Winter in Lisbon…

… or should I say “Winter” in Lisbon, since we still have maaaany sunny days with mostly around 19 degrees and it’s almost DECEMBER. Oh wow.. I knew that day would finally come when I am able to tease my friends back in Austria with snaps on a sunny day, palm trees in the background and the temperature filter on my pic.

It was definitely a good idea to spend winter in the south of Europe, or maybe not? brrrr I totally forgot that all the Portuguese houses were build only for summer temperatures!!!!!111eleven (At least, that’s what it feels like. haha) whaaat? The walls are so thin it makes the degrees fall to the same level as outside, oh and don’t get me started on the those super-isolated windows. Picture yourself camping outside in a tent and now imagine the (almost) same scenario inside a house. haha The past few days were still okay, which means I was doing fine with long sleeping pants and a t-shirt, but last night and I think tonight as well, I will need at least an extra cuddly jacket and my two thin blankets. (Thank you money-saving-Claudia for thinking a thin blanket from *insert Swedish store* would be enough.) Maybe I was so delusional and I didn’t want to admit that lying on the Carcavelos beach during the Christmas holidays is just not possible. *sigh*

Anyway, it’s still warmer than in Austria, ha! And all my Portuguese friends tell me it’s not going to be colder than this. I like the feeling of not having a freezing face everyday. haha

Over and out,

Claudia

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Jardim Zoológico Lisboa

Here we go again: A new blog post and it has not been more than 2 weeks already, ha! (only 10 days, but who is counting..) haha

As promised to my loyal followers on Facebook, I will finally show you the photos I took in Lisbon’s AMAZING zoo. That week I also received a special visit, which made this trip even better: Dr. Steel aka Captain Cool aka Bernhard. 😀 (I am not the one who came up with those names, I would have preferred the cute ones. hihihi)

Starting off with the entrance…You can already see a lot of cute ducks, peacocks and even monkeys jumping around before even paying the entrance fee. (Quick note for those fast food addicts out there: They even have a McDonald’s on the zoo premises. I have never seen this before. haha) However, the 20€ are totally worth it, because this is one of the coolest zoos I have seen so far. (And since I love animals I have been to quite a number of zoos, so I know what I’m talking about. :D)

What I really liked was the area with the tigers, because of the glass walls, which provides a pretty good view. One thing I really have to mention is the weird behavior of one tiger. It kept running against the glass and backed up in a very weird way. I don’t know what that tiger has been through but it must have been something disturbing. After a while it calmed down and I was able to take this cute photo. 🙂 Other than that it had a nice and big place to chill with many opportunities to hide. 😀

The best thing of this zoo was by far the cable car that takes you all over the premises with an amazing view of the animals. I don’t know who came up with that idea, but this is GREAT! For one, you get to watch the animals from this unique spot from above and I think it might be less stressful for the animals, since you only get the chance to look at them for a few seconds, since the cable car keeps moving without stopping and moreover there are still some great hiding spots if it’s getting too much for them.

So if you ever come to Lisbon and you are an animal lover as I am, this is the place to go! Below you will find my pictures. (click on each of the photos in order to make them bigger) Enjoy. 🙂

See you soon!

Claudia

14 Places to visit in Portugal

Hello Internet-friends!

Since my last post (Lisbon Erasmus guide) I really got into that mood of telling you about what you could/should do if you choose Lisbon as your exchange semester location. Well, I guess not too many of my readers are considering that, though. hahaha. Still going to keep writing as long as I am inspired. Deal with it! Imagine me wearing cool sunglasses while preparing this guide for you on a rainy day. (Yes, rainy season is about to start. Noooooo.) So without further ado, here is a list of places that are worth a visit:

  1. Belem: area that belongs to Lisbon, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (monestery), Torre de Belém (very famous tower), Centro Cultural de Belém (looks very nice from the outside, about the inside I don’t know, because I have only seen in from far away haha)
  2. Cascais: it takes about 40mins by train to get to this small town (leaving from Cais do Sodre), very touristy place, Farol da Guia (lighthouse with a nice view)
  3. Carcavelos: about 25mins by train, nice beach and easy to reach
  4. Sintra: about 40mins by train (Rossio train station), known for its very old palaces, very beautiful landscape (Google it)
  5. Óbidos: about 1h by car, I would not recommend the train since it takes waaaay too long compared to the car, know for its Christmas town (also middle ages market in summer)
  6. Coimbra: about 2h by car or 2-3h by train, one of the bigger cities in Portugal, according to wikipedia many students are living there, maaany sights you should definitely see (one of the cities than many people recommended me to go)
  7. Setúbal: 40mins by car and much longer by train, one of the trips organized by the language course faculty (FCSH), known for the good wine
  8. Nazaré: known for its HUGE waves –> take a look at the pictures on Google haha (up to 30 meters)
  9. Caldas da Reinha: near Óbidos, famous for its thermal water, also organized by the language course faculty
  10. Évora: 40mins car ride, Temple of Diana (Roman Temple of Évora), language course faculty trip
  11. Batalha: near Nazaré, Batalha Monastery
  12. Algarve: region in the very south of Portugal, know to look like a “paradise”, very nice beaches, etc
  13. Porto: Stop talking, just go there! Either by plane or by bus (both starting at 10-15€), Look in my previous blog posts, I uploaded a lot of pictures from my trip. 🙂
  14. Madeira: (kind of) near the Canary Islands, if you are lucky you can find a flight for about 50-60€ round trip, very well known for its wine

Hopefully you find some places worth a visit after my brief summary. I have got all the information from 1) being there and telling about my own experience, 2) remembering what others told me or 3) doing a little research on Google. I am very open and would also really appreciate it if you find some mistakes and tell me, or if you have anything to add to this list. Thank you in advance! 🙂

Cheers!

