Wednesday, April 28, 2010
"Cheira bem, cheira a Lisboa"
Lisbon, Portugal: what a lovely city. I traveled there last weekend with friends from my residence. One friend, Jorge, is from Portugal, about 45 minutes from Lisbon. Since he was spending the long weekend (we had a holiday on Friday, not sure the reason, but I didn't complain!) at home, he offered to take Christina, Stef, Nico, and me to his city, and we took a bus into Lisbon.
Our hostel was very close to the city center and was actually an apartment converted into a hostel, so if was very comfortable and cozy.
Friday morning we took in Saint George's Castle, which afforded very beautiful of Lisbon's sweet, red-roofed buildings. After lunch, Jorge met us in a square and showed us a bit more of the city before guiding us to Belém, a nearby neighborhood known for a monastery and delicious pastries. We toured the monastery, walked down to the waterfront, saw the Belém Tower, then went to the bakery to sample the sweet Pastéis de Belém. The monastery is actually the origin or the pastry recipe, the same recipe used today, over 200 years later.
The buildings in Lisbon are covered in beautiful tiles, so the whole city just radiates beautiful colors. I loved it. There was an earthquake in 1755 which destroyed almost the entire city, so it has a "newer" feel than places like Salamanca.
We had dinner in a nice, traditional Portuguese restaurant. My grilled salmon was quite yummy. But, what was traditional about the meal was the singing that took place. About every 30 minutes, the lights were dimmed and two guitarists and one vocalists serenaded the clientele with three Portuguese songs. The last song, the most well-known, was a sing-a-long: the audience was asked to chime in with "cheira bem, cheira a Lisboa," which means "it smells good, it smells like Lisbon." After awhile even our group of foreigners was singing along.
Enough about the food.
We saw most of the sights in Lisbon on Friday, so Saturday was a bit more relaxed. We went to Placa de Comercios and found a lovely market with all sorts of unique, hand-made gifts. We found a delicious Brazilian buffet for lunch, and then walked off the large meal, discovering other plazas and parks. And a few other stores...
Sunday we awoke early and caught the bus back to Jorge's town and then hit the beach! It was a beautiful, sunny day....but not quite "beachy" temperatures. We did, however, enjoy the sun, the sand, and the freezing ocean waves. We ate lunch, stopped by Jorge's house (his mother made us a delicious flan!), and then piled into the car to drive back to Salamanca.
I was expecting to be able to communicate with the Portuguese in Spanish, but was surprised. Most people understand Spanish, but respond in Portuguese. If I asked a question, I could generally understand the response, because the two languages are similar. But, as in most of Europe, many people speak English, as well.
It was a weekend well spent! Sorry I took so long to write about it...reality hit when we got back, and I am realizing just how much work I have to do between now and exam time...yikes! I would prefer to stay on vacation...is that possible?
I am taking this weekend to get a hold on my school work, and then my friend Lena from Bellarmine is coming to visit next week!
I hope you all are well, enjoying Spring and looking forward to Summer!