Day two - 16th of October
Hotel's breakfast buffet: Small, and not the greatest selection of stuff, at least compared to Scandinavia, but adequate. A lot of sweet pastry and bread stuff, no whole grain bread, but good ham and cheese, as well as scrambled eggs and bacon. They have different kinds of cereal and it looks like there's müsli, but the müsli seems to be loaded with sugar. And they don't serve juice - they serve this nasty fruit drink type thing. Eeeewww. They have pots of hot milk alongside of the pots of coffee - this is very nice!
Oceanário de Lisboa: This place is amazing! The way it is set up is that there is a gigantic aquarium tank in the middle of the building, and you walk around it on two levels while also looking at other exhibits - mainly more sea creatures in other tanks but also different kinds of birds.
In the main tank, there were lots of different kinds of fish and shellfish and other sea creatures - from sharks to manta rays with sucker fish clinging on to them to sea cucumbers on the aquarium floor. The building is otherwise split up into "areas" with its own region of the world. There were also lots of information posters etc. not only describing the different kinds of animals, but also posters with special themes - symbiosis, the effects of pollution on the oceans, etc. Very impressive and well-done!
What was equally fascinating as the fish - the birds. They had an area for arctic species of sea birds which included, among other things, puffins. They also had an area for India (I think) with various exotic birds that would fly in your path. It was nice seeing the birds so free; I wonder how they prevent them from flying into the other rooms/exhibits...
The penguins get a paragraph of their own! PENGUINS! Their area was set up such that you could see them on their rocks and on the surface at level 2 and underwater at level 1. When you see them on land, you are able to see them quite close up. Close enough to see all the fat on their feathers, how thick and waterproof their feathers are. The water really just beads up and rolls right off! Oh, and apropos an earlier JE, they really do shoot out their shit! Anyway, at the first level, you could see them swimming under water. Fat little torpedos! And they were having a jolly good time chasing the fish that were there. if you saw a fish swimming frantically for life, you knew a penguin would soon follow...
At the gift shop I bought myself a big stuffed Humboldt penguin, a t-shirt, and a little gift to send to one of my nephews...
Gondola ride: The Expo area of Lisbon is quite huge, with lots of interesting things to see - sculptures, gardens, museums, shops, etc. However, boyfriend of tuxette was having a lot of problems with his back, due to the crap hotel bed (*) So he could barely enjoy himself due to the back pain. While it would have been nice to walk the promenade to the place where all the restaurants and cafés were located (the aquarium is on one end, the restaurants on the other), we just couldn't. So we took a gondola ride over there and got a nice view of the Expo area and the mouth of the Rio Tejo.
BEER: We had learned about a microbrewery called The Frog in the Expo area and wanted to test out the goods and perhaps have lunch there. We went there only to find out that they were closing shop for good at the end of the month, and the only microbrew they had left was the Stout. So we had a pint (yes, a pint) of that. It was delicious, nice and caramelly and smooth.
Lunch: A restaurant called Bacalhau and that's what we ate - lots of bacalhau! As an appetizer (one of those things they bring to your table that you have the option to eat (and pay for of course) or not to eat), we tried some deep-fried bacalhau cakes. Very tasty! I'm going to have to make some on my own some time! The main course was grilled bacalhau with olives, onions, garlic, olive oil, and potatoes. Very tasty! And a huge portion - you have to work hard to starve here, though if you don't like fish you'll suffer a bit as seafood, especially bacalhau, is the thing here. We drank Vinho das Garças 2002 with our meal. It was OK, but too "commercial" in taste.
Speaking of portions, when you eat out in Portugal, your main dish is served on a serving tray or in a serving bowl (depending on what exactly it is you order) and you are given a separate plate. You then pile whatever amount of food you want onto your plate. Kind of like what they do at most Asian restaurants. This is nice because if you're two or more, you can try each other's stuff.
Anyway, dessert was crema catalana ice cream (we didn't realize it would be just ice cream when we ordered it), which was quite OK, along with café com leite.
Evening: I don't recall eating dinner at all, which wouldn't be a surprise considering how stuffed we were from lunch. However, we did go out for beer. We found this place that served as a cervejaria among other things. Anyway, we figured out that eating and drinking establishments here are set up in a way we're not quite used to. They're a combination of a formal restaurant, an informal café, and a bar, with distinctive stainless steel.
Another interesting thing about the eating and drinking establishments here are the display windows, where people can see all kinds of things from fresh fish to meats and sausages to fruit. Each place figures out what they want to set up and show potential guests, I suppose. Also, in the bar area, they display desserts, pastries, and various cans of Coke, juice, etc. in glass display cases.
Anyway, we went to this place called Cacho Dourado. It was interesting; it smelled like everything from burnt (from the grill) to garlic to burned sugar (caramel). One of the waiters has the facial profile of a rat. The waiters generally have their shirts slightly unbuttoned, showing off their chest fur...
RING OF FAT PERSPECTIVE
Mmmm...breakfast! Hey, put more food on the plate! That's not enough! Hey, why aren't you taking the sweet rolls?
I'm hungry! Stop looking at those silly penguins and feed me!
Mmm...DEEP FRIED bacalhau cakes! And mmm...more bacalhau! OH YES ICE CREAM!
(*) The bed in our original hotel room was quite soft and nasty, and it ended up destroying boyfriend of tuxette's back. He asked the woman at the reception desk if it was possible to get a bed with a harder mattress, and she let us try a bed in this suite. The bed was much better and we were allowed to change our orignal room to the suite for no extra cost