суббота, 9 апреля 2016 г.

Expo '98, misleading names and foreign languages. Lisbon, 31.11.15-4.11.15

During our last day in Lisbon we explored it in a different fashion: rather than walking in the historical center, we visited more modern parts of the city. From Estufa Fria and Gulbenkian Museum, which both lie to the north-west of the historical center, we headed towards the eastern corner of the city, to the Park of the Nations.

Here everything contrasted with what we'd seen before.
It is no surprise because in 1998 this part of Lisbon greeted millions of visitors who came here to attend the Lisbon World Exposition. The Expo '98 commemorated 500 years of Portuguese discoveries. Half of a millenium before, in 1498, Vasco da Gama arrived in India. Nowadays two colossal сonstructions, named after the great voyager and situated in that part of Lisbon, remind us of him. They are the longest bridge in Europe extended for over 17 kilometers
and the tower, currently serving as a hotel.
The tower is joined to Oceanarium by a cable car system.
I was less impressed by Lisbon large-scale public aquarium than by the one in Saint Petersburg which I visited about 8 years before. However, Portuguese house of aquatic animals has its appealing features. You can see not only an aquarium there but also the reconstructions of penguins, sea-otters and other non-fish marine animals habitats. 
Turning back to the first association with the word "oceanarium", here is the potpourri of what attracted me the most:
Masters of disguise

Winning hide-and-seek versus an octopus
Jellyfish, adds lighting to your photos for free
Potpourri of fish inside the potpourri of photos
Sea corridor

The only large creature finning slow enough to take a picture of it

Probably, there could be more pictures but speedy sea animals were not the only problem for the quality of photos. Taking a picture becomes challenging when there isn't enough light, and, unfortunately, jellyfish don't inhabit each part of the large aquarium to make the photos brighter.
The last memory from that place, which I'd like to share with you, refers to a penguin. Unlike those which stand motionless on one of the above photos, that one was floating along a closed path in the aquarium among other sea inhabitants incredibly fast, faster than any other creature in Lisbon Oceanarium. I knew that penguins are skilful swimmers, but never though that they are so cool!

Let's leave the oceanarium and come back to fresh air. It's worth noting that outside it's warmer than inside the building (it's November!). Strolling through the Park of the Nations you can encounter lots of funny objects: like these "chanterelles", 
that volcano fountain (see wiki to understand why it reminds a volcano when works at full power),
and these thematic benches.

Let's transport ourselves from the Park of the Nations to the place concluding the list of sights we planned to visit in the capital of Portugal. This is Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, or the National Museum of Ancient Art. If you refer to the Wikipedia article about it, you'll read that the English translation of the name of the museum is misleading in that the collection includes no museologically "ancient" works of art, but rather holdings that are simply old or "antique." We didn't know that beforehand, and hence were surprised that the oldest displays here belonged to the Middle Ages and the most modern ones pertained even to the XIX century. Like for every other museum of such kind several exhibits drew my attention, while most of them just blended with each other and didn't leave any traces in my memory. Here is what impressed me:
Pay attention to St Augustine's vestments
Yes, nothing lies on the table

Two-headed fountain

It was getting dark, and our amazing trip to Portugal came to its end.

In the previous post I skipped the first half of Monday (2.11.15). I will cover it in the last part of my travel journal next week. To conclude this week story, I would like to share one more reminiscence.

You know, I'm a big fan of languages. I even tried to learn some Portuguese before the travel but failed: phonetics occurred to be too complex for me. The other drawback is that the most part of available sources refer to Brazilian Portuguese, but it differs from European Portuguese in many aspects relating to pronunciation. However, we experienced inconvenience just in two or three cases. Most Portuguese whom we met spoke English, so there was no language barrier. 

What's more interesting is that I managed to use my favorite foreign language (French, of course) during those days. Actually, Lisbon and its suburbs are flooded with tourists from France. Moreover, in some districts you'll hear no language but French because every citizen there is a French migrant (retiree in most cases). According to Wikipedia, French is the second popular foreign language in Portugal, much more popular than Spanish and almost as widespread as English. If you're curious about the explanation of that phenomenon, take a look at this article (check it out anyway, it mentions an interesting song). Coming back from the intra-european migration to our journey, I should say that while for the first time I used French just to ask a tourist in Sintra to take a photo of us, the second case was funny (and even shorter than the first one). We were going to enter the church belonging to Jerónimos Monastery, and somebody of the staff stopped us to warn about the morning service inside. She asked us: "Français?" (certainly, that's the first question every tourist should be met with. Do they speak French or not?). Can you please think of the weirdest possible answer? Well, I replied: "Non" (yup, in the French manner).

Finally, 4.11 in the morning an airport officer gave me my passport back telling me "Spasibo" instead of "Obrigado". Too unexpected for 6 a.m. 

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