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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Letters from Lisbon, part 1


I am still under the spell of Lisbon: its crisp sunshine, the promise of the ocean, Tejo in its monumental calm. A little further upstream Tejo (Tagus) is just your regular river with little to boast about, but as it approaches the ocean it suddenly expands. Andrej kept referring to it as "the sea" (When are we going to walk by the sea?)

Pasteis de nata

Pasteis de nata or, in this case, pasteis de Belem, bought in the famous bakery right next to the Jeronimous Monastery. When I say famous I mean that people come from all parts of Lisbon just to get these little custard tarts, and they don't mind standing in lines that extend well onto the street. I stirred a little bit of controversy among friends when I said, on Facebook, that I thought they were too greasy. People swear by these things! Bowing under popular pressure, I had to give them another try, and then a third, until I ended up eating them every day. They do grow on you.


The concept of privacy has to be very different when your entire neighborhood knows your favorite colors, where you buy your trousers, and what is the size and color of your underwear. Still, I loved the ubiquitous laundry and have about a hundred pictures to prove it. I would like to see some laundry in Geneva. If there is ever a radical Swiss group gathered around some progressive ideology, I suggest they hang laundry on their windows and balconies to protest whatever they must protest against--I can't imagine a bigger affront to Swiss middle-class sensibilities. It would probably also break 11 different rules, on the communal, cantonal and the federal level.