My five-day excursion in Spain as part of an Erasmus teaching conference technically started at Manchester Airport, England. Despite this though, it was a largely unexciting and typical airport experience. Landing in Lisbon, Portugal, would therefore be a more likely and interesting place to start a series of posts on my experiences on the boarder of Portugal and Spain.
To anyone with even a scrap of geographical knowledge, you will know that Lisbon is not in Spain. In fact, relatively speaking, it is probably one of the furthest places from the Spanish boarder in Portugal. The good news though is that Portugal is only around 135 miles wide.
Therefore, landing in Lisbon in order to reach Spain was a reasonably logical decision and makes a lot more sense than you may first think. I suppose it’s akin to saying to someone that you’ll see them next year, a phrase which out of context seemingly implies that it will be a long time until you see said person. In context though, the reality is that you’re just going to nip to the bathroom at 11:59:45 on December 31st. Nevertheless, I digress.
What I saw of Lisbon on the evening of our arrival was superb. Unfortunately, we were staying away from the centre meaning that any sightseeing was out of the question for the evening that we were there. Despite this, the airiness and cleanliness of the city was instantly attractive. The pavements throughout Lisbon were all made in a mosaic fashion out of black and white tiles, each around an inch and a half square. This is something that seems insignificant, however it added character to a place which was, otherwise, largely European in nature.
Then we were off, across the Vasco da Gama Bridge and en route to Spain to arrive in Badajoz, or more precisely Badajoz bus station, around two and a half hours later. After a brief car ride thanks to some friends, we arrived at our hotel.
First Impressions of Badajoz (Bada-hoff).
We soon found ourselves strolling the closely built streets of Badajoz, drinking in the atmosphere and curious as to where we should head first. The above photo shows our hotel further down the street. No, before you get any strange ideas, I am not advertising Kebab and Chicken shops. Neither was our hotel surrounded by eateries typically found outside a nightclub, normally at around 3am. It just so happened that these were two of the only takeaway fast food places I saw in Badajoz; both perfectly placed 100m from our hotel door. I like to refer to this little crossroads as Fast-food Square.
The Evening of the Super Moon
We soon decided to begin by heading towards the river, albeit in a rather meandering fashion. Nevertheless, after a gentle stroll over the oldest bridge in Badajoz, we found ourselves at a nice waterside café. We ordered some drinks, I swiftly discovered that tea didn’t quite mean the tea that I was accustomed to. Instead, it seemed natural to shove some weird mint and cinnamon flavours into the mix. I don’t drink herbal tea, neither have I even tried flavoured tea. Being from Yorkshire and expecting a nice warm, light brown-beige drink, I became rather distressed. Although, in true Yorkshire fashion, after a sufficient amount of complaining, I drank it because you can’t waste €1.35, even if all of your drinks and food are paid for.
As we sat, people watching and deciding what to do, we became aware of many, many cameras pointing at the sky. People were looking expectant and had set up tripods on the bridge, waiting for something. We quickly realised that it was Super Moon night and within half an hour we had joined the small throng of people vying for a picture of the moon as it rose slowly over the horizon. For those of you that read my blog regularly you know all about this. For those of you that don’t, go and read my previous post: That Lunar Event: A View from Spain. You’ll enjoy it and likely recognise the above photo.
Shortly after our moon gazing we set off in search of somewhere to eat however that will have to wait until next time. That night the sky was beautiful and we were walking around in light jumpers in November because it was a balmy 14C. The Spanish looked at us as we walked by, probably wondering if we were insane not to be wearing winter coats.
You’re probably wondering what all this has to do with teaching. If you want the answer to that, you’ll have to wait for part two!
Until next time,