[Saturday, August 2, 2014 — Garin writes]
We sent an email in Santarem and we are now in Madrid. We spent around four days in Lisbon, riding on sightseeing tours to see the maximum amount of the city in minimal time, and we looked in on all the churches. Lisbon is our favorite large city by far. We stayed in the old part of the city which is beautiful and lively, but also visited the modern part of the city that was built for the 1998 Lisbon World Exposition [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expo_%2798 ] that looks like a futuristic science fiction movie set. We enjoyed amazing gelato, sitting by the beautiful [Tagus] River with a scenic background, and a historical market turned modern food court with cuisine from all over the world. To quote Becca, “These aren’t cooks in the kitchens. These are chefs!” Lisbon even comes with hills, tram cars (like cable cars in San Francisco), the 25th of April Bridge (like the Golden Gate Bridge) [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/25_de_Abril_Bridge ], and a statue of Christ the King (like the Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_the_King_(Cristo_Rei) ]. Jill has a few postcards that could fool people into thinking we visited San Francisco. We enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.
Lisbon has a vast number of museums for a wide-ranging audience, such as the Marionette Museum and the National Tile Museum. One day we decided to split up and see the museums that interested each of us the most. Mom visited the Coaches Museum, one of the best in the world because a queen predicted the permanence of the car and preserved the royal collection. One of the favorite stories was of the king who wanted to gain favor with Pope Clement the 11th and [had his ambassador in Rome have] three huge decorative coaches made at different times, with statues and carvings inside to show Portugal’s growing importance. The king received so many letters and compliments about the grandeur of these coaches that he wanted to see what they looked like, and so he ordered the coaches to be returned to Portugal so he himself could see them. Garin wanted to see the Oceanarium (aquarium), and Becca went to keep him company. Ironically, they spent over an hour watching the sea otters in an exhibit that was modeled after Monterey Bay. Kelsey visited the Ancient Art Museum for four hours, enjoying the variety of religious art and objects acquired by the Portuguese in their various explorations. The exhibits were set up so that people could see Indian, Chinese, and Japanese pottery over time and watch the influence of each of these cultures on Portuguese art and vice versa.
Last night we traveled on a painful eight-hour bus ride into Madrid, arriving at 6 a.m. to a sleeping Spanish city. Fortunately, the bus was not full, so we could spread out and try to catch a few hours of sleep.
We are increasingly excited to get home after all the traveling of the past few weeks.