Aamir in Portugal

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In case you didn't realize it, you can click on the pictures for a bigger images.

Monday, 9 July 2001
Only one more week left! Where has the summer gone?

I came into school bright and early today because I only have three more days to help the students with their projects before they demonstrate what they've done. I told them I'd be available to assist them all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so I'll be in the office all day for the next couple of days. Bugger.

I left at around 6pm to meet Marta, who agreed to help me find a birthday present for Jannie. We'll be going to her birthday party on Wednesday night, which is also Jannie's last day in Aveiro. It'll be a fun birthday/farewell party.

I stopped to check the bus schedule on the way to the Forum to meet Marta. I planned on going to a BBQ in Barra later that night, so I wanted to know which bus I would have to catch. Shopping took a little longer than planned, and I realized I couldn't make it to the BBQ. I can't tell you what we bought because the party isn't until Wednesday, but it's a good gift.

When I realized I couldn't make it at any reasonable hour to Barra, we decided to go see a movie, Pearl Harbor. It's 3 hours and I wasn't expecting much more than lots of explosions and no story. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a much better movie than I thought it would be. And a lot more accurate, historically, than Hollywood usually makes.

After the movie we went back to the residence and chatted for a while, until I decided I had to head home to prepare for another long day in the office.

Tuesday, 10 July 2001
Got an early start on the day and made it into school by 8:30am. I started packing things up in my office. I got a little work done in the morning also, but Joca was having some problems with his electronics, so I spent time helping him work through some tests.

After lunch, I packed up a few more things, and stopped to take a look at Sergio's robot when he came in. He was having different problems, so we started working through those. I got him started on some tests, and started looking up some information about the south of Portugal.

Eventually, we worked out Joca's board problem and most of Sergio's, but Sergio went to test a few things on the oscilliscope around the time that I left for dinner, just before 7pm. Professor Doty and I had Chinese food for dinner, then I went home and started packing my suitcase to send back with Professor Doty since I don't plan on dragging all my equipment around for the next couple of weeks. That's pretty much how I spent the night.

Wednesday, 11 July 2001
Today was the last day of regular classes for my students. They will show their work on Friday because tomorrow I have to go to Lisbon to pick up Andrea. I held office hours for the whole day, until 6pm, after which I rushed home to get ready for Jannie's birthday party. I had just enough time for a quick shower and change. Fortunately Marta and I had already been shopping for her present.
We all sat down to dinner at around half past eight. Jannie and her boyfriend made the salsa, and all the fixings for burritos and tacos. They turned out to be really good. After dinner we went out the praça to hang out for a while. We arrive and found that there were some street performers there.

We stopped to watch them for a while since we were a little early for most of our friends. The clown was juggling bowling pins, while the giant (he's on stilts) was juggling tennis balls. Jannie even helped him when he dropped one. And then there was the human flamethrower. He was pretty fun to watch.

Thursday, 12 July 2001
I got up real early today to go pick up Andrea down in Lisbon. I started out for the train station at 5:45 am to catch my 6:15 train for Lisbon. Andrea was due in at 12:30 in Lisbon, and that was the only train that could get me there on time.

I actually got to the station in Lisbon at 10:30, and then had to figure out how to get to the airport from the train station. It turned out that there was a bus right there, so I took that and headed out. About 30 minutes later I made it to the Lisbon International Airport.

So what did I do for an hour and a half? I wandered around the airport and came upon a post office, where I could confirm the that Andrea's flight had left on time from the states. I didn't even have to buy an access card because there was a backpacker who didn't want his. Bonus, I ended up with an almost full access card for internet access in Portugal.

I headed back to the airport and met a guy from Michigan State while waiting for the flight to arrive. When she arrived, I took Andrea over to the train station and we shared a meia de leite, which is half coffee and half milk. It's good with lots of sugar, which is pretty much the only way I can drink coffee. Andrea feels the same about coffee, but she fell in love with this drink.
On the way back to Aveiro we took this picture. That night we went out for a little while for the regular Thursday night gathering of students. Even though Andrea hadn't slept at all on the plane and I was pretty tired we stayed out for quite a while and had fun. I introduced everyone around and we got back in the wee hours of the morning.

Friday, 13 July 2001
Demo Day!
The students showed off the fruits of their labors over the course of the summer. Joca had the best robot of the bunch. That top one on the left is his. The goal was to find the other robots and flip them over. You can see the forklift he built to do just that. To the right you can see Professor Doty tantalizing Joca's robot with a TJ.
While the servos were a little too weak to flip the robots completely, they got pretty close. I also managed to get a picture of Sergio's robot before my batteries died. His is the second one on the left, and you can see the similar design philosophies.

