tiistai 28. helmikuuta 2017

How to Sauna – in Portugal

As Portugal is in carnival mood, I decided to seize the day and go to the gym. After a complete and well done workout I headed to the sauna.

As we Finns like to think – the sauna is a place where you sweat out the stress and anxiety of life. All the toxins of your body drip to the floor in the shape of small pearls. You experience a profound relaxation and leave with a peaceful mind.

But not in Portugal...

I have commented about this before, you can find my former observations in the blogpost GymtasticPortugal

How to sauna Portuguese style;

1.     The sauna is part of your workout. Abs in the sauna is a must. You go in, lie down on the highest bench and start to do crunches. The heat helps you burn more calories and you get fit faster. Anyone remembers sauna belt? Same idea. You sweat – a lot – and look slimmer until you drink a glass of water and wadabam. It’s back. Not common knowledge here…

2.     Sauna = tumble dryer. Of course you need to dry up your sweaty clothes after the workout. So why not put the sweaty underpants on the sauna bricks? They dry up faster. The smell is a minus, but who would care? Btw, the stove is a Harvia and I would just have loved to throw water on the stones…

3.     If you do not have flip-flops, use shoes. So somebody decided to wear tennis shoes to the sauna… the same genius wore also socks. The sensation of slimy toes is probably superb.

4.     After working out, it’s nice to have a post workout meal – in the sauna.

5.     If you do not have swimming pants or towel, go naked. Not disturbing at all. We Finns like to be nude, but in Portugal? Nope. I did not want to see what I witnessed.

6.     Push-ups. Someone once told me that the best workout is when you feel your head is going to explode, so why not do it in the sauna and occupy sitting space of other people. The warmer, the better, aim for the highest bench to have the optimal heat.

7.     If you are sick, have a cold or fever the sauna is the cure. (NOT?!?! You crazy people).  

8.     Throw a bucket full of water on the stones and sit on the floor. Makes sense. Not to me since I was sitting on the highest bench.

Picture from the internet... can't wait for Summer, sauna and sausage at the cabin. Relaxation. Until then, deal with crazy rituals in Portugal...

torstai 23. helmikuuta 2017

A traveling Heidi and crazy taxi drivers

Work has taken me several times to Germany and once to UK in the past weeks. There is one thing in common with all working trips (not only Bircher muesli and my incredible capability of finding it everywhere).

I have met some cray-ass-bem-louco taxi drivers. They seem to be more interested in your life than the regular hairdresser lady who seems to know everything about everyone on TV. Traveling by taxi is like a third degree interrogation or other weirdness.

I left on a Sunday afternoon to Germany to be in a meeting Monday morning. The Portuguese taxi driver is super talkative. “I hope you do not mind but, on the way to the airport I need to drop off things to my niece. Did I tell you my nieces are the cutest? So good looking?” Me thinking: Merlin´s beard, this one is crazy. So we went to drop off things somewhere to his super good looking niece, who btw, if you didn´t get it yet has got a twin. This additional new route took 20 min, and during that time I heard at least 10 times about his good looking niece(s) (the twins). I was also harassed to tell my nationality, rent price, house condition, workplace, studies etc… Not much lying to be done since he picked me up in front of my house.

In Germany I had an a**hole of a taxi driver. Because I was young and traveling by taxi to a nice hotel means that I MUST HAVE a lot of money. So the interrogation was about my monetary situation. Which is not good btw, student + loans + working in Portugal. The driver wanted me to pay him 20e of tip!?!?! After the whole rude questioning before. No way. Fight fight fight. FYI I am not paying 20e tip to a butt hole who assumes I am rich for travelling alone on a Sunday by cab for work. The taxi driver seemed to be mad at me for some reason. I did not know I had a thick wallet and was related to the King of Sweden… good to know when the bills arrive.

In the UK I was met by a cab driver who started asking questions one nanosecond after I got in the cab. I was picked up at an office building in the middle of industrial city suburbs – aka nowhere. “So? Were you on an interview?” Me: ? “Did it go well? It looks like it because your interviewer is waving to you outside?” Me: ????? I didn´t even have time to answer. After the questioning-vomit-attack ended, I replied horrified. “I am here for work.” The driver: “OOOOOOH. So you are not from the UK, where are you coming from?” Me: “Portugal” …and that’s how the fun started. I do not look Portuguese, I do not sound like one… How come I come from there, where do I work, live, eat, sleep, first time in the UK?, future plans?, weddings?? When I rushed out from this horrible questioning session the driver sticks his head out of the cab window to scream from the bottom of his lungs. 18 POUND TO THE AIRPORT TODAY, CALL MEEEEEEEEE. Over my dead body.

Arriving back to Lisbon, I got to know some Chinese people who are married and own a kebab place. Yes. I was involved again in a weird situation when the taxi driver decided to meet up with old friends when I was on board.

Next time I will take an Uber. Does not matter how illegal it is. They simply ask if the music is ok and if I want to have WIFI and stay the hell quiet. My Finnish personality cannot take more. Silence and space please.

sunnuntai 5. helmikuuta 2017

Pick your apartment wisely

This is important folks!

When you move to Portugal it is good to have some standard knowledge of the apartment you are going to live in. ...it applies also for Spain... and probably any country :D 

Jumping into a time machine, taking us almost two years back, when we moved to Lisbon with Swag N or Nik

It was the end of Summer (in Finland), late August, when Nik left ahead to find an apartment for our one year stay in Lisbon. He went to solve the apartment situation while I was packing our old apartment in Finland. Dude, it should have been the other way around. A 160 cm tall girl dragging all furniture and packing things together is not a good combo. I learned my lesson. 

