Sunday, July 3, 2011

Arriving in Portugal

Two weeks ago today, I arrived in Portugal.  The flight got in to Lisbon at 6 a.m.  and dawn was just breaking as we landed.  When I got off the plane, I immediately went to the washroom to use the facilities and brush my teeth, wishing I could take a shower to wash off that "I've been in an airplane for too long" feeling.  Imagine my surprise to come out of the washroom to find myself as the very last person behind hundreds in the customs lineup - yikes!  The lineup to go through passport control moved incredibly slowly, as there were only two customs officials working at that early hour, it took about an hour and a half to get through, during which time I had time for an extensive chat with a lovely man and his teenage daughter standing in front of me.  They were travelling from Florida to Norway by way of Newark and Lisbon - sadly, no contact info was exchanged so I will probably never see either of them again but it certainly helped to pass the time in a very pleasant manner. 

By the time I was finished, I had to go searching for my luggage, as the baggage carousels had long since been updated to reflect more recent flight numbers.  Once I found my bag, I headed outside and took a taxi to Estoril, about a half hour drive away.  When I arrived at Margarida's place, she showed me around the apartment I would be sharing with four other women and then left me to my own devices.  As none of my other roommates had arrived yet, I had breakfast, followed by a leisurely nap and a shower, and then headed out to explore the neighbourhood.

I walked down to the beach and then strolled back, enjoying the sun and warm temperature (which was 28 degrees Celsius, according to the Hello Kitty sign on the nearby casino grounds - whaaat???) and taking photos.

That evening, we all met in the garden of Margarida's place, having arrived from our various origins.  Everyone starting chatting and getting to know one another right away, enjoying a sampling of "tawny" port wine and several delicious snacks provided for us by our hostess and her husband Paolo. 

The conversation seemed to flow effortlessly and we all made fast friends.  Margarida had set up an party game for us where we had to answer trivia questions about Portugal, the questions were posted on trees and branches scattered about the garden.  I answered the most correctly and won a hand embroidered apron.  As the lucky winner, I also had to wear a blue wig, carry a large wooden spoon and a plate of styrofoam food.  Not exactly sure why?! :)

Next on the agenda was a lesson in ceramic tile painting.  We all headed downstairs where a room had been set up for us to paint the tiles.  The traditional colours are blue on white tiles and we were encouraged to stick with that format.  I chose a cat stencil for my tile.  We took them in to a tile factory the next morning to be fired and got them back later in the week, here's how mine turned out:

By the time we were done painting the tiles, it was quite late in the evening and we were all tuckered out.  Time for bed, so we would be rested to start the workshop with Teesha and Tracy bright and early the next morning!

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