The Ladies
After a day at school Andrea, Professor Doty and I had a dinner date with Helene at a little restaurant I've been hearing about from Dr. Doty all summer. It's a fancy little Italian restaurant owned by a former Belgian soccer player who now lives in Portugal. The famous dish he kept telling me about was steak on a stone which I've been waiting to try.
The Guys
Helene and Professor Doty went straight for the steak on a stone, while I decided to go for a new variation . . . ostrich steak on a stone, and Andrea chose a pork dish. Now, I'm sure you're all wondering right now what the big deal is about a steak on a stone, aren't you? That's why I'm going to tell you.
They've got this big stone furnace in the back of the dining area and in that furnace they keep small (about 4" x 4") stone nice and hot. When you order your food, it's seasoned and placed on one of these stones, then served to you raw. The steak cooks while you eat it. Actually, you just cut pieces off and set them on the stone until they are cooked to your liking, then you enjoy the delicious food.
It tastes even better than it sounds, take my word for it! That ostrich steak was one of the best steaks I've ever had. It was tender and very tasty. Definitely something to try if you're ever over there.
Now, when you have food this great it's hard to leave room for dessert, but how could we resist? To the right is a round-robin of our desserts. Professor Doty got the chocolate mousse, while the three of us got different crepes. Andrea got the strawberry crepe with strawberry ice cream, and Helene got the chocolate one. As you can see from my expression, my chocolate and peach crepe was the best of the bunch.
After dinner we started walking back home and I spotted another of those tiny cars. If you remember, I posed next to one a while back, and Andrea insisted that I do it again so I'd have a shot of it from the beginning and end of my time in Portugal. So, in the interests of consistency, here's the picture. I'm not sure, but I think it's actually the same car I posed beside before.
Sometime during the walk home, we decided to drive out to Costa Nova to walk on the beach for a bit, so when we returned we hopped in the car and headed out. In case you can't tell, That's Andrea and Helene standing there near the lighthouse.
A cool wind was blowing pretty hard, so we didn't stay out as long as we had planned. Andrea and I climbed around on some artificial breakers so we could get a better view out on the ocean.
Later that night . . .

Andrea, and I talked Helene into joining us for our last big night out with many of my new friends. The semester is ending, and many of them will be returning to their homes soon.
I can't even order drinks in peace. Actually, while I was asking about our tab, Andrea decided I needed a new hairdo, and Marta grabbed the camera to save it for posterity. Obviously she wasn't happy with the results, so later she tried again when we were posing for a group picture.

Saturday, 14 July 2001
It's Saturday, and Andrea and I woke up early to meet Marta and Aga at the train station for a day of sightseeing in Porto. Andrea and I got to the station, and we couldn't find our Polish pals anywhere. Shortly before the train was scheduled to leave, I called Marta to find out what was up. It turns out that they overslept. After checking the schedule, we agreed that Andrea and I would take the train we had planned on, while Marta and Aga would take the next one. The next train was an express, so they would only get there about 20 minutes after us after all, so Andrea and I agreed to meet them at a cafe near the rail station.
Andrea and I caught the 10am train and headed out despite the ominous looking weather. Usually when the weather is bad in Aveiro, it's nice in Porto and vice-versa, so we decided to chance it. When we got to Porto, it was still raining and gloomy out. When Marta and Aga got there, we posed for this picture as we enjoyed our morning coffee.
Our first stop was the wine cellar at the Calem for the tour and the free samples. The four of us got the same guide that Marta and I had a couple of weeks ago, only this time she let me take a picture of her and the different types of Port wine. Once again, the red port is on the left and the white port is on the far right. As you go towards the middle they get older.
As you see, our host is nice and dry. We, on the other hand had to make a break for it across the bridge to the cellar so we were pretty wet, but you can see that we dried off a little as the tour came to an end.

We were worried for a while that with the weather looking the way it was we'd be flooded by the end of the day. Tasha reassured us and showed us these markers on the wall. They indicate the water levels at times when the river overran its banks and flooded the cellars. The last time was over a decade ago.
At the end of the tour, we enjoyed our wine and discussed what to do for the rest of the day. Marta and Aga decided to head home and come back on a brighter day. Andrea and I don't really have the time for that since we're leaving Aviero for good on Monday so we decided to stay and spend the rest of the day in town.
A parting shot outside of Calem shows the type of day it was. The sun kept threatening to show up, but the rain always seemed to win out and keep us from drying out. Andrea and I chose to stay on this side of the river and explore a few more of the wineries. Along the way, we found some people building a neat looking boat by hand, so we stopped and asked if we could take a few pictures.
Andrea and the boat Aamir and the boat
We also took a couple of individual pictures, so if you're interested then click on the two links above. We spent a little time looking around the boat and asking a few questions of the people working on it. It's a pretty neat project, and we talked until we started getting a bit chilly, which is when we decided to see what else was open and go on a few more tours.
We stopped at a few other wine cellars, but a lot of them had stopped running tours for the day. At Sandeman we got to see some more cellars and try some different types of Port. We decided to pick up some Port to bring back with us, so we stopped at Calem again before leaving Porto to buy some. Below are some links to pictures we took in the other cellars.
The Drowned Rat Look I'm soaked! Mmmm...good wine. Posin! Almost Dry

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