Posted by len on 23rd June 2007
We’ve officially launched our trip through Spain with Sue’s sister Diana and brother-in-law Tim.
We spent about a day and a half in Madrid which well earns its reputation as a party capital. Tim and I got pretty loaded our first night and were stumbling around the streets at 2am. They were absolutely FULL of mostly 20-somethings, buzzing to the next bar, of which there are countless.
Today we flew 40 minutes to the northern edge of Spain, to a city called Bilbao. It’s a sort of ‘capital’ for the northern region, known here as the Euskadi area but in America as the ‘Basque’ part of Spain.
We’re drinking a bottle of hard cider (one of their specialties) right now that everyone agrees reminds us of Easter Egg dye (not very sweet).
Posted in Spain | 26 Comments »
Posted by sue on 20th June 2007
Len just got back from his Massachusetts business trip yesterday, and tomorrow morning we’re flying to Madrid to meet my sister Diana and her husband Tim for some travelling around Spain! We’re spending much of the first week in the north of Spain and southern France in Basque country, then the second week will be the south of Spain and Portugal.
Life in Lisbon is solidifying in time for our trip: we enrolled in Portuguese lessons starting in July and I got a job offer today to teach English in the fall, which I probably will accept.
Posted in Portugal, Spain | 20 Comments »
Posted by len on 17th June 2007
I’m finishing my 10-day business trip to Boston tomorrow as I head back to Lisbon via Philly.
We took the weekend off and I got a nice intro to the Boston music scene via my old friend Dave Thomas (aka Chumfee) who was my best friend throughout my teenage years. He’s been hangin’ around the Boston area’s music scene for a while and has a nifty band called “Pony”. Here’s a shot of them in mid-gig that I took two nights ago at “P.A’s Bar” (Portuguese American’s):
We also found ourselves ‘trailing’ another band called Paper Moon that Dave is friends with (bands can make friends in an institutional way not unlike painters attending one anothers gallery openings). We saw two of their live shows. Here’s them just before Pony at P.A’s:
Dave (another Dave), the singer of Paper Moon, scored a major coup just a couple days ago when he pushed his song on a news station when they were going to do a Red Sox montage. They decided to use 30 seconds of one of his songs, “Last Laugh”, during the TV montage.
Before the broadcast he sent the main TV programmers flowers and CDs pleading with them to mention his “struggling local band’s” name during the clip. They did and within three hours he got over 900 hits on his web site and they sold lots of songs on iTunes.
Both Pony and Paper Moon songs are on the iTunes Music Store if you do a search.
Posted in Photos | 32 Comments »
Posted by sue on 15th June 2007
The University of Coimbra was founded in 1290, and the old University site that sits atop the old city of Coimbra had previously been a Royal Palace, the residence of Portugal’s kings in the 12th-14th centuries. (See photos in the previous post.) The interesting things to see there included an amazingly ornate library, a chapel, a large room for various academic ceremonies, and beautiful views of the city.
What I found especially interesting is that the old University complex includes an “academic prison.” The provided literature at the site called it a “prison,” though “jail” might be a more apt translation. It’s thought to preserve part of the medieval prison of the Royal Palace, but was actually used as a jail by the university authorities from 1773 till 1832. The university had the authority to incarcerate students, professors, or officials for disciplinary reasons, so they wouldn’t have to be detained with other kinds of criminals—the university had been granted this power by the King in 1591.
Pictured here is a doorway with an iron gate which leads to a couple of cells.
Posted in Portugal | 16 Comments »
Posted by sue on 15th June 2007
I took a quick trip to Coimbra, which is a university town about an hour and 45 minutes ride on the fast train from Lisbon. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t that nice—pretty rainy much of the time, but the town was quite cute and I took a bunch of pictures!
Posted in Photos, Portugal | 17 Comments »
Posted by sue on 12th June 2007
Tomorrow, June 13, is the feast of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of Lisbon. Tonight central Lisbon was one big party to celebrate it. I left the apartment just before dark (about 9:15) and went out walking to check it out. I had decided that it was important to stay on streets where there was a lot of people, for safety. I was able to walk for TWO hours from Graça to Alfama to Baixa to Chiado to Bica to Bairro Alto to Rossio square and back home, all with crowds of people swarming streets where restaurants put out tables on sidewalks and plazas and streets, grilling sardines and meat and serving up cups of sangria and beer.
The most crowded street I saw was the street where we lived in May–Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo–featured in the photos Len posted a while ago, with the steep hill and the trolley. From our old building to the top of the hill was wall-to-wall people. Sorry I don’t have any photos to share.
Posted in Portugal | 27 Comments »
Posted by sue on 11th June 2007
No, we haven’t fallen off the face of the earth!
I finished my very busy training course last week and we then did a couple of outings around Lisbon to take in more of the sights. Len then left on Saturday for a business trip in the Boston area, leaving me to begin my job search. The plan is for me to find an English-teaching job here in Portugal for a while, which I’m told is pretty easy to accomplish (but we’ll see how true that is!).
In the meantime, the weather here has been lovely, and Lisbon has many beautiful spots, so I’m trying to get out and see more of the city. Plus, I plan to travel this week up north in Portugal to Porto and Coimbra, to see more of the country and scout out more job leads.
Posted in Portugal | 2 Comments »