mAd does Portugal: part 1

3 07 2006

Well, i don’t know when, or if i’ll get the rest of my pics, so i’ll do what i can with google image search…

So my flight left on a saturday, and as tradition states, i was there like 3 hours in advance. Thanks to the old man, for his unfaultering stance that if you’re not in the checkout line by this time, they won’t let you on the plane. I hate being at the airport 3 hours in advance. Especially with old Portuguese people, of which there were many on this particular day, since there were 2 seperate flights to the motherland leaving around this time. This about old pork-chops is that 1) they’re very loud. 2) they smell like old portuguese people. in fact, i believe that in the old days, pre-usage of last names, people would tell their kinsman from others based on scent. this is still possible today…. 3)they love to talk about others…loudly, especially the tall, white, blonde guy who “just can’t be portuguese….why is he on the flight?” damn these good looks of mine!

the 6hr plane trip was uneventful to the max. i held off on playing with my new toy (YEAH!!!) and decided to catch up on some reading. I am legend is awesome! I was introduced to the source material through the movie adaptation called “The last man on earth” which is a more of a vincent price-ification of the book, is a really good movie, as well. ~~OMG i love youtube!!~~

I arrived in Porto the next morning (9am portugal time), where my aunt, grandmother, and two cousins were there to belay me of sleep for the entire hour drive to Aveiro, my dad’s old stomping grounds. I managed to see my entire father’s side of relatives from this area, in a single day! exhausting!!

The next morning it was off to Lisbon, where I’d be staying for the duration (at least, i’d thought i’d be…). The 2.5 hour drive was a little rough, but worked out ok, i’m just glad i was a passenger and not driving! Portuguese drivers are the epitomy of evil in our world. So, I got to the hotel and sorted everything out ok, and even got a sweet room right next to the train so i would always know when people were travelling…at all hours of the day…and night…..damn train.

Decided to actually get some sleep cause the next day was the first day of

ISOP and IWOP-9 (International Workshop on Opportunistic Protists) Conference of fun!!!

The first day was only really sign in and stuff, so things were wrapped up by about 2 in the aft. At sign-in, the hotel employees (the conference was held in a hotel just up the street) liked the fact that i spoke portuguese, as luso conference member were definitly a minority (one group from Portugal, one from Brasil, then a hundered or so from US, Canada, Britain, etc). So i at least could joke around with the staff.

That evening, I gave my swedish-portuguese friend who lives in Lisbon, a call. She and no less than three of her swedish friends, who were there, were going out that night, so i was glad to have a tour guide! Believe the hype: Swedish girls are HOTTTTTT!! but watch out for the “portuguese disease,” any girl can become a victim…

so that night we were off to Bairro Alto. This is the area of Lisbon, a stones throw away from the downtown area, with the largest concentration of cramped side streets and small, one-room pubs that leave drinkers to associate on the streets outside pubs. Great atmosphere. I’m told that since its only tuesday, not alot of people are out, but it’s not that bad. Drinking in public is legal here, so you just grab a drink then hob knob with other street drinkers outside. I thought it was pretty awesome, anyway.

Then the drunken frat boys show. Apparently team sweden had met these Lisbonese losers just the other night, so it was apparent that i’d have to compete with some serious cock-blocking in my attempt to get to the gorgeous swede of my choice. Luckily for me, all these guys were douche bags and i managed to get my game on  a bit by the time i left. But really, the poor schmuck didn’t have a chance. Hello! i’m a scientist! poor guy.

incidently, people from some parts of Lisbon have a really weird accent that almost sounds like an Acorean accent. It’s really ugly.

The next day, there were some good talk in the morning, but alot of bore’age in the afternoon. This conference was primarily focused on parasites. Interesting, but i don’t work with any of those organisms. So i kind of took off for many of these talks. I’ll get into more detail about the science on a later post, but i’ve got to go to the lab soon, so i’ll finish up for part one.

So after the mornings talks, i was on the phone with the swedes and soon we were off to some sort of open-air market. Now, in portugal, open-air markets are a breeding ground for trash salesman, tourist traps, tourists, and dirty dirty gypsies. I was not excited about going to this, as i’ve done it before when i was young, but the girls wanted to, so… you know. anyway, they spent hours looking at hunks of metal, woven bracelets and other peices of junk, no self-respecting pork-chop would be caught dead giving a second-glance. Needless to say, i bought the Batman soundtrack on cassette for 1 euro. come on. when would i ever see a deal that sweet again?! After that we went to some weird “elevator” that goes to a cafe perched high atop the city. the coffee was delicious.

looking north-east from the cafe. notice the wide-open space. this will become common in pictures and portuguese love wide open spaces were traffic can congest and onlookers can sit at cafes and look at you.

looking east you can see that castle on the hill. thats the highest point of lisbon. not sure what the castle is, but they have alot of concerts there. especially Fado concerts (Fado is a type of portuguese folk music; in fact, the only listenable portuguese folk music). if it weren’t for those damn oranges i could aranges these pics into a cool panoramic thing. damn oranges…

looking south-east and est. you can see the base of the hill there and the bay on the right side.  I love how you get house crammed together as you get closer to the coast.
NEXT TIME: mystery umbrella, cameroonians, taxi driver hijinx, and portugal kicks ass at soccer!!

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