Monday, March 31, 2008

Ghost Town

And here we are at day 7.

So you know that part in Grease when Frenchie is telling Sandy that Danny is an "amoeba on fleas on rats"? From now on, I'm going to tell people "He's a flea on the dog on the accordion on the metro in Lisbon."

I've seen a lot of crazy things on a metro before, but never like this.

We took the train to Coimbra, which is a town comparable to Oxford since it is the educational center of Portugal. Not a whole lot like Oxford, but whatever. Coimbra used to be the capital of Portugal until something that I don't know about happened and the capital became Lisbon. And we figured that we ought to go check out at least one college town on our trip and see what the fuss is all about. And first things first - time for pastries. A couple things about this photo...
1. There is a huge gold palm tree in the middle of this pastry shop.
2. I was able to use my extensive Portuguese vocabulary and ask for a knife, or faca, for you Portuguese speakers out there. I was so proud of myself!

Next on the itinerary - act like you're in a photo shoot for Scott.

"And that's when he said 'She went to get a huge pizza?'"

This kid got the memo about red pants AND posing for Scott. Awesome.

Have you ever been to/in Rexburg during General Conference weekend? Being Coimbra the Saturday before Semana Santa was very similar. Seriously - no one was there.
And just to prove it to those who care, I did my duty and lit a candle for a certain friend of mine (since it is tradition) in the name of Evita Peron.

Then we went to the old monastery next door to get some lunch.
Tienes Jamon y Queso??

And here's Deb going into the confessional.

The only other time in my life that I rode a finiculare was in Capri, Italy. You know the song...but did you know that its a mode of transportation? The song is about as random as that video I just linked to. Kind of a ripoff for a 2 minute ride up the side of a hill (3 euros each!) but it was fun and you hardly see these things!

At the top of the hill we arrived at the University. And there was "wall art" everywhere. In our tour book, it said to look for this one specifically. Click here to read up on the G8 in case you don't know what it is. I'm here to educate, people!

Since there were no students in sight, I don't know if we got an adequate view of what Coimbra is like on a normal day, but here's a picture that may tell you a bit about town. Seems like a party town to me!

Hello red door!

This was taken at the bottom of the Street of Broken Ribs. Ironically, Scott almost broke a rib walking down the hill.

Our last stop before dinner in Coimbra was at "Portugal Dos Pequenitos." Basically, it was a kids park of Portuguese sites. They have all of their major monuments in kiddie size! Here are are pretending to be Alice in Wonderland and growing out of the house.

Isn't Coimbra beautiful at night??

Only 2 more days before going home. It was at about this point that I was beginning to think about how I could live here permanently. Seriously.

The Spell Has Been Broken

I've been doing the roommate thing for a while now. For about 9 years to be exact, and as of today, I've had 23 roommates. Out of those 23, 13 of them are married now. Really though, that number could be 16, but there are 3 roommates that I haven't heard from since the day I moved away. We must have been real close, eh? So here's my point. While the majority of my previous roommates are now married, I've never had a roommate get engaged while they were living with me. That is, until a few weeks ago. That's right folks - I'm announcing it here on my blog that the spell has been broken. Roommate and Mr. Fish made it official. :) And with that, came an official move that happened this weekend. :( Well, at least Roommate made an official move. Mine won't be for a few weeks still, but Tiff and I are closing up shop in the Presidio and moving to new locations in San Francisco.

I've lived in the Presidio for 3 years and I will be very sad to leave. So many really good and really bad things have happened to me during my time there which will be bittersweet to leave behind. But onward and upward. I'm really excited about my upcoming move - so stay tuned for more info on that.

And now, on to my regularly schedule programming - I have to finish blogging about my trip. :)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Have You Seen Sintra?

Good morning Portugal! Our cab driver dropped us off at a bus station in Elvas, Portugal. I mean - when there's a town in the world called Elvas, how can you pass it up? For good measure, Deb and I ate a jamon y queso so that we could leave our mark on the sleepy town.

So we hopped on the bus and rode for 4 hours to get to Lisbon. I would show you pictures from the bus ride, but I was sleeping so I didn't even see most of it myself. Sorry kids. We checked into the Lisbon Marriott, got our bearings and headed to Sintra, a little town just about 20 minutes north of Lisbon. So if you ever go to Portugal, this little town is a must see! So picturesque and very quaint! At the top of the very large hill in town, there is an ancient Moorish castle that makes you feel like Gargamel will start chasing after you any second..

And just underneath it is the National Palace - with these two very odd cone things on it, which - come to find out, is where the kitchen is. I just like to think of it as being extremely feminine.

One Grecian Urn....
trickle trickle trickle

Everything in Sintra looked like a fairy tale. Even higher up than the Moorish castle is the Pena Palace, which was the home to the royal family of Portugal before they were run out of town in the 1930s and killed (at least I think that is what happened.) And here is a picture for you.

I'm glad that wikipedia had a good picture from a distance because when you're walking up, this is the first glance you get...

Hello, Disneyland! This place was a lot like Hearst Castle - meaning that someone had way too much money and built pointless (but cool!) things like this:

Or this.

Ahoy, Matey!

I wish I could think of more witty things to say to you about Sintra, but nothing all too exciting happened that day. I think that Scott saying "I think Steph needs a Coca Light" explains a lot. So Scott and Deb went out that night on the town in Lisbon and Steph was asleep in bed at 9:30pm. Yay for sleeping. For those who know me well, I'm the worst faker EVER, so when I'm tired and grumpy, I have a really hard time hiding it. And this grumpy pants needed some sleep and some clean clothes. And to close this post, I'd like to thank the laundry service at the Lisbon Marriott for helping a sister out.

In Hind Sight, We Shoulda Had a Dance Party.

