• James Eric Fristad

And then

Wix asks me to put a catchy title up there.

Except there is not much of an amusement-park spin one can give, from our living room back here in our Nampa home. We did return safely from Lisbon late this past Saturday night, after a Mister Toad's Wild Ride set of flights from LIS to EWR to DEN to BOI. On United Airlines which is generally late (and certainly did not disappoint in that department).

Quite an experience it was, talking about an expedited return with our travel agent in Houston via cell phone, from the apartment overlooking where cruise ships park their "Come With Us" hulks next to the local Portuguese customs office that squats along the banks of the Tagus River. But back to the phone call: it turns out there are two sorts of airfares we might have employed to secure our flight back home: a cruise or cruise-return ticket on the one hand, or a garden-variety one-way ticket on the other. The former is way cheaper because it's done by way of negotiations with cruise-vacation sellers as part of a round trip journey (redefining "sail over and fly back" as a round trip). And since RT cost is always a fraction of one-way, this would have been the preferred alternative. Except. That.

On short notice there simply were not any negotiated fares available. So it had to be an ordinary ticket generally written up for big spenders whose business involves just getting to wherever it is, in order to do important stuff, and damn the budget. Write-offs for corporate giants enable magic funds to become available, it would seem. And, yes, it had to be Business Class for the benefit of Michele's hip.


But the day before leaving, we did get a taste of the grand old Portuguese capital city. For one thing, I was able to walk a ways along some winding streets paved with the ever-present gray cobblestones. Winding up and down as well as side to side, that is. It would be easy to get completely lost in those randomly strewn paths, if you didn't keep recalling for instance, that streets that continue to descend are always likely to bring you to the sea/river level. So you can't get very lost with this simple principle in mind, because bordering the watersides there are major roadways, always, at which place getting back home becomes merely a 50/50 choice: turn right or turn left?

The site of this neat old fortress, here. is as far afield as we ventured. It's a medieval defensive tower built on a small island, about 700 years ago, at present-day Belem which is near the mouth of the Tagus River. According to architectural historian friend SM, it's classic Manueline architecture style. Well, I didn't know that! As for getting here ... ah yes, getting here? It was another Disneyland ride in a different Mister Toad's jalopy.

This was a tuk-tuk vehicle, a sort of electric tricycle with a driver/guide in front and two bench seats in back, and no discernible shock absorbers beneath. A relevant aside: most Lisbon streets, at least in older parts of town, are paved with cobblestones. Squares of probably granite maybe 6 inches on a side, set in sand probably centuries ago, for vehicles of all persuasions to roll over. Over the years these durable cubes settle randomly, each as it is inclined, making for picturesque if chaotically uneven surfaces for our tuk-tuk to roll over at highway speeds. As for the hapless passenger's posterior and spine (and hip, in Michele's case), the word jarring doesn't quite do justice to the experience. It. Hurts. Also, because of the height of those bench seats relative to the roof edges above, I was unable to record this rollicking ride as I would have liked.

Rollicking, I'll have to remember that term, if ever there's another such transport-ride in our lives.

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And then


une fois encore