Who doesn’t love a free Christmas village and market? Well, if you don’t…stop reading.
My family loves these things. Cheesy Christmas music. Decorations galore. The Portuguese really embrace the holidays. The markets are full of roasted chestnuts, which sound great in theory, but in reality they taste like ass. Plus, my favorite drink, Ginja. This is a sweet cherry liqueur served in an edible chocolate cup for €1 per shot. I discovered these last Christmas and life hasn’t been the same since. Liquid gold, my friends.
The one element of these markets that throw us all off are the creepy elves and characters that loom around every corner. Like the elf in the picture below…just chilling in a tree. Pippa was terrified.
Or these creeps at the entrance….
It is always a mixed collection of odd characters. A psycho snowman, a weird fairy or my personal favorite, the cross dressing Santa’s helper. One of these people expressed an intense interest in my priest. She had a painted on mustache and a crazy wig and told my priest that he was very handsome. I promptly said that he was available and that they would make a good couple. The elf said that she was interested while speaking in a bizarre, fake male voice. My priest just laughed in that “this is awkward and I want to disappear” kind of way. My youngest daughter told the elf to back off because her dad was taken. The elf wandered off and tried to pick up another dad. Not the encounter you would expect at a Christmas fair, but it is one I have begun to enjoy. Maybe…a little too much. I am trying to squeeze in at least two more markets this season. You can’t buy for this type of comedy/torture.
It has been many years since we lived in a place where snow was even a possibility. Christmas for my family is usually mildly chilly at best. Here in Portugal, it might get as cold as the mid-50’s at night, but during the day when the sun is shining, it can feel like the low 70’s. While most of Europe is covered with yucky, gray skies in the winter, we always seem to get at least some sun daily. Apparently, Lisbon is the sunniest capital in Europe with 2799 hours of sunshine annually.
This year Lisbon was listed as one of the best cities to visit at Christmas. The lights are spectacular. Decorations are everywhere. There are endless Christmas festivals. The one thing I can’t understand is why all of these festivals include snow activities. Ice skating on fake plastic rinks because it is not cold enough to have ice. Plus, fake tobogganing down hills of white plastic. Fake snow falling from light posts, which is really just bubbles. My daughters love these snow activities. They always ask me why I hated living in the snow. I really did hate living in Toronto in the winter. I hated snow gear. I hated ice. I hated all of it.
Now my children think that these fake snow activities are just like the real things. They think sliding down plastic hills is awesome. They don’t understand that there is no cold weather gear needed for this. They can do it endlessly without getting frozen. They don’t get wet. They don’t have to take off 5 layers of clothing just to go the bathroom. This fake winter wonderland is tricking my kids. They dream of living in the snow. I am considering shipping them off to spend one winter in Toronto. I bet our endless blue skies and beach days in the winter might look pretty good then….I hope.