Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Time Keeps Marching On

It can't be true. We can't be down to 28 hours left in Portugal. What? We have to sleep for part of it? This can't be true.

The last few days have been absolutely jam packed. I have been taking notes galore of all that we're doing, but I have not had much time to blog. I haven't had time to read blogs either. Believe me, when I get home, there will be a ton of catching up to do!

I still have notes and partial posts written about Monday and Tuesday, but I do want to share a bit of what we did today.

The alarm on Johnny's mobile was set for 7 am. Did you read that correctly? 7 AM! I have gotten over the jet lag and my body has settled into its natural time zone. Night owl. You would think a 6 hour time difference would put me falling asleep at "normal" people hours, but no. I am back to my work schedule. But I don't have to work, so being awake at 3 in the morning does me no good here.

Deya and I got up when the alarm went off. I got ready quickly and Deya hopped in the shower. We were ready to leave Johnny's flat by 8:15 to hop on the Metro and get to Oriente station (the last stop on the red line). We had plans to visit Évora today, a walled city a two-hour + train ride from Lisbon. Évora is in Central Portugal and this was exciting for us. All of our other adventures have been in Lisbon itself.

Once at the Oriente Station (built for the World's Fair in 1998), we figured out that the train station is just two stories above the Metro! This was awesome, since Deya and I are terrible with directions. We bought the tickets to Évora and boarded the train. We had a transfer at Casa Branha and managed to get on the other train successfully. The second train was much bumpier and my notes from the ride are all over the page. We watched as the Portie country side sped by outside our windows. I made use of my iPod again, jamming out to Bryan's CD yet again.

The train arrived in Évora and Deya and I stopped at a little café next to the station for Cokes. Once we were refreshed (Beba Coca-Cola), we headed up the Avienda to the center of town. Our cameras got a work out today, there are actually over 1,000 pictures between the two of us from our day trip. Don't worry, we will be consolidating once we get home. The beauty of digital cameras is the fact we can just keep snapping and snapping, not worrying about the bad pictures at the time. It saves holiday time and let's us make sure the perfect shot is obtained. We'll pick through the pictures for the best ones to post on our sites and to put into our scrapbooks (although there still may be many, MANY scrapbooks).

Inside the city walls, we found ourselves wandering through a public gardens and ordered, can you guess, Coca-Cola from the little kiosk (spelt much differently than we are used to in English). That Coke did not taste as good and after I found a spider crawling on me (freaking me right the heck out of my skin, at least I didn't scream. I jumped out of my chair and danced around, shaking out my clothes, but I didn't scream. It was only a minor public distraction) we left the park and headed to the Church of St. Francis.

Évora closes up all the churches, museums, and chapels during lunch time and we were there at the perfect time for lunch, so Deya and I found a charming little restaurant just off to the side of the Church of St. Francis. Now, I know the question burning on your mind. 'Did they serve Coke at this little restaurant?' You bet they did!

Our server was a young boy (probably about 22) and absolutely darling. He was wearing blue jeans and we had a table right near the stairs he had to keep climbing to get in and out of the kitchen and Deya may have snapped a picture of his bum. Yes, we're terrible. The food was delicious though.

After lunch, the church was open and the main attraction was ready for viewing. We bought our tickets (1 Euro each) and paid the ,25 Euros (I love that they use commas instead of periods for cents in currency) to be able to take photos. The chapel is made of human bones. Three Franciscian friars dug up bones from different graves around the city to build this chapel, hoping that people would worship and find a way to be humble surrounded by death. The chapel is über-creepy and yet, I found it utterly fascinating. I do have many pictures (as does Deya) and we will be putting some up in a few days (once we're back in the States).

We checked out the sanctuary of the church and again was surrounded by beauty. Then we got completely lost.

Want to know how to get lost in Europe in 5 easy steps? I can tell you.

Right foot forward. Left foot forward. Stop to take a picture. Walk three more steps. There, you're lost. Évora is a small city, it is HARD to get lost in it, yet we managed. Jeez, you would think that large landmarks like cathedrals, massive museums, and Roman arches should have helped us! No, no they didn't. We joked that it was like the Hokey Pokey, put your left foot in, put your left foot out, put your left foot in and shake it all about. You know what you get? L.O.S.T.

To add insult to injury, we got lost on an uphill direction. So every step in the wrong direction exerted extra energy! We were puckered completely out. Then we saw a Gelatto shop. Time for ice!

