MAFRA AND PRAIA GRANDE -- PORTUGAL 2018
Grandmaster Wong in front of Palacio de Mafra
One of the most delicious meals I have taken is lobster rice in Praia Grande near Lisbon in Portugal. Hence, when Riccardo asked me what I would like to eat for lunch, I suggested lobster rice. It is rice in some soup cooked with lobsters, prawns and other seafood.
I recalled a place not far from the restaurant where we had lobster rice but I could not remember the name of the place. Nevertheless I could recall that Riccardo’s grandfather was the governor of the area.
Riccardo told me that it was Mafra, but his grandfather was not the Mafra Governor then, but a very high ranking military officer, and was later sent by a Portuguese King to be a Governor of a Portuguese colony in India. Mafra was not far from Praia Grande where we could later adjourned for lobster rice.
We set out early on the morning of 4th July 2018. We drove through some countryside of Portugal and arrived at Mafra, which is about 30 km from Lisbon. It has an extravagant Palacio de Mafra, or the Palace of Mafra, which now houses a huge monastery, an ornate basilica and a library with more than 30,000 ancient books. Riccardo told me that at first the palace was quite small, but it expanded. It was built by a Portuguese king for a queen because she bore him a son.
After visiting Palacio de Mafra we drove to our restaurant in Praia Grande to enjoy our lobster rice. Riccardo had to rush back to his clinic at Lisbon to meet a patient. As we did not have much time, I told Riccardo to go into the restaurant to order the lobster rice while I spent some time admiring the Atlantic Ocean. I remembered that the last time I saw the Atlantic Ocean at Praia Grande in winter, it was roaring with huge waves, but at that time in summer it was relatively mild, though with some waves rowing in. Quite a few people were sun-bathing on the beach, while others were in the water.
After the lobster rice which we thoroughly enjoyed, Riccardo drove to the monastery where we used to have courses. We discontinued our courses there when its directors partitioned a large hall, making the hall too small for our purpose. I reminded Riccardo that we had to rush to Lisbon for his appointment, but he told me it was fine, probably he wanted me to enjoy my nostalgia besides the lobster rice.
Then we went through some small Portugal towns. At first Riccardo was lost and he had to ask some locals for direction. I recalled and told Riccardo that when I was back in Malaysia, once I lost my way and was about to come out of the car to ask some people. But Choon, who was at the wheel then, told me that he had a smart phone which he could use to check our route. Riccardo informed me that, like me, he did not know how to use his smart phone in that way. Homage to the smart phone for those who could use it fully.
Eventually we passed Azenhas do Mar, which literally means “Waterfowl of the Sea”, where we often had delicious lunches overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I told Riccardo that we were in familiar territory. Soon we passed Praia Maca, or Apple Beach, where in a little restaurant, I first enjoyed a kind of seaweed, though Riccardo informed me that they were living thing. I don’t know the name of the seaweed, or living things that looked like seaweed, but whenever I wish to enjoy it or them, I would tell Riccardo, “Do you understand”, which was a sort of our code word for the delicious plants or creatures.
We passed Sintra, which has always been a charming city to me, but as we were short of time, we did not visit the charming, classical part of the city. Nevertheless we passed through a archway before heading for the highway, which I remembered very well when I first went to Sintra more than 20 years ago. We arrived at Lisbon. Riccardo went for his appointment with a special patient who specially came from Spain, while I played with my toy, the computer, before readying myself for the course on One-Finger Shooting Zen.
Wong Kiew Kit
6th July 2018
Dr Riccardo Salvatore in front of the city of Mafra
Travels in Portugal