The goods of the flea market were underwhelming, but the location was, as I have found most of Lisbon to be, overwhelmingly picturesque. After absorbing an adequate amount of beauty and heat, we got back on the trolley, where another mishap was soon to unfold. Someone had parked directly on the trolley line, so about five elderly Portuguese women disembarked and began barking at passing strangers. Eventually, two men jogged to the parked car and sped away, impervious to the angry shouts of the trolley passengers.
We got off the trolley and onto a sleek, air-conditioned bus, where we met up with a solo traveler whose name is eluding me. He was from Columbia, but had been living and studying in the States for at least a decade. We went to see the monuments of Belém, the older part of Portugal. La torre de Belém (the tower of Belém) was a stunning sight to behold — a castle-like monument made of white stone (probably limestone) stands majestically against the blue sky, with blue water behind it.
With waning verve, we chewed, forcing as many as we could down, which was about one quarter of them (and that was with us splitting them). Against the protests of the male waiters ("You are the beauty of our house! If you two leave, we too will have to leave!"), we paid and left, a putrid taste lingering in our mouths. Regardless, it was a well-spent six euros, because it satisfied our small appetite for adventure, if not our actual appetite.
The next day we traveled to the beach, taking with us an effervescent British lad named Max. We grabbed fresh fruit, bread, and cheese from a small grocery that smelled like cod fish, then boarded the train. We got off at the last stop, and were hit by the heat like a ton of bricks. Following the crowd, we ambled down to the colorful beach. Each one of us had brought a book with us, but I found myself unable to tear my eyes from the half-naked swimmers and tanners. Wearing a bikini, I have never in my life felt so overdressed at a beach. Most of the beach's inhabitants were topless and/or nearly bottomless, with strategically placed shrouds of fabric.
Jackie and I tried to brave the Atlantic Ocean, but didn't get past our legs. We marveled at the physical maturity of the teens on the beach. The girls here seem to develop earlier, and it isn't uncommon for early teens to be openly (and surprisingly adroitly!) flirting and presumably dating. I was maladroit and immature at that age, thinking utter standoffishness was the ultimate bait. I left the beach in a state of sophomoric shock. The sun had also rendered me useless, so I napped upon arrival at the hostel.
Having promised Rita we would, Jackie and walked to a nearby restaurant later that night to try the infamous cod. On our way there, I was accosted by a young man, who, grabbing my arms, pleaded, "Marry me!" Not so coolly or calmly, I yelled for him to kindly not touch me. We, of course, arrived at the restaurant well before anyone else had sat down to dine, but the staff reluctantly served us our fried fish and homemade potato chips. I have to confess that I was unimpressed with this so raved-about dish, and left heavy-bellied.
About This Entry
You are reading "You Are the Beauty of Our House", an entry posted on 24 July 2009 by Jackie Steves.