It was the perfect birthday weekend that kicked off with the arrival of my daughter in Lisbon. She landed in the local chaos and brought the scorching summer temperatures with her. Maike had said from the onset that she wanted to be away from the dreary Berlin weather, which of course transmogrified into a Portuguese initiation of 41C on her first full day.
For the first time since I arrived in Portugal, I got to play tourist in my own hometown and eagerly explored the Praça do Comércio area through the eyes of a newcomer. In true FrogDiva fashion, we ditched plans and schedules, basically following the call of our stomached and the serenade of the aromas, beginning a lovely brunch in Vila Franca, a walk around the village, another stop at a cafe, until we got on the train into the city.
Upon arriving at the Praça do Comércio we hit a cafe for caipirinhas and watched the people pass by. It was such a joy to be with my daughter and best friend again, laughing, talking, and catching up on so many things you never really cover during short weekly phone calls. Once we finished the caipirinhas we meandered through the quaint little alleys, soaking in all the history and antiquity of the walls and cobbled stones, and our instincts led us to a little cafe called Portela that served the proverbial pasteis de nata with proper affogatos.
The sun was setting by the time we finished and continued our walk. We had a German thirst quenching interlude at the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa (city hall) area for beers and question the validity of metallic sculptures that resembled punctured Easter eggs. Nothing like watching a hen party with the bride-to-be being dared to make a fool of herself!
Eventually we caught sundown at the waterfront (along with a several dozen other people), finding a little spot in the sand that our name on it, oblivious to the temperatures and crowds. Truly holiday mode in full gear!
We capped the day with a seafood platter indulgence that took our breath away and rosé sangrias to match. Did we care that we were at the heart of the tourist traps? No one iota!
The next day was a lazy Sunday at home with significantly less movement and food. We pampered ourselves with homemade blueberry pancakes and omelette, our sacred weekend ritual. Oh the joy of cooking for my daughter again! I don’t think I could have asked for a greater gift at that moment.
In the evening we ventured back out to investigate the Vila Fanca localities, stumbling on a a small family-run marisqueira that “only” offered shrimps and crabs. It was brimming with locals, wherein the grandma running the show was bossy and a bit of a bully, but the beers were cold and the seafood intergalactic good! Equipped with hammers to negotiate the crab shells, we bashed our way through dinner with gusto and waddled home with the broadest grins.
For my big day yesterday we headed for the beach at the Costa do Caparica. The last time I hit the beach was in Ternate, (the Philippines) back in 2016! So it was a special treat all around. Of course started with lunch before we sank our feet in the sand! Oh my word what decadence of idleness! Took me a few minutes to adjust to the art of doing nothing, but fear not, I quickly got the hang of it!
The most special part of the birthday bash was sharing the evening with a group people who have transcended the role of colleagues and have become both friends and family. Regardless of where our individual paths will eventually lead us in the near or distant future, what matters most is that our paths crossed at this moment in time and have left indelible imprints on each other’s souls. When you are given the gift of time, the only way to honour it is celebrate life in all its glory, through all dimensions and with all your senses. It is a matter of paying homage to earth, soul and spirit.