Sunday, November 6, 2016
Last of the 20th Century's World Fair's (Lisbon’s World Fair, August, 1998)
Last of the 20th Century's World Fair's
(Lisbon’s World Fair, August, 1998)
“Iron Elevator de Santa Justas” But by Mr. Eiffel.
I said to myself: “You’ve never been to a World’s Fair, you’re fifty-one years old, and this is the last of the World’s Fairs of the 20th Century. “And it would prove five-million people, mostly Europeans would attend the fair, but only 100,000-from America, because it was so poorly publicized. Matter of fact, I ran across it while having coffee at Barnes and Nobel, in Roseville Minnesota, a few months prior to August, of 1998, and said to myself, “How come no one’s publishing this?” Now writing this out years later, it still remains a mystery; I think the one magazine I read about it in, was the only one it was in. Henceforward: I had a business, I had the money, I had the time, and so I caught a flight to Lisbon. As simple as that. Lisbon has always been kind of a destination for me, after reading Erich Maria Remarque’s “The Night in Lisbon”, and such things get me in the mood. I told a girl I met in Japan I was going, and she met me in Lisbon, and we shared expenses. Traveling and meeting new people and events, have been a passion for me. I liked seeing the movie by Elvis, “It Happened at the World Fair” a 1963 film, I ended up going to Seattle twice, and going to the top of the Space Needle with my son Cody, in 1994. So this refueled me for Lisbon, kind of. For traveling, you need passion, money, and endurance, it is not easy, it’s actually a lot of work, going to and fro, and getting the hotel, and so forth and so on.
I read the book “Memoirs of a Geisha,” and yes, I ended up in Japan, in 1999, I actually ended up going to Kyoto, and most of the places the movie showed, even into a Geisha house, which was very reputable; they showed me about.
The fair itself was not too inspiring, more on the order of a composition of stalls showing tomorrow’s wonders of the world to the public, from many countries, that expressed their culture. It wasn’t for a kid at all, more on the odyssey of what to expect in the future. They had a great tower built similar to the Space Needle in Seattle in the fairgrounds, and there were old ships in the harbor, all decorative. And they had a giant aquarium I found most interesting. And of course, there was foods from every country on earth. But I guess I was expecting something more on the order of a carnival atmosphere, but I got a more business impression out of it. Of course there was much more to see than the fair, there was St. George’s Castle on the hill, and the old archway by the ocean. And I learned some history that a few hundred years back Lisbon was devastated by an earthquake—that I didn’t know; and they were awaiting the next one. I did visit the Tower of Belem, in Lisbon which dates back to 1515 A.D., it overlooks the ocean.
They did a marvelous job in the landscape for the project. In that sense, it was a success, —for the most part; but I feel quite short of a profitable attendance mark. Although I liked being at the World’s Fair, what I guess I felt was lacking—and I don’t mean to reiterate, but the rides, hardly any rides if any at all, no Midway area, no candy frost and very little if any circus type atmosphere, it kind of gave me a downer. It was more on the scale of an international United Nations get together I told myself, so clean, too spotless, and so reserved. No hot dogs, peanuts, or candy; nevertheless, some real nice looking cafes. I spent one day at the fair, all day, and never came back to it the following week, having to spend five full days in Lisbon, not to include two nights. I hate to say, it got boring.
But Lisbon as a city would remain a great metropolis in my mind. As time passed I went to see the ancient Temple of Diana, located in the township of Evora, about a hundred miles outside of Lisbon. A Roman monument for the most part. And again I must express, St. Georges Castle (Costello de Sao Jorge) was quite impressive, if not a highlight, they light it up at night. And the “Iron Elevator de Santa Justas” in the center of Lisbon, where I had lunch a few times at its summit, to which you can see much of the city, that was for me a plus, Mr. Eiffel, the one who built the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and built the Iron Market in Haiti, Port du Prince, is the same one who built the Iron Elevator.
There was no real suspense on this trip to make it stand out, other than at the World's Fair, being the World’s Fair, and the last one of the 20th Century’s World Fair’s; in other words, it was no Oktoberfest, or Disneyland, and so I leave my reader with a kind of dry taste in the mouth, what can I say, that’s how it was.
Written in June 2005/Reedited 11-2016