Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lisbon, pre-conference

We spent the next few days exploring Lisbon proper, via walking tours and the "best of" series in Sarah's guidebooks.

One of the first things we saw would be the SE Cathedral, which, as it turn
s out, would be the view from our rented apartment (we moved from hostel to apartment during the conference). On the outside, I loved how grass and flowers grew between the big bricks. My favorite parts of the inside were the stained glass windows.This one is cool because the view from the bedroom in our rented apartment was of this window!Like many cathedrals worldwide, the attention to detail was impressive: I also had fun playing with Alison's camera, changing the setting to get very different pictures of the same columns:

We then headed over to the Roman ruins. I had no idea that the Roman Empire reached as far west as Lisbon, so it was pretty cool to visit what was left of a Roman Amphitheater! On our walk, we saw some pretty cool statues, whether they were alone near a view pointor in the middle of a big church.

That picture makes me laugh bc one statue is a really proper looking Bishop and the other is looks like a wasted lady at Bourbon Street).

On the inside of this church (I can't remember what it's called) was the tomb
of Vasco de Gama, the famed explorer:

That afternoon, we went to Belem, which is famous for three things--these melt-in-your-mouth pastries (which we had 3 times over the course of our time in Portugal) and the Jeronimo Monastery, an example of Manuelline architecture. Basically, the Manuelline style is an elaborate, exuberant (borderline ostentatious) type of over-decoration of the building facades that were typical of Portuguese architecture when Portugal was considered the pre-eminent nation in the world. For example, here's an upclose of the doorway:
and part of a courtyard (notice the sky!)
(PS. I seriously took about 50 pictures of the clouds here because they were so beautiful juxtaposed against the white, carved marble.
PPS: I am not pregnant, I promise)

The following day, we went to a few museums. The first was a modern art museum, which had only one exhibit that made sense:Correction: it had no exhibits that made sense. We then headed to an exhibition of the Portuguese military in honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the republic. Here, the weapons ranged from the expected,
which was used in Afghanistan or Iraq by Portuguese troops to the random:(Watch out for policemen on bikes! They just might have an AK-47 on it.) Final stop for museums was this really cool archeology museum that was housed in an old cathedral. In 1755, there was a huge earthquake, followed by tsunami and fire, that completely destroyed Lisbon. The original plans were to rebuild the cathedral roof, which had collapsed, but they lacked the funds. So, they now house the exhibits where the priests lived and you walk
through an eery skeleton of a cathedral to get there.I enjoyed the walk more than the museum. Finally, we went to the aquarium, which had tons of penguins (none swimming unfortunately)
and I learned that Alison's camera is so awesome that it can take pictures from above, through water, and make it look like you're underwater!
Best. Purchase. Ever.

After a whirlwind (though very relaxing) first few days in Portugal, we were ready for the final three days: the conference!

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