justin adler, blog, buenos aires, bahia blanca, university of arizona, brooklyn, basketball, travel, paul mcpherson

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Part 14: Porto

Porto: If you think it’s fun being unemployed in Spain, just wait until you spend a week coloring birdhouses in your Portuguese garden.

Again Portugal has brought out the wanna-be-tourism copywriter in me. Granted that pitch above is slightly faulted because, generally speaking, people who are unemployed probably don’t have money for vacation… And maybe the guys who hang out all day in Barcelona’s parks have tried painting birdhouses in Portugal and they prefer their do-nothing-in-a-park routine. 

But either way, that’s just a bizarre segue for me to launch into a story about our hosts in Porto, who enjoyed their unemployed lives much more than any of the other unemployed hosts we stayed with. 

“If you think you’re having fun collecting government checks in Spain, meet Arnold!”

Sure he wishes he was still running his restaurant that didn’t survive in Portugal’s brutal economic crisis, but now he spends his days sitting in an unkempt backyard, using a compass to make intricate designs on the side of a birdhouse. After three days of making circles, he fills them in with colored pencils. 

“But aren’t his culinary skills going to waste while he colors bird houses?” you may ask.

No, he still makes a tasty soup, and if you’re lucky enough to catch his 1am veggie medley, we’ll you’re in for a real treat.

“If you think you’re having fun applying for jobs in Spain, meet Tiago!”

We’re still not sure what Tiago does. Some days he hosts jam sessions in his backyard. Other days he meticulously combs the garden for broken mosaic tiles. Then he puts them back into the soil in moderately pretty patterns.

Every day he has an awesome beard.

He’s also really good at playing mixtapes comprised of swing-versus-electro beats.

“If you think you’re having fun wondering how you’re going to put food on the table, meet Rui!”

He doesn’t quite fit in with this bohemian hippy house as he’s roughly 20 years the senior of all the other residents. He’s extremely knowledgeable in all things Portugal. He may or may not be sleeping with Arnold.

The fact that all these guys were so happy really toyed with me as I need a silly freelance copywriting job as much for the feeling that I’m doing something productive in life, as I do for the money. These guys don’t give a shit and are awesome for it.

Casa da Musica
Not my picture
Dustin sends me a lot of New York Times articles with slideshows of beautiful architecture. I click and view these slideshows. Other than that I don’t know anything about architecture. The Casa da Musica (designed by Rem Koolhaus) was amazing though. I felt like I was in the not-so distant future sitting in a meteor-shaped theater with gold-leaf digital tiger print on the side walls.

I also think that if you name your kid Rem Koolhaus, he’s going to be an architect, and probably a badass one.

Is it true that Porto’s landscape architects are a little stand-off-ish?
Not so much so, but they’re not the warmest people in the world based on my encounter with one landscape architect named Sara (Tiago’s girlfriend) who kept a landscape architecture book on a music stand in the bathroom which was weird. But her own backyard was such a mess that maybe she needs all the inspiration she can get.


Sound-reflecting bubble above Casa da Musica stage

Astor Place Cube rip-off

My rough attempt at a panorama