Sunday, 8 August 2010

Day 220, on which John returns home [8.8.10]

Dag to hundrede og tyve. I'm back! After a delayed flight from Portugal, I've returned to 'sunny' England, and boy am I glad. Everything was just how I left it: my computer and its bits and bobs hidden around my bedroom were all easily retrieved. My MOCs were intact, if a little dustier. The only thing that was different was the build-up of emails, Flickr updates and RSS updates that I had to catch up on.

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.

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
In most places, especially on the motorways, the Portugeuse government has been clever and they've adopted the British signage system. Well done. In fact, they nicked the entire system from us. As you should know (it was mentioned in Top Gear once), in the 1950s the entire road signage system of England was redesigned to be consistent and more user-friendly.

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.

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.

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.


Matn said...

Welcome back! Yeah, Portugal. The country doesn't attract me at all, too hot and stuff. And thanks for the Celtx link, it's a useful program for later. I got a great idea while learning how to use it. Now I just have to get a video camera...

Stickman said...

Welcome back, pal. Only portugese I know is 'Mourinho'...