Travelin Z - Portugal to a point(36)

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Europe » Portugal
January 11th 2006
Published: January 27th 2006EDIT THIS ENTRY

Before I start, I have to ask you a very important question that has been bugging me for a while now:
"If R2D2 is such a smart robot, how come he has to whistle all the time. Why couldn't they teach this ugly sliding cylindrical box some fucken English?
Or Spanish, since he looks like some mail-ordered-trash-can out of a discount janitorial supply catalog?"

OK this will conclude the venting portion of this e mail - and if any of you took offense to my racial remark, admit this - it was good line, and then - Grow up!

Now I want to write something nice.

Barbara and I spent the Christmas, New Year's Eve, and more, as Paula and Carlos guests - staying at their great 200 years old vaulted ceiling loft in Lisbon and traveling with them to northern Portugal.
I want to write about this couple. Two great architects with two great kids that live in a very rare and balanced manner, expressing so much strength and creativity. So much.
I find it exceptional to see a woman and a man - both strong, accomplished and alive, live together and work together, in such harmony, complimenting each others being, and shining with love to each other, to their family and to their extensive circle of friends. I feel blessed to have met these people, and to have made their friendship.

I want to royally thank the Portuguese Tourist Office for providing superb information offices around the main cities. Excellent information and maps gladly handed to travelers by polite clerks in very good English. Thanks.

Thanks for the wonderful three weeks together in Portugal and Spain. Thanks for being who you are, and reserving the special place in your heart for me.

In Lisbon I spent hours just walking the streets. To quote Angel, a Spanish friend of Carlos, Lisbon is like being inside an Escher's painting. I agree. It is a maze of streets and bridges and stairways leading from level to level, from new views to old hidden secrets. Doorways. Narrow passageways. Waterways. Add to it the soothing sound of car tires brushing the pebbled streets.
A city built on hills and sprinkled with delicious architectural jewels. This city, like the Portuguese themselves is soft spoken, but deeply penetrating. I strongly recommend.

Looking for a hardy cheap meal, I followed workers leaving the harbor on a lunch break. They disappeared into a tiny well packed restaurant that turned out to be everything i was looking for.
Before seating down i pointed to a thick beef and potato Stew, that a man in his mid sixties was plowing through next to me, and to a carafe of red wine.
The initial noise, momentarily interrupted by my foreign intrusion, was back to normal volume, and i relaxed in my hard seat.
I downed the first glass of a marvelous good and cheap house wine, and dove into my stew.
Around me, men with oily stains on their blue coveralls. Faces deeply carved from years of hard thankless labor and sea breeze. Permanent dirt under the finger nails and in the chapped skin of their expressive grips on the wine glasses.
They polished their meals and washed it off with strong short coffees and shots of Aguardente (Portuguese brandy) accompanied with cigarettes.
How low was their productivity level after lunch? How articulately will they operate the heavy machinery on the docks under the influence?
I ordered a flan and enjoyed the rest of my buzz.

Basically - use the same description as above for Lisbon, and sprinkle the architectural marvels even heavier.
Worth mentioning in Porto is the the Dom Luis I Bridge that was engineered by a disciple of Eiffel, the Port wineries and the light in the city. Especially at dusk.

Don't bitch to me if you listen to my advice - spend a good vacation in Portugal and upon returning home discover, in horror, that your new waist-line resembles that of a Sumo champ. (If you suffer from being a Japanese tourist while reading this - Sumo champ is GOOD!!)
I know i wrote about the food in Portugal before - but just like ones inevitable reaction to the Portuguese huge servings of delicious food - i want to write about it more.
To the point - There is a mean little cake in Portugal called Pastel de Nata. This small frisky baker's delight should NOT be avoided. It is a marriage between a round crispy buttery croissant - shaped as a cup, and a hardened thick Creme Brule. Sort of. If you must see what I am rumbling about (yes you must !) take a look at
and spend the rest of your life looking for an authentic one in your city.

If I don't bitch about something you'll think that i got soft in my old age or that i have Mononucleosis. You might even feel relief - but no !! It will hurt me to disappoint you, so here are two complaints about Portugal.
1. In Praca do Comercio, a prominent plaza in Lisbon they have a big statue of a king (i think he was ??) on a horse. If you look carefully you'll notice the king has a double chin. Very unfaltering. (a picture of it is on my snapfish Portugal 1 folder).
2. Lisbon, has too much graffiti on it's beautiful walls. It is hard not to notice how many buildings and walls are infested with this urban skin disease.
I would like to use this forum to offer the Portuguese authorities the freedom to use some of it heritage torture machines from the middle-ages, found in museums, or borrow some from the neighbors in Spain. If push come to shove - i am sure some Catholic churches have them in the dungeons under a tarp of holly cloth.
Just get the schmucks that spray graffiti and "convince" them to stop!

If you think the previous paragraph constitute as a light form of venting then i was wrong in the second paragraph of this e mail. Oh well.

and speaking of which...(i can't help it) during my visit to Portugal the world was pleasantly informed of every glory detail in "Sharon's Hospital" soap opera. I applaud the wonderful reporting job, the honorable members of the press did on the subject. From the direction and velocity of every fart the oversize leader released involuntarily, to the depth and hardness of every instrument they used to prob him with.
1) Thanks. I really needed to accumulate all this information.
2) Do you think we can sale DVDs with his brain scan footage, accompanied by Philip Glass's music? (Carmen - Bolero is a bit over used)

Love you any way


PS -
Back to traveling by myself, I am amidst a titanic wave of thoughts and things I want to write about, so I'll stay put for a couple of days in Tetouan, and put it all into my cyber space memory bank of travel updates. I'm writing 4 updates simultaneously. You'll see.
It is the second day in Morocco, and I have to re-teach myself to type on key boards i had never seen before, with different arrangement of keys. It has to do with the Arabic/English key board.


25th February 2007

I'm here in Nice, France, and Nice has the same 'skin disease' you mentioned, especially the's terribly offputting...but at least you are enjoying good hearty portions of food in Portugal! The French need to be taught a thing or two about spices and food portion, haha

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