Saturday, August 30, 2008

«MY BEAUTIFUL, LATE-NIGHT LISBON»

...alguns excertos de uma opinião sobre a nossa cidade:

My beautiful, late-night Lisbon

Financial Times, 30 August 2008

By York Membery

Name: Ana Marques; Age: 25; Occupation: English teacher at an international school in Lisbon; Born in: Portugal but moved to Toronto, Canada, with her parents as a child; Now living in: Lisbon

«I’d always wanted to live in Portugal because both my parents are Portuguese. We emigrated to Canada when I was four years old. I moved to Lisbon three years ago after finishing a degree in European studies and English linguistics at university in Toronto.

Somewhat to my surprise, I experienced something of a culture shock on arriving, despite speaking Portuguese (my parents enrolled me in Portuguese classes as a child). Everything was just so different. However, speaking Portuguese isn’t “a must” if you live in Lisbon nowadays. Most of my foreign friends at the language school, who only speak English, can usually find someone in the city who speaks English at the bank or the telephone company.
I found it difficult adjusting to the bureaucracy and the lack of politeness in shops and service areas. In the beginning, going to the bank without a rehearsed agenda was quite an ordeal. Coming from a place like Toronto where courtesy and kindness are the order of the day it was something of a shock.

Even finding a suitable room or apartment posed a challenge on arriving. Most Portuguese people seem to think a few square metres are liveable. And privacy doesn’t seem to be a priority when living in close quarters. A lot of the locals seem quite happy living in small apartments with lots of people. My first room was so small I couldn’t even completely walk around the bed. Thankfully, I soon found a nice place of my own.

I arrived in Lisbon in late August although in Portugal that is midsummer. Moving when it was warm made it easier to make friends because people are out socialising until late, be it on weekdays or weekends. In contrast, the winters are quite rainy. It’s also cold indoors in the winter because most houses don’t have central heating – so you have to carry a small portable heater around the house with you. However, winters are a good time to catch up on the latest films. Movies tend to premiere later here than in North America but they are never dubbed so you can enjoy them in English. People love American movies; most Portuguese films are flops.

With my Portuguese ancestry, perhaps I’m biased but I think Lisbon is the most beautiful city I know. My friends and I often spend our weekends wandering around, just taking in the sights, sounds and smells. I love the way the cafés, shops, and restaurants are housed in exquisite, well-preserved old buildings. It makes walking around the city a real pleasure. It’s a very lively city but it feels safe. (...)

The traffic in Lisbon is pretty bad. A lot of Portuguese families have two cars, which makes things worse – and Lisbon’s drivers are mad. They don’t really respect stop signs or pedestrian crossings. You have to throw yourself on to the street and hope for the best. The government has recently started clamping down on such drivers.

Public transport is the best way to get around the city in my opinion. The trains on the Cascais-Lisbon line are pretty good. Lisbon also has a great metro system. Since it’s fairly new, the metro stations are clean and most have mosaic art designed by Portuguese artists. There are only four metro lines, which makes it easy to get around and the stations are well-located. Buses are a bit different. Thanks to the Portuguese laid-back mindset, they are usually late. And the bus drivers are not the friendliest people around.

Salaries here not as high as in Canada and groceries, clothing, petrol are all quite expensive as a result. In common with many countries, Portugal is experiencing a credit crisis and a lot of Portuguese people are living above their means and getting into debt. Personally I find that although I am living on less, I do much more here than I did in Toronto. Stretching your money becomes an artform when you’re a teacher. (...)

What I love most about Lisbon are the culture, architecture and climate. Living in Portugal is way more laid back in every aspect than Toronto and I’m very happy here. It’s become a real home from home.»

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1 comment:

Traveling said...

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