Total Pageviews

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Lisbon, Portugal

After a busy few months of visitors, travel and a typical chaotic school year coming to an end, I am finally getting around to blogging about some of the travels I have done in the past two months.

In early April my school sent me to Lisbon, Portugal for three nights to take part in an IB (International Baccalaureate) workshop. The workshop was hosted in a beautiful hotel not far from the city center. I spent three days working with and learning from other international teachers and admin from around the globe. Our workshop was quite small with only eleven participants. This allowed us to get to know each other a little better.

Each day after being truly engaged and inspired by other international educators, we set off to explore the city and taste some local cuisines. My first night out was with a group of interesting people who work at International schools throughout the world (Qatar, Russia, Lebanon, Croatia, Switzerland, Azerbaijan, etc). After what seemed like a never ending walk through the city, around winding roads and up many hills, we finally arrived at the restaurant someone had suggested. I couldn't wait to try some Portuguese seafood - something I had been drooling over since I found out I would be going to Portugal.

The long walk through the city had really made me build up an appetite. I could smell the delicious aroma as we entered the blue mosaic tiled building. A quick glance at the buffet and a sudden odd sensation hit me. Something wasn't right. Something was missing. It suddenly all hit me like a crashing wave into my heart (and stomach). "Where's the meat? WHERE...IS...THE...MEAT?"

Side note: Lisbon is known as the city of seven hills. Legend has it that a serpeant Goddess awaited for her love to return from sea. When he never returned she felt betrayed and slammed her tail against the ground creating a ripple through the city and thus creating seven large hills.

We had spent the last three hours (okay, maybe thirty minutes) walking up hill to eat some vegetables...???  This did not sit well with me. I tried to be polite and calm and agreed with everyone when they all boasted about how delicious everything looked, but in my heart I truly longed for some lobster and mussels.

I told myself I could do this. I've dove with sharks, played with grown tigers, and even drank whiskey with a dead cobra in it. Surely I could have one meal that was made up purely of...vegetables. Thankfully the presentation of the food was beautiful. This was point number one for the veggie restaurant. Point two came in a tall bottle of white wine. After letting go of the fact that this would not be the seafood meal that I had so been looking forward to, I decided to dive in and try a little bit of everything. 

Something that amazes me during each and every trip that I take is how much I love all food. Sure, I love meat more than vegetables, but through my travels, my taste buds have adapted and matured and I really do love almost everything. When I left home five years ago I was still very much a Kraft Dinner and chicken nuggets type of gal. The idea of plain white rice scared me. Now I crave exotic dishes and after my first truly vegetarian experience, I have realized it's something I'll do again (without such heartache). This truly is one of the best parts of traveling - meeting new people who get you to try new experiences. Thanks to my new friend for suggesting this restaurant!

Having supper with an international crew was really entertaining. We compared the difficulties we face in teaching internationally, swapped travel horror stories, and shared what some of our best moments abroad have been. It was great to be sitting at a table with such like minded people.

After another couple of days of workshops and some extremely decadent lunches provided by the hotel, we managed to squeeze in a bit more sight seeing. We headed to the Old City and enjoyed dinner and sangria at a traditional Portuguese restaurant, where I finally had my seafood - a traditional cod and cream Portuguese dish. We had more drinks at Hard Rock, made a quick stop at the city beach, used the 'world's sexiest toilet' (you get to choose any colour of toilet paper you like), we took a 'Hippo' boat/land tour where we saw the monument of the discoveries, monument to Christ statue, Belem Castle and the famous Belem tart bakery - Café Pastéis de Belém (with incredibly delicious custard tarts!).

After a whirlwind three days in Lisbon and new contacts made from around the Globe - including new friends I plan to visit in Qatar, it was time to pack up and leave this beautiful and vibrant city behind. Lisbon was a city I could easily see myself visiting again or even living in for a short time. There is a ton of green space, live music everywhere, and everything is so colourful and alive. I will definitely be back someday!

Check back soon to read about my European road trip through seven countries with my parents and friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment