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Published: April 24th 2010
SDC13010 Wednesday, April 14
first views of Portugal from the bus
We rose before the sun so that we would make our 7:30am bus to Lagos. We thought it was a six hour ride (from 7:30--1:30), but when we neared the Portuguese border our phones said there was a time change, so it was actually a seven hour ride. It was pleasant, though. It was rainy outside, and I watched as the landscape rolled past us, changing slowly. Gone were the dry, semi-arid hills of southern Spain. Portugal was green and wet, with yellow flowers everywhere.
Portugal was also the first time in Europe that someone checked my passport. They stopped the bus and a man came around to all of us. Upon seeing Cyntia and I's French visas he was quiet for a very long time. He started speaking in Portuguese to us, and Cyntia answered in Spanish. And then he asked if we spoke French and started speaking bad French mixed with Portuguese. He asked us what we were studying and said that our visas seemed weird because the number of days it was valid for wasn't specified. I pointed out that there were dates listed with the expiration of our stay. He
kept saying (in Portu-fr-espanole) that something wasn't right. I just tried to look cute, and perhaps it paid off because she shrugged his shoulders and went away. Count on the French to make their visas difficult to interpret! Humf.
Several kilometers later, our bus stopped again. It seemed odd, because the driver pulled over on the side of the highway and got out. There was no bus stop in sight. Cyntia and I watched as he crossed the highway in the rain and went over to an orange stand. Several moments later, he came back on the bus with a couple sacks of oranges. I found it incredibly amusing, because I don't think that in the states anyone would pull over a 50 passenger bus(that's en route)to buy some oranges. I hope they were good!
In the afternoon we reached Lagos. It was still raining. I was bummed because this was supposed to be our beachy part of the trip from whence we would all depart with excellent tans. We were all starving because we hadn't had breakfast, so we stopped at a restaurant on the way to the hostel. They had a special of the day which
our bus driver interrupting the voyage to buy some oranges
was the cheapest thing on the menu, something called "lulinhas". We asked the waitress what it was, and she didn't know that word in English, but said that it was something from the ocean. "Cool", we said, and we all ordered the lulinhas. A moment later, the waitress brings out some bread, butter, olives, and sardine paste. We were so hungry we started digging in. I suspected we would be charged for these things, because I'd seen them on the menu. Here's a little note about Spain and Portugal: they offer you certain things, and if you touch/eat them, you pay. So when you go to the bar and they put olives in front of you, just know that even if you eat one, you pay for all of them.
Soon after, three steaming plates of lulinhas came out. And guess what it was? A dish of, say, 10 whole squid boiled in butter and oil. Yum. (or not). Disappointment clouded all of our faces. We'd been hoping for fish. And instead we got purple squids with the head, tentacles, and spine still intact. I ate a little bit, but relied on the boiled potatoes that came with it
in the hostel
to get me full. PJ was the champ; he finished all of his.
After than culinary adventure was over, we made our way to the hostel: The Monkey House. This place was cool because the rooms were nice (though damp), there was an awesome rooftop terrace from which you could see the whole city, and they gave us free credit to use at the affiliated restaurant and bar. I took a shower, and then we all hung out and got situated. The hostel manager (a really cool guy) encouraged us to go out and walk around despite the bad weather.
So we headed out into the rain and walked to the shore, where a medieval fortress was holding its own against an onslaught of vicious waves. We walked out onto a jetty, and PJ was making me nervous because he climbed up onto the wall where the waves were washing over 30 feet ahead. After some convincing, he gave me a hand up to, and we looked out at the ocean and the salty mist hit our faces. Cyntia was playing her harmonica. As PJ and I turned around to get down, a huge wave crashed into the
the beach and fortress
wall at our feet and drenched us! We screamed and jumped down, trying to shake off and little. We were all laughing.
We continued our walk by going up along the cliffs. The cliffs of the Algarve region are really something special, and in nicer weather you can take a boat ride along them. We walked along and even followed a trail that led out to the summit (which was a little scary because with the rain it was slippery). We continued on the road and came to an abandoned house with grass and flowers growing the roof. It was getting close to dinner time, so we decided to head back. A mangy, stray dog trotted from across the street to us. We kept walking. I looked behind and saw that it was following us. And that it had red eyes. It had a sinister look in general, so I said that we should walk faster. We continued on and tried to lose it by crossing the street, but it kept following. We were getting a little nervous, because it was a big dog that looked like it could do some serious damage. Fortunately though, it spotted a rabbit
and went pouncing after it. We continued on to the hostel, but I kept looking back, sure that I would see the demonic creature again.
As a snack we stopped at a cafe to have some cake and coffee. The server greeted us, "Bom dia." And we said "bom dia" back. Then to order I asked if she spoke English. She said no. Cyntia asked if she spoke Spanish. She said no. I asked if she spoke French. No. Pierre-Jean asked if she spoke Italian. She said, "Portugues!" We all laughed and just pointed to what we wanted. The funny thing about the Portuguese language, though, it that it is very different than the other romance languages. Between our three romance languages and English, we couldn't understand a thing whenever anyone said something in Portuguese! It's the pronunciation that makes it a little difficult, because when it was written, I was usually able to figure out what was being said. In Portuguese, they say "sh" for "s" and "c". So for example: "Adios" is "Adiosh" and "Portugues" becomes "Bortugesh". I liked the sound of the language and picked up a few useful phrases so that I wouldn't feel COMPLETELY
like a silly tourist.
For dinner we went to the restaurant affiliated with the hostel. I had lasagna. Pierre-Jean tried it and a disgusted look came over his face. "They killed the lasagna," he said. (He's half Italian, so he has the right to say things like this). Then he said, "I make a much better lasagna, with a white bechemel sauce." And I believe him, too, because his roommates said he's a really good cook. But for now I would have to settle with my murdered Bortugesh lasagna.
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