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Around the World in 210 Days

Final Thoughts on Portugal

PORTUGAL | Friday, 23 November 2007 | Views [860] | Comments [4]

So we’ve been in Florence for the last three days, and it has been a really cool experience so far. But, before we go into our Florentine adventures, we felt we needed to let everyone know what we learned while in Portugal. And there was a lot we learned, indeed. Tomorrow we’ll go into detail about our first Italian pizza and gelato since arriving, as well as our Tuscan Thanksgiving dinner…

Things we’ve learned in Portugal:

1) Despite the 19% alcohol by volume, you cannot drink enough Port to make the uphill(s) walk home easy. Especially if you’re only hopping from one free tasting to another.

2) If you want to maximize your visits to Lisbon’s lovely museums on the cheap (that is, free), you have to get up before 10am on Sundays and be willing to view some of the exhibits at a sprint.

3) Contrary to what the cab drivers tell you, they do not speak English… or Spanish.

4) Contrary to what the post office personnel tells you, they also do not speak English or Spanish.

5) Some of the people asking for money on the streets are particularly good actors, but their stories need a few rewrites (super-parenthetical time: A man came up to us, pretending to be calling someone on his phone, and acted incredibly relieved to find someone who spoke English—despite the fact that we were in the city centre, 30 meters from the tourism office and surrounded by loud Americans. He went on to explain that (cue the tiny string quartet) he and his girlfriend’s car ran out of gas and he needed a Euro or two to get enough gas to get home. This, despite the painfully obvious fact that we were in the town centre and there is not a gas station within 10 kilometers of it in any direction… and no stalled cars either, for that matter. But still, I had to hand it to him, “the stressed out, can’t get a signal on my dying battery cell phone and my girlfriend is pregnant with octuplets, and we need half a liter of gas so we can get to the next gullible tourist” routine was refreshing next to the sad little ladies who hold out their hand on the church steps as you exit, masterfully playing on your guilt when you have just been surrounded by Christ’s selfless sacrifice… ).

And now back to the things we’ve learned…

6) Pizza Huts in Portugal rock.

7) If you want to “score” some “hash,” all you have to do is go to the town centre with Andrew… everyone he walks by offers it to him. Some offer twice. Alternatively, you could stroll into your host’s living room sometime after breakfast and before 3am. It seems to be pretty prevalent there, as well.

8) It is difficult to take a shower without a shower curtain. It is embarrassing to take that shower without a window curtain. It is delightful, though, to step out of this curtain-less shower into the nice, chilly pool of water that awaits your feet on the bathroom floor.

9) If you think the dogs in Marseille were “messy,” you aren’t ready for the dogs in Lisbon. In the day you must keep at least one eye on the ground at all times, and at night you are better off stepping only on the white bricks… or taking a cab.

10) If you’re ever invited to a “Posh Halloween Party” that requires black tie attire, wear jeans. You’ll fit in with almost everyone else, and the guy that brought the tux will be mistaken for the waiter.

11) Also, don’t ask your housekeeper to serve food at the “posh” party. Once she sees the “posh” mess that will be waiting for her the next day, she’s gonna call in sick… for a week.

12) Tiramisu is better without coffee.

13) The benefit of having the only TV set in your room is you get to bargain with your flatmate for free Italian lessons.

14) The detriment of having the only TV set in your room is you may get hooked on old episodes of Extreme Makeover (plastic surgery AND home editions), cheer for Sherlock Holmes, and sit through 15 minutes of the same three commercials in a loop, just to see if an English movie is coming on next.

15) While your host may cook you a going-away dinner, there’s a good chance she’ll miss it because she’s on a diet and/or has scheduled two work meetings during dinnertime. Don’t be alarmed, though… this may improve your dining experience.

And finally,

16) Your best friends in Portugal are the older ladies behind you on the bus, the Italian down the hall, and the guy that brings you the Pasteis de Nata.

P.S.- As a special treat, we uploaded some of the Portugal pictures (yes, “Finally, it took forever, blah, blah, blah” ~Richard H. King). So now, everyone can see what Portugal looks like through the eye of a shiny new camera. Oh, and on one of those clotheslines hangs the laundry of two very famous world travelers…

Tags: Philosophy of travel



Man I may just be too happy.
First the Dallas Plowboys won.

then I get my internet connection back after Alex probably paid them to disconnect me. (that is what I suspect anyway) so now I am back on the dubyadubyadubya.

Then like a miracle from heaven I get a long post with informative tales AND pictures? Pinch me I must be dreaming.