Day 5 - This was one of those days on the trip that you thank your lucky stars that you can sleep sitting up. This is also one of those days when you are angry that your friend keeps taking pictures of you while you are asleep.

Seriously. We started the day in Tarifa at about 6am and had no idea what time the bus would leave for Cadiz, which is where we were catching a train to Sevilla. We literally walked up to the bus stop and the exact bus we needed pulled right in thankyouverymuch. We hopped just in the nick of time and had a nice ride for a few hours through the area of Spain where my sister was born. Pretty cool, eh? And just because I think I'm so funny, here are some of the windmills that I saw in Spain - I wonder if Don Quixote tried to attack these?

We grabbed our daily dose of jamon y queso sandwiches in Cadiz and then arrived in Sevilla some time around noon. We had a 2 hour layover before our long haul up to Badajoz, so we made the most of it and took a cab to the center of town in Sevilla. Here I am in front of the Cathedral. And since this is the coolest tomb that I've ever seen, here I am in front of the one and only Christopher Colombus's tomb.
And in the Alcazar. Seriously, we were running through them.

Although we were only in Sevilla for a few hours, I really really loved it. The air smelled like orange blossoms and it was really really warm - which was very different than the other places we'd been thus far. I want and need to go back and give it more time. We made it back in time to get on our next train - which we'd be on for about 8 hours. Whoa. And we weren't on no first class train. I'm not exactly sure what I'm eating in this picture, but knowing me, and knowing Spain, it is a jamon y queso.

For some reason, we stopped right next to this awesome graffiti wall after we'd been in the middle of nowhere for hours. Random! It was at about this time that we realized that we were the only ones in our train car and we HAD been for quite some time. We played Rook, but dude. Why weren't we doing ipod karaoke or having a dance party while we had the chance?!?!

After a near miss on the last train to Badajoz, we arrived safely at our hotel and even arranged to have a cab take us into Portugal the next morning. When all three of us got in the elevator that night, we realized that we had a slight problem: We couldn't move when the door was closed. So Scott somehow pushed the button to open the door and got a pic of us. Like Sardines for real.

Seriously long day - I got some awesome journal writing time in and of course, lots of naps. It was a big day for Deb - she learned how to play Rook AND how to play sodoku - both of which changed her life immensely for sure. Stay tuned - we're about to hit Portugal.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's Gonna Take A Lot to Drag Me Away From You

There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do....

Wednesday morning we got up and got ready to get our Africa on. There have been times when I, like Gilligan, have thought that I'd just hop on a boat and get to my destination real quick. Turns out that like Giligan, I was wrong.

Our boat was delayed for more than 4 hours while they were trying to fix the garage door. Oh goody. That means plenty of time for Deb and I to get picked up by these Portuguese Hotties. How it is possible for me to have a conversation with someone about Portuguese literature when they only speak Portuguese and I only speak minor amounts of Spanish is beyond me, but it sure happened. I even got some book recommendations from him. Who knew?? When these guys asked Scott for our email addresses, he got creative and our Pseudonyms were born. Debra = Susana Jones - you can reach her at and Steph = Diana Howard. You can reach me now at For the rest of the trip, we mostly went by these names when meeting anyone. Thank you, creepy Portuguese guys.

First stop in Morocco after driving through some ritzy neighborhood where the king of Saudia Arabia has some real estate, was Cape Spartel. Some say that this is the northern-most point in Africa, but wikipedia begs to differ. Well, whatever the case may be, I went there. And I tried on a fez.

Next stop, camel riding! While I was waiting my turn, Aziz, our tour guide, thought it would be rather funny to get the camel to lick me. Whoa!

Don't be surprised if you see a picture similar to the one below on my Christmas card this year. Seriously - how could I pass up that opportunity??? So yeah, we may have just ridden camels around a parking lot, but it isn't like we were going to ride them through the Sahara or day tour, people!

Next, we were on to the Herculean Caves. Rumor has it that Hercules once slept here before he performed the 12 Labors, if you're into Greek Mythology maybe you know a little more about it than I do. This is the view from the inside of the cave. Isn't it gorgeous?!

And of course we were taken to Le Mirage, a fancy shmancy celebrity hot spot hotel right on the beach. Isn't it beautiful? I like this shot of me looking all wind blown. Woosh! Thinking back on this, I can't believe that I didn't ask to look at the ballroom!!! Drat!

All that touristy stuff made us hungry for more touristy stuff. So off we went to have lunch at this fun little restaurant that of course had live music.

And since I like you, here is a little treat:

Right after eating a delicious lunch where none of us got sick - even though we were told that we would get sick - which I am eternally grateful that I didn't...we went to the Kasbah! Hooray! Basically, the Kasbah is the old fortified city. And I know what you're all thinking. And yes, we did rock the Kasbah.

{please bless that this blog doesn't get 5000 hits tomorrow}

We were really lucky to have school get out right as we were walking by it. So of course Scott started taking really cute pictures of the kids.

See exhibit A:

Oh wait a minute. It was all fun and games until this little guy started demanding money from Scott. Good thing Scott didn't have any money on him.

And here's a good shot just so you can see more of what Morocco looks like - it was so beautiful!

Our last stop before waiting in line again for 4 hours to get on the ferry was at a rug shop. Somehow the sales guy thought that Scott and I were married. So what did we do? We played along, of course! My favorite thing that this guy said to us was "Oh I love this family!!!" while holding our hands and telling us to have lots of children. Zach - did you tell him about our elopement???

Overall, I loved Morocco and it was neat to have such a "different" experience for a day. Someone once told me that they went to Morocco and hated it - they must not have been with Aziz. Seriously - if you're going to Morocco anytime soon, email me and let me know. I can totally hook you up.