August 30, 2005


Can't really belive it's more than a month since i'm living in Lisboa. Time passed so quickly as if i had got here yesterday.

I could say that enough time passed for me to catch a glimpse of life in Portugal.
There are a lot of similarities between the Romanian and Portuguese cultures, way of being and life in general. But one of the most distinct differences is that people in portugal are a less stressed than back home, most probably because of the higher life standard. And the less stress you have, the calmer you take life in all it's aspects. Work begins here at around 10 in the morning. Perfect hour if u ask me, because I hate to get up early in the morning. It finishes late in the evening as late as 8 sometimes, but during that time there's the lunch break of one hour or so, and many other coffee brakes. And actually it's good mostly in the summer, staying in the cool, air conditioned office.
Most of the homes don't have air conditioned and in some hot days it gets difficult to live even at night. But this past month has been rather cool, rarely temperatures over 30 degrees. One saturday night i went with Marko, a colleague trainee at my company, from Slovenia, to other trainees' house for a barbecue which was really great. The house had a nice terace where they had the grill and a table with drinks. But it was sooo, cold, in the middle of july I could have sworn it was october. There were a lot of brazilians there, really friendly party people.

Another weekend I went in Alentejo region with Orlin, a trainee from Turkey, having bulgarian and turkish citizenship. His boss at the company he works for took us there. She's Chantal, a former aiesec-er from Canada, in her 40s, living in Portugal for 10 years. Really great person. She was such a young person, unlike most of the people her age, she seemed up to date with all the stuff, and had such a natural approach towards us, I mean not treating us like kids, or with a certain superiority as most older people do.
The beach is called praia do Malhau, a wonderfull portion of impecable sand betweend two cliffs entering into the ocean. Agua de un meravilhoso azul, and pure white foam of the waves stretching for a good couple of meteres on the wide beach, due to the noticeable tide of the Atlantic... it was almost surreal. There are such great places all over the shore of Portugal.

And the Alentejo region was incredibly pitoresque. Small fisherman villages or little port towns with carefully white painted houses with blue stripes at the bottom and windows, like in some disney cartoon. And distinctive chimneys all over the rooftops. This region was well preserved in front of the foreign tourist invasion, because most of them go further south in Algarve. Mostly portuguese people spend their holidays or 'feiras' here, and I understand why. It's so peacefull and calm. Vila Nova de Milfontes is one of these small towns of Alentejo. It's where a river (don't know it's name, but will update when i find out) meets the ocean, and it has a really beautiful medieval castle on the river's bank, with the moat and all. Too bad it was dry, and the crocodiles probably died a long while ago :p
Along the narrow streets of the town you would find a beautiful white church with a distinctive entrance, also typical to the region's architecture. In a roundup, I would say the whole town looked like a small pearl, so simple and yet so beautiful.

August 19, 2005

The IRW in Tavira

Last weekend I was with the trainees in Tavira, on the south coast of Portugal, in the Algarve region. It was a really nice weekend although there was enough place for it to be better.
We left on friday evening with two cars passing through the nice Alentejo region, where I was introduced to the traditional local food which is similar to Transylvanian food. It was a very heavy dish for dinner, with boiled pork parts(like in 'racitura') and fat sausages, blood sausages and boiled cabbage. Also a lot of different types of honey displayed all over the restaurants in nicely decorated pots and jars.

We got to Tavira at 3am and had a water taxi(that was new for me) to the island where we would spend the weekend. Nice thing with having water taxi. I thought we were going to stay on the docks until the morning. So, we finally got to the beach, pitch dark, no moon that night. On phone lights we managed to get some blankets and sleeping bags(I didn't have one the first night) and we slept on the beach. It was really nice, the sand, the sound of the waves and the stars. Maybe a bit cold in the blankets that I had. In the morning I realised that the sand wasn't as clean as I thought with lots of cigar leftovers and other plastic coverings and all.
Saturday at noon the other aiesec-ers showed up. There was only one other trainee, Elif from Turkey, that wasn't from Lisboa, and that we didn't know...She has her traineeship in a small town near Porto where I heard nothing really happends and also she has no ppl to hang out with. Now that is pretty sad. We invited her to pass by Lisboa in the weekends.

The beach was really nice, and the ocean surprinsingly warm. Probably because of the mediterranean influence and the fact that it was more south. During midday it was too hot though. The island, more like a sandstripe between the lake and the ocean, was nice, a couple of bars and restaurants, nothing fancy, fit the picture perfectly. And a camping where we were supposed to stay, but had no more room :(. So for the second evening we remained at the same spot. This time i got a sleeping bad fortunately enough, because I kinda' fell asleep on one of the greek's towels and they were kind enough to suggest a better place :p. So I kinda mixed drinks that night. Started with a nice sangria then cachasa, beer.

We had dinner at one of the restaurants on the island. Really great, I had grilled fish which was really tasty. Went perfectly with the sangria. Not much aiesec activities though, actually nothing really that would remind me of the stuff going on back home. It was good that there were no conferences, boring meetings and all, but maybe some planned activities would have been nice.

The second day was also nice, but the salt which was all over me(especially in the hair) and the lack of showers, the heat and all, made it a bit less exciting than the previous day. Not to mention that at lunch we had to wait for 3 hours for the damn chicken or 'frango' which in the end wasn't even all chicken 'cause the waiter missunderstood 40 dishes with 14.

That evening we came back to Lisboa, just in time for the U2 concert which started at 10 in the evening :((. I didn't go because I really didn't have 250E to pay for the streetprice of the ticket