Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   a taste of Lisbon
Wednesday, November 15 2023

location: over the eastern Atlantic Ocean off the coast of southern Portugal

After the ambien wore off, I continued trying to sleep. But I found it impossible to get comfortable in the seats. I tried various positions, some of which were difficult because of the space Gretchen was occupying and my reluctance to disturb her. By the time I brought up a map of where we were on our route, I saw we were only a little over an hour away from landing in Lisbon.
As we were getting off the plane, I stopped just outside the plane to put something in my bag. And then I waited for Gretchen to appear behind me. But she never did. I then went further into the airport to see if she was waiting for me up there. When I couldn't see her anywhere, I wondered if perhaps she was still in the airplane, perhaps giving vegan meal suggestions to a hapless airline attendant. But a flight attendant told me all the passengers were off the plane. So then I hurried ahead and was stopped, I thought, by someone demanding my passport (which Gretchen had). But then I saw Gretchen off in the distance waiting in a line for Portuguese immigration, and was allowed through. Gretchen said she'd also been looking everywhere for me, and neither of us every figured out what exactly had happened.
After being disgorged out of the airport, we eventually found a taxi driver who would drive us to our hotel for 18 euros. That seemed a little steep, as the price mentioned in the guide book was more like 15 euros. But, as the driver pointed out, Europe has suffered massive inflation since Russia invaded Ukraine. Our driver also gave us a little language lesson on the way, telling us that Portuguese is a lot like Spanish but with more hissing. To me, though, it sounded more like French.
Our hotel was a grand old luxury destination in the very center of Lisbon called Hotel Avenida Palace. Gretchen had made our reservation back when I still had a job, so she'd spared no expense. (Among many other famous guests, the Japanese Emperor Hirohito had his honeymoon in this hotel back in the 1920s.) But it was noon and our room wouldn't be ready until 2:30pm, so Gretchen and I left our luggage at the hotel and set off on foot to get lunch.
Gretchen had of course thoroughly researched the vegan food options in Lisbon, which were plentiful. We ended up at a pleasant restaurant called Kong, where we ordered a veggie burger that came with zucchini tempura and a side of fries. We also ordered some sort of cheesy loaf that contained mushroom and faux sausage. While we were there, a woman with a young daughter and an old dog of uncertain heritage arrived, and the dog came straight over to us. The woman was about to call the dog back, but when she saw the dog delighted us, she assigned her daughter to handle the dog's eventual retrieval.
Back at the hotel, our room was ready, and we were desperate to clean off our travel grime. We'd been upgraded for some reason to a small suite with a good view down to the busy Metro station at Praça dos Restauradores. [REDACTED]
I elected to stay in the hotel while Gretchen went off to a museum and to further explore the city. I don't know where she can find the energy for such things after spending hours in an airplane. As for me, though, I couldn't actually sleep, perhaps because of the cappuccino I'd had at Kong.
For dinner we walked up a steep hill and over to a vegan restaurant called Plant Base where the menu had unusual sections such as "Snack." After ordering our entrees, the perky waitress asked, "No snack?" This transparent upsell worked as intended, and I said we should get the onion rings. That proved to be a great decision, as the onion rings (which were small and pre-slathered with barbecue sauce and spicy mayonnaise) were the best onion rings I'd ever had. We also ordered a small mushroom pizza (which wasn't so great) and a bowl of Himalayan momos (a kind of dumpling in a spicy tomato sauce) that were pretty good, especially the sauce. The whole time we were there, a whole album of pop music sensation Dua Lipa played from the sound system. Earlier at Kong, the music had been exactly the kind of pop one hears on K104, the Hudson Valley's hit music station. We were coming to the realization that, to the extent Portugal has a different culture from the United States, it is not reflected in the music that people want to listen to. This led Gretchen and I to have a rather thorough conversation about white female pop musicians. I said I didn't find Taylor Swift all that compelling, and that I prefer someone like Katy Perry. As for Dua Lipa, her sound is rather cold (which Gretchen doesn't much like) although her obvious love of disco is intriguing. Most of these musicians, I said, received a boost from well-connected parents, although Gretchen was quick to point out that Selena Gomez seems to have clawed her way to the top with talent alone.
On the way back to the hotel, we were going down a flight of steps to get down off the city's highlands and Gretchen ducked into a place selling shots of sour cherry liqueur and ordered a shot. But then she didn't like it at all, so I ended up drinking it.

A marble statue of a pair of typical mammals in the window of a museum in Lisbon. Click to enlarge.

The grand staircase in the Hotel Avenida Palace. Click to enlarge.

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