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Around the World in 210 Days

So Long, Lisbon...

PORTUGAL | Monday, 19 November 2007 | Views [796] | Comments [8]

Right now, Alex and I are flying over what we have been told are the Alps. The mountains are covered in snow and the valleys are filled with a fog. It is quite beautiful. This morning, we woke up at 4am for the beginning of a day of transportation. As you all know, transportation days have been harrowing in the past, but I prefer to think of them as “challenging.” We woke up at 4am to catch a bus to the train station at 5am, so we could catch our train to Porto at 6am, so we catch the metro at 9:45am so we could get to the airport in time to catch our 12:15 flight to Florence, Italy. Yes, it was a lot of transportation. Aside from the bus we had expected at five not showing up, and having to take two different buses to get to the train station on time, it was a fairly uneventful trip. When we got to the Porto airport, we marveled at what has been deemed the third best airport in Europe, which we can understand what with their free wi-fi AND ice cold water (from coolers and with cups). And we finally caught our flight and are excited about heading to Italy. As we speak Alex is giving us a crash course in Italian via our Italian podcasts. But before we go Italian on everyone, a few more exciting tales from Lisbon…

Yesterday, our “Free Museum Sunday,” was spent hitting as many museums as we could before the 2 o’clock deadline—when the museums resume their 2 to 4 euro ticket prices. We managed to hit four, including a second visit to the coach museum for pictures, a walk through a monastery, the archaeological museum, and the maritime museum, which was a large collection of nautical devices and ship models. Ah, yes, and for breakfast we had our last order of Pasteis de Belem. Mmm. We ended the night with Myriam cooking us a shrimp curry as a going away dinner. Aside from having to de-head the shrimp (shudder), it was good.

Although yesterday was pretty eventful, our last few days have been nice and relaxed. We picked up our azulejo tiles on Saturday and were very pleased with them. We packed them in a box we had intended on shipping back home, but after seeing the cost of shipping decided we would see if Italy was any more… “economical.” We also ran five miles the other night, a distance we have been managing for a couple weeks, but it was a particularly good run, as it was a cool evening and our energy did not fail us even at our ritual resting point midway through (which happens to be at the Lisbon Landmark, the Torre de Belem, for you Googlers out there). A few days ago we caught a train to the small, hill-nestled village of Sintra. It’s a very scenic area that reminded us of Southern France. We walked a TON, trekking up and up to the hill-topping Palace de Pena and neighboring ruins of a Moorish castle. Both were very cool, and the views from the top were fantastic. From the highest turret of the castle we could see the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Lisbon on the other (45 minutes by train, so not too close). But I think we agreed that the best views came on the small path leading up to the Moorish castle. It was completely green, covered in vines and falling leaves. The trees were fairly exotic, and the whole area reminded me of a Lord of the Rings location. Pictures pending….any comments on that will lead me to change it too…Pictures being enjoyed only by us.

We also wanted to share a particularly charming event that occurred a few nights ago. We had discovered a movie theater (“cinema,” I should say) that had 4 euro tickets for students. That is fantastic, because even converted to USD that is just about $5.60. Not too shabby for a non-matinee film, eh? Plus, them being in English was delightful. So we went and watched a movie, trying our best not to be distracted by the pesky Portuguese subtitles, and afterward waited a mere minute or two for our bus to arrive. On the way there we had taken bus #720. So you can imagine when bus #720 arrived going the direction of our place, we knew we’d be okay. Once on it, we chatted about the movie for a few minutes before it dawned on us that we were on a highway. Now, in the states this would not be shocking… I’ve taken many a highway while on a bus in Austin, but here, in the heart of Lisbon, we had yet to SEE a highway let alone ride on one. So we panicked. I asked the only other passenger “donde estamos?” He replied, in Spanish, pointing to the very corner of our map. The corner?! But we live in the center! And bus #720 doesn’t go to the map’s corners! It goes to the center!! He explained, still in Spanish, that this was the night bus, and the number on the outside meant NOTHING. So he told us to follow him, and we all got off at the next stop. He told us which bus to take on the way back into town, but our Spanish numbers aren’t too great (something twenty three?) so he dragged us across the street with him and pointed out the bus route. We thought we understood what we should do, but he didn’t seem to think we did. He asked us if we were from Spain, and Alex replied “Soy Americana.”

His eyebrows raised, his hands flew up, and he asked, exasperatedly, and in English, why we hadn’t been speaking our mother tongue from the beginning. We were too busy laughing to really explain that we default in the only foreign language we know when flustered on buses. He explained what we should do, in English this time, but then had an idea. He ran over to a cab stand and asked the driver something. He came back and said “Well, the Portuguese people are very accommodating, and so I will make you a deal. The cab ride to your home is about 8 euros. I’ll pay five and you pay the rest and he can take you there.” Our jaws dropped. We instantly refused (shocking, perhaps, to those of you who have noticed our detailed chronicles of the cheapest McD’s snacks…) and thanked him for such a nice gesture. We really were surprised. Then, he asked us if we wanted to grab something to eat before catching our night bus home. We did want to, but were planning on going out with Valentina that night so we refused. We regret not at least giving him our contact information, because it was just such a strangely nice experience. The people are like that here, though. The older ladies on the buses have saved us numerous times. In fact, even today at four in the morning we were waiting, bewildered as to which bus was “sheen doshay shay (yes, that is what the other driver said)” and a row of three nice old women asked us where we were trying to go, then one of them got up and pointed it out to us on a map. Not only did it potentially save us from missing our bus, train, subway, and airplane, it just confirmed the regular kindness strangers have shown us throughout our trip, and for which Portugal is famous.

