Gosto do Passado

Through my last dream that Sunday morning, I heard birds singing. The sound was dominated by the seagulls, crying out loud, and it made me feel like I was on a beach holiday.


I opened the window blinds to let the view and the warm sun in.


What to do? The paragliding flight was postponed till the afternoon, so how to spend my morning?


Grabbing my phone from the night table, I typed "Pasteis de Belem" into the browser. Google timing showed me the opening time of the place: 8 a.m. To avoid vast tourist queues, I decided to quickly get up, get ready and get going.


The Uber driver was cutting querky street curves of Alfama. Some Latin music played on the radio. He then turned to me and said in Spanish (Portuguese would not work for me, English seemed not to work for him):

"The cafe is opening at 10."

"Not at eight?" I asked him back in uncertainty. We were more than half way there!


He frowned, thinking of it, then nodded and confirmed - it should be 8 a.m. on Sundays.



 

8 a.m. sharp I stood at the venue. The doors were still closed. A couple of tourists were standing at the front, some looking through the windows, others reading a book. All of us united by waiting for the gates to the "custard tart paradise" to be opened.


The waiters soon let us in. I was not familiar with the "rules", so I followed the tourists through the entrance. Everybody seemed to be aiming for the tables and taking the seats; so did I.


Waiters did not waste time: they took orders and served multiple customers from tablets with stacked plates and cups .



It was my first nata. Accompanied by my first bica that morning.


Everything was branded with "pastel de belem" label and the blue ornament pattern. Blue interrior, blue tiles.


Whilst other guests were still enjoying their full Portuguese breakfasts, I already "bought my t-shirt", saw enough and was ready to go.


 

Heading to Alfama, I did not walk that far yet. The "San Fran" bridge was still in front of me.

I neither planned nor expected to find my next adventure on the way. But it so happened, I saw a familiar sight on my right. Trams. The train station full of - you guessed it - trams.



Bane showed me this station last year, on our first night, as he was driving down towards it from a hilly and narrow street, braking his car to check traffic on the main road.


I turned my head away from the tram station: across the street, I saw a huge hill, like neither for lazy-tourists nor for cardio-skippers. I stood there, letting the inner debate finish in my head. Ratta-ratta-ratta...


You can guess how the debate ended.


I started walking up the hill. My body sent me chills. I was clueless what to expect. The only thing I had was just a feeling 'there ought to be something of meaning to me'. Something I longed to see as I saved it in my memory from last year.


Half way up, on the chimney by the yellow house, two pigeons turtled: the male was picking the feathers of the dove, she sat there still. How caring!



The street was empty and quiet; so I jumped, surprised by the sound of someone, pulling up the blinds of their window close to where I stood photographing the birds. 2 secs after, I was on my way up again.


No more pauses and soon I reached the top. A cafe on the right hand-side was offering a cooling shade. As I appeared around the corner, guests of the cafe looked at me in surprise 'huh? Tourists here? Is she lost?'


There and then, my inner dialogue started.


 

I'm being very paranoid these days, forgive me. I blame it on the fact that I am in your city and I'm visiting places that we saw together last year. I wonder if those folks at the cafe are your friends. I further wonder if they can guess who I am.


Scared and looking away awkwardly, I walked on. At the top of the hill, on the left hand-side there was the chapel.


The chapel that you showed me, Bane. I distantly recall you telling me some stories about how special this place is, how you used to go there with scouts.


The blue mosaic art inside revived in my head prior to seeing it. Mosaic art and the epic view onto the bridge by night.


I took my time, browsing on the platform of the chapel. I observed each and every brick it was made off. I looked at the plants growing from its walls. I saw the bell and the cross, and I looked through the fence inside. In there, I saw the sun throwing light and shadows onto the blue mosaic art and I heard his voice: "notice the art on the tiles - its traditional. A precious heritage."




I couldn't recall what the chapel was called, but finding this place meant a lot to me.


It's probably one of those things - better yet, one of the only things that I have left and meaningful in Lisboa. A place where you took me on the first night as we got to know each other.

Everything looks different in the day light. I don't know if you ever come here during the day... If you'd be visiting it today maybe... (hashtag-wondergirl-is-paranoid).


Still at the chapel, everything I could think of went along the lines of "if I don't get his attention, then at least I get the attention of places" and I aimed to find more locations with meaning. It was like a pokemon hunt - you know? - but better.


Having examined the chapel a little bit more, I did not go into the cafe. I had a better place on my mind.


 

Using my distant memory, I was trying to navigate to where the custard tart shop was... You are interested which one exactly? Yeah, same here. Read the article from the last year's trip here.

This time I failed, though, walking the streets in circles as if it was a maze! Lisbon only gave me the chapel that day. Sigh.


 

I did not touch Instagram nor I wanted to stalk him.


I left Bane alone, in peace.


I settled with the company of Bane's ghost instead. Haunted.


 

The taste of the past was the story that was happening to me there and then. It made me feel so much. No point of suppressing, ignoring anything or feeling ashamed, being full of guilt or fear! It was the right time to acknowledge the feelings. The time and place to celebrate them, to get the full rainbow of emotions and make sure that I rollercoastered to the fullest. I took the feelings and transformed them into something valuable, something creative.





This time, it was not night but day; it was not a black car but it was a Leon; it was not you but me.