Friday, January 04, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #183] Lisbon, a New Year and an Old Leaf

OK, lots of little bits to cover here, so I won't dwell - you've all got places to go, people to see, gifts to return...

So, Lisbon! Schnookums and I arrived after an easy flight on Portugal's national carrier and plopped into a taxi for a €10 (€10!!!) ride to Bairro Alto, the old (and gay) area of Lisbon and found ourselves in the middle of an eminently agreeable, very nice, city. And this is the phrase that would come to describe the weekend and the city. Everything about Lisbon is nice - it's nicely compact, has nice buildings, nice and easy to be in, has nice shops, nice restaurants, nice gay bars - nothing dramatically amazing or dramatically disappointing about it. (However, the airport is shite - they make sure you are happy to leave by the time you get on the plane.) There are amazing things, but it just doesn't scream about them like other cities do; it's quite content to sit self-assuredly on its own and wait for people to realise all it has to offer.

The Portuguese survive on a strict diet of cigarettes and salt, preceded by always fantastic cheese and bread, upon which we gorged happily. The food was always good (if salty) and every time we said we wouldn't eat so much again next time, but of course we did. And the boys? Well, there wasn't the staggeringly overwhelming quantity of OM-MY-GOD as Madrid, but the ones who were hot were hawt. Assessment? Definitely add it to your list if you've not been yet. If you are a Southern European fan, you will simply adore it.

Happily, they enacted a smoking ban beginning on midnight 01 January, so later visitors will be allowed to keep their lungs.

But back to cold London. A new year, my third, has dawned here and I am looking forward to seeing what the year has in store. The year is starting off so dramatically different than last, and more changes are just poking around the corner. Against the new is a bit of old for me; most of you probably know I was a strict vegetarian for 15 years until three years ago. I didn't go off the diet for any dramatic reason, just I had lost any strong convictions I had about it and I had been a bit flummoxed from time to time on the outside of some social events.

Well, turns out I am not a very good carnivore; if you add up all the meat I've had in the last three years you'd have trouble getting a week's menu together. So, the long and short of it is, with 2008 I am back on the vegetarian diet. When it comes down to it, it really is just me. I am happy I didn't lie in the dogma, gave the "new" a shot, and have found where I am more comfortable. You are all welcome to mine for tofu green curry any time.

And two quickies - I sent my passport to the US Embassy to have more pages added! I am down to two squares, and I am off to Istanbul at the end of the month, for which you have to buy a visa on arrival (only in foreign currency, BTW - they don't accept their own Turkish lira!), so I need the space. However, I felt naked as I handed over my passport and I realised I am currently a prisoner on this European Alcatraz. Not so upset about that - as excited I am about Istanbul, I think after that, followed by two weeks in America two weeks later, I will be ready to stay put on this island for a little while.

The second tidbit is I watched "Tales of the City" again this week. Made me whispy for San Francisco. Since it's looking like my family's not going to do a big Xmas get together in 2008 I am thinking I should have another West Coast holiday season in 2008.

OK, that's it from here! Hope you all had a great start to 2008. Attached are a few pics from the weekend.

1. Making sure Schnookums is breast cancer free
2. My favourite sight in Lisbon
3. The street of our hotel
4. View of the city from the castle on the hill

If you want to see more, you can check them out at:


Shaun Coley
Clerkenwell, Islington
London, UK

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