Thursday, May 19, 2016

Day 14: Lisbon

Day 14:  Lisbon
POTD: Today: Hoje
Art guide on left, Anabella second from left
Weather: Sun, sun, sun: coolish in the morning, warmish around noon, perfect in the late afternoon and late evening

THB is up to the fitness center, down to the lobby to get DB a coffee, back up to shower and shave, back down to the lobby for breakfast (granola and plain yogurt, a bit of bread, coffee), back up to post with Windows -0000.1, and down to the lobby to meet our guide for the morning as we have an art tour.

Surprise!!  The guide is in the lobby with the driver and another guide. Two guides? One is Anabella, the guide for today and tomorrow. The second guide, whom after repeated attempts, THB still cannot understand her name, is there to help us with the art tour. Now, having a guide where you can’t understand her when she gives you her name is not all that encouraging. Anabella is to be our translator. The driver is Consalvo. He does not speak English (at least from THB’s perspective).
The first gallery of the day

The seven of us pile into the van (which has a rattling window) and make our way slowly southeast to the waterfront. This area has lost a lot of its industry and is slowly filling up with other entities. Visit is to large gallery showing just one artist: very large paintings all in the peach/pink tones, all of one “scene” as seen from different viewpoints. THB swears two of the paintings are identical. Our art guide doesn’t have all that much to say, most of the talking is done by the art gallery owner who is pretty fluent in English and art talk.

Shots from the van on way to the church:

Back in the van and a routing back into town to the best stop of the day: an alley full of graffiti leading to an old (and famous) church where the artist featured in the lobby of our hotel, Rui Chafes, has installed four pieces. 

Shots from in the alley on the way to the church:

This time someone at the church explains the art (or maybe the church art) to our guides and they translate for us. The tall ladder in the middle of the church (hung such that it doesn’t touch the floor) is mesmerizing and highlights the extraordinary features. We spend a long time here, most tourists pop in, look up at the ceiling and leave; we go up into a mezzanine at the rear of the church for another vista. Again, the magic of the ladder is really spectacular: simple, elegant, a view into the greatness of the church’s art.

We figure out this is the power source for the exhibit lights

Stairway to mezzanine: lead step covers

Note that the ladder is not touching the floor

Rung close-up

From here we can walk to our next stop: the Joao Esteves de Oliveira Gallery, featuring the work of Pedro Cabrita Reis. The images are “nudes” where the nudes are subtle line drawing with other images painted on the sketches, and sometimes the work is a collage of layers. Very simple, done by a very famous artist whose work was in the Berardo Collection we viewed yesterday (only DB focused on his work at the museum), and nothing like these paintings. The entire show, maybe 20 works, was sold out, priced from 2500-4500E. The gallery owner had purchased THB’s fave!

Time for a drink, at a local spot (we’re near the hotel) selected by our art guide; she goes to the opera across the street and often comes to Café No Chiado after a performance. Two lemonades, two cappuccinos, a coke and a white wine.

Over drinks, there is a bit of discussion about what’s left on the tour: a jewelry artist offered up earlier is not available, a gallery nearby won’t open until 2pm, there is an offer to visit an artist’s atelier. DA and SA decide to stay in the area and roam around and THB and DB get in the van to go back through downtown towards the airport. If it works out, the four of us will reconvene at 2pm at Café No Chiado.

Maybe THB hasn’t quite given you the idea of the traffic: basically, to get to and back from the final gallery, it’s about 20-25 minutes driving each way, covering maybe 5 miles. That gives us about 15 minutes at the gallery, which is more than enough.

The timing is perfect: we’re back at Café No Chiado at two, say goodbye to our guides and driver, with THB tipping the art guide 20E. We’ll see Anabella and Consalvo tomorrow, they will be taking us to Sintra for the day.

There at a nice quiet corner table are SA and DA. Three hamburgers without buns with sides of salad and frites for the other three, smoked duck salad with apples and figs for THB, two beers, a glass of wine and a coke, and DA picks up the bill (he’s running behind THB is the shared spending race, so he’s doing some catch-up over our last few days). Lunch is quite good, and even though we’re close to the heart of Bairro Alto, this spot has mostly Portuguese customers.

Hamburgesa served with bun

Lots of time left before dinner at Belcanto (a two star). DB knew about an art jewelry gallery, Gallery Tereza Seabra, which turns out to be just down the street from the Moroccan restaurant and thus within a 7 minute walk from the hotel. DB and SA do some test driving, and SA and DA depart for more shopping down the street. DB ends up with a very handsome necklace (in THB’s eyes, there were several good choices!!) by Silke Trekel, German.

These were the other options (first two made of silicone):

How trusting is the owner?  She lets us take the necklace with the understanding that when we get back to E-ville we’ll wire transfer the purchase price (they don’t take credit cards…is that possible??). Of course, she knows DB’s art jewelry friends and with friends like that you can shop any art jewelry store in the world and have plenty in common with the owner; e.g., SB is in an on-going e-mail discussion right now.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh, now to try some of the gelato we’ve seen going up and down the streets in our area in cups and cones.  We share a medium chocolate/Nutella/café cup, 4.5E, which is terrific. As we’re slowly spooning away, in come SA and DA to give it a try (though maybe we should be suspicious that this is not their first visit).

A visit to the local contemporary art museum, and it’s more established companion down the street. Not great, though we recognize at least one artist from discussions at the last gallery visit of the tour.

Who is this mystery man?

Finally, back to the hotel to rest up before Belcanto. And we needed to do something about our stomachs: the meal starts at 7:30 and ends around 11. Many beautiful and flavorful courses, we split two pairings among the three wine drinkers (we could’ve split one, even though the split pairings made for small glasses). The food is great, the service cheerful, there’s a meet and greet with the chef, Jose Avillez, the sommelier unsuccessfully tries to slice the top off a bottle of wine, and the total bill comes to somewhere around 875E for four. Per the chef, they have a staff of 35 for 28 dinners; we count more like 32, and they also are full at lunch.
In Belcanto's restroom

Our menu (the list doesn't describe the presentation)

The wines

Belcanto even includes a map of the source of the wines

An easy stroll back to the hotel to try and figure out how to ease our stretched tummies!!

Shots from around town:

The US Embassy, complete with example of #trumpwalltoprotectembassyofficials

Not a bread dispensary
And the answer to the pictorial pop quiz:

The man himself: Jose Avillez moving between restaurants around noon

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