We’ve arrived in Amsterdam, where we’ll be staying for about a week as we explore the city and some surrounding towns.
Our hotel is in the Amsterdam Zuid (South) area, a little ways out of the city core, and it feels much more sane than the overcrowded areas near Dam Square. The immediate surroundings are a mix of upscale residential and modern office parks.
We’ve arrived in beautiful Valencia and settled in after a typical long and disorienting travel day. Our first full day here was a major holiday (Three Kings Day) which probably helped form our initial impressions of the city as relaxed, quiet, and friendly.
Throughout our visit to Lisbon we’ve enjoyed many panoramic views of the Rio Tejo, which inevitably include the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge that connects Lisbon to the opposite shore of the river and its towering statue of Christ, the Cristo Rei.
This opposite shore is in fact another city: Almada. And the closest part of Alamada to Lisbon is Cacilhas, a former fishing and shipbuilding district.
We left the historic Alfama and Baixa areas and took the ludicrously crowded Tram 15E along the riverfront out to the Alcântara neighbourhood. There, at the foot of the Ponte (Bridge) 25 de Abril, we visited two of the more recent additions to the Lisbon map.
The LX Factory reminded us a lot of Toronto’s Distillery District. In 2008 an abandoned 1840’s textile factory was converted into artist studios, cafés, shops and market stalls.
One last blast of freezing rain and flurries blew through Toronto just before our plane was scheduled to take off. We felt lucky to be delayed by only one hour, which we spent watching the robotic arms of the de-icing machines spray down our plane with a fluorescent green liquid.
After a stop in Montreal and six more neck-wrenching hours trying to doze on the plane, we arrived in Lisbon around 7 in the morning. Even from high above, the famous “light of Lisbon” was already evident, glowing on the orange rooftops of the buildings we flew over.
We visited Kajitsu for the second time. It’s a very minimalist and meticulous vegan Japanese restaurant on East 39th near Park Avenue. We sat at the chefs’ counter had the multi-course “Kaze” seasonal menu, made with ingredients that are at their peak in the summer.