Tag Archives: Lisbon

Busted at the opera.

My priest was given tickets to the opera.  When we were first married we had season tickets to the Toronto Opera.  We enjoyed our date nights, but that was a million years ago and before we had two kids.  Now a date night usually consists of a date afternoon where we grab a quick coffee and some yummy Portuguese treats.

Last night, we got dressed up.  My daughters did my make up, so I looked like a common prostitute, but I went out like that anyway because they were so happy with their work.  My priest look adorable, but Pippa put so much cologne on him that you could smell him from several kilometers away.

We arrived at the Opera house in Lisbon, the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos.  It was built in 1793.   It is a small space.  It has seats for only 1150 people, with amazing acoustics.  We were there for Mozart’s “Idomeneo.”  Our seats were four rows back from the orchestra.  I had to take a few pictures.  Apparently, I was not allowed to, but there was no sign anywhere indicating this fact.  I got fully busted and yelled at by two ushers.  I snuck in a few more. The place was stunning…how could I not take pictures?

I guess you can dress us up, but we really shouldn’t leave home.  We seem to cause trouble, even without the kids.


We became hashers.

A friend has asked our family repeatedly to join his hash group.  For those of you who are not British, a hash group is a running and walking group.

Wikipedia defines a hash group as this:

The Hash House Harriers (abbreviated to HHH or H3) is an international group of non-competitive running social clubs. An event organized by a club is known as a hash, hash run or simply hashing, with participants calling themselves hashers or hares and hounds.

Our group met on Saturday.   Members of the group do not go by their given names, but rather by names given to them by other hashers.  It was like entering a crazy foreign land, while living in a crazy foreign land.  The “virgin” members are asked to identify themselves.  My youngest daughter was sure to tell the whole group that she was pretty sure her mother was not a virgin.  Thank you for that Pippa.

The instructions are given by the hare.  He is the member who organized the day’s adventure.  There are loads of markings placed on the trail.  They are made from chalk powder and some are meant to just screw your over.  You walk down a long trail, only to find out that you are meant to turn around.  The kids loved the deception and trickery.  Our hash was 6 kilometers.  We were wimps or walkers.  The runners or rambos had a 12 kilometer run.  Intense hill climbs were everywhere.

The team meets every fortnight and the Lisbon group is made up of people from all over the world.  At the end of the adventure, the virgins stand in the center of a circle made by older members.  We had to introduce ourselves.  Then we were given cups of beer.  The girls were given water.  We had to chug the beer while the hashers sang a song.  If the beer isn’t done by the time the song ends, it goes on your head.  I proudly out chugged my priest.  He looked like a chump.  It was glorious.  To our dismay, Pippa is a really good chugger.  I fear that she may be the life of the party at college.  Maggie, a little dorky like her dad, didn’t finish her water so she had it poured over her head.  All in good fun.

We have to go on 5 hashes and then we are named.  The group meets and comes up with less than flattering names that identify you for the rest of time.

I loved these hashers.  It reminded me of my days at Trinity College.  A little initiation, a little beer, crazy names and lots of laughter.  Do yourself a favor and see if your town has a hash club.  It feels good to belong.

Maggie’s perspective

Maggie loves to take pictures. She tries to call them Tumblr. She spends too much time looking for unique shots, but I must say I think she does do a pretty cool job.

You can see more of her cool pictures on Instagram: @magnificent_maggie32

Maggie’s new penny board on a cool Lisbon sidewalk.

Flowers for sale

Carousel ticket in Cascais

Stairs leading into the only vegetarian restaurant in our neighborhood.

Ferris wheel in Lisbon

Locked in an IKEA bathroom

So, we are checking out of the IKEA, just outside of Lisbon, and Maggie, my 11 year old, has to go the bathroom. My dad says that he will take her. Fine. Good plan. We wait in what seems like an endless line up; we check out. Next, we buy some treats at the Swedish food store and I finally realize that Maggie and my dad haven’t returned from the WC. Just as I go to look for them, Maggie comes running towards me. Her face is red. She had clearly been crying. My dad’s face was red. He had clearly been laughing.

Apparently, Maggie went in the stand alone wheelchair bathroom, actually called a ‘deficient bathroom’ in Portuguese. She locked the door and when she went to get out, she couldn’t. My dad was waiting at the door and he heard her screaming and then trying to kick the door down. He calmly, through his laughter, tried to coach her, but to no avail.  Panic had set in.  Security was called and the door was opened. That should be the end of the story, for a normal family. We are not a normal family.

