We spent our last full Lisbon day in Belem checking out the "Age of Discovery" monuments in honor of Christopher Columbus - the founder of our 3 day weekend feast. We hit the Monastery of St. Jerome - some of the most beautiful cloisters I've ever seen - oh to be a nun! Reading, walking about, thinking...eating broth, staying single forever, waking up for prayers several times a night ...wait, actually that sounds terrible. Nun I shall not be, but cloister appreciator I shall. The adjacent church actually houses the tomb of Vasco De Gama. Vasco De Gama!
|Monument to Discovery|
For our last night we went to the Gulbankian Musuem where I accidentally bought an amazing book about all of the books from all over the world in the collection in Portuguese. I was very sad indeed when I pulled it from my back pack and discovered "De Paris A Toquio" instead of "From Paris to Tokyo" like I thought I had purchased. Not to worry, a sweet friend of ours in Portugal is going to swap it for us.
The museum, containing the late Mr. Gulbankian's personal collection, is really stunning. My favorite section was the room comprising Persia, the Middle East, and Turkey. At one point I looked up from a fabulous 3 x 5 yard, 400 year old Persian rug to see a small toddler making his way around the corner from the previous room. He was running towards the rug from the opposite side of the rug I was on. (If you see what's coming then hold your breath like I did.) I waited for a few seconds to see who was with him and an old woman with moccasins and knee highs came toddling through the door, too many paces behind him. Just then it dawned on me that she wasn't going to catch him in time. I let out a pre-gasp gasp. And then the small child jumped onto the platform, peddling across the 400 year old rug. I must have let out a serious cry because Max ran to my side to ask what was the matter. Not wanting to loose this fun game of cat and mouse the child ran a bit further (the threads!) and fell right down in the middle of the rug. I didn't know I had such strong feelings for historical artifacts - but I guess I do. The guards ushered both the child and the old woman out of the room and Max had me sit me down for a minute so I could get it together.
Perhaps that hidden (or not so hidden) compulsion to preserve cultural artifacts explains why I can't really talk about the looting of the Iraq National Library and Archive after the 2003 invasion without getting very sad. Look it up. Be very sad too. Anyway, this particular rug did make it through the toddler invasion of 2011 and for that I am glad.
|Tiles from the Gulbankian Museum|
"But this was a relaxing trip! This was me, low key planning." I said with a bit of panic.
To be honest, I'm a planning maniac. I think we'll just see one thing today and spend the rest of the time milling about but then I realize that historical sites A, B, and C are all on the way so we should just stop there for a little while and this amazing church is only open for a few hours that afternoon so we should probably stop there too. ooh, and wouldn't the perfect Brazilian dinner (which we ate at a place called Brasuca) be a great way to end our relaxing day? And then! We'll walk down by the river front and see the ships come into port... you get the picture.
But I have promised, crossed my heart and hope to die, that our next trip will be a bit slower paced :)