Saturday, 28 November 2015

Same old same old.

Walking along the road the other day, we spotted a chap leaning on the corner of a building. "Watch out!" said Phil, "That beggar is about to jump out at us." And, lo and behold, he did so, just like the jester in the closing credits fro Blackadder. The next moment he was there in front of us, hand outstretched and whiney voice going into an incomprehensible litany. At least he took no for an answer. There is another one who follows you down the street, continuing his whine. I saw him again his morning, bumming a cigarette of a man on the street. Having got his cigarette, he then asked if he didn't have a bit of spare change as well. And, of course, there are also the parking beggars, ushering drivers into parking spaces that they can access quite well on their own. As in Spain, then, so in Portugal. 

One difference I have noticed concerns talking about money. When something costs, for example, €2.50, they are quite likely to say "two and a half", "dois e meia", rather than "two euros fifty". 

Today is the last day of the chess tournament here. Today's round begins at 2.00pm instead of 7.00pm, presumably to allow time for prize giving? There was a suggestion earlier in the week that they might start this round at 10.00am. Apart from one chap who suggested 11.00am, nobody was brave enough to say that 10.00 was too early. Fortunately there was a young man who came in from somewhere outlying by public transport every day and he pointed out that he could simply not arrive in time. So back to 2.00pm they went. Phew! My chess player was relieved! 

There is some kind of event going on in our hotel today: lots of people in smart business clothes. There are no fancy frocks or hats or fascinators so I don't think it's a wedding. They were all gathered noisily at breakfast time this morning and as I came back from the station at around midday they seemed to be having drinks and snacks in the ground floor reception area. Still noisy! 

I went to the station to ask about trains to Oporto on Monday and came away armed with timetables for the slow train from here to Coimbra B and for the fast trains from Coimbra B to Oporto. The train station is in a state of chaos; major renovation work is going onto the old station building and all information giving and ticket sales are taking place in a kind of hut on the station forecourt. 

The bus station is just next to the train station. There an oldish, partially-sighted man was being helped to find a bench by a lady who had dumped her basket of shopping at the corner of the street. I swear the same man was being assisted in exactly the same way when last I went to the station for information. And that was a year ago. It was a curious mind of déjà vu! 

Perhaps he just finds a spot there to sit in the sunshine every day! And why not?

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