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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A magical night...

I went to a restaurant called A Travessa tonight. Here is a picture of its main dining room.

It was about a ten minute walk from the hotel. We took a left from the hotel and walked down a narrow cobblestone street, and followed the tram line to a even narrower one lane street. There, I saw a stern looking gentleman, and some secret service looking people. I asked the stern looking man for directions to A Travessa, he pointed left. We walked up the narrow alley, and saw a residential looking neighborhood. Next to one of the doors, a small sign said -- A Travessa. We walked inside, it was a nondescriptive reception area, but we were led to the main dining room of the restaurant. It was a narrow room, but the curved ceiling is made of bricks, the walls are decorated withh classical paintings. Candles lit up the tables... where people were having intimate conversations.

Before we even ordered, several appetitizers arrived... there were peppers, cheeses, mussels, and a waiter came up and gave each of us two pieces of steak, delicious! Then we were served with simple carrot and celebry soup but it was incredibly tasty!

I ordered Red Deer (aka venison) since I've never tried it before. It went well with the red wine we had. It was on the rear side, yet without the raw meat taste, it was tender and subtly seasoned. The plate was elegantly presented. Two pieces of venison, a burgundy roasted pear, some baby asparagus and roasted cherry tomatoes to finish off... just delicious.

For dessert, I had creme broule... I probably missed one of the accent marks here, but what the heck...

Oh, I forgot to mention, the patron who sat next to us was none other than Jeb Bush and his wife and some friends/or family... it was interesting to bump into him over there. Now that explains the secret service looking people at the entrance!

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel. The sky was navy blue, with a clear moon and twinkling stars. The neighborhood was more or less deserted... the cobblestoned streets were shiny and quiet. We walked up the hill and back to our hotel..

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Observations in Lisbon

1. The Portuguese aren't tall people. I don't feel short at all here.
2. 90% of the taxis are Mercedes and the fare is cheap.
3. I have yet to see another Asian person in the city. People kind of look at me with some curiosity.

I went to a gift shop today. For once, I actually tried to practice my Portuguese, but the shopkeeper spoke really good English. Before long, I realized he wasn't Portuguese at all, but English. And his wife, she is from Seattle! What a life, moving from Seattle to Lisbon.

I am sitting in the hotel lobby now -- listening to live music in the bar. The pianist is playing What a Wonderful Life. It is a wonderful life indeed!

Ha, we need this in LA...super cute!

More Lisbon street scenes. I almost got lost today. But fortunately I got directions from a young man who spoke English.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Portuguese 101

Essential phrases for us dumb Americans:
Olá - Hello
Adeus - Good-bye
Obrigado - Thank you.
Fala inglês? - Do you speak English?
Não compreendo - I don't understand.
Socorro! - Help!

Since I got up at 5am, I decided to take an early morning stroll around the streets of Lisbon. The Portuguese seem to be late starters -- the streets were still pretty much deserted 7:30 in the morning. I took a right from the hotel, and guess what I ran into -- the Chinese Embassy! It turned out the hotel is tucked in the middle of the Embassy District.

So I walked a little further down, and ran into various embassies and eventually the US Embassy. When I saw the Star and Spangled Banner, my heart swelled with unbounded patriotism, and I wanted to take a pic... then suddenly I heard a few whistles and people waving at me... yep you are not allowed to take any pics of the US Embassy. I guess it makes sense for security reasons. But what has the world come to? I can't bring wine back for my friends because no carry on liquid and now I can't even express my unbounded patriotism! It was kinda depressing. After a while I decided not to hang around the embassy district anymore. They probably all have surveillance cameras and I don't want them to think I am some evildoer or something. All I am interested in is urban architecture around the world!

The streets of Lisbon in the early morning hours...

See the Moorish influence...

While strolling around the streets of Lisbon, I ran into my name sake. If you look closely, there is another cat behind Cat II.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Phew, almost finished the first leg of my trip -- the 5pm flight was a huge mistake. Since the arrival time in Heathrow was 3am LA time, I woke up a very grumpy and angry Cat at 2am! Reminder to self - take the 11pm flight next time, at least I get to sleep the entire night.

Finally arrived in Lisbon. When the plane was approaching the airport, the aerial view reminded me of San Francisco -- especially the bridge. See the link below to the bridge... isn't it kind of Golden Gate-ish?

  • Lisbon Bridge

  • Lisbon is hilly -- not very crowded. The hotel is tucked in a residential area on top of a hill. We had a wonderful dinner at the restaurant in the hotel. Sorry, it was so elegant I couldn't take any pics... but I had John Dorry and Tiramisu.

    Hehe, the ButtWash -- I've seen this in Spain too, maybe it's a Mediterranean/southern European thing. Do not recall seeing it in London.

    Thursday, February 22, 2007

    Xiamen, China

    I really liked Xiamen, a port city close to Taiwan. It is laid back and is not as polluted as other cities in China. People seem to enjoy life there. I had the best Korean and Sichuan food in Xiamen -- to the chagrin of my Korean and Chinese friends... Gulangyu, an island off of Xiamen, used to be a colonial outpost. As you can tell from the pics, the architecture is distinctively western...

    Hainan Island, China

    Since I've just started this blog, I am posting some pics from past trips... Here are a few from Sanya, Hainan

    View from the hotel...Hainan is very lush and tropical and used to be primarily inhabited by non-Han ethnic minorities.

    I loved the beach! The sand was white and oh so smooth... and jetskiing was a ton of fun...

    Another pic of the beach...

    Wednesday, February 21, 2007

    Beautiful Dublin!

    Dublin! - What a fantastic city, young, vibrant and yet still retains its small town feel.

    The grounds of the Irish Museum. Kilmainham Jail, where the leaders of the 1916 Easter Uprising against British rule were imprisoned, is within walking distance...
    Trinity College -- serene campus...
    Town center in the early morning hours after a night of rain...