The gelatto was delicious. We both had a scoop of caramel. Deya had a scoop of cinnamon and I had a scoop of mulberry. I. Heart. Gelatto. The water closet in the shop was also quaint. Deya will probably post another bathroom adventure (including the water closests from the trains! Yuck!)

As we were wandering the streets of Évora, completely lost inside the walls of the city, Deya started getting attacked by little bugs. I do not even know what kind of bugs they were, but they loved her. We both wore sleeveless shirts today, but I brought a hoodie with me for the day. Deya had on capris (to my blue jeans and boots) and with the extra skin from the arms, she was a target for a bug fest. I felt so bad for her. She also managed to get a bit of a sunburn from wandering around the city. Her arms are a bright pink, still much later in the evening. The back of her neck is a red color and I can imagine how bad it feels. My face is a little pink, but not bad. It actually just looks like I'm wearing blush.

The streets in Europe are much more narrow than back at home. This goes double for Évora. Europeans drive smaller cars, I love this, and even the smallest vehicles were tight fits down some of the corridors. There were times when Deya and I found ourselves hugging the walls (hey, we're wall-hugging hippie freaks! Adds a bit more than the tree-hugging kind!)

We found ourselves in a dead end and kept trying to go. Deya suggested we try to ask the first person we saw for directions. At the bus stop, there was an elderly man wearing all black (in that heat! Oh, it still makes me feel uncomfortable, wondering how much he overheats). Deya approached him to ask the question.

Now, we speak about 10 words of Portuguese and they are not very helpful in asking for directions. Being able to say the equivalents of "Hello", "Rat bastard", "Thank you" and "You're welcome" does not tell us to turn right or left. The man did not speak a word of English, but seemed excited to point at our map and point down the hill to the right. Then he made circle gestures with his hands. The man was very friendly. I figured he told us to turn right, spin in circles and then pick another direction!

By heading right, we did find another little café and they sold, we all know by now, Coke. The server spoke English rather well and was able to point us in the right direction so that we could find what we were looking for. Our destination was the Temple of Diana, a Roman temple still standing by a nearby cathedral.

It took resting a couple of times, but we finally made it to the cathedral. I wanted to check around the corner, hoping that a large Roman temple would be easy to spot, but it waited until we rested. After the break, I walked 10 paces to see the magnificent structure standing, pillars reaching the sky.

A hundred and five pictures later (no, I have not counted them, but this is probably not an exaggeration. Actually, it may be a conservative figure), we were ready to find a taxi to take us back to train station, which in turn would provide the train to take us back to Johnny's flat.

How does one find a taxi in Évora? One asks the absolutely gorgeous cop! He told us something in Portuguese, but pointed us in the correct direction. We walked a bit, downhill this time, and found a post office. Oh, that might be a good place to get directions!

Inside, a woman was willing to help us find the taxi station. She directed us outside (away from the nice air conditioning inside the post office) and told us where to go in Portuguese. After a few blank stares, she listed off different languages that she spoke. I recognized Deutsch and told her in my broken German that I spoke a little of the language. Fortunately, it was enough to recognize left, right, street, and numbers (how many streets). The charades helped too.

We followed the directions and found the taxi stand. The cabbie was helpful and figured out where we needed to go. Quickly, we were back at the train station, an hour early for our departure.

With an hour to kill, what else is there to do than order those precious red cans of cola and watch a bit of C.S.I. with Portuguese subtitles in the bar off to the side of the station. Unfortunately, the little red cans were NOT Coca-Cola, but a "drink" called, "Snappy Cola". It was advertised as "Novo" or new. I can say this, the cola? I don't think "snappy" would be a word I used to classify it.

While watching C.S.I., we noticed that DNA is abbreviated as ADN in Portuguese. We learn something new every day.

The train rides back to Lisbon were peaceful, we watched the sunset and arrived in Lisbon to see the city lit up.

I do have to say, Évora was charming and fascinating and an adventure, but give me the grid system back! I am horrible at directions and having roads that do not follow blocks throws me off way too much. If anyone does visit Portugal anytime in their lives, I do recommend a trip to Évora. It is worth your time.


While I was writing this post (and battling Blogger!), this is the conversation between Deya and myself:

We are watching VH1 Classic Hits (pleases me for music, Deya likes the music and sometimes watches the videos). A Rolling Stones video from 1981 starts to play.

Deya looks confused.

B: It's the Rolling Stones.

D: Yeah, I guess I never noticed how much they all look like roosters.

VH1 classic hits is a joy.