Friday, April 18, 2008

LISBON

12.04.2008-15.04.2008
LISBON, PORTUGAL

The flight was about two and a half hours from Barcelona to Lisbon, and we managed to sleep a bit. The night before we had some loud roommates in our hostel so we were pretty tired. Two of our Portuguese friends, Andre and Eduardo, were waiting for us at the airport when we got there. They took us to Andre's apartment, where we were staying, so we could drop off our things. He lives by himself in a really good location in Lisbon, it was really nice. Then we all went into town to see Lisbon!

The views were incredible everywhere we went. First we went to the ruins of a church that was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1700s. Apparently the earthquake killed almost 100,000 people and destroyed the city, but part of the church is still standing. After that we went up the elevator (taking the stairs actually so we didnt have to pay) and we got a really good view of the city (see top picture). All the rooftops are orange, and the streets are made out of these stones that make it seem like a mosaic of tiles. We walked around a bit... saw some cool monuments and of course graffiti, and then we went out for lunch. I ordered swordfish, and it came with scales, tiny bones, and what seems to have been the spinal cord. It was sooo good though. The best swordfish I've ever had! Then we got in the car and drove along the coast. Lisbon is right on the water and has two massive bridges that cross the rio tejo//tagus river (which comes from spain and empties into the atlantic at lisbon). We then went to Belém, right on the atlantic to try this custard pie thing called Pastéis (in the second picture). They are sold all over Portugal, but apparently the ones in Belém are the best. You are supposed to put cinnamon and powdered sugar on top, and it was soooo good. Something like 1000 calories each, but who's counting? We walked by the ocean and marina and then went back to Andre's apt to get ready. We went out to eat in the center of Lisbon and we met Eduardo's identical twin brother and a tableful of their Portuguese friends. Joey and I had bacalhau, which is white cod, but in Portugal its always salted and dried and used in different dishes. Ours had potato and onion and a cream sauce, and it was pretty good but really oily. We had sangria again and went out with the whole group. It was really warm outside and we went to this one street which had a small bar, but everyone stood outside. There were so many people, and it was a lot of fun.

The next day Andre took Joey and I to a nearby city called Sintra so we could see the castle. We hit some traffic on the way there because it was the day of the Lisbon marathon. We must be following the marathons around Europe, because the weekend before there was a marathon in Berlin! The views at Sintra were amazing once again, and everything was soo green. When we had left Trento the trees didn't have any green on them yet.. but in Portugal it was really warm and summery compared to northern Italy. After we walked around Sintra we headed back to Lisbon, but we took the road along the coast. videoWe stopped at a city called Cascais on the way for a smoothie and to have a look around... everything was so beautiful! On the way back from Cascais- out of the blue- Andre's car's power steering went out and the airbag lights started flashing. The highway wasn't busy at the time and we made it to a spot on the side, but when we tried to start his car again nothing happened. No sound of the ignition or anything, something must have jolted something in the battery because mostly everything that used the battery wasn't working, except the hazard lights and interior lights. Andre called their version of AAA and Gina, our other Portuguese friend who we knew from Trento, came to pick us up. We went back to Andre's and got ready for dinner with Gina and her friend. We ate at a restaurant in this shopping mall, and it was pretty good. It was kind of weird that we ate at a mall, but they must do it all the time.

The next day Gina came and picked up Joey and I from Andre's and we went back to Cascais to go to the beach there! On the way we stopped at a secret place where Gina led us through some trees and bushes and a little river to see the best view in Lisbon. I guess nobody knows about it. Gina led the way in her walking shoes and we had to walk in about 4 inches of water over what looked like rock, but we quickly found out it was clay or mud because Gina started sinking! Haha good thing I had on flip flops. The view was incredible (see the picture above)! After that we went to this little shop that sold Havaianas, these brazilian flip flops and I just had to get a pair. Then we spent some of the afternoon at the beach. It was a little windy, and there were a group of surfers. We all went for a late lunch at the mall again, and I got bacalhau and this soup, which translated means "stone soup." It was almost like a minestrone with vegetables and meat, but then I picked out this big flat thing that looked like a cross between a mushroom and meat. I asked what it was and Joey said it was a mushroom and I was about to eat it when Gina told me it was a pig's ear. Oh you know, no big deal. Just a standard pig's ear in my soup. Haha apparently its used for flavoring and you aren't supposed to eat it. We use bay leaves. They use pig's ears.

Gina had to go pick her boyfriend up from the airport, so she dropped Joey and I off in town for an afternoon of shopping. After we were done we met up with Andre, Eduardo, Gina, and her boyfriend and his two friends for our last dinner in Portugal. After dinner we went to see one last view of the city at night. We were up at 5 the next morning to catch our flight back to Italia. We flew into Bologna and took the train from there to Trento, which was about 3 hours. In the 5 days we were gone Trento had changed colors. Most of the snow had melted from the peaks of the mountains in the distance, and most of the trees now have green on them! It's still a little rainy though, but it's definitely warming up.

Portugal Pictures

I forgot to blog about the time between going to Berlin and Barcelona. We were only in Trento for 4 days, and one of those days my class was cancelled so I decided to go to the Museum of Modern Art- MART in Rovereto, which is only 15 minutes on the train. They have a really good Warhol exhibit, his original Marilyn Monroe among others, but the day I went the Warhol exhibit was closed! The rest of the museum was really cool though, its one of the best art museums in Italy. Other than that, not too much excitement in Trento. The water has been on in the main fountain for about a month now, some students have returned home, and we have some new ones. Our favorite Tuesday club "Superbinario" closed three nights ago. I guess in the summer most of the bars and clubs shut down, and all the ones in Riva (on Lake Garda) open... which isn't really good because none of us have cars to get there! A new class I am taking, analisi dei dati (a prob and stats class) started yesterday. The class itself is going to be a little challenging, especially because it's in Italian and the professor is a mumbler. Even the Italian students have a hard time understanding him. Between that class and my others I have 15 hours per week, just like back home! I finally feel like a student again.

Last night Joey and I and our Italian friend Nicola went to this small underground bar to see someone from one of Joey's classes read an excerpt from a book that he wrote. He and a group of friends bought a car in Italy and drove it across Europe, Russia, and China, sold it in China and then went to Japan. He prepared a video that was on a projector and read from his book. It was pretty cool. All in Italian, so I couldn't tell if he was a good writer or not, but the slideshow was good.

I am currently enjoying a midday snack of coke and this cake that my Turkish roommate, Sezen, made. Its really good, white on the bottom and chocolate on top with espresso stuff on top. The coke on the other hand could be better. I dont know if it's a psychological thing or what, but the coke here is not that good. I think there is less sugar in Italian coke than back home. I did some laundry yesterday and I've gotten used to hang-drying everything and really stiff, starchy clothes.

The weather is dreary, but not cold. Tomorrow Joey and I are going to Verona to pick up her boyfriend and his friend from the airport. They are going to stay with us for a couple nights and then head back to London, and I really hope the weather clears up for their stay!

ciao a tutti.. video

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