Tag Archives: Portuguese

A Brief History of Portugal, from the Old Man on Tram 15

Mosteiro dos Jeronimos Hieronymites Architecture in Lisbon with Gothic archways and stonework

At the back of the tram carriage heading from central Lisbon to Belém, a little old man hovers, clad in stone-coloured trousers, sensible shoes and a thick green coat, despite the stifling July heat. I offer him my seat, but he refuses, insisting he’s happy to stand.

“Where are you from?” He asks, as we follow a sweeping curve in the tram tracks. England, I say. Near London. He’s never visited but knows all the highlights.

A proud Lisboeta, he admits there isn’t a lot to see en route until we reach Belém itself. “However,” he says, pointing at a blur of buildings behind a pastel wall, “that was the colonial hospital, where they treated tropical diseases.”

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Vintage Language Lessons: J.I. Roquette’s Portuguese from the 1840s

Discoveries Map of Europe. Credit: University of Texas

Tucked away on a shelf inside a quiet antique bookshop, I found the best souvenir of my trip to Lisbon – a tiny language guide with a wordy title. J.I. Roquette’s Guia de Conversação Portuguez-Inglez, para uso dos Viajantes e dos Estudantes (Guide to Portuguese-English Conversation for Travellers and Students) doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but this little book was a real insight into 19th century travel, delivered by a country famous for its explorers. If anyone should be advising fellow adventurers, surely it should be the Portuguese.

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