Pippa and my mom decided they needed to go the bathroom too.  Maggie, mustering courage, said she would take them to the bathroom.  She took them to the same wheelchair bathroom.  Each one did their business and then Maggie tried to open the door.  Nothing.  Then Pippa tried.  Nothing.  Then my mom tried and she still couldn’t get it.  Meanwhile, my dad, brother and I are sitting on a bench very nearby.  My priest husband, had left to go to the customer service counter to deal with a discrepancy in our bill.

My dad, brother and I notice the door being kicked from the inside and we start to laugh.  Not the chuckle kind of laugh…the one that makes you stop breathing.  The gasping for air kind of laughter.   We hear Maggie yelling help, repeatedly.  Then we see this woman passing by…a Good Samaritan.   She puts her ear to the door.  We hear my mom say, that they are stuck.  I kid you not, by this time I was doubled over in laughter.

The Good Samaritan rushes away and still we hear the calls for help and the kicks at the door. My dad, through tears of laughter, asks me if I am going to help them.  The truth was, I couldn’t remember the last time anything made me laugh more, and I laugh often.  I had to watch the scene play out for longer.

Less than three minutes later, the Good Samaritan returns.  She tells them that she had contacted security.  My brother, who had to look away from the scene because he said he thought he would faint from laughter, just starting crying, “she contacted security.”  This was the end for us.  The thought of my mom and two daughters unable to open a European door and thus trapping themselves in the bathroom, brought me endless joy.

Then my priest joins us.  He sees us in laughter pain.  Tears streaming down our faces.  He wants in on the joke.  When I tell him, he is horrified that we didn’t try to help them.  I tell him that if he moves a muscle, I will kill him in his sleep.  This was pure gold.

Just then, the security guard shows up.  He knocks on the bathroom door and he opens the door up.  My mom and daughters emerge.  They look unimpressed.  They see us all laughing.  They all insist that the door would not open.  Some invisible lock must have been activated.  It wouldn’t budge.  In their defense, the security guard did mess with the door afterwards…doing what, I cannot say.  All I know for sure, is that today was a good day.  This will warm my heart for a long time to come.

Oceanarium of Lisbon

I am not a fan of zoos and I usually avoid places where animals are caged. Not really my thing. I do make an exception for aquariums. There is something so magical about watching mysterious aquatic life swim. I should say I also avoid aquariums with dolphins and of course whales…too majestic to see swimming in a tank.

All of that aside, everyone raves about the aquarium in Lisbon. It is said to be the largest in Europe and something to see.
We decided that since we would probably not get a chance to see it all in one visit, we got an annual pass. This is a terrific deal if you intend on going more than once.
It was €65 for a family of four for the year.

Upon entering the oceanarium,  you see a gigantic display of fish, rays and sharks. This tank follows you everywhere. There are different views into the tank from a million vantages. It is stunning and worth a trip just to see it. Artists sit and sketch the residents of the tank. Kids dance in front of a captive audience. It is a spectacular display of diverse aquatic life.

My youngest daughter loved the penguin exhibit. It is an open room with small icebergs sticking out. You can get so close to the penguins and you can easily watch them waddle around, as well as dive and swim. The tank they dive into is visible from the level below. You can see them play in the water and swim at dizzying speeds.

There is so much to do and see. Excellent interactive zone for kids as well. This is the perfect spot to take a break from touring around Lisbon…whether it is a cold and rainy  day, or it is too hot outside and you need a heat break…visit this lovely spot. You won’t regret it.





Surfer 🏄

Pippa has decided that she is going to be a surfer.  Surfing is extremely popular in the Lisbon area.  I had never seen a European surfer dude until we moved here.  Picture a California surfer dude, now picture the same attitude and hair cut in spiffy European clothing.  Pretty sweet combination.

After watching surfers for weeks, she asked us to buy her a wet suit.  We did.  Now, I had to break it to her that she had no board and in fact has only used a boogie board in the past.  She said it didn’t matter.  She was determined to just get wet and feel the waves.  She really is a nut job.

She seemed to enjoy the cold Atlantic Ocean in December.  Point of fact, there are no sharks here.  The water is too cold apparently.  This information has encouraged Pippa in her new pursuit.  Keep you posted.


Rainbows Everywhere

It rains here.  Not a lot, so far, but enough big storms that produce dark skies and then immediately following…rainbows.  The kids run outside to track down the rainbows whenever we have a storm.  Spectacular.

I am told to try and capture the rainbows constantly…nothing can capture their beauty over the tile roofs with Lisbon or the Atlantic Ocean as the back drop.  Just make sure to get here to see them yourself.  You won’t be disappointed.