Our weekend in Lisbon did not begin quite as planned. Snow resulted in the inevitable airport chaos and while I happily accept that circumstances dictate these type of events it left me wondering why it is that communication so quickly fails? A simple, friendly announcement to let us know that there was no concrete news, but that everyone was working hard and that we’d be kept up to date would have gone a long way in maintaining good humour - is it so difficult to inject a human touch into proceedings?
No matter, we made it to Lisbon by the early evening via London and a rather bumpy landing, and it was well and truly worth the effort. We were rewarded with a few days in a beautiful city, reminiscent to us in parts of Paris, Brussels and Stockholm. I spent a lot of time walking and enjoying traditional European architecture and food alongside more contemporary shops and cafés.
The weekend was a combination of work and pleasure with M being occupied on Sat/Sun leaving me to my own devices. I took a photographic walking tour through the old town of Alfama with Miguel of Lisbon Photo whose knowledge and enthusiasm for the history of his city ensured a truly pleasurable afternoon. I not only learnt much about the city, but he willingly shared his enviable photography skills with me resulting in a much greater understanding of exposure compensation on my camera
M and I made the very most of our time together starting on a good note by sharing a bottle of delicious Portuguese wine on the Friday evening in celebration of the end of Dry January! We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at Pap’ Acôrda at the Time Out Market. To describe the concept of the food market might result in it sounding like a food court, but it was so much better than that. Late on the Friday evening it was full, full, full and by the end of the night a large contingent were dancing to a little live music.
I in fact returned to the market on the Saturday evening for a more casual supper with a group of Mike's colleagues partners where we happily found a spot for us all to squeeze in together and enjoyed a very sociable evening before returning to the hotel to meet up with our other halves.
A surprise engagement in the hotel's rooftop bar topped off proceedings for the night - I am always hugely impressed by the courage, or perhaps confidence, of a public proposal though they about at this time of year! I'm grateful that I was given the opportunity to make my "what do you think?" response in private all those years ago!
At the risk of suggesting we didn’t nothing more than eat or drink I can’t avoid mentioning the gastronomic walking tour we took with Camila of WithLocals.com on the Monday. Not a native of the city, hailing from Brazil herself, she has chosen to live in Lisbon simply because she loves it. Using a local guide to explore cities is a wonderful way to enjoy a new location and one which we most definitely plan to include in future trips. Being guided around the city off the beaten track and sampling local delicacies from flaming chorizo to the ubiquitous Pastel de Nata in the spots the locals frequent was highly pleasurable.
One of the bonuses of being on Instagram is the wonderful network of friends I am growing around the world, and I was lucky enough to spend a lovely afternoon on the Sunday with a fellow photography enthusiast. On reflection Caroline and I did rather more talking than snapping but it was a real pleasure to spend time with an online friend in real life as we wandered around the city getting to know one another a little better.
The morning before heading home saw M and I visit Belém to admire the beautiful monastery, the tower and the enormous concrete sculpture commemorating the explorers whose grand adventures began in this city. After a rather lovely lunch in the sunshine on the waterfront our last few minutes together before the taxi arrived were spent sitting in the sunshine watching various groups enjoy life in Lisbon’s Jardim do Príncipe Real where I enjoyed catching one or two shots to capture the moment. Remembering that we had to fly home to different airports and were consequently departing from different terminals flooded me with disappointment at the prospect of having to part again several hours before I had anticipated.
I loved Lisbon, but it’s a frivolous, superficial love in comparison to that which I share with M. This being the middle of February I am reflecting on just how lucky I am to have a long standing valentine albeit not always around as much as I’d like.
I all too often bemoan the fact that we spend too much time apart without stopping to properly appreciate the time we are together. Twenty five years together has passed in a heartbeat and we’ve experienced much along the way. It feels good to have taken a few minutes as I write this to ponder all our happy times together, many hours spent in airports, but never more happily than the morning when he was waiting to greet me as I arrived to join him in Melbourne - the memory of a bottle of wine shared in the early morning sunlight on St Kilda Pier is one that brings a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart every time.