I’m back from Europe! (Part 2)

I was overly tired that first day at the conference, but the presentations were interesting and I quickly made a friend. So all was good with the world again. Making friends off the bat is not common for me, I tend to stick to myself, but as luck would have it, I sat next to the only other Hispanic attendee at the conference, and we quickly became inseparable. I also met other women there I clicked with as well, and we ended up going out all three nights after the conference, to eat, drink and be marry. I kid, kind of anyway.

So yes, I saw some of Lisbon aside from the conference rooms at the hotel, but all of it at night, after 6pm. I took some photos and posted them onto FB, so if you would like to see them head over there to take a look. I didn’t take my “good” camera, so these are all iPhone photos, but I think they will do fine.

Lisbon is a picturesque city. It has a very strong Latin feel to it. In fact, driving into the city from the airport, parts of the scenery reminded me of Puerto Rico, where I went to for the fist time last October. My new friend is originally from Pto Rico, although she now lives in the UK, and she agreed that the cities did bare a resemblance. There seems to be overt poverty in Lisbon. Buildings need maintenance, people hang their clothes out to dry on their balconies, and there are quite a few beggars on the streets. It’s pretty, in a cute, old, historic kind of way. But I found it a bit annoying to be paying European prices for third world service. Do you know what I mean?

When one goes to Latin America or any other under developed or third world (not sure what the PC term is these days) country, one expects service that is not necessarily top notch, one expects a little dirt here and there, poverty, and people trying to take advantage of you because, well, they are poor and think they’re being smart. So it’s kind of ok, or at least you are on the look-out for it, expecting it. But when one thinks of visiting Europe, one thinks of impressive art, architecture, grandness, and random things just taking your breath away, at least I do, from the other places I have visited. Lisbon did not take my breath away, in fact I didn’t find it beautiful. Charming yes, beautiful no. So to have to pay the same prices for lodging, transportation, and food I payed two years ago in Prague kinda ticked me off. Granted, ever since the incident with that student a week ago (I’ll vent about that later) I have been easily ticked-off, but still, I expected more.

The conference though, lived up to my expectations and more. By listening to the different papers on spirituality, from speakers from very different countries and disciplines, I found it possible to reconnect myself with why I like studying and researching in this area. And because, well it is spirituality, it helped me get into a better frame of mind regarding teaching, my students and everything I’ve been going through work-wise these days. I managed to get a different perspective on things, and I realized it was exactly what I had been needing. So I am glad I didn’t cancel it, because after the snow storm and all the cancellations and rerouting, I seriously considered if the trip was worth it at all. But it was, and now I’m back, and I’m thrown full force into it again and tackling week 10 of 11 with fury!

One experience we did have in Lisbon, which I highly recommend, was going out to dinner at a restaurant in which they had live Fado music. The event was epic, and I say that in a good way. It was a tiny restaurant and all tables were full. We had made reservations and got there early so we got center stage, our table was right there, next to the guitar players, who were really great. One played the classical guitar, while the other played the Portuguese guitar, quite a beautiful instrument. And then came out the singers, two women and a man. They took turns singing two or three songs at a time. There were three sets while we were there, and during the last one, the waiter sang, the doorman sang, and even the granny who was in the kitchen, I’m assuming cooking, also came out to sing. It was a little surreal. At one point they did a kind of operetta, one would sing, the next would follow, and then another person. At some point there were 5 people singing, bouncing off of each other, and ended the song in unison. It was grand, well worth the trot over.

The food was good too. A lot of prosciutto, pork, and fish. And pastries, OMG the pastries! The food at the conference was delicious. We were offered both breakfast and lunch, as well as two coffee/tea/snacks breaks during the morning and afternoon. The cheeses, lord, the cheeses, they reminded me of Venezuelan cheese. I over indulged. So yeah, it was overall a really good trip. The traveling part, not so great, but it’s Europe, it’s far, what can we do? I’m glad I went and at this point I can honestly say obrigada Lisbon, obrigada!

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