But I've trawled through those and I'm back up-to-date. I gave my bedroom a dusting off, and here we are. I thought, just for the hell of it, I'd take this moment to show you some of the differences between Portugal and American/English civilisation as we know it. Or rather, the differences I noticed.
3. A MESS OF ROAD SIGNS
No one ever really looks at the road signs in different countries, but it's actually quite interesting to see how the signs differ in design and typography from the ones we know. The main problem with Portuguese road signs is the complete lack of consistency.
|This is actually fairly near where I stayed :O|
The Portugeuse then thought 'that looks cool' and bought the signage system. They stuck their various accents on the letters (though the cedilla was wrong - that's another story) and ta-dah, road signs. However, they couldn't be bothered to change the signs in various places. In fact, you find that the more rural you get, the fewer proper road signs you see. In the photo above you can see four signs, none of which are the British design. D'oh.
2. THEY ALL GO OUT FOR LUNCH
Portugal is pretty low. Pretty low on the Earth, that is. It's closer to the equator than most places I've been before. And that means it's hot. In hot countries they've decided that it's a good idea to close all their shops at lunch.
This is the siesta, and should not be news to you. I don't really have anything against it, but if it means waiting outside a shop for three hours, waiting for it to open, in the heat of the day, then I think I may have some argument.
1. DON'T TALK TO ME ABOUT THE LANGUAGE
Here's the massive annoyance in Portugal. Before I went, I'd seen some of the place names and looked up some basic words in Portugeuse. It seemed pretty easy, almost identical to Spanish. Hello is 'olá', which is pretty much the Spanish 'hola'. 'Buenos Dias' is 'Bem-Dia' (good-day). So far, so good.
But when I was on the plane to Faro (south Portugal, not Farø, the Faroe Islands), I heard some Portugeuse over the intercom and, to stick to the truth, I WTF'd. It sounded exactly like Russian, only at the end of some words you'd catch an 'alyo', or you'd hear an ñ.
It's a crazy language. There's even a committee set up to make sure it survives. They're trying to preserve it because it's nothing like any other language. It may look like Spanish, or even a bit like French, but it's pronounced crazily different. For example, a town near where I was staying was called 'Cavoeiro', but is pronounced 'cairfuero'. Strange, strange, strange.
But I'm back in England now. Finally.