Friday, July 27, 2012

Coffee, Dominoes, Sunshine, and Fun

We're sitting at the local café, as I write this, sipping on a meia de leite (half milk espresso). Dominoes is today's game of choice, having just passed by a local papelaria (stationary shop) and picking up a new set for our enjoyment. Family is the main point of discussion, reminiscing about the good times we've shared with those that are no longer with us, amongst talk of plans with those that are closest to us. Visiting family is definitely something that is on our metaphorical platter, considering the fact that I haven't been home in 12 years, about half my lifetime. Spending time with those that haven't seen me since I was a chubby youngster with peach fuzz on my upper lip, and with a short cropped haircut. Boy things have changed. Day number one was filled with tears of joy, and disbelief.
V and I have been enjoying our first couple of days. Soaking up the relaxing lifestyle, going to the beach, sitting in cafés for hours, walking endlessly through narrow streets, sharing drinks with my cousin P until the wee hours of the morning. What a great sight it is, seeing so many people out so late at night, with clubs only closing at 7ish AM. What a difference from London where pubs will close around 11 pm, and clubs closing at 2 am. P took us on a tour of Porto the first night we arrived, taking us through the Ribeira, the gritty and poor but oh so picturesque and romantic neighbourhood filled with narrow streets and even narrower buildings. We found a back alley bar and stopped for drinks, sitting beside a table filled with local young men (some only boys) who were discussing plans of robbing tourists in order to make themselves a couple of extra Euros. We then went to the Unisersity district and had a couple of drinks at a local hangout called O Piolho (The Lice), filled with hundreds of students that spilled out on to the streets happily sharing drinks with friends.

Day number two had us going to the beach at Espinho, a 45 minute train ride away. It was an overcast day with a little sun once in a while, but despite this V still managed to find a way to burn herself after having fallen asleep for quite some time. The water was absolutely freezing, causing our limbs to go numb upon entering. Nevertheless we felt obligated to take a dive in the ever so salty water. We both took some time to get into the water, but once inside we quickly dove and ran out to huddle within our cozy towels. By the end of the day we were exhausted (we all know how exhausting a long day at the beach could be) arriving home after another 40 minute train ride, it goes without saying that we slept well that night.

The following day, V and I went with my mom to spend the day in Porto. We walked for hours upon hours through the winding narrow streets of the Ribeira, made our way across the Ponte D. Luis to Vila Nova de Gaia, met with extended family in more central Porto near the Estaçao Sao Bento for a heart attack on a plate, otherwise known as Francesinhas. We finished off that day with a nice family reunion of sorts, enjoying spending time with more of those who I haven't seen in half my lifetime.

Back to the present, we've just finished up our cafés, while sitting in a local park beside a wonderful sounding fountain feeding into a quaint pond, soaking up the sun's rays, while trying to decide on where to have lunch. Living the life...
Our local Estaçao (Station), Ermesinde...
The clock at the picturesque Estaçao Porto-Sao Bento...
Homes in the Ribeira district, by the riverside...
With mom and V from Vila Nova de Gaia, set against the beautiful Ribeira of Porto...
A reunion 12 years in the making, with cousin...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Comedic Relief

I've been meaning to post this for a while now (definition of procrastination), but after acquiring the last piece of the puzzle, or what I would call the piece d'oevre, posting was imminent.

Before further ado I present to you things that made me laugh in London, and deserved a photo.


Ps. The last picture was the icing on the cake (maybe literally).

Really, my own 'on' camera?
High Streets all over London...
Tesco's latest offering. I'll pass, thanks.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Canada London

Could there be any better way to celebrate Canada day than to do it in style in central London amongst other ex-pat Canucks sipping Molson Canadian in Trafalgar Square? Well, maybe in Canada itself. Regardless, we managed to find the biggest Canada day celebration outside of our country's fine looking borders.

We had heard about the Canada day celebration in Trafalgar prior to July 1st and therefore had planned to swing by at some point during the day to see what had been planned. The party started at 10am and was scheduled to last until 10pm. Our objective was to arrive at some point around 5pm and celebrate the rest of the evening in central London. Around 2pm, another Canadian ex-pat friend of ours, L, mentioned on facebook that she was super excited to see Our Lady Peace live that night as part of Canada day celebrations. Upon seeing that, V and I suddenly loaded the official Canada day in London page and were quite surprised by what we saw (or at least I was). We were met with the musical lineup featuring Kid Koala, Shad, Hedley, and Our Lady Peace. Upon seeing that, V got super excited as a rush of rekindled Our Lady Peace moments came flowing back, and I could not believe my eyes seeing that Shad (one of my favourite rappers) was to perform. We instantly begun getting ready to head out; made food, baked, got dressed, and ate. We arrived at Trafalgar just as Shad was getting up on stage. Perfect. He put on a great show, and it was awesome to be able to see him in a setting which was somewhat mind blowing. The crowd wasn't too into it, which was unfortunate, but Shad did not disappoint. We stuck around for Hedley, although not paying too much attention to their act, in anticipation for Our Lady Peace. L met up with us as Our Lady Peace was taking the stage. I was never the biggest fan of them, although I definitely recognized some of their songs. V on the other had seemed to joggle her memory and sing along to all the songs they sung. The night was capped with a wonderful rendition of O Canada, sung by all the participating artists, on stage simultaneously. 

All in all, it ended up being a great Canada day. In fact, it was probably the most both of us have celebrated Canada day in a long time.

Ps. After the party had ended, we made our way to the stage exit, sipping on our Molsons, trying to catch a glimpse of some of the celebs present. I spotted Shad and called out his name, as if I was good friends with him, and he instantly turned towards me and started squinting trying to make out who I was. I begun waving my hand, beckoning him over, and to my surprise he started walking over. We had a short chat, a picture taken together (thanks V) and a couple of handshakes/chest bumps later, he was on his merry way. Such an awesome moment!