like you had the place to yourself.” L: “It was awesome. I got to take pictures and see mummies.”



From Carmo, we walked through Bairro Alto to the Igreja de São Roque, the earliest Jesuit church in the Portuguese world. Both David and I remembered being awed when we came here back in 1994 by a side chapel decorated in lapis lazuli. Q was definitely not awed by the church – she just wanted to sit in a pew and not look around – and the lapis lazuli was undergoing restoration, but D and I found that fascinating (much more fascinating than the statues of Mary and of Jesus carrying the cross, both of which had really creepy faces).


We walked around the corner to the  Miradouro de São Pedro, a viewpoint that showed all three of the other viewpoints we have visited in Lisbon – very cool. We then hopped on the Elevador da Glória, which is more of a funicular tram than an elevator, which takes you down a very steep hill.


At the bottom, we found a museum of cinema, which really ended up being a museum of pre-cinema, filled with magic lanterns and stereoscopes and zoetropes and kinetoscopes. Cool, but not what we thought we were getting ourselves into.

A quick stop at the tourist info office next door to ask about rental cars and any special exhibits at the Gulbenkian Museum, and we hopped a bus for home. This was our first time taking the bus, and it was cool to see everything between Baixa and Santa Apolonia. With the subway, it feels like you pop up into each neighborhood with no feeling for your surroundings.

We got home, made dinner, did laundry, hung out – just another typical night.

Expenditures: Full day bus tickets, massage appointment, groceries, entrance to Convento do Carmo, entrance to Museu de Cinema.

Experiences: All of the above! First massage appointment of the trip; first ride on the famous elevators of Lisbon; cinema museum; riding the bus. The local city buses are more of what I would call a “coach;” they have plush seats and are bigger and fancier than our city buses.

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