After such a restful time in the countryside, I’m a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of heading to the city. Add to that the fact that I am reading Jose Saramago’s Blindness right now and you’ll understand why I am even more unsettled. (The Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese novelist’s haunting story is about an epidemic of white blindness that strikes the city and upends civilization entirely.) But Lisbon is relatively calm – and absent the roving packs of blind scavengers that have been haunting my sleep lately. I’m staying at a Four Seasons, too, so really, life ain’t so bad. The hotel is just off Avenida de Liberdade, a grand avenue similar to the Champs-Elysees, or more accurately, Berlin’s Unter der Linden, with four lanes of traffic divided by landscaped promenades large enough to be considered proper parks. It cuts down the valley towards the port on the Tagus River, dividing the hills of Lisbon on either side. To get my bearings I go for a stroll; there will be lots of time for exploration tomorrow but today I just want to ramble and figure out the landscape of the city.