Archive for June, 2010

Portrait of S.

June 29, 2010

S. has so many different faces, she is hard to describe in a couple of sentences – or a couple of photos, in that matter. And it took me a long time to pick four, wait!, five, out of… about two hundred.


Edinburgh Fringe 2010 – book tickets now!

June 24, 2010

Fringe tickets on the way! I have just booked places at some shows on Fringe website. I didn’t realise it was Fringe-tickets-booking time again until my brother brought the programme a couple of days ago. The programme’s cover is wonderful and features a squiggly-wiggly representation of ideas tweeted by fans of the festival, sketched in black pen on white background.

We are going to see the dark and talented Camille O’Sullivan (it is the third year in a row we will be going to her show and it is becoming a tradition), The Late Show and some other comedy stand-ups. Some artists I was looking for are not there – like CK Lewis whose act two years ago I sadly missed.

Can you believe that m locals don’t go to any shows during the festival? Some people complain that tickets are too expensive but if you book early enough you can get 2 for 1 or preview places. So book now!

If you still don’t know what to chose, read the ‘edinburgh festival fringe 2010 programme unveiled’ synopsis on the festival’s website.

I can has lamb cutlets?

June 20, 2010

Chasing sheep in Pentland Hills. Not quick enough… No lamb for dinner today.

Strawberry season!

June 19, 2010

Local strawberries are in! Yum yum. Last week I made cheesecake with strawberries on top…

…and earlier today my brother made a strawberry tart.

Yum yum yum! Yum yum.

Unhelpful, unkind people (at Urban Outfitters)

June 14, 2010

Unkind people can be stumbled upon anywhere. For me the most recent encounter was a couple of weeks ago when I went clothes shopping in Edinburgh’s Princes Street. I went straight after work and was wearing a shift dress. Halfway during my trip the hem of my dress came out. It looked embarassing so I thought I would try to temporarily attach it back. I happened to be in Urban Outfitters shop when I noticed it so I asked one of the shop assistants for help. He said he was a junior and could not help but would ask the team leader or shop manager (I cannot remember her title exactly). When the girl came, I explained the situation and asked (very politely) if she could spare me a pin. She replied that they did not sell pins (doh!). I said they probably used some for displays and maybe I could use just one to which she replied – sorry, the pins are for the shop’s purposes and I can’t give you any.

Come on, I was asking for a pin! Surely she would not become any poorer nor get in trouble for giving a pin to a customer! She was not even busy. The only explanation that I can come up with that she was one of those unhelpful people. I felt even more embarassed for being refused a PIN! What is more, I did not expect that and was left doumbounded – I could not even come up with a riposte. This ruined my day.

What’s the aim of this post? I suppose I want to give a word of warning or reminder that there are some unacommodating, awkward people out there and please do not assume that everyone is nice just because you are! Instead, be ready for all possibilities and – in the worst case – to counter-strike.

Practical guide to Lisbon

June 7, 2010

Useful things to know when going on a trip to Lisbon can be read about here – the ones you would be lucky to find in guide books but that you would more likely hear from friends.

  • When considering location, pick a hotel on the south side. Some guide books or internet portals suggest to stay close to the city centre which may seem to be to the north but the most interesting part of the city (Bairro Alto, Chiado, Alfama) is in reality at the coast.
  • As a rule you get a map of the city from your hotel. It is not extremely detailed but usually sufficient.
  • Lisbon has been built on seven hills so there is lots of going up- and downhill. Still, I recommend walking as the best transportation means and experiencing the city. Otherwise, there are trams, buses and taxis.
  • When going sightseeing, get a bottle of water from a supermarket in advance (I recommend the Pingo Doce chain with green-black logo). On the tourist track they will sell you a 0,5 l bottle for €1.00 without blinking.
  • Eating out can cost from €2.86 (to €???) per head, depending what you like and where you are. Although it would seem that fish and other seafood are in abundance here and should not be expensive, most restaurants will charge you about €15 for an oversalted grilled tiger prawn. For a low budget trip prepare a packed lunch – they sell amazing bread* and beautiful fruits in the shops. Or go to Colombo shopping mall where at Chimarrão you will get a tasty and filling meal for the above mentioned price (the queue at lunchtime says it all).
  • Sunblock is a must in the spring/summer! Get it in advance – again, in the city or at the nice beaches further to the West they will charge you double!
  • Listening to fado is a one-of-a-kind experience. Tasca do Chico is no longer a truly locals-only pub but fado is still sung here (Mondays and Wednesdays as far as I remember). It’s cosy inside so prepare to be squeezed and sweat like in a sauna. There are also fado restaurants (one just along the road from Tasca…) but usually expensive.
  • Pastel de Nata (or Pastéis de Nata), a creamy custard tart, is one of the symbols of Lisbon. It is delicious, however, don’t expect to eat more than one unless you have an extremely sweet tooth. Pastéis de Belem are the exact same thing, well, perhaps a bit less sweet than the ones you get everywhere in Lisbon and served with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. It is your choice then whether you want to queue in the huge line that often forms in front of the famous Café Pastéis de Belém.
  • Beware of dodgy neighbourhood – believe me, there is such! If you are thinking of taking a shortcut or going off the tourist route, then think twice, especially if you are on your own.
  • Finally, if you have an extra day, visit Cascais. It is very charming with its marina, old town, sandy beaches and impressive rocky coast (see Devil’s Mouth – Boca do Inferno – further on along the coast). Again, a very expensive place! Trains go from Cais do Sodré station in the city. Alternatively, go to Sintra or the famous surfers’ beach at Guincho, and be prepared for long walks.

* A credit card (or a similar card) can serve perfectly well as a spreading knife if you are stuck – but use clean and only at own risk! Bank of Scotland seems to work best, AmEx is too bendy…