Sunday, November 25, 2001

Being a tourist gives one such a strange impression of a place. Lisbon, for instance, seems to be a place that has never quite re-achieved the glory of its golden age before the big earthquake hit. That was, oh, 250 years ago. Everything is imbued with a sense of former greatness, of sadness and longing, of brutality, of dust and smoke.

But I suppose it's hard not to get such an impression if you spend your days visiting the ruins of castles perched on hills, reading that where the current national theater sits at one end of Rossio square used to sit the palace of the inquisition, and that the center of the square was a popular site for countless numbers of everyone's favorite public spectacle, the auto da fé, which was quite the trendy thing in its day. Nothing like burning people alive when it comes to thrilling spectator sports.

We visited museums filled with Persian velvets and portraits by Rembrandt, we saw various summer palaces in Sintra, fishing villages perched on cliffs tumbling down into the Atlantic, and we watched the sun set at the point furthest west on continental Europe at Cabo da Roca. We ate cod and wild boar and cheese pastries. We took wild tram rides up and down the hills of Lisbon. From the balcony of our hotel, we watched the town of Cascais turn an uncertain pink with the dusk, the fishing boats moving ever so slowly like black cows grazing in the water, the lighthouse at last flashing as the dark finally took over.

And yet it feels so wonderful to be home in good old Sweden at last.

The husband is overjoyed to be ridding everything in the apartment of the thick layer of dust that the workmen managed to leave although they weren't actually supposed to be even doing anything, anything at all.

The Swedish word for the day is bekväm. It means comfortable.

- by Francis S.

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