We decided to go to Azores this year, instead of going to our original destination. Japan isn’t going anywhere, so we can wait until next year, when hopefully everything is more sorted out there. The plus side of our Azores trip, other than it being a place I’ve wanted to go to since I was a kid, is that this way we’ve contributed to our national economy, which isn’t doing very well.
Since I kept a travel journal for the first time, after encouragement by a couple of people, I’m considering making a series of posts about my stay in Azores. But since the text file I’ve started transcripting it to (and not translating it yet) is becoming a Giant Wall of (Unending) Text, I thought I’d start with some random annotations I took during the whole trip. In case I give up on the whole ‘let’s write about what I saw’ series of posts, when I get back to work and am too tired or too lazy to do it, there will be something here about the trip.
. The cows in Azores, like almost anything else in the islands, were initially imported. They came from Holland. The black and white cows are the ones that produce most milk, however the cattle owners started getting another cow race, that doesn’t produce as much milk, but their fatness value is higher. Comparing one to the other: the black and white cows’ milk required to make one cheese is 10 litres, while the other cows’ milk requirement is 8 litres. When just selling the milk, they mix both kinds to enrich the nutritional value of the milk, thus increasing its overall quality.
. The local version of chavs, who we call ‘chungas’ (some dodgy guys with horrible fashion sense and even more horrible cars), other than doing the typical aesthetic changes to their vehicles, do something the continental Portugal chungas usually don’t (or maybe I’ve just not noticed that particular behaviour), which is lowering their car seats, sometimes so much that they can barely see over the tablier.
. Speaking of chavs: crosswalks are mere guidelines and are usually ignored. Crossing the street in all islands was like playing Frogger, and the smaller the island, the harder the level.
. The passenger ships between the islands are inactive during the Winter, due to the harsher navigation conditions.
. Two out of the ten portuguese dog breeds are from the Azores: the Cão de Fila de São Miguel (Azores Cattle Dog) and the Barbado da Terceira (Terceira Cattle Dog). The first I mentioned kind of looks like a hyena, and the second is more like a mix between the Portuguese Sheepdog (Cão da Serra de Aires) and the Portuguese Water Dog (Cão de Água Português).
. Drugs there are cheaper (and illegal) than in continental Portugal.*insert joke about the lower VAT here being related to that* Most crimes that send people to jail in Azores are drug related.
. Apparently two national television networks (SIC and TVI) always fail the weather forecasts myserably. The state channel, RTP, gets it right occasionally.
. Although the bird depicted in the Azores flag is an Azor, that species isn’t found in the islands.
All for now. Will post more stuff when I get the chance.
This all started the same day ‘Revenge of the Sith’ came out. Coincidence, I assure you.
I’m not going to repeat all I wrote last year, on the fifth anniversary.
If you come here more or less often (unless you have a really short attention span :p ), you know this is where I share bits of my day-to-day life, which among a lot of other things, include geekness, gaming, and whatever else entertains me.
This is the place where friends can catch up on what I’ve been up to, or where anyone can sometimes (lately, ‘seldom’ is more accurate) bump into something which may be of their interest.
The main difference since last year, blog-wise, is that I decided to share this place with more people. It was only known by a dozen friends for the first five and a half years (excluding, of course random strangers who bumped into it), but after Fórum Fantástico last November, changing that seemed to make sense, and I haven’t regretted it.
It’s been an overall positive experience. Thanks to everyone who’s contributing to that, one way or another.
The Lisbon Book Fair (LFB) is the largest literary event here in Portugal, both in attendance and in size. Keeping alive my annual tradition, I went there a couple of times last week.
During the week it was very easy to browse around, check out books, and so forth. On Saturday, though, it was very crowded to the point where in some sections we couldn’t even see the books being sold properly. The very high attendance this weekend was, most likely, a combination of people attracted by good weather, and people who skipped the Fair last weekend due to intense rain and went there this one instead.
This leads me to mention that I think the Fair should shifted to a couple of weeks after the current dates, to at least attempt to dodge the rainy weather that characterizes April. I realize that part of the point is to (maybe?) allow students to get exam support books before their exam season, but classes typically go on until the end of May or start of June, and getting those specific books in mid-May still seems like adequate timing.
On one hand, I enjoy seeing the Book Fair so populated, but on the other hand, going through that many people isn’t my ideal setting for open air book browsing.
There are a lot of events with authors from different publishers, which I believe make the Fair even more interesting for attendees. It’s a chance to meet some authors, to get books autographed, and sometimes to watch some interesting debates.
I went there on Saturday in part for the ‘Batalha’ by David Soares, illustrated by Daniel Silvestre da Silva pre-launch event. The four different cover colours were a pleasent surprise (you can see them at the author’s site, in a photo by Gisela Monteiro), as was the design of the cover itself. I’ll have to read it later, because kitten is currently reading it.
Price-wise, I found several nice deals in the used books stands (lots of Marion Zimmer Bradley in one of them), and also in the other stands, with buy X books-get 1 book free promotions, and end of stock books at lower prices. We got the novels and graphic novel I mentioned on my previous post, and between lower prices and offers, each item cost 10 euros in average. Not bad, for brand-new books.
Literature aside, the Lisbon Book Fair is also known as the place were you eat farturas, churros (*), popcorn, sweet cotton, icecream, hotdogs and other… let’s call them ‘culinary delicacies’. All of this while browsing for books in open air, of course. That part of the LBF tradition remains unchanged, and I could swear there were more food stands than in previous years.
All things considered, it’s still one of the events I most like to attend, and I reccommend doing at least one trip there.
(*) Footnote, since I didn’t find an exact, correct translation to English for both those terms:
Farturas – Closest translation is ‘fritters’, but not like the search for fritters means. These are farturas: fried pastry covered in sugar and cinnamon.
Churros – similar to farturas, but smaller, and can have a variety of fillings, ranging from chocolate to strawberry cream. Pics here. More traditional churros are plain, and to be dipped in hot chocolate. But that’s at home.