We will share our final thoughts on Portugal soon...

Tags: planes trains & automobiles




Now that was some fine posting.
I hate that I got here first and learned all of this before anyone else.
I loved the story about the English speaking people trying to speak Espanol.
I guess it pays to check this site after all.

  PersonNotNamedAnnieOrSpanky Nov 20, 2007 10:33 AM


'chirp chirp chirp'
Man Italy is quiet huh?
Reminds me of Lisbon in that way.

I am going to give you a tip. ALEX I know you are avoiding eating sugar. STOP THAT NOW and go eat some gelato. In fact you guys should go on a gelato diet.
I know what you are thinking. You are both thinking gelato AND wine diet. Okay whatever.

Then report back to me so I can boss you around some more.

  Richard Nov 21, 2007 1:48 PM


uh excuse me, but i know i did not read a threat about pictures now did i? i will reposse the camera with said pictures included. i feel instead of a camera i should have gotten you a world gps so you would have a 50/50 chance of not getting lost but alas i fear you would not be able to understand the language. i might add you two do not have the clothes for snow and fog, fog maybe snow no way. you need to find a second hand store and buy some really warm stuff and then sell it back before you leave. andrew i'm telling you the pizza is just not the same, some one really needs to teach them how to make a good one. and richard where did you get the idea that shannon was avoiding sugar, meat yes but sugar never, she is too much her fathers daughter. the gelato yes but with wine i fear your taste buds would return to america without you. well tomorrow is Thanksgiving and all of us are making our plans for a great dinner and such, what are the plans of you two. they do not have turkey there nor stuffing, i really worry about your meal, i should have sent a care package with the ingrediants enclosed but the cost was way out of line for a 10 lb turkey with feed. you do realize that because we know you two are so far away we really will not be able to enjoy our feast and good cheer with friends and family. -NOT- this is the first year in alot of years i am not cooking, so i will enjoy the day. we will expect pictures posted soon and no more threats out of you two. you do realize that if not for us following your every move and keeping up with you, you could be kidnapped for your body parts or put in jail for the diamonds. oh wait thats from 2 movies your brother make me watch. but you two would be writing to an empty audiance, so just remember we at this time are your biggest fans and you must keep us happy or your fame and fortune will swirl away down the commode of life. love and miss you both mom

  mardi Nov 22, 2007 1:32 AM


That is so funny, all this time, I've thought mardi was my mom...clearly not, whoever this person is says that its the first year in a lot of years that she hasn't had to cook...clearly not my mom...who are you, and why are you using my mom's name.

  andrewalex Nov 22, 2007 6:33 AM


I have to come to the defense of Mardi a fellow member of the Suddenly Abandoned Parents Society. SAPS is an organization that I am forming for parents who wait every day for a drop of attention.
You cannot imagine the thanksgiving plans Mardi has for Coco and Dog not named Coco... since you two flew the coop.
(I only remember names of dogs with orthodontia issues)

I don't know if Alex is Shock and Andrew is Awe or vice versa but whichever way it goes you did not answer her questions about what YOUR plans are for Thanksgiving.

I am guessing Turkey McNuggets and some sort of Italian Beer. Would you guys like fries with that?
(learn that phrase Andrew, you may need it someday)

Andrew...tomorrow I intend to eat a big ol piece of Texas pecan pie. I will think of you as I eat it.
I may wash it down with an ice cold Dr. Pepper.

I happen know that you guys went yesterday and saw Seventeen foot naked David statue guy and that bridge full of Gold and a hole in the ground toilet... but do you share that with your viewing audience? NO! Because you have naps to take and busses to miss and your cinema with your fancy subtitles.

oh well...
Enjoy la buona vita! Ciao!

  Richard Nov 22, 2007 6:34 AM


You mentioned you saw the replica outside the Palazzio Somethingio in an email...that sounds exotic, but I suspect you're making up Italian names now.

  Sandy Nov 22, 2007 7:13 AM


good morning to you in italy, it is 8:13am on Thanksgiving day here in Lubbock, I just want you to know that one of the things i am thankful for are you two. Andrew I have thanked God for the past few years for bringing you into my daughters life and bringing life back into my daughter. Shannon I have thanked God since the day i found out i was going to have you for giving me the chance to have and share my life with you. So on this day i want you to know that no matter where in the world you travel, no matter what you are doing you foremost and first are in my heart here at home safe and sound. This has been a wonderful year and i am so happy that the two of you are together and embracing the life God has given you. while you are gone the prayers and thoughts of all your families are always with you as you are always with us in spirit. Know that you both are so loved and missed on this day of thanks, but know that we are thankful for you in our lives. have a most wonderful day with each other and know that you are with us here at home also. with so much love to you both. mom

  mardi Nov 23, 2007 1:15 AM



  dad Nov 24, 2007 3:33 AM

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