Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010………..Lisbon, Portugal
The Grand Princess arrived in the port of Lisbon, Portugal at dawn. The ship uses its side thrusters to maneuver next to the dock without the aid of a tug boat, a little noisy but effective. We had signed up for a “Walking Tour” of Lisbon as our shore excursion. After a nice breakfast we made our way to the Princess Theater where we met our fellow tour group members and boarded our bus to town. The guide spoke fluent English; however my wife speaks fluent Portuguese, so we had no problem with the translation.
I was armed with my Nikon D3s and a 28-200mm lens with a polarizing filter. I also carried a 16-35mm f/4 lens in my backpack. I decided to leave the tripod on the ship because on a tour like this I don’t have time to set it up, compose the photograph, check the camera settings and trip the shutter. I regretted that decision later when we stopped at the Lisbon Cathedral. I could have used it. However, I managed to set the camera up on a pew back and hold it steady.
Our tour bus let us off on the edge of the Alfama, the medieval Moorish district. This part of Lisbon is a maze of very narrow streets and apartments and houses decorated with superb tiles of all colors. I took plenty of photos of this architecture. The Alfama is also the home to a genre of Portuguese music called Fado. It is one of my wife’s favorite. Her favorite singer, Mariza, began as a Fado singer in Lisbon and she does a concert in Houston every year. We walked up and down the narrow streets of the Alfama and then made our way to Commerce Plaza.
As we were arriving there, the tour guide pointed out three pickpockets who had been eyeing us as their next victims. I walked over to a police officer and showed him my retired HPD badge and with Mary Alice translating we had a great time getting acquainted. He called me a “brother in the law”. I started to ask him about the pickpockets but they seemed to be keeping their distance. I pointed my camera at them and took their photo at which time one of them promptly let me know with rude gestures that they did not appreciate the attention. But they soon sidled across the street to a bus stop and we didn’t see them again.
We continued down a long outdoor pedestrian mall with cafes, shops, and other businesses as we made our way to a street car that carries people straight up a high hill, and I do mean straight up, to a park and a view overlooking the beautiful terra cotta tiled roofs of the city. I got all that as a panorama picture.
Our tour continued back down to the same pedestrian mall we had just left. MA and I walked around for a little while. It was hot and we had done a lot of that walking around so we decided to take the bus back to the ship, have lunch and enjoy the afternoon sailing as we set out north toward La Rochelle, France. We will miss breakfast on the ship tomorrow as MA has decided she is brave enough to put her French lessons to the test and order us a French breakfast on shore at a local café.
Lisbon is very colorful. It’s one of those places I’ve always wanted to visit. I just wish we had more time to see it. Vamos voltar! (We will return!) All that was yesterday! Today was an “at-sea” day. I spent a lot of time editing my photos while MA went to Trivial Pursuit and a presentation on the Princess small ship itineraries. Sometime back I had promised MA a movie date to see “Up in the Air”. Well guess what was showing this afternoon in the theater. Thank you Princess for helping me keep my promise. Got to go for now. Formal night tonight, time to dust off the Tuxedo!