Thursday, March 02, 2006

Lisboa

A couple of weeks ago I went to Lisboa with my friend Victoria, with an organization that does cheap weekend trips for international students. (FYI, no I am not spelling it wrong, that is how it is spelled in Spanish and Portuguese.) Most of the people were estadounidenses (I love that word!) but some were from Brazil and other places. It was cool to get to travel with a whole group of students.

It was a long drive to Portugal, with a stop in Salamanca to pick up a few more people. We stopped at this like truck stop thingy to eat, and Victoria and I had brought food, so we attempted to sit outside at the picnic tables to eat, which would have worked really well had it not been freezing cold, windy, and starting to rain. Needless to say we wimped out and went inside with everyone else after like five minutes. Not before we got a picture, though!

On Saturday we did a walking tour with a Portuguese guide who spoke Spanish with (surprisingly enough!) a Portuguese accent. It was interesting - Lisboa is a beautiful city, also with lots of history, though I must confess that I didn't quite understand all of that... mostly I got that Spain kept trying to take it over but obviously did not succeed in the end. Also I think there might have been something about terremotos (earthquakes) but I can't promise that...

We rode this tram thingy up to the Alto Barrio (or something like that), which was literally a neighborhood up on a hill. We had so many people on this thing that I was pretty sure we were going to fall back down to the bottom of the hill, but apparently fate was on our side, because we all made it safely. This area was cool, with lots of apartments over bars and clubs, so that during the day it is just plain residential, with dogs running around and clothes hanging on lines outside the windows, but at night it is like full of people. I think I would be annoyed if I lived there, but I guess it works out...

We went up on some tower thingy that provided an excellent view from the top, and this is a picture of the plaza next to our hotel seen from the tower.



We also did an excursion to several of the surrounding towns, most of which are closer to the coast than Lisboa (which is pretty close itself). This pic is from one called Sintra (I think). It was pretty and all, and there was a palace that we visited, but my favorite part is pictured here. Why do I like it, you ask? Well, I will tell you... first of all, it has a sign pointing to Lisboa. This is a good thing to have when one has trouble placing the random buildings of which one has pictures. Secondly, it is a pink building! These seemed to be inordinately common in Portugal, along with the tile roofs you can see in the picture above. I am quite partial to the color and think that we in the US should take a lesson from our less drab friends across the ocean and paint our houses pink!


We also went to the most western point of Portugal, which also happens to be the westernmost point of Europe. This is the obligatory picture of me by the sign, to prove, you know, that I was there. I refused to pay the 6 euro to get an official certificate authenticating my visit!! (yep, they sell them and people buy them...) It was really pretty there though; as you can see in the little picture, there were these huge cliffs and big waves and green on the mountains... it looked like what I imagine Ireland looks like, though that is probably completely misguided since I have never been to Ireland, or even really paid much attention to pictures of Ireland. Anyway, the moral of the story is that I really liked this place (even though I didn't splurge for the certificate). There was even a white and red lighthouse!!!



We also went to this place called La Boca del Infierno (the mouth of hell). It is a rock formation that creates kind of an inner cove that the waves splash into really hard, spraying all over the place. You can stand just above the cove and watch, and the wind there is so strong it was literally hard to stand up. There was a really tiny girl next to me and I thought she might actually fall over. It was too dark to get a good picture of the actual water, so I took a picture of this sign, which was swinging wildly in the wind and has the name of the place (along with a soda advertisement).




This is a picture of me with this really cool airplane display thingy. I don't really know what was special about it - the sign was in Portuguese, OK?? Speaking of which, it is really strange to be in a country where basically everyone is speaking a language you don't understand. I mean, in Spain there's a lot I can't understand, but for the most part I can make myself understood. When we went to Portugal, we didn't even know how to say thank you in portuguese (obrigada, by the way, it's the one word we learned). Oh, and all that stuff they say about it being nearly the same as Spanish - that may be true when it is written, but it is super different when spoken. The good news is that pretty much everyone in a service position spoke English (and usually several other languages) but I sure did feel like a stupid American tourist while I was there...

Anyway, one of the monuments we went to is called (in Spanish) El Monumento de los Descubridores (Discoverers). It is kind of cool - remember that Portugal has a proud history of, well, discoverers, such as Vasco de Gama and Prince Henry the Navigator (ok as I am writing those I am filled with doubt as to whether they are actually correct... but they did have some discoverers!!!). Anyway it is right on the water and the back, the part you can see in the picture, is a cross, and the front looks like the front of a boat, and there are a ton of people (discoverers, I presume) along both sides.


Lisboa also has a bridge that looks remarkably similar to the Golden Gate Bridge. It used to be named for their dictator (Salazar maybe?) but when they got rid of him they renamed for their independence day (sometime in April). Kinda nice, I think, although surely they don't refer to it with the whole date all the time...


One of the prettiest things we saw was el Monasterio de los Jeronimos, aka el Palacio de Belem. It is a quite impressive building (I think they said it is one of the biggest monasteries in Europe, if not the biggest) and absolutely beautiful inside. The part we saw, which has been refurbished recently, is the cloister. Oh, I think it may actually be a convent (the word for "nun" in spanish is just a feminine form of the word for "monk" so it is not really clear sometimes). Either way, it was absolutely gorgeous.

Well that about sums up my whirlwind trip to Lisboa. All in all I would conclude that it is a lovely city ("preciosa," as the Spanish would say) but that one should consider buying a Portuguese phrase book before taking off to Portugal : )

7 Comments:

At 7:17 AM, Anonymous learn spanish online free said...

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At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Mom said...

Hey Kendra, next time daddy is out of town, we'll paint the house pink - OK?

 
At 11:29 PM, Anonymous alex said...

Kendra, how lucky you are to be able to travel. I still remember you as a baby, helping me to pickup strange women! Very much liked your bloggie, hope you're enjoying the time away from your parents. best wishes, alex

 
At 1:14 AM, Anonymous Dad said...

So Kendra, is "thingy" a Spanish word, or is it Portugese? I don't think I heard anyone use that word in Honduras, so it must be Portugese!

 
At 4:10 PM, Blogger Senhora do Monte said...

About the airplane... the history says that Sacadura Cabral(1881-1924), Portuguese aviation pioneer who, together with Gago Coutinho (1869-1959), was the first to cross the South Atlantic Ocean by air in 1922, from Lisbon, in Portugal, to Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil.
And that metal airplane is a homage to what they have done.
Any question just ask

 
At 4:11 PM, Blogger Senhora do Monte said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Dave Brown said...

"obrigado" is the root from whence we get the english word obligate...so "obrigado" means thank you, I'm obligated to you...
Dave Brown

 

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