Sunday, June 18, 2006

Portugal, for a week

Wow, what a wonderful week it´s been! Since getting off the plane in London, life took on a different feel; it was traveling time again! I had a monstrous layover in London, and then a short flight south to Porto, where we were all going to meet up, and officialy start our group trip.

From the first night, things took on a different aspect. We all stoped for a light supper at a restaurant close to our hostle, arriving just before it closed. Everything was in Portugues, so we had our native (AKA Pedro) order for us. The food was awesome, apparently the local dishes that Pedro ordered for us were specialties of the city, only to be found in Porto. Possibly the best part of the night though, was when a local fella got up and started singing. We had no idea what he was singing, but it was good, and set the tone for the trip.
When visiting Porto, you must visit the wineries! Located along the river, there is an entire district of the city dedicated to the potent drink, Port. We took a couple of tours, the first of which was by far the better, and picked up a bottle of vintage port, to be opened in 15-20 years by all of us.
We Left Porto, a couple of bottles heavier, went to meet Pedro´s family, who lived in a couple of towns to the east of Lisboa. Upon arriving, we were met at the train station by his cousin, and aunt, who spoke fluent english(having lived in Canada for several years), and were taken to his grandparents house. I need a little back history for this next story, so bear with me for a minute. For a while, Jon and Pedro have been joking about switching identies when arriving in Portugal, and meeting Pedro´s family. They, having not seen Pedro for most of his life(since he was two, if I remember right), were quite in the dark as to what he looked like today. The most recent picture was probably 10 years old too. So, Jon and Pete made up and little plan to anounce Jon as Pedro when we arrived, and see how long it could last. It was even better than they had hoped. When we arrived, we came in two seperate cars, Jon and Karl in one, and Pedro and I in the other. Pedro and I were driven by his aunt, who fortunatly for the situation, drove a little slower than her daughter, letting Jon and Karl get there a little bit ahead of us. Jon got out, and was imidiatly approached by Pedro´s great uncle. Eyewitness accounts differe, but the basic story stays the same. When Pedro and I arrived, with Pedro´s english speaking cousin, and aunt, his entire family was gathered around a very bewildered looking Jonathan Epp, embracing him as their long lost Pedro. Eventually the situation was clarified, and Pedro´s great aunt was holding onto him for dear life, but not before we all had a good laugh!
The time with Pedro´s family was wonderfull, they treated us extremely well, and we all got along great. For lunch on Sunday, they took us out to a very traditional Portugues meal of Eel. It took a little to get over eating these things, but when you did, they were actually really good! On the way to and from the resteraunt, the four of us decided to ride with Pedro´s grandfather, who is a very cool old fella, that speaks french with a heavy portugues accent. He also has a very cool car. This picture is a little deceptive, the car is actually very large... big enough for five anyway! Besides having a slightly overloaded car(hey, most of us are canadian sized young guys, not portugues), Pedro´s grandfather is definatly where Pedro got his driving style from, there were a few corners I thought we were going to take on two weels! Driving around the country in this wonder was definatly the highlight of my time with Pedro´s family!
Eventually we had to take off, and head to Lisboa, where we stayed in a prime location, and got there just in time for the anual Portugual day Celebrations, which is basically Canada day, but Portugues. There was a huge parade and much partying, which unfortunatly for Pedro and I, we missed out on, due to the large quantities of alchohol in our system at the time. Jon has some great video, and hopefully will post some stuff about the night, as he was much more aware at the time. We had a couple of days in Lisboa, and we spent them shopping around, and taking in the sights. We headed south to the algarve on wednesday, and stopped over for a day in Faro, to check out the sights, and the city.

Ops, gotta go, the cafe is closing for a couple of hours, so I´ll come and finish this post in a bit. Thanks for all the comments, and emails, they have been great!

Ciao for now

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