Random thoughts on your Lisbon experience (and who hasn't wondered about such things)...first of all OFCOURSE Andrew has people trying to sell him hash. Hello! He IS from Austin. They probably heard he is a UT grad. Everyone knows how they keep Austin weird.

regarding the cabbies who do not speak english...I think that is a WORLD wide phenomenon. Same thing happened to me in Dallas.

Your beggar story about the man needing gas reminded me of downtown Pittsburgh PA. I heard the same story there years ago and my brothers in law told me to keep my money in my pocket and not to fall for the heart breaking story. We went back the very next evening and the same guy was there with the same story about having just run out of gas and needing to get his pregnant girlfriend somewhere.

Question about the posh mess left after the posh party...how was Andrew able to identify a mess?

Are you sure people are wanting to watch the lone TV in your room and not just hanging out there because of the shower with no curtains? I'm just saying.

A note from home. Too bad Spanky doesn't have his penguin yet. We are having penguin weather.

Sadly I cannot continue to type my words of wisdom.
I have to go look at the long awaited photographic evidence of this trip.

  Richard Nov 24, 2007 2:47 AM


ok so i looked at the pictures the other night and this post was not here so at least i am one up on richard. i can relate on the poop, you can't walk in my front yard anymore and no it is not because of the dogs coco and tigger (the way to remember him richard is the springing jump he has) because i pick that up, i noticed all these black things in the yard and i'll be darned if it isn't rabbit poop everywhere, i mean what the hey it looks like the neighborhood got together and donated all of the poop from their yards. so trust me i feel for you both. you know you could drap your towels from bed,bath and beyound and use them as a shower curtain, on that one i do see the problem if you were not into being an extravert. on the tv side of things maybe your fellow boarders were really wanting to know if andrew scored on the hash and was waithing for you guys to share? andrew i must admit the young innocent look has left you as the pictures show your hair has really gotten pretty long and i must say you are on your way to looking like a hippie, you might want to stay away from flared leg pants at this time. and you know that big wide eye look that you have my be interpreted as a junkies desperate look for some hash. as far as the mess the morning after i know that cannot bother you two as it would not have before you left the us. the begging, i feel for you so many with hands out and those oh so sad big eyes just looking at you from a tilted head and this little pout on your lips, oh wait thats the look andrew gets with shannon so of course she should be immune to it andrew study your face in the mirror and you too will see it for what it is and it won't be able to penetrate to your wallet. and what is the problem with the extreme makeover shows, i have been hooked on both of those since the start, my dream is to get the body makeover first and then think how good i will look on the home makeover the public will love me or least my looks. and i told you i think it was in france that there will never be enough alcohol that will make those uphill climbs easy and that when you travel with shannon no matter if your coming or going the way is always uphill and i don't mean a slight hill, the girl likes exercise and feels everyone should join the club. i do belive i saw your laundry it was the only load that really lacked color, all the other hanging clothes were brillant bright bold colors and there was yours kinda blah. but maybe nobody noticed over there, or maybe they did. anyway i don't remember andrew packing a tie and i know that he did not pack a tux unless it was that tshirt with the tux printed on it but surly no one was that drunk to mistake it for the real thing or maybe the hash was working hmmmmmmm. see staying here at the castle was a good thing you learned to appreciate old ladies and you gained the insight that old ladies have untold wisdom to share with the young that are smart enough to heed it. well this old lady will get off of here for now as it seems my well of wisdom is getting low so i will wait for it to fill again. i cannot wait to hear about your thanksgiving dinner of turkey pizza and giblet wine, oh the vision of it just makes me dizzy, and a little weak in the knees. love to you both and looking foward to a birthday pretty soon. mom

  mardi Nov 25, 2007 4:12 AM


I hate to throw a flag on the play but can we give these two full credit for 421 photos when so many of them are duplications?

If that is fair to count repeated pictures of Alex witha halo and Alex and Andrew with their heads glued together yet again...I would like to mail you the same dollar over and over 421 times and get credit for mailing you guys 421 dollars.

Heck just give me a euro to mail over and over...that way you will make even more.

Now that I know how you guys operate, are you sure you aren't just stepping in the same dog piles over and over?

P.S. Sandy and I went out to eat today and she made me eat Italian at Orlando's in honor of you two.
I was still begging for Cracker Barrel but... no go.

  Richard Nov 25, 2007 8:53 AM


Whats a dog gotta do to get an update on your travels?

  Tigger and Coco Nov 28, 2007 1:19 AM

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