Postcard, last week, from dearest Sara:
Dear Nick -- this time of year always brings back memories of Portugal. Those breakfasts! this morning I was transported to that little place -- was it Coimbra? The one with the real linoleum floor and the china cabinet to end all china cabinets. They served us a huge pot of watery tea, & crispy white rolls with paper-thin slices of cheese or jam. It seemed a bit mean & frugal at the time -- but now, thinking back on it, it seems like such a comforting meal.
Yes, it certainly does. It was in Porto, in the little 'hotel' run from three extra bedrooms in a large and very old townhouse owned by a saucy spinster and her mother. It was on a hill that plunged down to the river, on a street frequented by a tribe of very independent dogs. Each morning we would wander to the dining room on the second floor, and this was my view:
Sara reads a telegram pensively. Or a receipt? And here she is demonstrating scale beside the largest china cupboard in the world:
We had a busy day ahead of us. First on the itinerary: visit the tiny, infrequently open museum dedicated to a collection of religious works of the 16th and 17th century -- their prize being a gruesome crucifixion, where Christ's blood drips into a fountain of blood, which is eagerly consumed by a kneeling family (including children). The family depicted commissioned the painting, and I think these patrons might even have had blood dribbled on their chins. It was about as horrid and fantastic as it sounds, and it was in this terrifying room:
Then innumerable lavish and entirely deserted churches, monasteries and convents -- inhabited by silent, unconcerned security guards. Pictures? Sure. Touch the tapestries? Ok. I'm paid to stand here and look creepy:
Then we peeled an amazing poster from the wall of a theater, which now hangs in an apartment in Chicago: