Archive for May, 2007

Strike Day in Lisbon

Posted by len on 30th May 2007

May 30, 2007, Lisbon – A 24-hour general strike called by Portuguese trade unions to protest the Socialist government’s liberal economic policies had a ‘limited impact’ on Wednesday, senior government official Paulo Campos said.

Our cute little street is starting to smell a bit ripe as garbage sits on the street, uncollected.
Sue had to walk the 45min or so to class today as the metro was all but shut down.
What a crazy world!
Here’s the full article I found on the strike, if you’re curious:
May 30 Strike Article

Posted in Portugal | 27 Comments »

Shh, Thar Be Portuguese Nearby!

Posted by len on 30th May 2007

One of the interesting things about living in a very popular, but relatively compact tourist-attraction of a city is hearing so many languages being spoken all around you.
On a typical walk down to the local cafes, for example, I have a game where I listen as I pass a group of tourists to the language they’re speaking (the large cameras hanging around their necks are the giveaway) and try to figure out where they’re from.
French and German are fairly common and I think I get a lock on those pretty quick.
Portuguese has been a real challenge to recognize until I figured out the Secret of ‘Sh’.
Remember, I only speak about 5 words of the language (that will change!). However, in an attempt to acquire a new apartment lately I’ve been very close to lots of Portuguese being spoken over my head and around my head in pretty much every direction (I even spent a good part of an afternoon with a Portuguese senior citizen that doesn’t speak a word of English).

So the Secret of Sh has to do with the Portuguese pronouncing lots of their “s” vowels as “sh”.
So “Anjos”, a stop on the metro, is pronounced “Ahn-joosh” (they also pronounce a lot of single “o” letters as “ooh”). “Desculpe” (I’m sorry) is pronounced “dish-kool-peh”.

So if you find yourself in the middle of your city’s Little Lisbon and you hear something that could be Spanish but you’re not convinced, listen for the telltale Portuguese “Sh” in every other word and think about the Squid.

Posted in Portugal | 26 Comments »

A Few Cheap Shots

Posted by len on 24th May 2007

Here are a just a few photos from some wanderings around Lisbon we’ve squeezed into our hectic lifestyle. Well, Sue’s actually busy while I watch her be busy. That’s how I keep busy.
As usual, little comments to provide context for each photo are found below the hi-res versions.

Posted in Portugal | 28 Comments »

The Most Common Food in the World

Posted by len on 19th May 2007

It’s bread.
But that’s not too interesting.
What we’ve found to be the second most common food in the world is french fries.
And you’ll get them not just with a burger or panini. You’ll get them in Egypt, Morocco, and Europe served along side some pretty fancy steaks, fish, and just about anything for dinner, lunch, and in Egypt, breakfast. In Greece and Egypt you could order french fries willingly and they’ll shove them into the middle of a gyro sandwich like it’s meat filling. They’re crazy that way.
Pretty amazing considering a single potato didn’t exist outside the Americas until 1570.

Posted in Portugal | 52 Comments »

America Does Fish Funny

Posted by len on 15th May 2007

It took 6+ months and thousands of dollars but we finally confirmed: The U.S. serves fish unlike every other country in the world.
What I’m talking about is getting fish at a restaurant.
Every restaurant I’ve ever been to in the U.S. (save for the Mexican joints) serves fish extracted and de-boned, looking like a piece of chicken breast or the like.
In contrast, every country we’ve meandered into thus far serves fish whole, usually with one googly eye staring up at you, making sure you ponder, at least for a moment, the little feller’s brief aquatic history you just helped bring to its finale.

Posted in Portugal | 20 Comments »

May in Lisbon

Posted by len on 10th May 2007

So we are now set up in an apartment on the 4th floor of an old building that’s been (partially) renovated. The neighborhood is totally old world. Our landlord said the street, which is an historic old ‘funicular’ trolley line, is our living room. Sure enough, around 8pm the kids start racing up and down, screaming, and generally acting like it’s their play room. Men make quite a bit of noise too with their beers in hand (“Super Bock” is a popular Lisbon brand of cheap beer).
Here’s a view from the balcony down the hill.

And here’s looking the other way up the hill. Good exercise just getting to the grocery store at the top of the hill!

And here’s a little video clip (hopefully you can view it okay) of the trolleys going by below.
Now and again they do the “Rice-a-Roni” bell as they rumble past.

Posted in Portugal | 25 Comments »

Photos from Athens

Posted by sue on 6th May 2007

We were fortunate to have beautiful weather for our three days in Athens. (Spring is beautiful everywhere, it seems.) Here are some photos from our hike up to the Acropolis, and our visit to the National Archaeological Museum!

Posted in Greece | 8 Comments »

Our New Home

Posted by sue on 3rd May 2007

We arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, three days ago, and we’re happily moved in to a little apartment in Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s old town. It’s a small place, but well-located—we have a sideways view of Rio Tejo and picturesque old buildings from our mini-balcony, and our 5th-floor apartment in an elevator-less building ensures we get enough exercise (plus Lisbon in general is a hilly city).

It’s nice to be a little bit “settled” again, because I was starting to feel really at home in airports. I counted—in the past six weeks, since we left Cairo to visit the U.S. in March—we’ve been in 13 different airports.* And I think one reason I felt so comfortable in airports is that getting there can be stressful because you’re not sure how long it will take, or how long security lines will be, or whether, say, the fact that you didn’t print your e-ticket because you don’t have a printer will require that you stand in some amorphous line in an Egypt Air ticket office that is outside the security checkpoint that they set up BEFORE you get to the check-in counters will result in a 45-minute delay when you thought you had plenty of time. But, once you’re through security and have your boarding passes, then you just have to wait until boarding begins, and you can relax, have a drink, buy a magazine, shop duty-free, whatever. There’s no where else to be and nothing else to do.

But eventually, if you ever want clean clothes and a place to study, you have to get out of airports and into a real place to live. I’m happy now to have a kitchen, and to be able to unpack again!

*Cairo, London, Chicago, Los Angeles, Omaha, Des Moines, Dallas-Ft. Worth, New York JFK, Istanbul, Athens, Corfu, Milan, Lisbon

Posted in General, Portugal | 3 Comments »

Greece Retrospective

Posted by len on 2nd May 2007

Here are just a few more impressions of Corfu before we move onto the next chapter of our adventure (we successfully made it to Lisbon!).

Posted in Greece | 3 Comments »