Monday, August 24, 2009

Lisbon, Portugal

Now let's rewind to the beginning of June, when Laura and I spent a week in Lisbon, Portugal while I attended an engineering conference at the Instituto Superior Técnico. I include the university's name here simply because it sounds really cool; the picture at left is a completely unrelated building near the Parque das Nações (Nations Park), built for the 1998 World Fair's (or "Expo") in Lisbon.

I don't have a lot to say about Lisbon because frankly, I spent most of my time inside a series of conference rooms. Meanwhile, Laura did quite a bit of exploring and you can see her pictures on Flickr. She walked all over the city, visited an aquarium, took a chair lift ride, etc.

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The rooftops of Lisbon

Lisbon is a reasonably safe city, and Laura didn't have any trouble when she was out and about by herself. When we were together, on the other hand, I found myself fending off drug dealers at every turn. If you ever visit Lisbon, don't be surprised if you're approached, even on a busy street in daytime, and indiscreetly asked if you'd like to buy some "hash." Say no, even in a suitably revolted fashion, and they'll assume you're holding out for coke. Then it's time to run away.

While in Portugal we were determined to experience fado, a type of Portuguese music that I would describe as operatic; Wikipedia's adjective of choice is mournful, which is also accurate. We picked a restaurant with fado and enjoyed being serenaded by a procession of men and women of all ages, sometimes with guitar accompaniment. It's a truly unique experience to sit outside a restaurant in Lisbon, eating cod or some such thing while an elderly Portuguese woman croons what may be the world's saddest music from a nearby doorway or balcony.

The afternoon after the conference was over, Laura and I also went to the Lisbon Zoo, which was a lot of fun. We saw the usual giraffes, zebras, hippos, rhinos, monkeys, bears (at right) etc. The coolest animals we saw were the sea lions, though, who put on quite a show at their feeding and then joined a dolphin show to do more tricks. At one point during the show, the trainers actually walked the sea lions into the seating area of the ampitheater, into a row of seats, and then they circled the whole place. Seriously: Laura and I had to move out of the way when a sea lion came barreling through our seats. It was cool.

A bizarre pet cemetery at the Lisbon Zoo; RIP "Gigi"

We were able to get really close to the giraffes

1 comment:

Aunt Spicy said...

Wait, was that it? I know I have not commented in awhile, but are there no more adventures for me to live vicariously through? Even stateside?