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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

March 11, 2011

LISBON. TRY IT!

I don’t know exactly what it was about Lisbon that caught my imagination more than any other city (except for Istanbul). So, as we leave that city, permit me to pull together many of my thoughts, some of which I have offered in recent blogs and some not. (And to the individuals who have been hearty enough to follow the majority of my blogs, I will present some new thoughts here.)

Among other things, Lisbon, while having a complete personality of its own, reminds me so much of San Francisco, my favorite American city… (Behind Dublin, Lima and Berkeley of course, oh and maybe Waynesfield, Ohio, the epicenter of the Tussing Dynasty… but I digress.) I also read somewhere that the major bridge across the huge river in Lisbon was designed by the same man as did the Golden Gate Bridge. They do resemble one another.

Take an historic trolley into the upper reaches of the central district into the tiny neighborhoods, hop off the trolley, and find view of the river and much farther to the west, the Atlantic Ocean. It seems that all you do when you are walking or riding a trolley is look around each bend to see what sight is better than that last… and how high you are… and what historic cathedral is above, below or three streets away. Find a café and sit. Then sit some more and enjoy the view and watch the people hop off the trolley and discover for themselves what you discovered 20 minutes before… that it is a delight to drink a cappuccino and watch the people and artists and sights while you sip your coffee.

More than any other people we met, the locals seemed genuinely interested in what you, as a tourist, found interesting in Portugal. Our cab drivers had constant questions about what we hoped to see, what we saw and when we would be back to Portugal. The people in the shops always greeted you in Portuguese but quickly switched to English when you offered an English greeting or heavily accented American-English Portuguese greeting. They switched languages as effortlessly as one does the lanes of the freeway. (Though to be fair, I have to admit that Istanbul was much the same. Loved Istanbul.)

We ate several “traditional” Portuguese meals and they relied heavily on steak and fish (Sorry, just can’t get enthused about fish served with the head still on. If you know your fish, you have no doubt what fish you are eating. If you don’t know your fish, you merely have a dead fish and staring at you from the plate. I prefer my fish anonymous. Did I ever tell you about the pig we once ate that was bicycled by its owner, over the mountain in Zambia? That was more than I wanted to know about my pork, but at least it was served headless, though it had a compelling back-story.) Nevertheless, I had great fish and steak. Potatoes in a type of chip-form or fries (once again, these Europeans are totally into fries, and they are good. Did they invent them? I guess so! But America made it popular to sit in ‘57 Chevys and eat them. We‘re still #1 in something!)

We wandered through Lisbon’s restaurant rows a few times. Hard, hard sell, though they look like kindergartners compared to the hard-sell restaurant-wranglers in Istanbul (who by the way, had a great sense of humor about it all.)

Familiar jazz in so many shops, restaurants and stores. The influence of Brazilian music (their ex-colony, need I remind you) infuses nearly every avenue of life in Lisbon. Much like Country music in Nashville and Rock in L.A… Portugal has Brazilian samba and more. I felt right at home. (It’s a little known fact that Lima, Ohio is also a Brazilian music hotbed.)

Many familiar American fast foods. Many Portuguese style restaurants. Cafés on many corners and good beer. Bakeries? So many. People from their other ex-colonies, Angola and Mozambique and Goan India and especially Brazil… add ethnic diversity that befits a modern European Country. I saw some Muslims, but am not certain of their numbers. Portugal, like Spain, was a stronghold of the Moors until around 1300 and then they were defeated as the Christian Kings swept back into power. Today more Muslims have returned.

Great people, great sights.

Quite a place. Quite a place.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

To follow Bob's journey via his blog, check in daily at:   www.revbobsjourney.blogspot.com

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