On our third day we had arranged to meet with my aunty Cidalia who lives in Portugal. She was going to take us around to a few of Lisbonâ€™s sights. We were supposed to have my sister there to translate for us, but she bailed on us and left Lisbon the day before. My aunty only knows a tiny bit of English and I knew even less Portuguese. My sister said that weâ€™d have a real difficult time communicating with her. I had also sent my aunty an SMS in Portuguese and received an English reply that was in an interesting form of English. Rach and I were both heaps worried about meeting up and to tell you the truth I was trying to get out of it.
I was having a shave before our meeting time and just before I started there was a knock on the door and to my utmost surprise it was my aunty. Our first encounter was a bit shaky but we managed to understand that sheâ€™d be waiting down stairs. My aunty was armed with an English to Portuguese dictionary and a Portuguese to English dictionary. I had my thin Portuguese phrase book and a few words up my sleeve. We headed off for lunch close by and between us we could ask basic things like how old are you, where do you live, how old are you kids etc. Often weâ€™d both be looking in our books to try communicating further. Most of the time we spoke in English and overall it was OK, enough to understand. We got very good at sign language, reusing simple words in both languages and we had lots of laughs trying to understand each other, getting across what we were trying to say. As the day progressed we got better and better at talking to each other.
We first headed to Jeronimoâ€™s Monastery. This is a huge building that has a marine theme right around the outside with the look of the twisted thick boat rope that wrapped around the outside to points on towers that resembled shells. It was shut the day we went but from pictures Iâ€™ve seen, the inside is very tall, wide and detailed.
We next visited the Tower of Discoveries which symbolises Portugal history of discovering the world by sea. It has a lift that takes you to the top for a view out on to the river Tagus. The tower has a number of intricately detailed men running up both sides of it. A number of the men historically famous or are carrying and object which symbolises certain other aspects of Portugalâ€™s history. E.g. One of the men is carrying a big sheet of paper which symbolises Portuguese Poetry history.
After that we went to the Belem Tower that was more of a little castle on the riverside than a tower but I guess you could say it had a little tower in it 🙂 It was built in the 14th century. It has vaulted rooms, dungeons and rooms from canons and other weaponry. Obviously no longer used today.
Next was a little pastry and cake shop that is more than a hundred years olds which specialises in the delicious tasting Portuguese tarts. If you ever see one of these in a coffee shop, give it a go. Rach loves them 🙂 They are available in nearly every coffee and pastry shop here in Lisbon. Rach and I had a few during our time. Yummy.
We parted with our aunty and organised to meet up later that night with herself and her boyfriend Roscha for dinner and to see the Saint Antonio street parades together. We had arrived in Lisbon when two public holidays were on. Lots of Lisbon streets had parties or festivals organised during the nights. Many streets or squares had live music and served barbequed food. On our first night out for dinner, we popped out of the metro station and there were heaps of people and we could hear loud live music. From behind a street corner out popped a seven metre tall wooden tower with a bunch of men on the tower playing live music and singing. The tower even had loud speakers. Underneath the tower was a whole group of men bouncing it up and down to the music and moving it from street to street. Theyâ€™d stop half way through a song, get the crowd involved and then continue the song or cut straight to another song. There were heaps of people around it, getting into it and following it from street to street. It was unlike anything either of us had seen before.
The street parade is a long standing tradition in which many of the streets of Lisbon enter in group of people to represent their street. Itâ€™s a competition on which street can put the best show together. There is a main area surrounded by masses of people in stadium style seating, which is where each entry performs their show. They all danced to music with costumes and anything you can imagine to make their show a spectacle. Lots had horse drawn carriages, big brass bands and various bits and pieces. After their display, they then walked along a number streets lined with thousands of people. The parade is so popular that it is broadcasted in Portuguese TV.
The day ended at that and we farewelled my aunty. We had a blast and many laughs with my aunty and her boyfriend. I hope to see them again while Iâ€™m over here.