A Travellerspoint blog


Hello, I inseminate cows for a job

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We attempted to go to a nearby fishing village today ... it all turned to custard with bus services being suspended due to road closures in preparation for tomorrow's Red Bull air race.

So we returned to the old city and sat at a cafe by the river for beer ... it had been indicated that the planes would do some practice runs through the obstacles during the afternoon. We got talking to a Kiwi couple who work 6 months in Ireland and return to New Zealand for the other 6 months. Wow! What a life ... continuous summers (for eleven years as we found out).

Forever curious (and hopeful that I could join his profession), I asked what kind of job he had ... I sure would like a lifestyle like that! He said that he inseminated cows for a job! There's only so much you can ask when someone tells you that. The conversation quickly shifted to a more public job like Kim's as a flight attendant.

Do you think it would have been rude for me to ask ...

1. Do those lanky arms of yours come in handy in your job?
2. What does it take for one to do your job well?

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Home of Port Wine

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large_5550_12526889545989.jpgThe rather Parisian style in the centre of Porto.
Porto or Oporto is home to Port Wine. The city centre is very much a Paris-wannabe like Buenos Aires and Montevideo ... with wide boulevards and beautiful classy buildings on both sides.

The old city or Ribeiro is located slightly downhill on the river bank. It is rundown but charming with bits of graffiti here and there. Ribeiro overlooks the Gaia on the other bank which houses the Port wine warehouses (eg. Taylor's, Graham's ... which may be familiar to some of you).

The church of San Francisco near the Stock Exchange in Ribeiro has to most ornate I've ever seen for the amount of wallspace they have. You can hardly find any wallspace that isn't decorated with ornate gilded carvings and statues. Unfortunately no photos are permitted.large_5550_12526889555414.jpgThe square at Dos Aliados.

In the afternoon, we headed up to a Port warehouse (Taylor's) for some tasting and to tour the facilities ... to our surprise, Port can be white or red (various shades). White Port is produced in small quantities and are not exported ... it is served before dinner while the redder variety is the well-known after dinner drink.

One great thing about Portugal is that it isn't overrun with McDonald's or Starbucks. But we have a McDonald's near our hotel ... it is a good cheap place to have a beer (Yes! This is Europe) or tea. While having our cuppa we got chatting to some Aussie girls ... one of them recognised us from a year ago during our only night out in Cuba in Vinales! Wow!


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Red Bull air race

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We travelled up the country through very boring landscape by bus (3.5 hours). The long distance buses are extremely new and comfortable.

We arrived in Porto [Porto-travel-guide-1308268] to realise that the Red Bull air race would be on the day we leave for Paris! Coincidentally Kim had his Red Bull airshow cap around town ... from the event in Perth last year. Some of the support crew here thought he was part of the event ... we should have played along and may have got some perks!

Then someone asked him for his cap a souvenir!

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Tell me how monks give comfort to sailors

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large_5550_12526880564643.jpgThe village of Sintra from the Moorish castle.
One of the highlights of Lisbon [Lisbon-travel-guide-1244214] is Sintra, located about 45 minutes out of town. It has an Moorish castle plus a few villas and palaces dotted around the unusually green hilly landscape. Due to the distance and topography, it is essentially to get around these sights by bus ... and that itself is rather hair-raising since they use a full-size bus on very windy narrow roads.

I find it rather odd that the Arabs were here building a fort-and-castle but (not at the same time) the Crusaders were doing likewise down in the Levant!

The other major sight in Lisbon is in Belem, a few kilometres away from the city centre. Much of the sights here are from the days of the Portuguese explorers in the 1500s ... there's the Jeronimos Monastery to house the monks who would give comfort to the sailors (says the guidebook, but how I wonder!) and the Torre de Belem which is a very ornate tower to mark the glory of their navigational successes.

In fact, everything here is very ornate ... I would have said it was Gothic but I cannot find the black lipstick and black eye makeup.


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Ding Ding!

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large_5550_1252664804392.jpgSan Francisco? No, Lisbon.
We took a public tram (number 28) uphill to an old part of the city called Alfama. It was very picturesque as the tram ding-dinged its way through the steep narrow streets where it was so narrow you could touch the houses on either side.

There had been about two-tramloads of people waiting. Imagine if you were a local needing to get home in a hurry on the tram.

While in the hilly suburbs we noticed that some narrow streets are restricted by automatic bollards (rather than barrier arms). I immediately thought if any cars have been lifted up by an errant bollard ... strange thought considering I never think about barrier arms coming down on a car. Sure enough one popped up on a car shortly after! I couldn't help but think of schafenfreude!

Lisbon does have a very nice atmosphere ... full of character but not restored to an Disneyesque kind of pristine condition. It comes alive in the evening when many restaurants spill their tables and chairs into the pedestrian malls.


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

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