|Photo taken by Gai in Oliver's|
Astrologically, it means that "on your birthday each year the sun returns to its natal position. This is known as the solar return and thus, marks the beginning of a new year... Where you are at the time of the solar return can affect the house positions of the planets ... changing your location, even just for that day can move the planets into different house and thereby influence other areas of life instead."
So for my solar return this year, I opted to spend it outside my country of birth, in other words - - abroad to shake up my planetary configuration!
BFF Gai helped in choosing and planning. Since I wouldn't be able to enter our first choice Beirut (Lebanon) because of an Israeli-stamp on my passport, we narrowed down the destinations to PIGS which is the acronym for Portugal-Italy-Greece-Spain or countries that are currently experiencing debt crisis and therefore, to some place reasonable.
May I add that it helped that the peso was strong at P50 to 1 compared to last year's P70. By process of elimination, we settled with Portugal where neither of us have been to. Well, I was there when I was 17 backpacking but I don't remember much.
|Vasco de Gama monument on Tagus River|
Anyway, Gai made all the arrangements including finding the best located funky apartment in Sta. Catarina on the fringe of Chiado and getting acquainted with the warm, friendly folk. We looked to Anthony Bourdian as our guide to glorious food. We're both familiar with Portuguese food having visited Macau and Goa but nothing beats eating in the country itself.
|Tram No. 28|
|Barrio Chiado, one of the eight districts|
Five must do in Lisbon:
|Clams served in Ramiro with garlic and cilantro, a staple|
|Gai with designer/owner in Feira de Lard|
3. Bars- Pensao Amor, Silk, BBC, Instituto do Vinho for the best Porto wine, anywhere in Barrio Alto - where, mind you, the nightlife starts at midnight!
4. Museums - the ancient and modern art collection of Armenian billionaire Calouste Gulbenkian and the contemporary art collection of Portuguese millionaire Jose Manuel Rodrigues Berardo, theManueline-style architecture Jeronimos Monastery in Belem which is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mude Design and a must-see is Sao Domingos Church in Chiado which has been left untouched since the 1755 earthquake.
|breathtaking view in Cascais|
After shaking my stars so to speak, let's see how my year pans out and maybe.. I may spend my solar return again elsewhere. Read Gai's Guide to Lisbon part 1 and part 2.