Monday, May 30, 2011

Winging It To/Through Lisbon

So...I'm here. And it took me no time at all to find an awesome monument:

I didn't write down what it's for, but it was in the Praça da Estrela (Star Square) where I took a nap on a bench while I was looking for a place to sleep. Throw in not being able to sleep on a plane and the backpack I've got with me, and I was a pretty awesome homeless-looking travelling scholar

The trip over was pretty uneventful. I spent four hours in the always-beautiful Philadelphia International Airport and seven hours later I was in Lisbon. It was 8a.m. Sunday morning. I decided to go to church. I took the airport-to-Lisbon bus as far as it would go and walked a mile or three. Inside I met William, who gave me a tour of the chapel and introduced me to Paulo, who introduced me to Cleber, who helped me look for a place to sleep after the meeting.

Cleber is pretty cool, just got a new job, is roughly my age, and helped me till we found one place. It was a crappy hostel that cost too much. The only room smelled like smoke, had no view, and was on the top floor in the far corner of an unlit hallway. Don't get me wrong: I'm no wuss (I survived undeveloped Brazil for two years), but I figured I could do better. So I let Cleber be on his way, pretending that I liked the place so he wouldn't feel bad, and set off on my own. I got to know

I didn't find anything I like, but I did find an awesome restaurant:

It was closed. So I met up with Paulo near the church and he and I bartered with an old lady named Rita. We couldn't get her down to €12/night for three weeks, so I hitched a ride to another church member's home. So I'll be sleeping in the at Francisco and Fátima Bettencourt Tavares's house for the next three or four weeks. They offered it for €40/week and I offered them €50. They accepted.

Both Francisco and Fátima are both from Cabo Verde (Cape Verde, which is an island country off the Northwest coast of Africa). He was born in Praia on the island of Santiago and she was born on the island of Fogo. Here:

The reason they speak Portuguese in Cabo Verde is because the Portuguese took over and used the country as a port while sailing around Africa. On an unrelated note, shout-out to my cousin, Kyle, who is there right now. For you to get a feel for what it's like there, the capital is Praia, which means Beach, and three islands go by the names Fire, Salt, and Angry. Pretty awesome.

She's in her late 30s, he in his early 40s (I think); they are both talkers, which is nice because I'm still getting back into thinking in the language; she works keeping house for a doctor/lawyer couple and he works at a furniture place; they've been married for about three years; they make sure to keep up on their soap operas; and, in short, they're both very accomodating and I love them already.

After walking and walking all day I was pretty beat. So I went to sleep. Woke up today at noon, still tired. I translated about 40 pages of Alberto de Lacerda's book Palace, which I brought with me, checked out options for what I'm going to do during/after Lisbon (all up in the air still, except for a certain festival in Spain the second week in July that is still very much in order), and headed out to get to know the part of the city where I live.

Oh, I live at Calçada dos Barbadinhos (Sidewalk of the Little Bearded Ones...fitting) #70. I don't know what neighborhood I'm actually in, but I'm somewhere in between Alfama and Bairro Lopes. Here's a link to a map for you:

The river you can see on the map is the Tejo. All I know is that it's really pretty and Lacerda wrote a number of poems about it. My neighborhood is pretty cool. I tried going to the Cemitério do Alto de São João, but it was closed, so I decided to walk off the map. Literally, I walked until I was off of the Lisbon map that I have. Here's what the end of my world currently looks like:

Looks like a great and spacious building to me. After walking back onto the map the only place I could find was a Chinese Restaurant whose name I won't even pretend to remember (Hun something?). I got the Massa Chinesa com Três Sabores (What three flavors you ask? I don't know. One was chicken, though). If nothing else, the setting was worth seeing:

 I hope you like pandas.

Portuguese Coca-Cola. Not as good as American and definitely not as good as Mexican. 

So my first un-completely-lost night in Lisbon was a success. And to top it all off, INT beat PAL 3-1 in the Italian Cup. Take that, PAL. Next time try not wearing pink jerseys.

Anyways, I leave you with two pics I took on my walk home:

Random street. Actual color (I didn't shoot it in Sepia). 

Random government building.

I forgot to buy toothpaste.


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