Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Livin' the dream in Lisboa!


And a great evening to you from across the Pond - I'm back in the Mother Country! Okay, so first off - HOW CUTE is my wife? Surprise blogging in my stead? WICKED! Price - I do NOT want to hear about subscription cancellations any more. With surprise commentary like that, how can you not be a fan for life? This has more cliff hangers than a season of Alias!

Okay, so my apologies for being off the grid the last 5 days. The cost of an hour's time at the Westin Palace was something like 13 Euros, and I was NOT about to drop that kind of cheddar (especially when I couldn't even load pictures!). That being said, I'm back now, so let's recap the lad's weekend in Lisboa!

Day 1: Dance, Dance Revolution

So Ray and I left the office around 4:15 or so on Friday, giving us 3 hours to get to Heathrow. Now as some of you know, I tend to have some problems with directions (insert Chuck shaking his head and Jenny rolling her eyes here). However, en route to Heathrow, I reached a new low - I GOT LOST ON MY OWN TUBE LINE - THAT'S RIGHT - the one I take HOME from work EVERY DAY. Honestly, I have no words. Let's just say I looked like the chief herder at a Turkish Goat Rodeo after that.

That being said, we made it to the airport in plenty of time, only to board the plane and find it delayed by an hour (we were on a flying pencil - Wild Wallaby - that was for you) due to high winds. The end result was that we rolled into Lisbon (my first ever trip to Portugal) around 11 PM, checking into the hotel around midnight.

Speaking of the hotel, it should be noted that I'm pretty much a Motel 6 guy (that's right - Tom Bodette leaves the light on for me). Ray "Old School Cool", however, had something a little nicer in mind...

In all seriousness, the funniest part was the awkward moment at check-in when the guy didn't know whether or not we were gay and didn't know a) how many rooms we needed or b) how many beds we needed. When we said 2, he started breathing easier. Machismo is ALIVE AND WELL in the land of the Discoverers, baby. I mean, given my accent AND the fact I had a wedding band, shouldn't it have been obvious? And if that wasn't enough - I was wearing flannnel plaid, for crying out loud (as I did again today - you can't hide sexy...).

So at 12:30, we decided that we needed to see a bit of the city. Ten minutes later, we were walking in the rain down the main drag, fully expecting bars to jump out at us from every corner. However, we instead walked about 2 miles (all downhill, mind you) until we found the ONLY place open - a bar called "Young Liberty."

So we roll into this joint desperate for a Sagres (pronounced Sajuh), and as we roll up to the bar, we notice that ONLY DUDES are present, at least one of which is running his fingers through another's hair. And in that moment, Ray and I realize the truth...we're in a gay bar. AWESOME.

All the same, it does trend co-ed as the live music starts, so we are hopeful that we won't get hit on. Friday and Saturday's happen to be "Live International Music Nights" at Young Liberty, and this evening's feature was "American" (who saw that coming). Yazz - we were treated to not one, but TWO Elvis songs, and we got a smattering of other stuff as well. However, just when we were debating the whole "second beer" dilemma, the dude breaks out with "Easy Like Sunday Morning." Really? REALLY? IT'S A FRIDAY NIGHT - THAT IS THE BEST YOU'VE GOT?

So we bounced back toward the hotel, aware that it was 1:30 and we had a 2 mile climb uphill. However, on the walk back, some techno made us pause. And whilst there was no David Guetta, I am happy to report that RT and Taylor had a HILARIOUS hour at...wait for it...wait for it...THE HARD ROCK CAFE - LISBON.

Okay, so don't be a hater. This place was RAMMED, and the dancing was...well, AMAZING. Seriously, the highlights from the dance floor:

1. Old Man River (who seriously had to have been 106) was on the dance floor with his bird (of about 50).

2. This gal we called "Jumper," who just literally JUMPED for an hour straight on the stage.

3. A dude in a "CCCP" shirt who was STRAIGHT out of a Vanilla Ice Video.

4. This German dude in a shirt tight enough to stop bleeding dancing with flexed muscles for A SOLID HOUR.

I did get some brief video - Lady Gaga style...

We passed out around 3 AM, but that didn't stop my normal ritual of going to the bathroom every hour. Problem was that I couldn't find the damn light for the bathroom. Not wanting to wake up Ray, I grabbed my alarm clock and used the snooze light to ensure I didn't miss the bowl - yes, I am one CLASSY dude.

Day 2: In the footsteps of the Discoverers...and a hurricane

So we got up around 9:30 and were out the door an hour later in search of brekkie. After checking out some of the monuments along the main drag (there are stairs at the monuments, but no way to get TO the monuments, meaning you have to play Frogger in a roundabout the size of China), Ray and I hit the first of my must do's in Lisbon - a pastry breakfast. I mean, just look at the custard I had - nothing shy of 4 sticks of butter in that puppy.

Also, just so you know, it was WINDY AS HELL in Lisbon. Apparently there was some freak storm across all of Western Europe, and we got bloody PUMMELED. Just check out my hair in the upcoming pictures (I know, muffin - haffa cut this weekend).

So we walked down to the water, checking out the mosaic sidewalks everywhere we went. It is worth noting that EVERY SIDEWALK is hand painted and artisan tile - it is AWESOME. Ray and I have put estimates at 16,500,000 pieces of tile - call it a rough guess.

