Friday, September 24, 2010

Lisbon Day 4 – Museums and Goan gaff

Museo de Arqueologia

Breakfast with Ronnie, beneath the trees on the Avenue Liberdade, before he flew back to Scotland, then off on the 15 tram to Belem and the Museo de Arqueologia. Before taking the tram, we popped into San Domingo church, which retains its 1755 earthquake damaged interior. The tram stopped short as there was a military parade, so we walked the rest. Rather scrappy set of disparate rooms showing Egyptian, Bronze age and Roman artefacts. But good on Roman religion, really political accommodation of local Gods and cults. Rome seems healthily ambivalent towards religion, which served the purposes of the individual, family or state. It wasn’t really a force in itself, unlike the cant of the current Roman Catholic Church, which was all over the news. A good time to be out of the UK.

Museo Marinha

For a chronological history of Portugal’s maritime history, this is an ‘old-school’ museum that’s low on exposition but big on objects. It starts with Henry the Navigator, Cabral, Diaz, Vasco de Gama and Magellan – the great 15th and 16th century age of exploration. It conveniently ignores the murder and mayhem, but is strong on the ships, maps, navigation and trade. There was an interesting exposition on Somalian pirates, showing actual confiscated boats, guns and footage of the boats being intercepted.

Goan adventure

Lunch at the Restaurant Goa, where, after a long walk, we finally found the door of the restaurant in a quiet backstreet. Ken walked in, looked at the 20 or so Indian diners and asked for a table for two. Turns out he had walked into an Indian family’s home. They very kindly pointed us towards the restaurant’s entrance! Goan food is more ‘spice’ based, than ‘curry’ based. Lots of cinnamon, paprika, pepper and so on. After our lunch, we got a little lost but happened upon the Museo de Art Antigua.

Museo de Arte Antigua

Having come across this gallery by accident, we popped in out of the afternoon sun (hitting 30 degrees). The ground floor has a modest collection of European paintings with a room of Zubarin’s, a Bosch, Holbein and so on. On the first floor there’s ceramics and furniture, while the top floor has the huge, but quite wonderful tapestries, showing the Portuguese conquests in North Africa.

From here we ascended the steep hill to Estrela, where we caught the 28 tram which swept us back down into town , round the back of the castle and back to the centre. A last coffee was drunk sitting outside the tiled Pasteleria Aninciada.

All in all one of finest weekend the boys have ever had, and we’ve had a few. Looking forward to next year already!

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