Porto- The Sequel

IMG_6840- lightened

Back in July of last year (which was 2017 in case you’re reading this in 2098 after unearthing my old laptop from the strata of dirt beneath what used to be our house), Carolyn and I made the three hour drive up to Porto, where we we ended up just being drunk on port for four days and so don’t remember anything. Ok, I’m lying. We were only drunk for three days. The other day we were recovering from the first three so we could drive home.

IMG_6832Anyway, I made the trip again with two friends I originally met at Burning Man, Cale and John Lee. They drink a lot less port than Carolyn, so I barely got really, really drunk. Which was good because it was only a one-day trip and neither of them know how to drive on the opposite side of the road. Which is good because they don’t do that here, unless you’re on a motorcycle, or they’re passing you while continuously honking because you were only doing 100 miles an hour on the freeway.

After a nice sandwich lunch (it’s hard to find a bad meal in Portugal… unless I’m making dinner), our first stop was to a famous bookstore, called “Livraria Lello,” which means, “Yellow Bookstore.” Except not in Portuguese. That’s only in little kid language. Not sure what lello means otherwise. Maybe the founder’s kid named it when he was three after mistakenly thinking he was being asked what color his pee was when he was really being asked “What color it should it be?”

The signature decor was a massive staircase that went up all the way to the next floor, which, surprisingly, had more books.

It looked more like a library than a bookstore, except a library that prices all their books, isn’t quiet, has a massive staircase, doesn’t loan out books, doesn’t offer library cards, plus has an entrance fee. Although you get your fee back as a discount if you buy a book.

A lot of the books were actually in English (not that I can read that anymore), although of course the Portuguese language dominated most of the offerings. Nothing in French I could see, probably because they’re so rude. Nothing in Swahili either, because that’s only spoken in shithole countries by people living in huts.

IIMG_6809 almost bought this book because it’s pretty funny, at least the parts I read after tearing open the protective plastic covering and setting off a bunch of alarms. But I didn’t buy it because I didn’t want to carry it around all day, plus I didn’t want to get mistaken for a doctor. Actually, Cale is a doctor, which made me feel better about his driving on the wrong side of the road. Anyway, I was intrigued with it because it highlights all the silly things people believe. And if you think whatever you believe is now so sophisticated and modern, trust me, in another 50 years they’ll print another edition. In that one they’ll highlight that some people actually ignored 98% of the world’s climatologists and thought the world’s climate is impossible to be affected by human beings. That, in addition to daily enemas, are the cornerstones of silly beliefs. Which is funny because with beliefs like that, who needs enemas?

It also had a stained glass skylight, which is perfect for a SWAT team to come crashing through if they used it in the movies, or someone steals a book.


They also had a very realistic display of a bunch of Portuguese kids. You can tell they’re Portuguese because they speak Portuguese (or would if they weren’t wax or whatever they were). Plus there are no blondes to be found. Plus we’re in like, uh, Portugal.

Trivia alert: Did you know that blond is for boys and blonde is for girls? And Blondie is only for comic strips.


This lady is in the back room working on her diary. So we took pictures in order to report her screwing off to management. Actually, she’s restoring a 100+ year-old book. It takes her about a month to restore the entire thing. She goes through each page, cleaning and fixing, etc. After they restore it, they throw it in a bonfire in order to reenact Tru- er, Hitler’s edicts.

Trivia alert 2: Did you know Portugal was neutral during World War II? It ended up being a strategic departure point to escape Europe. This is a big plot point in Casablanca.

Trivia alert 3: Did you know “Play it again Sam” is never spoken in that movie? All he says is, “Play it Sam.” Which is odd, because the piano player’s name was Horace.


The corner of this building is decorated by a rabbit made from trash found behind barber shops. You know, because that’s where all the hares are. Interestingly, the car is not a VW rabbit. You’d think it would be a VW rabbit-only parking zone.

We took a tram ride on, of all things, a tram. We were treated to a great view of the city, but mostly we just took it so we wouldn’t have to walk back up the 542 steps it took to get down to the river. Like Lisboa, Porto is as hilly as Kim Kardashian.

Because of all the hills, great views abound. Just not of Kim. Which is good, because I don’t particularly enjoy looking at her.

But I still had to take pictures of my companions to keep them happy.


Like so many places in Europe, a castle is a part of the skyline. Unfortunately, the knights are all dead, so it looks like it’s for sale (aluga-se means “say aluga” in Portuguese, which is their way of honking an old car horn because car horns are illegal in Portugal). Okay, I’m lying, it’s not their way of honking an old car horn. Their way of honking an old car horn is getting into an old car and being annoyed that you’re driving in front of them. And they’re not illegal. I’m reminded of that every time I drive.

