LisboaApril 12 in Portugal
There was some shock returning to Canada after the heat of Costa Rica. Vancouver was cold and rainy so we consumed alot of calories to make up for lost heat. Our friends Sheelagh and James let us stay in their beautiful house while they were away, and I made it to my friend Sue's 50th birthday dinner. It was a good break before heading to stay with Marty's parents near Orillia. Walks and bike rides on crisp days, all the family, Caleb's birthday, easter bunny, and visits to sugar shacks. It was a treat to be with family for the holiday, and especially Marty's family as we never visit in the spring. There was a bit of suspense waiting for Jorja's trail-a-bike that we had ordered in Feb, and didn't arrive until the day we left for Portugal as well as meeting the courier on the highway on our way to the airport to get Marty's sandals.
Well, I wish I'd payed a bit more attention to the portugese being spoken around me at school in Kitimat. I knew none of the language on arrival, except for "thank you" and "where is", and quickly I realized that although the words in spanish and french are similar the pronunciation is MUCH different! I would have to say that it sounds alot like Russian, but maybe that's because I don't speak Russian either. Marty suggested that I ask someone a question, and although I think i know no portugese, I still was ahead. Quickly, I am learning and its not that hard!! It is very nice that many people in Lisbon speak english, and we have learned lots about the country from all the people that Marty starts talking to wherever we go. Would you be surprised to know that although he cannot speak the language, he can still communicate!! We have been assured that in rural portugal, few people will speak english!
So our first week in Portugal has been continually improving. Jetlag is hard. Especially when you are 12 and you don't give yourself the permission to be tired. We have been incredibly lucky to stay with a family here who are also bike tourers. Filipa and Joao and their three boys Manuel, Vasco, and Henrique have welcomed us into their home. We cook dinner, buy some groceries, and Marty does his Mcgyver stuff with lights, and cars, and vaccums in exchange for a place to stay. They live in a flat in the part of the city that is the Expo 98 Site which is a study in modern architecture. Filipa says they are not normal, as both of them are Civil Engineers, but Filipa has also taken Psycology for 5 years and wants to work in schools promoting biking. Joao is working on a business about promoting biking. Kids go to nursery school early, and moms often go back to work very early.
We have biked the 10km down to to central Lisboa and explored the old city, especially Alfama which was the part of the city that survived the 1755 earthquake that devastated Lisboa. It is fun learning about a new country, where I know so little. I was going to write about the country, but no, I still do not know anything, I know the moors were here, which is islamic and from Africa. There was battles with the Knights of the Temple to convert to christianity, but I'll learn more and give you details! I can tell you, there is much vinho here that is very cheap. Joao made potatoes, and chorizo and fresh fava beans for lunch, it was delicious, and some vinho!
We have bought some second hand bikes from David a fantastic bike store owner. We have our gear, and Joao has convinced Marty that bike touring is good. So in the next few days we will head off into the interior of Portugal. We have figured out which train to take to get out of Lisbon and up to Tomar where we will start our journey. It has been colder than we expected, and colder than normal even for portugal, so we will buy some mittens for Jorja, and we are glad we brought our toques. We might need warmclothes for sleeping as we have warm weather sleeping bags because it is supposed to be warm in Portugal in April, although the people who live here says april is the time of rain. Rain and then sun. We have a tarp! Read more