Lisbon

[photopress:Lisbon_from_castle.jpg,thumb,floatright] [photopress:park_Lisbon.jpg,thumb,floatleft] [photopress:alley_Lisbon.jpg,thumb,floatleft] There’s a definite contrast going from Norway to Portugal, which, if I may generalize (and really, isn’t reckless generalization the basis of so many R/C posts?), is archetypal of the contrast between north- and south-western Europe. Portugal is more colorful, both literally and figuratively. The lifestyle seems more relaxed, fun-loving, and disorderly. Norway, on the other hand, was clean, rational, comfortable (in the sense of economically well-developed), and determined.

[photopress:subway_seats.jpg,thumb,floatleft] [photopress:courtyard_Lisbon.jpg,thumb,floatright]Lisbon strikes me as an amiable, disheveled city, steeped in history, and not quite holding itself to past standards of grandeur: graffiti is absolutely everywhere, dog feces dot the marble-tile sidewalks, and old, crumbling buildings stand side-by-side with the many crisp, new, multicolored cubist developments. Dinners at restaurants start late and last for hours. Clubs don’t fill up until 3:00am(!). Wine (or, in my case, sangria, for the same price as soda) can be purchased with lunch in the mall food court.

[photopress:bridge_over_moat.jpg,thumb,floatleft] [photopress:cathedral_interior.jpg,thumb,floatright] The conference was fun, especially the meeting and talking with many friendly students from around the world. Our host university and student organizers did an amazing job making us feel welcome with a tour of the city, reception in a castle, and a fabulous dinner at a hip, fancy restaurant overlooking the water.

[photopress:Fado_restaurant.jpg,thumb,floatleft] [photopress:post_Cup_celebration.jpg,thumb,floatright] I managed to see Fado, a traditional local folk music (but lately of interest largely to tourists, I hear), and to witness some of the manic country-wide celebration when Portugal won a game in the World Cup. The streets were a jammed with cars full of honking, hollering, flag-waving revelers for hours after the game. Coming back from dinner, a cab-driver refused our fare because many arterial roads were impassable, so we walked by the throngs of elated soccer fans, and I was happy to have my earplugs. Had I not recently lived through the Steelers winning the Superbowl, it would have been yet more surreal.

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