Sunday, April 13, 2008

Morsifer's Travels Part 1: Notes from Portugal, a Mediterannean Cruise and now England

The following post is dedicated to author Bill Bryson. Mr. Bryson lives less than 5 miles away from me in a small village in Norfolk, England - and as soon as I publish this post, I'm going to ride my bicycle to his house to try to meet him in person and discuss my upcoming return to America. I have no scheduled interview and he doesn't know I'm coming, but I'm determined to find him before I leave the UK.

Quick tangent:

When I re-entered the UK yesterday, the Customs/Border official who examined my passport gave me a hard time about it because it has a small tear on the front page. This tear has been there since 2005 (when I accidentally let my passport go in the laundry upon returning from Jamaica) and since that time I have entered and re-entered countries dozens upon dozens of times. Yet this jerkface had a bone to pick because apparently when he was in America a few weeks ago, his passport was toughly examined by American Customs officials...what a bastard.

The real deal:

Two weeks ago I departed with my ginger-haired darling travel partner Kate for Lisbon, Portugal. I must admit, I visited Lisbon two years ago for a debaucherous couple of nights with my friend Mike (I was working for MTV in Italy at the time and the occasion was the MTV Euro Awards). Our trip consisted of very little sleep and lots of partying with everyone from The Pussycat Dolls to The Black Eyed Peas to Sean Paul and Shaggy who each let me perform with them after I was about 15 drinks in (there is photographic proof of this)...but the city of Lisbon itself seemed shabby and run-down to me. However, I am one for second chances, so I agreed to return with Kate.

(Kate recently informed me that redheads are considered minorities in England for job-hiring purposes because they are frequently discriminated against - I personally adore redheads and they can ALL come work for me when I set up shop in the UK one day, and I will discriminate against non-redheads.)

Upon arrival after a Ryanair flight in which Kate and I successfully kept a full row of seats for ourselves, we were met with one of those taxi drivers who tries to rip you off...I hate when this happens, and it sucks when they try to do it. A bad taste in your mouth from the get-go is never a good sign. Kate was tired and I was hungry, the first of our many itineraric (made-up word) differences on this sojourn. I headed off in search of a Portuguese delicacy - Pork with Clams. And I returned an hour later having found such a dish but within 90 minutes I was barfing my brains out, explaining why even in my radical pork-shellfish-bacon cheeseburger-loving sect of Judaism this dish has NEVER caught on and will NEVER spread beyond Portugal.

After an early wakeup in a tiny and overcrowded breakfast room with Europeans from all countries - it was kind of like we were hostages at a NATO Summit or something - Kate and I set off...Kate's a baller so rather than wait for a trolley she financed a taxi ride to the old port area of town where our sightseeing differences began. Kate's a photographer, I'm a snap-and-go kind of guy. The differences in these two styles are apparent in our subsequent sets of pictures that vary greatly in quality, hers being far superior to mine.

A lovers' tryst (read: argument among friends) ensued and my rapid-pacing was no match for her meticulous photography skills. Thus, we parted ways, each seeking the thrills and adventure of a city with a 2:1 pickpocketting citizen to non-pickpocketting citizen ratio.

I soon found myself in an all-you-can-eat sushi bar alone with one of Kate's many guidebooks as my only companion. I know the tricks of all-you-can-eat sushi bars better than Harri Houdini knew how to escape from underwater torture chambers, so when I'm given only bits of fish in proportion to the size of rice-balls, I surely leave the rice to be taken away by unsuspecting waiters and waitresses...after about 25 rounds of pursuing this trick of the trade, I was offered a Sashimi menu...now why would I want to pay additional money for straight-up sashimi when I could just remove the excess rice from other bits of sushi? the world may never know...

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