Once on the water, we turned for what we expected to be a quick jaunt to my one true "to do" - the Prince Henry the Navigator Memorial (Henry is, incidentally, where I got Ray's nickname, "The Navigator," from). The guick jaunt actually ended up somewhere around 5 miles or so, but the good news was that we burned off that custard! Seriously - it was a great walk along the water, seeing the bridges over the reiver Tej and seeing the Christ statue on the other side (mirror of the one in Rio - that thing is HUGE).

We hit the Navigator statue around 1 or so, and I must confess that it DID NOT disappoint. I mean, we are talking HUGE figures in the stone, and it was REALLY cool to see it in the stormy weather. That is until I decided to get by the seawall for a photo...

So I am about 4 feet from the seawall when a bloody TIDAL WAVE washes over, DOUSING my pants. Now had this been summer, I would have laughed. But since it was February with 90 MPH winds, I was less than pleased. However, I knew that lunch wasn't far off, so it didn't kill my spirits!

We then walked over to the remains of the old fortress for the harbor, now only a tower. As you can see from the picture, the walkway to get out there was treacherous because of the waves, and the tourists were basically trapped in there until it subsided!

After that, it was time for some lunch, and when in Portugal, that lunch is ONE THING: Bife com ovo (steak and egg). Dude, you talk about TASTY - check out Ray Ray tuckin' into this meal. Wash it down with a Sagres, and you have a healthy, 14,000 calorie lunch.

After that, we wandered around the city a bit more (translation - LOST AS HELL) until we made our way back down to the bridge. I mean, I'm not sayin' we were in the ghetto - I'm just sayin' that we probably looked a WEE bit out of place in the district we were in (My BRIGHT yellow Arizona State shirt probably didn't help).

Ready to warm up a bit, we scoured the city again looking for pubs. However, the only one we found was an Irish Pub down by the water. However, considering it had Six Nations, good beer, snacks, Premier League footy, AND a view of the Christ Statue, we couldn't argue. And so, just a scant 2 hours after lunch, we were eating cheese and Portuguese sausage - YES - CHUBBBBBBY BUNNNYYYY!!!! But it was worth it to watch Ray cooking that thing AT THE TABLE.

We then caught a cab back into town, where we wanted one more brew before dinner (that's right -time for food again). I hadn't tried Superbock (the other big Portuguese beer), but we couldn't find a bar anywhere. So where did we end up trying it? At an ICE CREAM AND PASTRY SHOP. Yes...sitting beside a 4 year old who's eating gelatto whilst sipping my half pint...awkward.

Dinner, however, was NOT awkward. It was SPECTACULAR. I had heard that Portuguese seafood is amazing, and I can now say that I concur 100%. Ray and I hit a fish joint, where I got some of THE BEST grouper that I've EVER had. Add in some Green Wine (famous in Portugal), and you have a recipe for a GREAT night. But to top it off, we were also treated to a free concert! The restaurant had a Fardo duo and a singer, and they performed 2 sets - talk about SO COOL. It was an absolute blast.

45 minutes later, we passed out to the sound of Curling on the TV - broadcast in German.

Day 3: Lady Gaga fan club reunited

So it was TOUGH to get out of bed on Sunday. I mean we were SERIOUSLY struggling. However, we did get up in time to walk down for another breakfast in the main square.

En route I was all excited, because I'd woken up to the sounds of a big protest walking down to the main square. Upon arrival (and poised for my pulitzer winning photos), I saw a bunch of dudes just gathered smoking and some children playing. Really? REALLY? NO WONDER you're not getting what you want from protests and strikes - WHERE'S THE ACTION!?!?!?

As for brekkie, I of course opted for ANOTHER custard (this one was thicker and richer than the OTHER one - Paula Dean would have been SO proud), but I was also intrigued by what I assumed to be a sausage pastry. Upon further review, purchase, and consumption, however, I can now report that it was nothing more than a cold hot dog in stale bread. Oh well, I can't say enough about the coffee - DELICIOUS.

After that, we walked over to the Cathedral, which was very cool. A service was in progress, and the music was VERY neat to hear. It was late by then, however, and we needed to head back. Consequently, we made the journey back to the Four Seasons and to the airport. This is where the two highlights of the day occurred.

The first was culinary. So Jenny and I have a rule - you can ONLY eat fast food when traveling. And whilst it's normally reserved for driving trips, the absence of a car has resulted in a LONG gap between sessions with McDonald's fries. Seeing the Golden Arches in the airport, I was determined to rectify this situation.

However, when I ordered my "McRoyal" (with Cheese - Vincent Vega style - AND BACON), I noticed that a drink was included. And what was one of the options? BEER. THAT'S RIGHT - I FINALLY had a beer at a McDonald's - and in a branded glass no less! Seriously, I have ALWAYS wanted to do that!

The second was just CRAZY and requires back story. So you all remember Kat (the Australian Assassin) whom I work with. Last weekend was Kat's birthday, and she'd mentioned earlier in the week that her husband was taking her on a surprise trip for the weekend (all we knew was that she needed her passport). We had taken bets in the office, and I had made the joke "Well, if I see you in Lisbon, we'll have a beer."

Just as I'm tucking into my food, who walks up to the McDonald's line? That's right - KATRINA MILLS. So Ray and I yelled at her for the shock value - AMAZING.

We then hopped our flight for Madrid, where we kicked off 3 days in Mad City. THAT, however, is a blog for tomorrow night. :-)

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. My muffin puffin just walked in the door, so it's time to catch up with my BABY PIE! Even if she DID watch Seinfeld in my absence...traitor...

Chat tomorrow!


(a reunited) Sam and Jenny

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