Let's Eat: Meals and Recipes,  Wanderlust: Travel Tales

Letter From Lisbon

We’re in Lisbon, Portugal, and so far I’ve learned a lot of Portuguese, which is a combination of many languages, so you can pretty much use all your French, Italian and Spanish and make yourself understood. It has actually been harder to learn to use the European keyboard on the computer here and this is the first day I have been able to form written contractions.

We were supposed to arrive Saturday but the snow in Newark nixed that plan. Lemonade out of lemons, of course, so we drove to Atlanta and toured the Coke factory and tasted 40 different kinds of drinks Coke sells around the world. All I have to say about that is that I am very sorry, Italy, for the bitter aperitif known as Beverly. I thought root beer was bad.

The Glamore family finally arrived in Portugal Monday. As always, our vacation has centered on food thus far. We ate lunch at a “snack bar” called Cafe Tigelinha where we managed to order and devour huge portions of salmon and veal. After naps for the three oldest, showers for all and a quick tour of the neighborhood (the Baixa), we went to the expensive but yummy Solar dos Presuntos.

Drew and Porter reached their limit energy-wise as soon as we were seated but woke to ravage a football sized spider crab, slept again at the table, then woke once more to gorge themselves on shrimp and lobster rice and cod fritters. At one point so many flakes of crab were flying about as legs were cracked and crab forks were used to excavate the tiniest morsels of meat that it looked like a small blizzard around our table. I’ve not yet had time to wash the sweaters and shirts we were wearing and I’m amazed we were able to navigate about town today without a pack of cats following hungrily behind us.

Although we were without cats, we were saddled with Finn’s attitude, which grows heavier by the day. Why have none of you mothers of boys told me that the line about boys being harder when they’re younger because of all the stitches, but easier when the hormones kick in, was a load of crap? I’ll be the brave one and tell it like it is– the penis doesn’t make anything easier except waiting on your boys to go to the bathroom.

Sulkiness aside, we had a marvelous day. We took the #15 bus to Belem (pronounced, for no apparent reason, “Ber lang”) and toured the Coach Museum (stage coaches, not Knute Rockne and Bear Bryant) and ate the famous pastries of Belem which are essentially creme brulee in a pie crust.

We also saw the Monastery dos Jeronimos where Vasco da Gama is buried. Drew thought we were going to see his actual bones,and was crestfallen when the marble tomb had no peephole where he could catch a glimpse of femur. We glanced at the Monument to the Discoveries (this was at the height of Finn’s mood) and proceeded to the Tower of Belem which was right on the water and had narrow spiral stairs up to the very top. Drew and Porter were thrilled with the Tower and had to be dragged out of it when it closed.

The Portuguese are extremely friendly and almost forward when it comes to the boys. A couple of people have stopped them to take their pictures, citing their blonde hair as especially beguiling. One older man paused on the street to zip Porter’s jacket higher–it’s much colder and windier than we had expected– and Porter was so shocked he stood still and submitted without complaint.

I have high hopes that Finn will return to his non-sulky self tomorrow, and that our exploration of the castle in the Alfama area will be exciting. We’ve also vowed not to leave without tasting barnacles, and we’ve seen them featured in a couple of restaurant windows. I’m going to google the proper procedure for eating them (as with crawfish, you must pinch off a certain body part and pull the meat from a particular orifice) so we’ll be prepared when the barnacles and the Glamores meet up.

25 Comments

  • Jessica

    I am glad to hear about the mood swings with your son. The moods seem to spoil the fun here at my house It is not fun with my twelve year old and he is very mean to his younger brother of 7. This might be a long spring break. I want to know when it ends. If anyone can help please do. Is there any pms medication for boys? Trip sounds very nice. I hope your boys appreciate it.

  • Ani

    I have to say, I absolutely love this blog, it’s a great read, but as a Portuguese person living in auckland, I have to point out that the description of portuguese as a “combination of many languages” is not entirely correct…

  • Karyn

    Dang, Glamore, you do have the most excellent adventures.

    If you mean to tell me that the mood fluctuations get worse – well. I want my money back because that was NOT in the brochure.

    Dang.

    Have fun, be safe, keep these posts coming…

  • baseballmom

    OMG, I was thinking that I was doing something to MAKE my 11 year old be so crabby and asshole-ish. Thank goodness for the others who are having the same problem, now I know I’m not the ‘bad guy’ that I seem to be lately. Also? I have to know, too…when does it END?!

  • Laura

    Well, well, you are just around 120 Kms from me.
    Thanks for the friendly “label”. Don’t forget to visit the “Oceanário (Oceanarium)” – http://www.oceanario.pt.
    And yes, the “Pasteis de Belem” are divine.
    Enjoy your visit. I’ll wait for some photos.

  • marie

    As a mother of 3 boys, ages 12, 15, 18, I can tell you it will get worse before it gets better. My friend (mother of 4 boys) told me that by the time they leave home for college, you are ready for them to be gone!

  • Dana

    Funny. I just recently posted an entry titled “Whoever said raising a teenage girl has never lived with an 11 year old boy”.

