Monday, June 30, 2014

Adventures in Portugal: Food, glorious food! (part 1)

Who can name the musical where I got the title for this post? I'll be impressed :D

This is a kebab with french fries. I got it from the kebab restaurant around the block, and it was very tasty. It has mayo, ketchup and spicy sauce, and it is a mix of chicken and beef. It makes an excellent comfort food. Kebabs also come in pita wraps, which include lettuce and such, thus making it into a more well-rounded meal. They're easy to get to-go and they just taste SO good. Not Portuguese food, by the way. According to Wikipedia, they originated in the Middle East. I've also had them in Spain. I really missed them, actually, so when I found the "Ali Baba"restaurant, I was thrilled!

This is a Torrada (buttered toast... oh so delicious. Also two pasteis de Belem. You can find other similar pastries elsewhere but these are the best. The other ones are good, too, but they're just not the same. Also a cup of delicous hot chocolate. Good for dipping the toast into.

This is my own experiment. I didn't have any flour and I was tired of eating noodles without any real sauce so I used oatmeal, soy milk and chicken bouillon to improvise a white sauce. It turned out fairly well. In further experiments, I added more spices and that made it even better.

These are typical pastries from Sintra. The one on the far left is a queijado, which is a semi sweet cheesecake sort of custard. It involves egg, cinnamon, and sugar, like many pastries do. The two in the middle are travesseiros, pillowy pastries wrapped around themselves and filled with a sort of egg, cinnamon, and sugar sauce and dusted with sugar. On the right is another torrada. Delicous. And the fresh-squeezed orange juice is amazing. 

Adventures in Portugal: Sintra!

Sintra is a beautiful city a train ride away from Lisbon. It's up in a more moutainy part of Portugal and it's very nice. Lots of flowers and trees and such. And castles! I went to two of them with my tutor on Friday. It was fun. It involved a lot of walking, which was great. We climbed castle walls and looked out over the impressive views. Sintra is on the Atlantic ocean. We didn't go down to the beach, but we could see all the way there from the top of the castle tower.

On the way up to Castelo dos Mouros (Moor's Castle), we found lots of good photo ops.

Adventures in Portugal: Museums!

So I've been to a couple of museums so far. The Museu dos Coches in Belem and the Museu do Brinquedo in Sintra. Which means I got to see some cool old carriages and an awesome collection of antique toys from around the world. The carriage museum talked about the different kinds of carriages and the history thereof. 

 The carriages were all used by the Portuguese royal family and generally covered with elaborate carving and painting. Lots of it was in gold. I wish I had a good picture of the ceremonial carriages they made for the Pope... they were COVERED in gold carvings, huge ones that you'd expect to find in a palace. But they were on the coach. I guess with all the gold it just didn't photograph well. Too shiny. I think it was gold paint or gold leaf, really. One of them depicted Apollo with the 4 seasons, allegorically represented as women. Cool stuff.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Adventures in Portugal: Travel tips and Exploration

Well, I've been here for over a week now and I'm still enjoying myself. Today I went to Belem again, by myself this time. I planned to see the Monastery more thoroughly. Tip number one: if in a country that doesn't have a siesta (things close down during the hot afternoon), but still gets really warm, plan to spend that part of the day somewhere cool, like a church or a monastery. They're made of stone and therefore quite comfortable. That was the plan for today.
Travel tip number two: Make sure to check the hours of the church and/or monastery before you go, if you are on a tight schedule. Thankfully, my schedule this week is quite flexible, so I was not inconvenienced terribly when I discovered that the Monastery is in fact closed on Mondays. It really wasn't a problem, though, because it turned out to be a lovely day and with the breeze, it was not uncomfortable to be outside, even at 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Adventures in Portugal: lots of walking

I got to see some cool things so far this week. On Sunday, I went down by the river and saw some of the plazas and the river itself. I don't have pictures of that, but yesterday was a holiday and I took my camera when I went to visit some more places then. So here we go.
 This is a picture from the Miradouros (look-out point) Santa Luzia. It's by a church, also called Santa Luzia. From here you can see the river Tejo and a couple other churches. It's a nice view.
 They're doing some kind of construction right below the lookout point and the framework kind of looks like 3 crosses. So I took a picture of it.

This is me, by the church sign. I got new sunglasses because otherwise it's really not as pleasant to walk around.

 This is the Saint George Castle as seen from the next look-out point, O Miradouros da Graça. It's a cool castle. I haven't been there yet this trip, but I was there five years ago, and I plan to go soon.
Here's a view out over the city. Most of the buildings have red tile roofs. Very pretty.

 This is from today's trip to Belem. I went with my tutor to this part of Lisbon to see the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Monastery of the Jerónimos) and a few other things. First we stopped at a very famous old bakery (it's been there since 1837, I believe). They have very tasty things to eat. The Pasteis de Belem (Belem tarts) are very good, and they have a secret recipe that doesn't exist anywhere else. We ate those and enjoyed them greatly before going on to the Monastery.

This is the tomb of Luis Vaz de Camoes, a famous Portuguese author. The holiday yesterday was actually to celebrate him, so there are still lots of flowers here. Vasco de Gama is buried on the other side of this church.

 This is the cross that represents the religious order that financed a lot of the Portuguese voyages of discovery. It was often used on the sails of the ships.

 And here I am on the other side of the street from the monastery. There's a pretty nice park that is good for walking around in.

 And the park has a fountain! The water comes on and off and makes pretty patterns.

 This is the Torre de Belem. There used to be two, but there was an earthquake that destroyed the other one, and many other things in Lisbon. But this tower survived. I didn't go inside today, but I plan to go back another time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Adventures in Portugal: The First Rule of Time Travel

The first rule of time travel is always determine your space/time location immediately upon arrival at a new location. At least according to To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis. It's pretty good advice.
I did try to follow that rule. I looked at my phone and trusted the time it said. Turns out, it's an hour ahead of what the ACTUAL time is. Which is why I got to the University of Lisbon an hour sooner than I should have, and after waiting half an hour....