16.9.04

No restaurante


The Portuguese are a funny people. I mean, they have a peculiar world view that even now, after more than one decade of working with them and living amongst them, I have some difficulty coming to grips with. On the one hand, they can be a very taciturn people, and it can be quite difficult getting them to accept you. On the other hand, once they take a shine to you, they will do almost anything for you. There is no real middle ground with them. Take today, for instance. This morning I was early for the train, so I got my camera out and whiled away the time by taking photos of the train station. After about 5 minutes, an official came out of the station master's office, wagging his finger at me and telling me that I couldn't take photographs in the station. As I had already taken all the photos that I wanted to take, and since the train was just about to leave, I just mumbled an apology and put my camera away. I later thought that I would challenge this officious little man to show me the railway bylaw that forbids fare paying passengers from taking photographs of things that can be clearly seen from the road. But then, why bother, I thought. In contrast, this evening I went to another cheap restaurant near my flat, where I had one of the best meals I have ever had in Portugal - Picanha a Pedra, with green salad. The staff were exceptionally friendly, and even gave me a free glass of beer while I watched the Sporting v. Rapid Vienna game - and took this photo. The total bill for a starter, a large main course, dessert, two bottles of mineral water and a coffee - all served with a good natured smile (and with linen napkins and table cloth)? 17 euros... or £11.50... or US$21. I'll be back - possibly as soon as tomorrow.

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