Wednesday, October 01, 2003

I'm a wanderer, yeah a wanderer...

I'm back and I'm not dead (more on that particular thought later) - just incredibly busy. I had over 300 messages in my e-mail in box; and I even turned off all my lists! It took me almost a whole day to weed through that. Also, why is it people want to leave voice mail messages even though you tell them you won't be back for a week. I had 11 messages to respond to from voice mail - luckily it only took about an hour to take care of those.

Enough whining - here's what you really need to know about Lisbon:

1. Lisbon is a warm place, while everyone in North America was enjoying moderate weather, I was getting dressed up in business clothes and having to take a cab for what would be a 10 minute walk to the conference. (My boss was worried about showing up a sweaty mess if we walked.) As a consequence of this warmth, there's no need for wool yarn. I saw yarn in 4 shops. In 3 of those places, it was sport weight acrylic in pastel colors. More about place #4 later.

2. Don't eat in the restaurants "section" of Lisbon. There's a spot near the old part of the city where you're funneled into this seedy looking area and the wait staff pounces on you and pulls you over to their menu pole. The menu pole consists of the restaurant's offerings in every possible language you could imagine (seriously - Chinese is right there next to Norwegian). Suck up your fear of "but they won't understand me because I don't speak [fill in the blank]" and go where the locals go. Most of the middle aged and younger Portugese speak English and once I figured out that omelet is the same everywhere - I was a happy girl. (As a side note, I don't eat seafood, so food was limited for me, but the lamb, chicken, and omelets were delicious - avoid the pork. Hub reports that the crab and shrimp were fab and a dish called Cataplana was the living end.)

3. Get Euros before you leave. The rate once you're there isn't good. I knew this was going to happen, but ran out of time before the trip.

4. Yes, they are offering you hash in the tourist section. Apparently, lots of people go to Europe to smoke dope (is my naivete showing?). I also heard the the penalties for being caught smoking dope in Portugal are very severe. We did not partake, but were offered at least 5 times on different evenings.

5. Make nice with your taxi driver. Boss and I got into a taxi after the conference on Tuesday and the driver started talking. "I can take you around Lisbon or around the area. We have many palaces, I can take you to see beautiful palaces. You can get a whole day or a half day - whichever you want." He even had a tour book show he could show us where he'd take us. We "rented" this driver for the whole day on Thursday and he took us on a great tour. He was the nicest man - talked about his son, his life, knew quite a bit about what we were seeing. I highly recommend this.

My pictures are still on the roll, so to speak. So if you must see some cool things, hope over to this website to see pictures of Portugal. We actually went into the Palacio de Queluz in Queluz, Palacio Nacional and Palacio de Pena in Sintra, and the Cabo da Roca. We also shopped a little in Cascais. It was a good trip, exhausting, but good.

I'll nab a digital camera tonight and take pictures of the yarn and other textiles I bought. I'll also tell some of the stories - don't you just love good travel stories?

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