On the third day in Lisbon my true love said to me,
Wear walking shoes, eat good breakfast, and take pictures plentifully….
For children and grown-up children like me the Oceanario de Lisboa is a wondrous place. Aquariums are such a joy, their darkness cocoons you, you feel isolated from the world, above and beyond, swaddled in its watery shadows you view gargantuan tanks of exotic creatures from a parallel universe.
In “Sexy,” a short story by Jhumpa Lahiri, she evocatively describes a scene between Miranda and Dev in the Mapparium. That scene for me encompasses all the mysterious powers that such enclosed, enlit, created spaces, hold; acute moments of self-realization.
I saw my reflection, my son’s hands, thousands of dark silhouettes, and a moving world, whirling inside the largest tank I had ever seen. A blue sphere, much like earth, holding formidable living beings. Is this what we look like? Sharks larger than the three of us combined, sting rays with tails so long that my camera lens could not take in, flat fish, shoals of fish, curious fish, the sun fish that bumped its head, fish that looked angry (are they really free in here?), and fish that seemed elusive to philosophical ecological questions.
Bambi was over the moon. We have a fish tank at home and he loves and ignores his pets with equal passion. Sometimes chiding them for being so greedy, at times lovingly cooing at them as he works on his math book sitting by the tank, often staring blankly at them, worried when one of them disappears behind a rock, shirking his feed-them duties like an unruly pre-teen. He wished he had brought them along to show his little ones how the big guys play.
We had ice lollies outside the aquarium. Freshly made fruit sticks, which were delightfully tart. For lunch we went to the Mercado da Ribeira, what a mad place, and what a must-do for everyone. It is a craziest crowd of food-focussed-people, thus, from the largest liquid orb I had ever seen I went on to dine at this mammoth food court, the biggest I have been to in Europe. If you are traveling with kids, then your kid has to be the “right” age for you to enjoy this experience, by “right” I mean they should be in either their pre-or-post-tantrumy phase. If your tot has a tendency to be hangry this could well be your worst nightmare. However, if you can manage it with the right sense of humor and a bit of “its ok we have all been kids once” this can be your playground. Also, a noisy packed place is much better scream room than the quiet cozy ambience music type restaurant, if you know what I mean. The food queues are long but I can assure you they are totally worth it.
After lunch, we walked towards the river and picked up ice creams from a cute little corner gelataria called Fiori. I had the cherry-yoghurt ice cream, which was divine. We walked through the old part of town crossing the famous Praca de Comercio. Lisbon’s architecture is so unique, bright, and colorful.
The evening views of the sunset were simply stunning. The Golden Gate bridge and the dipping sun were a match made in heaven. I have a special surprise for where we had our dinner, I am officially crowning it as the best place to eat in Lisbon, you will have to wait for it – it needs its own spot in terms of an exclusive post. I loved it so much I ate their twice during this break.
Join us for day 4 as we take on some new spots and look at some modern art, for now enjoy the pictures and we will catch you next time….