Originally Posted by TrueBlue
Tommy composed quite the tome describing his experiences onboard fearless Alex's sled. Can we expect at the least, a summary of your experiences?
If his boat didn't do nine knots in 10 knots of wind, I would've described the actual sailing as underwhelming. But given that it's a pretty hot boat, it was fairly gratifying. The best sailing was just before rounding Sagres (the southwest corner of Portugal) when we finally found about 20 knots and got the boat going.
The look on Alex's face after we made the turn and just about completely lost the wind (if not the 10 foot swells and adverse current) was priceless. It's like the sea gods were playing a rotten trick on him by turning the Atlantic into a salty pond.
I have to admit, though, that the south coast of Portugal (the Algarve) is vastly different from the west coast, and that you could spend a long time exploring the caves chewed out of the limestone cliffs there. Or you could just explore the beaches full of barely dressed young ladies, I suppose.
Alex's pal (slightly confusingly also called Alex, aka "Lead Head") made a good counterpoint to Alex, becase Alex would pretend not to get angry when Lead Head pulled the wrong string, and Lead Head would pretend not to notice that Alex was pretending not to be angry.
But I think they are very good friends in spite of all that pretending.
TommyT is a good sailor and fixed a few things. Being Great Lakes sailors, we are used to solving problems that involve hose clamps and heat shrink tubing. Giulietta
has a confusing number of lines, but they are logically laid out and the boat is easy to sail. I think Alex was gratified that we could tack quickly, but then both of us have club raced in boats nearly
as responsive as Alex's boat. I found it a real pleasure to operate and had a chance to work the sheets when I threw the engine in neutral while alone on deck and did a bit of sailing. It's responsive, but I wouldn't call it particularly tender or gripey...well, not at the low wind speeds we had. She tracks particularly well, I found, for the type of underbody she has. I credit the extre two grams of paint Alex put on the front of the keel torpedo, but then I'm no engineer...
Lisbon (pronounced "Lish-boa" in Portuguese) is a very interesting town. For a place virtually destroyed in 1755, it looks pretty good, and because I like seafood, it's a suburb of heaven on the restaurant front. And they have a nice way of making espressos appear as if by magic. Just don't drink more than three at a sitting, because they are pure rocket fuel. Also, it's pretty clean for a medium-sized city, to which I attribute the observation that apart from ice-cream cones, I saw not a single person walking and eating at the same time in eight days of watching the locals. Smoking, yes. Eating, no. There are very few places to buy fast food, as well, which probably helps the low rates of litter, greasy fingers and large backsides.
I recommend a visit, but you have to remember that 1) They are not Spanish in much the same way as the Irish aren't British (some hard feelings historically) and 2) you need good legs to walk around Lisbon, which I recommend as the only proper way to see the place, and 3) Portuguese is easy to read if you have French and Latin, but harder to speak, and is full of clipped-off expressions that aren't in the phrase book. An example is when Alex answers his cell phone (which seems to have an unlimited range into the Atlantic, can perform minor surgery and rings three times an hour), he doesn't say "Ola!", which is "hello", but something that sounds like "toe", but is actually "shtoe", which is short for "esto", meaning "I am", or "It is I".
Well, you just won't get that out of your "Frommer's Guide to Portugal". Nor is it easy to grasp that "c", "s" and "x" can all sound like "sh", or that "o" and "a" mean "the" (masculine and feminine cases). At least, living as I do in a country with French as a second language and in a neighbour with a lot of Portuguese speakers, I had a running start at it: Poor Tom was surrounded by a language that can sound to English-language ears like an entire country telling each other to be quiet ("sh-sh-sh!").
Luckily, a lot of people speak English, some of them exceptionally well. Just don't be French from France and don't call the locals Spanish and everything works really well. Also, politeness counts: People are, even by European standards, remarkably polite and a little more formal than other places, except, I suppose, Japan, and learning how and when to say "thank you" in Portuguese is possibly the best thing to learn.
, Alex! I'll be back.