Aluga-se actually means “for rent.” And the sign isn’t even for the castle. It’s for apartment below. Just cut a hole in the ceiling and you have a 24/7 view of a castle wall!

The trip showed me that while Carolyn and I are very excited to see lots of Europe, just because we visited someplace once doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go back. While I saw parts of Porto I remembered, I saw different parts of the city that I hadn’t seen before. Of course, it’s hard to see much through the bottom of a shot glass.

Stop signIt’s a very pretty city, very clean, and definitely caters far more to English speakers than in Lisboa. Even the stop signs say “stop.” While that is also true for the rest of Portugal, the signs say it with a better accent there.

I’m pretty sure the sign on the right was erected by someone who just read this blog.

Anyway, the city’s climate is a little cooler than Lisbon’s, which is the main reason we didn’t settle there. That and we didn’t visit it until after we bought our house. When I saw it in a map I just thought it was showing where a very large wine store was.

So I’ll take her back sometime, and we’ll ride the tram and walk the boardwalk and probably see Douro Valley again, where the port originates. Maybe the lady will be done restoring the book by then, and I’ll get her started on my dog-eared copy of “Quackery.”

It’s the New Year- Party Like an Animal!

Since Carolyn is stuck in the states and as a result I am rather devoid of much in the way human contact (the Portuguese don’t count because so many of them are very short), I decided to go to the Lisbon Zoo and mingle with my fellow animals.

It’s a nice zoo- not overly large, but compares favorably to the zoo in Portland with about the same number of animals. They do have a dolphin show, which, combined with wandering around seeing all the other animals, made it a good three hour tour. A three hour tour. The weather started getting rough– oh wait, that’s a different show.

Without further ado here is the documented evidence of the visit (well, after this paragraph anyway… so there is just a bit more ado to do… and even a dodo). Thanks to baldsasquatch.com (which is this site in case you got here by accident), you can now visit The Lisbon Zoo virtually without forking over the 20.50 euro entrance fee. So send it to me. Okay I’ll discount it by half, you didn’t have to experience the smells.

20.50 euros seemed a little expensive, but some of that goes to helping animals in the wild where so many are threatened with extinction and many are going away forever.Dodo In fact, what we are seeing today is an extinction rate estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. So while zoos kinda suck for the animals that are in there, they do play a part in helping some of them not go the way of the dodo. I’m sad that we don’t get to see dodos anymore. It would help to see someone more stupid than– oh never mind. I won’t go there. You fill in your own damn blank.


The animals were kind enough to erect a Christmas tree for their captors in the courtyard.


These rhinos aren’t horny but they were sure hungry. They must have cut off the horns for safety. What? Excuse me? What did you think I meant?

African buffalo and American buffalo in adjoining pens. I wouldn’t bet a buffalo nickel against the American buffalo’s butt getting kicked by the African version in a fair fight. Those horns don’t play second fiddle to anyone.

IMG_6626I made sure the camel’s feet weren’t in the picture because, y’know, this is a family-friendly blog and all.

These cute little meerkats were interesting, in that the pen was simply a wall of glass just a few feet high. You’d think they’d jump out pretty easily. After all, it’s something any other mere cat could easily do.

Many of the animal pens had at least five or six of the same large animals in it. Which is nice. The fella on the left could just about reach me over the fence, but I’ve seen enough internet videos of the horrific slobbery mess a giraffe’s tongue can make to not stick out my neck for that risk.


Only in Portugal can you buy an apartment that overlooks the elephant pen. I wonder how they advertise it? “Included: free elephant viewing 24/7! And we promise, you’ll barely notice the smell after a while, or until your husband farts for the fifth time in an hour, whichever comes first!”


This guy is digging through the neighbors’ trash, hoping to find a discarded copy of Playelephant.

Speaking of elephants, did you know they were self aware? They conducted a study whereby they put a huge mirror in front of one. The animal proceeded to figure out that it was his (could be a hers, but we’ll just use ‘his’ to keep it simple), and began checking out parts of his body he couldn’t otherwise see! True story.

The lion exhibit was pretty decent. You can even go around to the top and look down on them from above. They were of course, as usual, just lyin’ around.


Orangutans are one of my favorite animals. They were pretty calm on this day though, except for one that was chasing around a monkey that liked to taunt him and scamper away before he got caught. Apparently monkeys drive apes ape.


The cheetah pen was fairly impressive in that they were all walking around (there was at least 6 or 7 of them) and then they’d pass right by the glass enclosure and sometimes just stand there for a second or two and stare. The newbies do that because they think they’re ordering off the menu.

Just don’t ever play poker with them, because, y’know, they’re all cheetahs.


The chimps were hugging it out… you would too if you were trapped in a cage the rest of your life.


