Yesterday was a lazy, rainy Saturday kind of day.

We went to the gym in the early afternoon, which for a total change in roles, Gabriel actually talked me into doing. Once there, I was glad I went, as I successfully did my first weight workout without the trainer. Turns out I’ve been looking in the wrong place for social interaction at the gym — I thought classes were the way to go, but the weight area was way more social than anywhere else I’ve discovered in this gym. The roving trainer, a tiny woman who came up to my chest and was the size of one of my legs, was oh so helpful and friendly, chatting with everyone, but even the people working out (mostly men) were congenial and polite.

That wasn’t the only revelation I had while there, however. To our mutual surprise, I struggled to complete the arm exercises assigned to me by my trainer. We had both assumed that because I work out so often, it would be easy for me to add weights… not so. I haven’t lifted anything more than my body weight in ages, so I was struggling towards the end, and am feeling the effects today. That definitely cut me down to size!

Thankfully, I had enough energy left over to spend the rest of the afternoon cleaning the house in preparation for our small expat Thanksgiving celebration next Friday. Since it’s so tiny, our flat only takes a couple of hours to clean, instead of the full day our house at home requires. Still, it gives me a huge sense of accomplishment to see the floors shining and clean sheets on the bed. I’m such a housewife sometimes.

Feeling very virtuous, we went out for another tried and true rainy-day activity: dinner and a movie. We decided to check out a different cinema this time, which was also located in a shopping complex and surrounded by a food court. We’re quickly discovering that these food courts are the way to go. At home that would not be the case, but at least 4 or 5 of the different restaurants there offered really tasty-looking salad options, along with two gourmet burger chains, a kebab stall, sandwiches, soups — far more variety than you’d find at a typical Portuguese restaurant. Plus they are cheaper than anything else out there, with a good dinner that we both enjoy costing us around ten euros total.

The big bonus though is that we can actually eat at 6:30 without feeling like total freaks. Granted, most of the people around us were only eating snacks or drinks and not dinner, but those people were actually Portuguese. If we could have even found a normal restaurant open that early, guaranteed we’d have been surrounded by nothing but tourists. So strangely enough, eating at a mall food court here is actually more of a genuine cultural experience than going out to a proper restaurant. Go figure.

That was the extent of our cultural enrichment though, as the movie we saw, 2012, was terrible, and the theater itself kind of a mess. They made us wait in a big long line to get in, and then we all crammed into the tiny theater at once, with everyone landing on top of each other. The screen was small, the sound system terrible, and the bathrooms were closed the entire time “for cleaning.” The kids next to us talked and played on their cell phone for most of the movie (it’s not a good sign when a disaster flick doesn’t even hold the interest of a pre-teen boy), and the kid behind me joined in the chorus by kicking the back of my seat.

All of that would’ve been fine if the movie’s producers had actually had enough money left over from the CGI effects to hire a few writers. Alas, they did not. So the scenes of California sliding into the Pacific, while priceless, were totally undercut by the overwrought, melodramatic human interest storylines they tried to make us care about. I mean honestly, when the ENTIRE HUMAN RACE IS AT RISK and you have ten minutes to save it, are you really going to take three of those minutes to convince your son to stay behind and look after your daughter because then you’ll know she’s safe?! Come on. Give me a break.

What this world needs more of is good writers, not gigantic accident-prone arks ready for the end of days so that you can save all the people rich enough to buy tickets with a 1 billion euro price tag. I think I’d rather slide into a crack in the earth, thank you very much.

After sitting through almost three hours of this crap, we finally emerged gratefully into the cold night air, drained from the effort of trying to care about what happened to such an obnoxious version of the human race for that long. Too jumpy to just go home, however, we took the metro down to the main touristy/nightlife area, as we’d noticed earlier that some of the Christmas decorations they’ve been hanging for a month now were finally lit.

We were not disappointed by our detour. We walked home through the streets of Baixa, overhung with huge balls of light, sideways Christmas trees, and stars, with the buildings and columns dripping in lights. They definitely take their Christmas (or Natal) seriously here — to our benefit. San Francisco will certainly have a hard time competing in the decoration arena next month!

It was a beautiful end to a chill, relaxed kind of day, and we came home late and happy, ready for sleep and more adventures today.

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