Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Land of Pastries

Lisbon, Portugal. I ate my way through Lisbon; it was a feast of pastries. From natas to chocolate mice and hazelnut pie, they had it all. Highlights would have to include the trip to Sintra, dry dock, and my favourite: soccer against a Portuguese varsity team.

An hour and a half on public transit so that I could reach Sintra was quite worth it. We had originally gone in a group of eight; however, some of us split off and visited Quinta da Regaleira. It was the summer residence of the Carvalho Monteiro family built in the neo-manueline style. I wish that I could talk a lot about the beauty of Regaleira’s architecture and gardens, but it wasn’t that which I paid most attention to. Instead, my three hours were spent exploring underground tunnels that connected the palace and the chapel, as well as many infinity wells which spiraled from top to bottom. Large crevasses allowed me to hide from my fellow class mates and a lack of lighting caused my heart to beat a million minutes a second as I attempted to swallow my great fear of the dark.  Bethany must have had bruises all up her arm because I tended to jump and grasp on for dear life every time something went bang.

Dry dock, the aftermath of a fishing line being jammed in Sá´“rlandet’s propeller, was an adventure of its own. How many people can say that they have seen their house from top to bottom, foundation and all? Walking down under the vessel gave a new perspective on how huge, or in some eyes how small, home really is. Furthermore, it was quite abnormal being completely still. To be honest, I found it difficult falling asleep and having nothing to rock me gently (sometimes abruptly) into my dreams. The workers were friendly though, and only once did a patrol officer monitoring the gate give some students a scare when he left for safety rounds and they only barely made curfew. Dry dock, in my opinion, was a great opportunity.

For a port program CAF organised a cultural exchange with the local school. Select students took us on a guided tour of Lisbon which included the world’s finest natas (recipe almost bought for 3 million euros), a maritime museum (very interesting because tall ships have now become a part of my history as well), and a visit to the extravagant cathedral. Afterwards we travelled back to their school and had a game of soccer with their varsity team. I had forgotten how much I loved the sport. Not once did I take the chance of subbing out because I knew that this may be close to the last time I play in ten months. Despite my team coming dead last, tears never swelled. It was all just a lot of fun and nobody had a frown on their face. I wish I could have stayed longer but I’m sure their team needed to continue on with practice. I’ll never forget that game.

Lisbon as a whole passed by far too quickly. I know I must say this often but I truly believe that it is a port for everyone. If ever you are in Europe make sure to stop in the land of pastries. I promise that you won’t regret it.

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