Yesterday: more gift and souvenir shopping in the morning. We started with a huge wine store down in Baixa, which offered us an excellent selection, helpful clerks, and enough samples to leave us both slightly dizzy.

Afterwards, a stop in one of the ubiquitous souvenir shops nearby, all of them run by Indian guys who speak flawless Portuguese. As we were leaving, one of them asked where we were from. When we replied California, he asked somewhat abashedly, “Wait — you speak English there, right???” Apparently Gabe’s Portuguese had him deceived.

Next: a small ceramic store, with some amazing examples of the azulejo art and a sweet, helpful sales lady, who was similarly stumped by Gabe’s fluency. She said that she knew we weren’t Brazilian because I don’t look it (wonder why not?), although she deemed that Gabe could pass for it. Apparently I merely amount to potentially Italian or Spanish. Still better than ‘Merican, I say.

Onwards to home, where I promptly collapsed into bed for a short power nap before a Skype call for work, which ended just in time for me to run up to my last Portuguese lesson for the month (and the year! and the decade!) The Greek guy didn’t show, so my tutor and I basically ended up chatting for 90 minutes, ranging through everything from Christmas traditions to her dog at home to crazy Lisboan taxi drivers (and how!) At some point during the conversation, I had to laud myself for getting to the point in just two short months where I can sit and at least listen, if with only minimal participation, to a conversation carried on almost entirely in Portuguese. Pretty cool if you ask me.

Get this though: for Christmas, the Portuguese eat their perennial favorite, cod — on the night of Christmas Eve. They also open their presents then, too. What’s the point of opening presents on Christmas Eve? It takes away all the sleepless suspense of waiting for Santa to come down the chimney! And really where’s the fun in that? Strangest of all though… for dessert, they eat French toast! Whaaa…??? So strange.

Home again, to work late and then collapse into bed with my Kindle yet again — aka my favorite location this week. Woke to the knowledge that we have just four more sleeps til a long, sleepless day and then… home. Woohoo!

Pics from my walk to class yesterday:

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