Monday, November 20, 2006

Guide to Unforgettable POORTUGAL I

Benvindo/a. Welcome. Willcommen. Bienvenu. Bienarivato/a. Konishiua. Bienvenido/a.

One thing I learned during my traveling abroad, is how well regarded Portuguese people are in the world, when it comes to hospitality.
They really make a genuine effort to please pasty tourists (and especially their wives), and go that extra mile to empty their wallets, to make sure their stay is truly unforgettable...

As part of the warm welcoming reception at our International airports, your passport will be checked by a typically mustached police officer, while he grunts something imperceptible, possibly a bribe request - your first local words!

Then, unless you are a single woman from Brazilian or Eastern-European origin, you will walk away undisturbed, just in time to be ripped off by the Taxi driver awaiting you – that is, if you don’t mind waiting hours for the odd bus not on strike, since most of our airports are not served by Train or Underground, am afraid.
Nine out of ten times, the driver will let you off at the right address, though (they are definitely more reliable than in other parts of the Med) - the one that will not, probably didn’t understand the address in the first place, so you should never rely on the old “they all speak English, down there”…

Unlike other tourist destinations, you can be sure that the 4**** hotel you booked will look exactly like in the description, and they usually provide quite a good service too, being Call-girl friendly.

The hotel may not look run-down, but the neighborhood usually does – one word of advice: whatever you do, NEVER run - our cobblestone pavements are death-traps – in the very least, you risk a broken heal or a sprang muscle – and you do NOT want to see the inside of a Poortuguese Hospital, trust me…

If you plan to rent a car and do some driving, be prepared to get lost frequently, either in the cities or in the country. The road signing is often conflicting or inexistent. On the other hand, if you find yourself lost in the sticks, or crashed against a large ruminant (beware of cows, and especially of bois a.k.a touros (bulls) around quaint sleepy towns), there is always a flee-infested stack of hay where you can spend the night (beware of the ruminant’s owner, though).

The countryside will often be monotonous, just like this guide to Poortugal, and you will believe you are in Australia, as Eucalyptus trees are all you seem to see. However, instead of Aussies, you’ll meet Alentejanos (laidback Portuguese Southerners) and instead of Roos, we have roaches.

Mind you, this is just a fictional account of what could go wrong on a trip to Portugal. I totally endorse Tourism in this country and recommend it to all foreigners, who don’t know better…
It’s a lovely country indeed.

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