The apartment situation was not too good since many students (about 10 000) move into Lisbon each year. The apartment range was small, extremely small and expensive. All apartments seemed to have a problem which we could not overcome. In the end we found a relatively good flat in Bairro Alto. It was in the budget range we set for ourselves, 800e. (It is expensive in Portugal). We even made the contract with a housing agency to have a legal back up, which later on did not work at all. Since the agency did not care. 

We moved in. 

One month later the rains started. I was casually at home doing my homework when suddenly it was raining inside the apartment. Crap. I put buckets (and basically anything I found from the kitchen) beneath the worst dripping places. I called the landlord and told him about the raining inside. 

Two days later the landlord shows up to see a completely soaked roof. Determining on his face it was very bad. But then he casually said "It will dry in the Summer, lets find the hole and cover it." OK?? Two weeks later the roof was re-painted (in a nice yellow tone that showed the moist coming through). The painter man also broke our vacuum cleaner (small thing), which we never said nothing about because there were worse issues. Like the roof. 
Next Spring it leaked again. But then we had had enough, since we also had mold in the apartment caused by water between the walls.. it was also touching the electricity wires.. but that was overseen by the landlord... Nik (Swag N) also had aggressive attacks of allergy, eyes watery and swollen 24/7, cough, asthma... 

In November I spoke sufficiently Portuguese to understand what our bills said. I figured that the landlord was asking us to pay water every month, although water is paid every two months. So when I pointed this thing out, he turned all bills to his home and started sending images of the bills instead. Which is illegal, but who cares. 
In January we had a whole year estimate payment of 250 euro of electricity we had not consumed but had to pay anyways. We were also getting tight on money at this point. 

In April we found a new apartment and decided to move since our contract with the old apartment was about to end. We cleaned up entirely the moldy smelly household, left it very pretty. 

In June when we were in Finland the landlord, who did not want to come visit the apartment for a last inspection (for a 10000 different reasons) said that we have left the apartment in an extremely bad shape and the vacuum cleaner was broken. Therefore, he did not want to pay us the deposit. Excellent. 

Then I returned to Lisbon in July to have an argument with this landlord (and give back the keys which I refused to give until he paid us back). I told about Nik's asthma, showed the mold, explained the vacuum cleaner and said that we cleaned the whole apartment. Then the landlord started accusing us of not paying bills?? What?? So I had to collect each and every single payment we made to show him that nothing was missing. Which was not. 

Conclusion. After a massive fight we had 550e back of our 800 euro deposit, because the vacuum cleaner (still working) was broken. 

I took the money and ran.

A picture from the street we lived in. The houses are built over 200 years ago. 

torstai 2. helmikuuta 2017

I met Scandinavians

I was super duper excited to meet people from the North a while a go, when I participated in a business meeting abroad. Excitement overload - reunite with the blondes.

Long story short. I was astonished of the way people behaved. The Nordic people claim that the Southern people are slow and nothing works. Man, this was proven wrong. Back to it soon..

Just because it makes my mouth water.
The Nordics covered Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Basically Scandinavia, though Finland is technically not part of it, but anyways. It was a jolly presentation where the Scandinavian were shown pictures of their countries and they had to explain what was in the images... Danish sausage wagon, Swedish midsummer party, Finnish Karelian pastry and Norwegian 17 May. It was funny.

Then the Finns claimed to be very silent people (as we all know) and all other Nordic countries nodded approvingly.  In the end the Finns spoke a-l-o-t. The other Scandinavians nodded or grumped in answer.

Throughout the event the Scandinavians were complaining about EVERYTHING. The attitude was cannot, never-ever, in my life would I?, uuuuf, puuuuf, how?, the laws.. This was something that went on for half a day.. The respective part of the day was supposed to be 1 hour to move on to real life issues.

I do not wonder why people use wrinkle cream like crazy in the cold North after frowning so much with the eyebrows. So many problems...
Everyone else seemed to see a challenge, something you solve and continue on with life. Something so small it does not even matter. But no...

In group works, the Scandinavians had nothing to say. Nope. Or maybe something... one thing, after encouragement.

To summarize it up, the Nordics were pulled to each other like magnets. They were speaking only among each other. They did not see challenges, only problems existed... and a possible soon death of all the stress they were showing.

I am not political at all. But honestly, all Northern people in the meeting were old, wearing dark and dull clothes and not happy at all. Where are all the new, young innovative people? I am in Portugal because Finland did not give me a chance regarding a resumé & academic corresponding employment. Would you believe? I have a higher living standard and job in Portugal. Holy moly.

The Swiss Little Heidi..
..whom I always hear about  
Why I wrote this text was to prove that something is happening. With me. Either I am integrating to Portugal, or I am actually seeing the world in other eyes.

Grande finale; I let everyone stare at me when I presented myself from Portugal. HEHE. I revealed my cover later causing an utter confusion. :DD

My name is German, I do not speak German. I am from Finland, but my mother tongue is Swedish. I live in Portugal, I am younger than you would ever hire a person in the North for a corresponding job and I am fluent in Portuguese. VOITTO. I have succeeded with my international mission.

Good Night or Good Morning!
(Whenever you are reading my post).

Até já