  • Karin B

    I don’t agree with some of these statements about boys. Both of mine have been great. When my older one left for college, I was not at all ready for it. I miss him so much. My teenager is very agreeable as long as he gets to bring his iPod on “boring” tours when we travel. Yes, some hormonal moodiness is expected, but it might be personality too. I have heard from tons of moms how difficult girls are.
    Anne, have a great time.

  • Leeny

    Finn’s moods aside, you sound like you’re having a wonderful time! You must post pics as soon as you can! Are you really going to try barnacles? I had no idea they were even edible.

  • Anne Glamore

    It would have been more correct for me to say that I’ve been able to make it around here in Lisbon with a mixture of Spanish, French, Italian, English and charades. I ROCK at charades!

    We’re cooking Portuguese in tonight, including BARNACLES!!

    I won’t be able to post pics til I get home, but they should be funny. Porter’s taken photos of every pigeon and piece of graffiti in Lisbon, too.

    AG

  • alala

    Portugal! Why, we’re practically neighbors! Well okay not really, but I was in Paris over the weekend, does that count?

    Let us know if you head toward Spain or Bavaria or Rome, my husband might know where Drew can see some people-pieces: St. Barbara’s tibia, a few finger bones of St. Isidor, that sort of thing. I’ve seen a fair few relics in the last few years, but I can never remember who, or where.

  • Lin Haraway

    Thing One was in the Newark airport for six hours Saturday, but he didn’t get to go directly to Atlanta after his flight was cancelled. He had to go back to school, sleep, piddle (supposedly he wa sstudying but i KNOW he was really piddling), back to the Newark airport,then to Milwaukee first. Yeah, Mil-friggin’-waukee.

    Portuguese is such a beautiful language. Oh, Thing One went to his senior prom with a girl from Lisbon (dad was teaching at UA for a year). Geez, will I SHUT UP about ThingOne?

    Have a great time eating more bizarre crustaceans and don’t worry about Finn. If all preteens and teens were as perfect as Karin B.’s, they’d never leave and you’d never have the house to yourself and forever underwear would decorate the finials of your lamps and you’d never get any grandchildren!!! Thing Two was moody all of middle school. Now it’s just between 6 and 10 AM.

    No offense, Karin. I love my boys, but I also love my space my way and more so with each passing year.

  • momumo

    Wll it’s been years and no one else seemed to be warning you… (so I could be wrong) but the most friendly portuguese I ran across when I lived there were the gypsies who had pegged me as American and wanted my money. Portuguese is beautiful, and while it is very much it’s own language, I too was able to muddle by with bits of other romance languages and charades until I learned it enough to get by.

    I had 6 brothers, and two sisters… that’s nine – we girls were definitely more awful… I have one boy, 14, yes he has been moody on and off… but NEVER did he compare with either of his sisters for the mood from hell that has no apparent cause. Boys are moody, but it’s boredom, or perceived torture, or unrealized expectations (I thought you said we were having pizza tonight) and it can change after some sleep or some junk food. Girls don’t even like themselves sometimes and have no clue why they feel so bitchy or sad or miserable and nothing can improve it.

  • Karin B

    We had a Portuguese exchange student stay at our house a few years ago. He explained to us that their language is actually closer to French than Spanish. The other time I heard the language spoken was in the movie “Love, Actually”.Toward the end of that movie Colin Firth’s character proposes ‘his girl’ in Portuguese on Christmas Eve in a cute bistro…a great scene…
    Looking back, my older son was difficult at around 11-12 when we forced him to go with us to see art etc..in major cities. At the time we found creative ways to handle it, like compare a group painting to his soccer team…(long story)..As he was about 13, he found a competitive sport and poured all his moodiness in that. That meant that our vacations became his sport events, but that too passed. Only five years later he was gone to college.

  • joanne

    I’ve had Beverly before. At Epcot (I know…) there is a Coke station where they have a wide variety of Cokes from around the world. It is kind of cool but Beverly is disgusting!

    I went to Japan when I was 12 which was awesome and cool, but I remember being weirded out by how the Japanese were about my then blonde hair. I had the same thing happen… pictures, random people touching it. As an introverted 12 year old it freaked me out.

  • Kelly

    after raising one of each, i’ve determined that preteen boys and girls are equally hormonal and unpredictable. The thing with boys is, they outgrow the hormone stage and have this special place for their mom – the girls always have a hormonal phase, once a month for eternity, and tend to have that my-mom-knows-nothing a lot longer. This too, shall pass, i’m saying.

  • Katrina

    Oh, I dearly love to travel, so I’ll make this comment short in hopes that my abject envy doesn’t come seeping out from between my words.

    Have a wonderful time!

  • Peeved Michelle

    I just watched some show on the Food Network where some guy eats weird stuff all over the world. He ate barnacles in Spain for the first time. He described it as tasting like the best shrimp you have ever tasted but that the texture was more like some sort of medical-grade gelatin. He nearly gagged on it due to the texture – and this from the man who had earlier sucked the brains out of a suckling pig. I will be interested to read how it went for you.