Lagos to Coimbra – adventures in traveling

Today two things of real note happened to me: one brilliant and the other, well, if I don´t have food poisoning tomorrow then it will have worked out okay.  First off, if anyone looked up where Coimbra was and discovered it was in Central Portugal, or better yet just knew where it was, you get 10 pts in my new travel adventure game.  Second, if you had to look up where Portugal was, you lose 20 points.

So the train trip from Lagos to Comibra took approximately 6 or 7 hours which didn´t seem to bad considering my seatmate for the first 3/4.  Apparently when you buy a ticket you are automatically assigned a seat, makes sense right? Well, since I do not read Portuguese I did not pick up on this and thought it was a free for all seat finding experience.  So when I got on the train I just picked a good looking seat.  Unfortunately it turned out that I was sitting in this older gentleman´s seat, and he did not speak a word of English.  I offered to move but he gestured that it was okay and that I shouldn´t bother moving since there were tons of seats available.  At least I think that´s what he meant.  So he sat beside me on the train and pointed out where the seat number on the ticket was and where they were labeled on the train. Very helpful.

Now the reason that this was a delightful experience for me was every once in awhile he would try talking to me.  You could tell all he wanted was to have a chat the whole time but was frustrated that I didn´t understand.  Now this doesn´t sound all that magical but I have to say I enjoyed the gesturing and the slow talking immensely.  We bonded over my not knowing the right seat to sit in several times, actually he laughed at me and I chuckled because what else could I do?  And I shared some of my Easter candy with him; I think he enjoyed it.  Finally we conversed about the weather.  That’s right, even with a language barrier I still managed to make small talk with an old man about the weather.

I decided tonight that I wasn’t going to try and hunt down a supermarket in the middle of the rain (that’s right it’s raining again! I think my whole trip is going to be plagued by rain!) so I ate out at a Portuguese restaurant.  Unfortunately, unlike in Lisbon and Lagos, people here aren’t as fluent in English.  None of the waiters spoke a word and the whole menu was in Portuguese.  That was fine as I was able to figure out where the house specialty section was, and where the meat section was, and that the main type of meat was beef.  However, I was unable to even hazard a guess at what the particulars of the meal were.  No idea what it came with or how it was prepared but I was willing  to take my chances.  That may have been a mistake.

When my meal came, it was beef alright.  Beef surrounded in a gravy like substance with a piece of processed meat on top and on top of that was an egg, sunny-side up.  On the side was French Fries.  I had previously decided that I wasn’t going to eat French Fries for like a year as I had them so much in Scotland (with every meal pretty much) but since they were there I wasn’t going to let them go uneaten.  As I cut into my beef concoction, I realized that the beef was pretty rare which, as I like my steak medium to well done, made it a little hard to swallow.  And there was this stringy white bit which at first I thought was part of the egg but turned out to be cheese in the middle of this unorthodox sandwich.  The meal wasn’t bad but I will be super happy if I don’t end up with some food related sickness! That will make it a good day! Especially since I’m pretty sure the sandwich I had at lunch from the train station which I also picked at random was crab … I think.

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April 16, 2008. Portugal.

2 Comments

  1. Suzanne replied:

    Bahahahaha I love it!

    Sounds like a real “Amanda Adventure”!

  2. Tracey replied:

    Ew.

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