But their play area was pretty large… plenty of room for them to monkey around. Oops, I mean ape around.

They say the great apes, like the chimps, are our closest animal relatives. About 98% of the DNA in your genes is exactly the same as in chimpanzees, making you as closely related to a chimp as horses are to zebras. That said, I’m guessing the 2% of the DNA that went missing is somehow related to picking your butt and eating your poop, as this guy is doing.

Speaking of which, did you ever notice that humans may be the only animal with a butt whereby the actual anus is sandwiched between the biggest hunks of fat the body has? It’s as if evolution (or the creator, whichever your pleasure) said, “Hey, you may be related to the chimps- but we’re going to stop that butt-picking nonsense right here and now!” Thank God for that. I hate the taste of poop.


This is obviously a female monkey because of course, she has a mop attached.


The ocelot was nowhere to be seen. I think it’s false advertising. They should be called ocenones if they’re not going to show up.

Drunken Santa

It’s around Christmastime, so of course we have to have reindeer. Never mind that this isn’t really a reindeer. It’s a deer and it almost rained, so I guess it’s an almost rained deer. This drunken Santa doesn’t care anyway; he’s obviously still recovering from his busy workday a week ago.

Okay stop it. It took me more than a few minutes to photoshop that guy behind a chain link fence, which took away from my time to make a better joke. Wait ’til next year!


Oh my Sweet Baboo– how I love you so! What? Your butt is swollen just for me? I’m so flattered!


This is an impressive enclosure for the deer… what? Deer? You build a monument befitting the king of beasts, or at the least the orangutans, and you put plain ol’ deer in there? Management! Get me a dinosaur or something!


They named this the brown bear. I’m not sure why.

It looks like he’s saying, “Yeah, I just killed ‘im, so whataya gonna do about it?”


This Grey Bird (hey, if the animal above is named a Brown Bear, I assume this is named a Grey Bird) almost coulda pecked my eye out through the fence. Fortunately, it was too big a-strich.

Dammit, I’m sorry. I’m working on the material guys. I can’t hit a homer every time. Let me have a foul ball once in a while, okay? What? All of them are foul balls? Yeah, yeah, just look at the pictures and pipe down.

These guys put on a nice show feeding the pelicans. They got right up to the fence. Of course, they were speaking Portuguese the whole time (the trainers, not the pelicans), but I laughed when everyone else did just so I could fit in.


“Hey, we break out at midnight.” “Okay.” “Hey, we break out at midnight.” “You already said that.” “Of course I did, I’m a parrot, stupid.” “Oh.” “Yeah and by the way… hey, we break out at midnight.”


Tigers are some of the coolest cats around. They sleep 16-20 hours a day. It’s almost like they’re retired like me! Sadly, there’s only about 4,000 tigers left in the wild. 4,000! I killed more flies than that in my backyard last summer! What a loss to the world it would be to have this magnificent animal become extinct.


While not overly large, the Lisbon Zoo has some nice wide boulevards. Which is good because they have a McDonalds on site as well.


Speaking of dying (because of, you know, eating at McDonalds), the zoo had a touching feature whereby they have a large graveyard dedicated to just the animals. Not sure if there are any elephants in there or not.

Certainly one of the highlights of the zoo is the dolphin exhibition. I decided to sit and watch despite the growing worldwide awareness that in order to teach them to act like trained seals, they need to virtually torture and starve them until they become dependent on their human handlers. There may not be many of these shows left after a while. Despite all that, the dolphins seemed happy, I mean, they were smiling the whole time, even after the show was over.

They also had trained seals that acted like dolphins. I was very confused. I think they did that on porpoise.


This guy is moving through the water at two dolphinpower. Which begs the question, shouldn’t boat engines be rated by dolphinpower and not horsepower? I mean, horses can swim and everything, but I’d take a ten dolphinpower engine over a ten horsepower engine any day.

After the show I decided to approach the personnel in charge and demand that I get to interact with the dolphins personally or I was going to blow this dolphin training debacle thing wide open. They said something in Portuguese that sounded like swearing, and then told me in English to get lost. So I told them I was just a stupid American (“sou Americano estupido”) and I was all alone in Portugal, even on Christmas (all alone-o em PortaGAL onno Christmasso”). That didn’t impress them either. So I gave them 100 euros and they gave me a life vest and told me to go ahead on in.

Just kiddin’, these pictures are from 2006 in Mexico. You can tell because I still have a teensy bit of hair on top, plus I’m obviously recovering from a margarita hangover.

All in all, The Lisbon Zoo is a nice zoo. I’d give it eight animal poops out of ten.

Now I can go to bed early on New Year’s Eve because I already partied like an animal.