(Jen): Thursday after our night practice our men’s team had a scrimmage so we all stayed and watched. It was a lot of fun just hanging out with our teammates. They shared a few stories of past American teammates. Suzanna, a younger girl on the team, told us about this American girl who loved to party. They described her as a dirty dancer and wild. They told us that in the club she would dance and sing, "man, man, man... I want man!". We lost it!! We could not stop laughing. After that, they started teaching us words in Portuguese and would write down sentences for us to learn. Portuguese is similar to Spanish in a lot of ways, but in a lot of ways it isn't. Some words and letters are really hard for us to pronounce. For example, every night for dinner we go to this restaurant and Franko, our waiter, says, "Bom dia. Peixe or carne?" Bom dia is pronounced: bone dee'ah. Peixe is pronounced: pay-sh. In English he is saying, "Good day. Fish or meat?" Tina hates fish so she always says carne. When they have salmon I like to order it, but usually I stick to carne, as well. We still don't understand how the side dishes work but every time we order carne we get a big plate of white rice and a big plate of french fries. (We have had french fries every day for 2 weeks!) Cherish Stringfield would be happy! :) When I order fish, I get broccoli. I need to learn how to say, "I want to eat healthy. Do you have any vegetables?"
This weekend we had a tournament in a town called Cascais. We don’t completely understand what the tournament is for, but we know that it’s a tournament of all the teams in the league. This weekend was the pool play part of the tournament, and it was organized geographically so that teams would not have to travel very far. Our first game was against the national champions from last year, Quinta dos Lombos. They have an American player and a Croatian player. Tina and I were really excited to play because it has been a long time since we have played an official game. As a team we had some nice plays and some sloppy moments, but we came out with the win. We have only been practicing for 2 weeks so we are still getting use to how everyone likes to play. It was a fun game, and it was nice to get a sense for the level of competition in this league.
(Tina): After our game on Friday, our coach told us that we could have Saturday off. Jen and I were planning on going and exploring downtown Lisbon. Our teammate, Sara, called us and said that she would spend the day in Lisbon with us, so Saturday morning we met at the gym.
The first place we went was to Belém (http://www.golisbon.com/sight-seeing/belem.html). It’s only about a 5 minute drive from the gym (maybe less). Belém is a very famous/historic place in Portugal because it was from here that many of the explorers set out on their voyages during the Age of Discovery. Anyways, we parked near the river (Tagus) and started walking. The first thing we saw was the Belém Tower (http://www.golisbon.com/sight-seeing/belem-tower.html). We didn’t go in the tower, but I think you can, so maybe that is something that we will do at some point. We were also pretty close to the bridge that looks like the Golden Gate Bridge (they call it the 25 of April bridge). Across the river, there is a statue that resembles the famous Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks Rio de Janeiro. It was built in 1959 in thanks to God for sparing Portugal during WWII.
From there, we walked across the street to the Jeronimos Monastery (http://www.golisbon.com/sight-seeing/jeronimos.html). The monastery was populated by monks of the Order of St. Jerome. Sara brought her dog with her (a Golden Retriever) for the first part of the day so she waited outside while Jen and I looked around at the monastery and the beautiful church. We tried to be quick since Sara was waiting for us so there is a lot that we didn’t see, but I’m sure we will go back. They have daily Mass, Rosary, and Vespers so once we figure out how to get there by bus or tram, we will probably go a lot. (One cool fact about the church is that Vasco de Gama, the famous Portuguese explorer, is buried inside).
We went back to the car at this point and drove a few minutes to a different place in Belém. It’s a famous pastry shop called Antiga Confeitaria de Belem. They are famous for a little round, pie-shaped pastry with a flaky crust and some kind of cream on the inside. I had seen these particular pastries in other bakeries around the city, but I learned that this shop is where the pastry was first created. We bought a couple of them and walked across the street to a park to eat them. We sprinkled cinnamon and powdered sugar on top. They were good. I usually don’t like pastries that have creamy fillings, but this was pretty good. It was fun to try a traditional/famous Portuguese dessert.
We walked back to the car and then drove to downtown Lisbon. We stopped by Sara’s house to drop off her dog. She drove us around pointing out some of the most notable monuments and landmarks – what a great tour guide :-) We parked and then walked to one of the main squares that overlooks the river. Then we walked down one of the most famous streets in Lisbon called Rua Augusta. It’s a great street for anyone who loves to shop. We walked for about an hour, just sort of wandering around.
