Thursday, November 18, 2010

An exercise in Trust

Our first stop was Lisbon, Portugal. The first thing we both picked up is that their winters are definitely not as cold as ours, and the weather outside was pleasant. The Portuguese stay up to very late, all the shops were open until midnight. It is very strange to see people with little children of 5 to 10 years of age, walking next to the ocean at 23:30.
The fashion in Lisbon and Rome is mini-skirts with warm leggings or stockings, or skinny jeans. All the ladies wear beautiful boots, either ankle height, or higher. It will be our mission to find me a pair of these beautiful shoes! Here the women don't wear any make up, I have only seen one girl wearing mascara and eye liner, and this was on the airplane on our way here. Their skin is beautiful though, assuming this is attributed to the fact that they don't wear make-up, and could potentially have something to do with their sunshine. This I can't comment on since we were only in Portugal from 19:00 to 7:00. People are also generally well groomed, and skinnier.
We went to Expo 98 to find a restaurant and do a little bit of sight-seeing. The architecture of the train station and the malls and hotels in this section are very modern and beautiful. Apparently this infrastructure was built for an Expo held in Portugal for many countries in 1998, therefore the name. We walked around in Vasco da Gama mall, and also had our dinner (at 21:30) here. We ate pasta carbonara, very tasty. Their pasta was freshly made, and the cream used much richer than what we are used to. We also each had a glass of Sangria. It tastes quite different from Sangria as we know it. It is a sweet wine with a tangy citrus type taste, delicious and refreshing! The speed at which our meal was brought to us was very surprising; I don't think we waited even 10 minutes!
We had to walk back to the airplane (3.4km), which felt like forever, especially since it was 00:30, but it gave us the opportunity to see the living quarters of the people. In the area we walked through, the buildings are old and dilapidated, and look very similar to the hostels I used to stay at in Varsity. There is definitely also not the planning in parking space as we are used to in SA.
Another thing that I have noticed of both Portugal and Rome, is that people don't smile unnecessarily. I.e. if I acknowledge someone or thank them for a service, I usually do it with a smile. The Europeans seem to only smile when there is a joke or some conversation that stimulates laughter.
Highlights for me for this part of our trip:
There is a little park next to the ocean that has musical instruments hanging on structures. There was a gong, triangles, some drum like instruments and more. The kids (and some adults including me) were having lots of fun playing these!
There was a bunch of teenagers drinking and chatting away next to an area where they hang all the flags of the countries that was at Expo98. They did this little dance while all standing together in a circle and singing, very sweet!
We went into a Pick n Pay type shopping centre to get some food for our 4 hours left on the airport. There was a self-service till next to the one we paid out. You scan each of your purchased items, and then you can swipe a credit card or even pay cash (similar to when we pay at a car park). Now imagine something like that in SA. You must have a 100% confidence and trust in the people of your country to allow a concept like this!

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