Portugal diary, day 5

Wednesday, 15 May, 2019. 21:41

Well that was an interesting day at the ISO meeting.

We woke up just before 06:00 this morning, so managed to get a decent sleep, which was good. I’d say that’s effectively the end of the jetlag. We went down to breakfast a few minutes earlier than yesterday, determined to be the first at breakfast today, and indeed we were, arriving as the staff were still putting out platters of cheese and meats. We had muesli and yoghurt again, and then croissants and bread with cheese. I took one of the small heated pots of cherry tomatoes so I could add them to my cheese and bread. That was really good, so I got more bread and cheese and another pot of tomatoes, rather than a second serve of muesli.

M. spent the day going to the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, which houses a historical collection of azulejo, the distinctive decorated tiles that you see everywhere all over Lisbon, and then walking through the nearby Alfama neighbourhood. She really enjoyed the museum, but said that the walk to get there from the Santa Apólonia metro station was a bit unpleasant, through a dodgy neighbourhood.

Azulejo Museum
Museu Nacional do Azulejo

I, meanwhile, went to day two of the meetings. We got stuck into the technical sessions, and were thankfully in a different room which was slightly cooler and less stuffy, but still too warm and stuffy for comfort. But it had proper desks and seats rather than the lecture room style rows we had yesterday, so that was a lot more comfortable.

At the morning tea break, we found that the cakes and drinks supplied yesterday were apparently an aberration, meant for the short courses of the Archiving conference, and not for us, as there was nothing for us today, not even cups and pitchers of tap water. I resorted to drinking water from my cupped hands held under the sink taps in the men’s toilets.

And then a group of the American delegates spied me and pulled me aside to ask the question of whether it would be possible from my point of view to move the October Sydney meeting to Cologne in Germany, to avoid conflict with the Colour Imaging conference being held in Paris the next week. They said it was too far to travel to Sydney and then Paris and then home, so basically all of the American delegation were thinking they couldn’t attend the Sydney meeting. This was awkward for two reasons: firstly the work I’d put into organising the meeting, including arranging a behind the scenes tour of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and secondly because I’d promised Canon before they made me redundant that the Sydney meeting would go ahead, to avoid Canon losing face if the meeting had to be rescheduled because I’d lost my job with them. So I told them they’d better talk to someone from Canon about this.

They found the delegate from Canon Japan and talked to him, and then relayed to me that he was fine with it. So it seemed there was no real obstacle to a rescheduling. But our working group convener was not present here in Lisbon, instead dialling in from the USA, and he was unaware of these hallway conversations, so I had to fill him in by email. He was a bit upset by this move as he felt the committee was not supporting Australia’s participation and contributions. I also emailed the Standards Australia secretary to ask how inconvenient a cancellation of our hosting would be, but given the time zone difference she wouldn’t even see it until the next day.

I thought we’d have until tomorrow to stew on this, with the closing session and the agenda item discussing future meetings scheduled for then, but things precipitated early as we got ahead of schedule and moved some of those agenda items up to late this afternoon. So it was brought up in the meeting officially, and everyone discussed it. It turned out not only was there a travel issue for the Americans, but some Japanese were going to another meeting in Shanghai which was scheduled on the same dates as the Sydney meeting! So it turned out that very few people could attend in Sydney. And moving the dates there would be difficult because of the meeting room booking slots. Dietmar volunteered to host in Cologne, and it was suggested to move the dates from before to after the Paris conference, to allow the Japanese to attend too. And pretty much everyone agreed that would be better. So the planned Sydney meeting is no more, and I face another trip to Europe and back rather than being able to stay home for the next meeting. And now I have to explain to the Standards Australia secretary what’s happened, and wear her anger over it.

The other thing that happened today was lunch. Having an actual break, I went with Dietmar, Eric, and Kevin to a sushi place that Dietmar had found the other day. It was a 15 minute walk through the hot sun until we arrived at Edo Sushi Alvalade. The place looked nice, and had a special all you can eat lunch. We got that, and all added a special roll that Dietmar recommended highly. The all you can eat started with spring rolls and gyoza, then a chopped spicy tuna and salmon sashimi patty. And then came the extra rolls we ordered, which were fish in the middle, surrounded by rice, surrounded by prawns, and the whole lot fried in tempura batter. It was huge and could have been a meal in itself. And then came the all-you-can-eat part of the special!, which was two huge platters of sliced fried sushi rolls plus cold sushi and sashimi portions in dozens of styles and flavours. The waiter put the platters down as said we could order as many more of these platters as we wanted with no extra cost.

All you can eat sushi
The all-you-can-eat sushi platter at Edo Sushi Alvalade

And by this time Kevin had left as he was first up presenting back at the meeting after lunch and the service was slow so that he had to rush back. So the three of us tackled these huge plates intended for four people. We stuffed ourselves full but couldn’t finish it, so had the waiter pack the leftovers in a take away box. That box looked like a giant sushi lunch box, stuffed full of food. We took it back to the meeting, arriving half an hour late, and offered it to Kevin, but he said he was too full to eat it. So we gave it to Neelam, who was keen to get some sushi.

After the meeting ended for the day, I walked back to the hotel to meet M. We went out, catching the metro to Baixa-Chiado, to explore the Chiado area for a place for dinner – although I was still full and only wanted something very light. M. was hungry as she’d only had the leftover plain bread roll we’d bought yesterday at the supermarket. At the metro station we exited on the Chiado side, walking up the steps beside a string of escalators that took us up maybe ten floors worth of vertical ascent, emerging into a square on the south edge of the Bairro Alto, on top of the hill.

Largo do Chiado
Largo do Chiado square

It was busy with people, including a three piece band performing in the street, and lots of tourists wandering around. This was clearly a happening area.

The smoke break
Cooks taking a break in Largo do Chiado

We wandered at random, looking down streets to try to find interesting restaurants. We passed a few very touristy looking ones and headed down some quieter streets, until we found a place called Cafe No Chiado. It looked decent and I asked the waitress if they had vegetarian meals, and she showed me an English menu and pointed out some tapas items, a vegan burger, plus the salads. The menu looked good, so we sat inside. I’d hoped we could share some tapas, but M. liked the sound of the burger so ordered that. I ordered an insalata caprese (written simply as “tomato and mozzarella salad” on the menu). It was fresh and very nice, with some dark green olive oil and a bit of basil pesto. M.’s burger turned out to be just a vegan patty with no bread, with salad and chips on the side. But we had bread as part of the cover charge, a basket of rolls and large thin melba toast-like slices, plus small bowls of tuna spread, cream cheese, and butter. The vegan patty was covered in a strange pale pink sauce, which tasted a little bit sweet. We had no idea what it was, and when M. asked the waitress what it was made from she simply she said she didn’t know. But M. liked the meal, so that was okay. She also had a sparkling water, while I had a Super Bock beer to cool down after the hot and stuffy day.

Insalata caprese
Insalata Caprese at Cafe No Chiado

After eating, we wandered downhill to the river front at the Cais do Sodré neighbourhood. We passed many good looking restaurants, including one with two Michelin stars, and another that looked excellent, but also looked like it would be difficult to get in without a booking. We discussed trying to book for Friday night, but we decided we weren’t sure if we’d want to eat at Belém that night.

We reached the waterfront, where more buskers were playing and many people were lounging on benches and enjoying the sunset and the music. From here we walked to the Cais do Sodré metro station and caught the train back to Roma along the green line, electing not to change trains twice to get to Entrecampos, but to walk the block over from Roma.

Back at the hotel, I finished off the strawberries we’d bought yesterday, and then we showered and got ready for sleep.

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