At this point we were starting to get a little hungry so we went back to the car and drove to the more modern part of Lisbon. In 1998, Lisbon hosted some kind of world exposition. Countries from all over the world put something from their country on display. To prepare for this Expo, Lisbon built a whole bunch of arenas, offices, hotels, restaurants, etc. Once the Expo was over all of the new buildings remained so they just turned them into shopping centers, places for concerts, etc.
We found a restaurant near the river and had lunch there. (A quick note to European travelers: Don't assume that food or drinks placed on your table are free. Without us asking for any of it, the waitress brought bread, butter, crackers, spreads, and olives to our table. When we received our bill, we realized that we had been charged for each piece of bread, each container of butter, each cracker, etc. We should have known better, but since we were just recently in the U.S. we seem to have forgotten how things work over here!) After lunch we walked across the street to the Vasco de Gama shopping center. Jen wanted to get a caramel sundae and french fries from McDonald’s. Jen loves to take french fries and dip them in her sundae, and she wanted Sara to try it. Sara didn’t like it very much :-)
After that we drove back to our apartment and took naps! We woke up and went down to Algés for dinner. It was a really fun day, and it was great getting to finally explore the city a little bit. It was sooooo much easier being with someone who knows her way around so ‘Obrigada Sara!’ It was also great getting to know one of our teammates better. About 5 minutes after Sara picked us up from the gym, we were talking about something and found out that she is married! Haha…we had no idea. Her husband is currently in Russia working as a trainer for a soccer team. Anyways, it’s really nice being able to communicate with our teammates and learn more about them.
Today we woke up early. The U16 girls’ basketball team from our club had a game at 9:30 in the morning so Jen and I went to watch them play. Two of our teammates are the coaches of that team so it was fun to see them coach and to support another team from our club. After the game, we went to Mass at Cristo Rei. Since the parts of the Mass are always the same all around the world it’s easy to follow. Jen and I always get the readings for the day off of the EWTN website so that we can follow along in our Bible during the Liturgy of the Word. The one part of the Mass that we sometimes can’t understand is the homily, but today I actually understood what the priest was saying so that was exciting! I had to focus really, really hard, but I think I got the gist of it :-)
(Jen): We played our second game of the tournament this afternoon and won by 20 points. Next week is the final four of this tournament against the other teams who won their pools.
After the game, we went to dinner at the restaurant we eat at every night. Tonight was probably the worst meal we have had here. Franko brought us bread and water but did not ask us the usual question: “Peixe or carne?” We were just finishing the bread when he brought us out fried sardines and a mayonnaise salad (gag). Apparently, when you really love the food, the way that you show it is by touching your ear lobe with your thumb and pointer finger. Franko did this as he handed us our platters of food! Must be his specialty. I ate 6 sardines because I really don't mind fish and because I was trying to be polite, but we could not touch that mayo salad! Tina just quietly drank her water and licked up all her bread crumbs. I was getting sea sick from all my sardines when Franko came over with a sad face and said something about the mayo salad and the "peixe". I told him, "Tina likes carne and I like peixe and carne. Desculpe [desh-cool-peh] (I'm sorry)". So he took away the mayo salad and brought out rice and a pot roast!
After dinner, we went to the grocery store and bought some ice cream cones. (Mom, if you’re reading this, they taste just like the Skinny Cows from the 99 cent store). They are delicious! We also made some of the brownies that we brought from home – we are pretty much finishing up the whole pan of brownies as we type this blog! :-)
Well, we know this was a long blog, but we just wanted to let you know about our exciting weekend! God bless all of you!
Jen and Tina
Jen and Sara
Inside the church at the Jeronimos Monastery
At the monastery
In the park getting ready to try the famous pastries :-)
The Jeronimos Monastery
In front of the Tagus River
In front of the Tagus River with the 25th of April Bridge (the one that looks like the Golden Gate) behind us. Also, to the right of the bridge is the statue of Jesus that resembles the statue in Rio de Janeiro.
Jen thinking about her dog Barkley after meeting Vinny the English bulldog
In front of the entrance to Rua Augusta
The bank of the Holy Spirit - I don't know about you, but I want to bank here!
Jen giving some money to a little dog holding a bucket in his mouth
Taking a picture with a statue of the famous Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa