Lisbon, Portugal, Monday December 4, 2016

Today is my last full day in Europe. Tomorrow I will catch the first subway train to the airport at 6:30 am, and I might not get tomorrow’s blog post up until I reach Phoenix. There is “free” WiFi at the Lisbon Airport, but signing on involves answering a complex set of questions and agreeing to a long list of conditions that might include giving away your first born for all I can understand of it.

I had a nutritious Portuguese supper last night, potato chips and beer. At least both were Portuguese. I bought the beer at a little store, because it cost only 50 European cents (about 52 cents US) a bottle. It’s the best-tasting beer I have had in Portugal, and it’s much cheaper than the beer in the nearby large “discount” supermarket.

Today it is not supposed to rain. I am looking forward to beautiful weather on my last day in Europe. Yesterday morning it was still raining, windy, and very chilly, but before noon the rain stopped and gradually the clouds began to clear. Here is a picture of what Lisbon looked like yesterday around 10:30 am just after the rain stopped.

img_0480

For contrast, the picture below shows Lisbon in the later afternoon. What a difference! I was walking back to the hostel when I snapped the picture, and I was warm enough in the sun to have to take my jacket off and tie it around my waist. Some machos were even walking around in short-sleeved T-shirts, and the few people loco enough to engage in the sport of running were in shorts. (I see very few runners and cyclists in Portugal.)

img_0488

I have been told by locals that Lisbon is brightly decorated for the holiday season, but I’ll be darned if I could find many decorations. I did find this one unobtrusively suspended above a nearby street. It appears to be made of neon tubes so that it could be illuminated, but there were no electrical wires running out to it. Maybe the electricity supply comes later. I wonder how many times I have passed it without noticing that it was there.

It reads “Boas Festas, Junta Frequesia São Vicente” or “Happy Holidays, Parish Council of Saint Vincent.”

img_0482

To me, Christmas decorations involve blinding, flashing lights, a crib with the Baby Jesus lying in it and all kinds of plaster goats, sheep, and camels standing around. Oh, and a few kings need to be tossed into the scene, too.

Below is a picture of a small cargo ship anchored in the bay. It is floating high in the water, so it must be empty and waiting to come alongside the quay to take on cargo. The ship appears tiny compared to the massive cruise liners that dock here in Lisbon.

Notice how choppy the water is. The wind was still blowing briskly at the time I was walking near the quay.

img_0484

The reason I took the following picture is because I liked the appearance of the building in the center on top of the bluff. It is covered in colorful ceramic tiles as are many buildings here in Lisbon. I find some buildings here in Lisbon quite beautiful

img_0485

I took the following picture from inside a ferry terminal from which boats leave at half-hour intervals to carry foot passengers across the bay. I was too cheap to buy a ticket, so I couldn’t get into the departure lounge and close to the window to get a decent shot of the ferry that is approaching from the opposite shore.

The ferry made a left turn after I took the picture and pulled up broadside to the quay. As the passengers who had sailed from the other side got off, the boat was rolling fairly heavily in the choppy water. The passenger ramp was fastened to the boat, so the ramp moved up and down as the boat rolled side to side. I wonder that the passengers stepping ashore weren’t seasick.

img_0486

The following sign is on display at a shop not far from the hostel. Organic beer? I have a high tolerance for yuppiedom, but organic beer is just taking things a bit too far. My coal miner father would never have drunk organic beer. If it had been available, anyone who ordered it would have been laughed out of the Appalachian Mountain barroom in South Fork, Pennsylvania.

Naturally, if  you’re selling something as highfalutin as organic beer on the European continent, you have to advertise it in English, the language of the elites. If I were selling organic beer in the USA, I’d probably advertise it in French.

img_0490

Finally, here is my favorite European parking technique. If there are no legal parking spaces available, just drive your car up onto the sidewalk. If you create a problem for pedestrians, it’s not your concern. After all, the word “pedestrian” carries a connotation of ordinary, not quite as high on the pecking order as people who drive a car. For example, pedestrians are unlikely to drink organic beer.

In the defense of the good people of Lisbon, I should add that I’ve seen this type of behavior much more frequently in northern countries such as Germany than I have here in the south. In fact, Lisbon residents tend to be very considerate of others, a behavior that is not common in most other great cities of the world.

img_0491

Now, let’s see if I can stay out of jail in Lisbon today so that I can catch my plane back to Phoenix tomorrow morning  without being deported in handcuffs.