Archive for August, 2008

The Edge of it All

Posted by sue on 4th August 2008

To cap off a road trip we did a few weeks ago in a rental car, we drove with a couple of friends out to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in Europe. It’s not all that far west of Lisbon, though the road to get there is pretty sickness-inducing for the delicate-stomached (don’t know anyone like that…). It’s notable for how cold and windy it is out there at the edge, even in July, so we just watched the sunset and took a few photos then retreated to the warmth of the car and then the further warmth of an Italian restaurant in Cascais.

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The quote on the marker here, “Aqui… onde a terra se acaba e o mar começa…” means simply, “Here… where the land ends and the sea begins…” Yeah, kind of obvious? This quote is attributed to Luis Camões, venerated Portuguese poet–The Rough Guide to Portugal quips that here his muse, for once it seems, deserted him.

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Pretty Places in Portugal

Posted by sue on 4th August 2008

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Does your country have random medieval Knights Templar castles built in the middle of rivers that are accessible only by small boat? Didn’t think so!

(This is Castelo de Almourol, in the Ribatejo region near Constância.)

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Our stove

Posted by sue on 2nd August 2008

Since we left the U.S. in October of 2006, all the stoves we’ve had have required a lighter or a match to light them– they simply haven’t had electric ignition or pilot lights. And we went for about a year without a working oven, so we did all our cooking on the stove top.

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This is our current stove, which is a pretty new one because our landlord replaced the old one when we told her the oven didn’t work. So we have a working oven now, which isn’t something everyone has here (in the low end apartments that we and our friends occupy), but there are a couple of strange things about it. First, to light it, you have to turn the knob to high, and push it in for about 5 seconds, then light it with the stove lighter, and continue holding in the knob for 8 seconds or so before releasing it. Weird! I suppose it’s a safety against the gas being turned on accidently without the stove actually being lit. The other odd thing about the oven is that is doesn’t have a thermostat to maintain a set temperature. Like the burners on top, there are just symbols for low and high. But, if the fire maintains a set level, the oven will get hotter and hotter as time passes, so it’s rather tricky to actually bake something. We bought an oven thermometer in the U.S. (need degrees in Fahrenheit!) but we still have to adjust the knob as things bake to avoid burning.

We do occasionally make chocolate chip cookies in our crazy oven. But another weird thing– it’s Len who makes them now, not me!

Posted in Portugal | 26 Comments »

Blogust

Posted by sue on 2nd August 2008

For those two or three of you who have lamented our virtual abandonment of this blog, good news! I’m not working for the whole month of August, and have vowed to post 15 blog entries during the month, to share with you the details of Portugal living that I have, up to now, cruelly withheld from my eager readership.

I’ve decided to begin with coming clean about a few things I’m embarrassed about. portugues.jpg

First item on the list: Portuguese. This is the cover of a Portuguese language textbook. I’ve owned this book since sometime in the fall, and have yet to finish working through it. My Portuguese is terrible. I mean, really, really, embarrassingly terrible, even after 15 months of living here. I can order food, and coffee, and drinks of various kinds, and sometimes understand miscellaneous things that are said to me, but I’m still really a beginner at the language. Not sure what to do now– study really hard these last couple of months, to end with a feeling of accomplishment? Or give up, thinking that I’ve lived here this long operating mostly in English, so surely I can carry on this way until I leave?

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