Claudia

p.s. I took that photo in Porto. 🙂

Why arriving in a new country brings about so much confusion – part 2

2. The monthly ticket

Try buying a monthly ticket for the public transport (no student discount, just a normal one): GO!

Not so fast! You need to fill out this form (which is only provided in Portuguese), bring a photo, your ID/passport and stand in line just like all the other exchange students who desperately need one as well. If you want your ticket to be printed out urgently (=the next day), you will need to pay a 12€ fee, otherwise you have to wait up to 15 days. Oh, and by the way: There is a daily limited number of tickets, so you better hurry up!

To be honest, I was very lucky, because I “accidently” got to the ticket office at 1:00pm, which is 45 minutes before it opens, so there were only about 15 people waiting in line. So when it finally opened, we waited another 30 minutes (because apparently that’s how long it takes for 15 people to hand over the paper and pay). Everything went well, at least for us, because the other 50 people behind us, who spent their whole afternoon there, were not so lucky. 😀

This could have been a disaster, but since I showed up early at the ticket office, it wasn’t too bad after all.

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3. Finding food, shopping, etc…

Being patient is essential in order to survive here. NEVER schedule anything without a gap in between in order to compensate long waiting times. I have already learned this in my “intercultural competences” class back at my home university, but I never expected it to be like this. Don’t get me wrong, on the one hand it is annoying, because I am totally not used to this, but on the other hand it is quite “relaxing” to wait in line much longer than I do in my home country. This might sound a bit awkward to you, but just standing there and doing nothing gives you the opportunity to calm down for a moment and appreciate just being here. Of course, if you are in a hurry, because you are meeting someone or you have an important appointment, you might not find it relaxing at all, but all I can say here is: Silly you, that’s all your fault. Try to remember that next time. 😀 For those of you, who are wondering what might take so long: Honestly, I don’t know. It sometimes seems like the cashiers are not able to multitask. They either chat with the colleagues or they do their job and if they chat a lot (which they do), they don’t spend that much time doing their job. haha 😀

So, like I said in part 1 of this post, do not take everything too seriously. I don’t want to be mean or offend anyone. It is just so interesting and funny to observe these cultural differences, which is why I want to share it with my readers. Again, for now I fully enjoy waiting, due to that surprising calmness it brings along.

Claudia

 

p.s. The picture shows the queue for the language course enrollment.

Why arriving in a new country brings about so much confusion – part 1

My exchange-adventure has started on the 6th of September when I arrived in Lisbon after a 3 hour flight across Europe. The first three to four days were very stressful for me, as I had to run errands, such as trying to finalize the course enrollment at the university, get a monthly ticket for the public transportation system, find shops where I can buy food and other things that I needed in order to survive for the first few days, and so on.

Well, when looking at the tasks mentioned above one might think, that this would not take too much time. Be warned, you might be totally wrong. Here are some examples of how difficult it can be to finally settle down in Lisbon: (This is how it really happened, but: Attenzione! The content below might violate someone personally, so make sure you speak sarcasm fluently. I love this country and the people here, so stay calm and just enjoy reading this.)

  1. The course enrollment

As a person who comes from a very well organized culture and university, where „Atomuhranmeldung“ is a thing, I was at first very pleased by how the enrollments are done in Lisbon. (What is Atomuhranmeldung?: It means, staring at your computer for at least 15 minutes, starting at 1:45pm so still have a chance to log in with your account. Then trying not to miss the enrollment period, which begins at 2:00pm (sometimes at 1:59:59) and ends (not officially) at 2:00:10pm. = 2pm and 10 seconds.) During this 10 second time period, a rush of adrenalin might occur and, if you are lucky, you will end up being enrolled to e.g. 5 out of 7 classes for the whole semester.)

Back to the Portuguese enrollment: „Take your time“ gets a whole new meaning here, because I was able to enroll to and change my courses HOURS after the enrollment has started. This sounds really good, doesn’t it? At first yes, but when I entered the online platform I was only able to choose the name of the courses, but I did not know at what day of the week (or time) they take place. I just went on and thought, I will figure it out sooner or later. Then, I received an email saying, that some courses overlap and I got deregistered from half of the courses that I have selected. WHAT? (This also happened to many other people who I have talked to.) After that, I was finally able to look at the timetable and I had to enroll again. The first and most important question that comes to my mind is: Why can’t I just do that in the first attempt? By the way: Finding this timetable also took me some days, it is somewhere on the bottom of the moodle website.

Summing up, it took me much more time to enroll to the courses than I had expected and to be honest, my courses still overlap with each other so wish me luck tomorrow when the next enrollment period starts!