My Name Is Pedro

Sister Rhi and I just got back from a few days in sunny Lisbon. It was our first trip together since the Baltic Saga of 2004, which I still haven’t finished writing about! So instead of my usual slow, tedious manner of taking years to write about holidays in carefully crafted episodes, I am just going to blurt out some random thoughts in unruly fashion until it’s time for bed.

Lack of Blokes
I left my husband at home for this trip. I like to keep the Home Office and my mother-in-law guessing… Sham Marriage: Yes Or No?

I try to make an effort to learn a little of the native tongue before hitting a foreign country, with varying degrees of success. I spent three months cramming basic Spanish, I could only muster “ham” in Latvian. Not that all that Spanish did me any freaking good. I am okay at learning to read/listen/write in foreign languages but absolutely stink at saying the words out loud to actual residents of that country. Verbal conversation just ruins a perfectly good language for me. I panic and go red-faced and squeaky, rendered mute in anticipation of butchering a beautiful language. I’d been rehearsing a simple line for weeks, “Two train tickets for Valencia please,” but when I finally rocked up to the ticket counter I froze, and just open and shut my mouth for ten minutes before running away.

So for this trip I was determined to learn some goddamn Portugese. My father-in-law loaned me his tapes at Christmas and the task was at the top of my New Years Resolutions list. But somehow it became the Night Before The Trip and all I knew was “bom dia” and wondered if it was more important for me to know which way to the monastery or My name is Pedro.

A conversation with a charmingly wacky taxi driver went like this:

TAXI DRIVER:  Bom dia!

SHAUNA:  Bom dia!

TD:  Do you speak any Portugese?

S:  …. I can’t remember the word for no!

TD:  You don’t speak any Portugese! [pounds steering wheel and pretends to cry] Why? Why!? WHY!?!

The Hotel
Rhi works for a Very Fancy Hotel in London. Each year she gets a number of complimentary nights at any Very Fancy Hotel in the world and was kind enough to use a few for our trip. When we arrived at Very Fancy Hotel Lisboa Branch, the foyer was swarming with expensive people and their matching luggage. I was pink and mildly sweaty, because I’ve lived in Scotland for almost three years and now consider anything above fifteen degrees to be a heatwave. I was also carrying a bulging, ancient backpack. Yet the doorman bid us welcome and opened the door with a grand flourish like we were duchesses. Then another bloke arrived and asked “Miss Rhiannon” if he could take the bags to our room. All we could do was stand there and cackle at the ridiculous sight of our grotty backpacks trundling past the expensive people on a golden trolley.

It was a hoot staying in a five-star hotel. There were slippers and spas and bread in silver baskets. They turn down your bed and give you a weather report each night:


But the egalitarian Aussie in me felt extremely uncomfortable having some bloke opening doors and pouring my tea at breakfast. I hate the idea of anyone thinking I am some pampered git, incapable of unfolding a napkin or placing my own pair of slippers perpendicular to the bed. Not that anyone could mistake me for a wealthy dame – when we caught a taxi back to the airport, I had to leave Rhiannon in the car as security while I ran to the ATM as we didn’t have enough cash for the fare!

In homage to my convict roots, I nicked 7 soaps, 3 shower caps, a pen and 10 wee bottles of shampoo.

I’ve written before how Rhi and I are ideal travel companions, always seeming to hit the same moods at the same time, e.g. knowing when it’s Time To Shop or when it’s Chocolate O’Clock. Best of all there’s no competitive backpacker heroics. You can freely say stuff like, “How about we tell people we went inside this ancient castle and just take a photo of the outside instead?”.

The Ham Man Yelled At Me
Foreign supermarkets rule. This one had a man in a Ham Corral. I don’t know what else to call it. The butcher stood in the middle of a circular counter, surrounded by gorgeous hams on chopping blocks. The customers would walk up to whatever ham they fancied, and he’d hack off a few slices for them. It was fascinating because all the ham legs still had the hoofs on them. Or maybe they were faux-hoofs? I wanted to take a photo and discuss with you, except as soon as I whipped out my camera the Ham Man pointed his saw at me and screamed, “No! NO! NONONONONO!” in ever-increasing pitch. I scampered away and hid by a display of huge-yet-flavoursome strawberries. I was scared, but mostly jealous because he could say No in English but I couldn’t say it in Portugese.

Man Creche
It was probably a good thing that Gareth was left behind on this trip as we did a lot of shopping. He would have been cast out with this assortment of bored yet obedient blokes, waiting outside a Zara store.

Man Creche
Abandoned Husbands of Lisbon

Righto chaps, it’s bedtime. Boa noite!

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for January 2022.

26 thoughts on “My Name Is Pedro

  1. Woot First!

    Great post Shauna! I love the abandoned husbands pic, and nicely done nicking all those toiletries.

  2. yikes, i was talking holidays with my sister a few hours ago and i suggested lisbon! do they have chocolate spread? which reminds me, if you’re ever in leeds you *have* to let me get you a chocolate bagel with nutella from the station. they’re *insane*, i tell you.

  3. “Abandoned husbands of Lisbon”


    Picture, caption, everything — awesome.

    Love, love, love reading about your adventures. I would be cackling about having the prter take my grotty backpack up for me too. 🙂

  4. I just LOVE reading about your travels!
    Now could you just pop back and sneak a photo of the be-hoofed hams, I am intrigued.
    Just about the only word I knew in spanish was Jamon, and I only ever saw them dangling from the roof like decorations.
    Maybe you need one of those giant paparazzi zoom lenses, for ham-shooting.

  5. Heh, love the pic of the abandoned husbands. The sight of glazed-looking guys waiting for their partners outside a store never fails to crack me up.

  6. Sounds like you and Rhi had a TOPS holiday! I can’t believe the blokes waited so obediently outside that shop – don’t they know how great it is to poke fun at snooty shop assistants or skanky outfits?!

  7. I was about to tell you how much I adored the Abandoned Husbands, but everyone has beaten me to it.

    I don’t take J clothes-shopping with me, so more often experience the opposite phenomenon, most recently while accompanying J to buy a suit. It’s odd. All the women are obviously wondering what sartorial crimes their chaps are considering, which I’m sure isn’t what the Abandoned Husbands are thinking. My favourite place to be an Abandoned Girlfriend, though, is Richer Sounds Hi-Fi in Birmingham, where they have a squashy sofa and a big stack of Cosmo magazines for precisely this eventuality.

  8. Glad to hear that you both enjoyed yourselves. Here in Estonia the security people inall the supermarkets won’t let you take photos of anything at all. Watch out for pictures of things with red slashes through them on the front doors. I think it must be a European oddity.

  9. Mwah 😀 Superpic!

    And a brilliantly entertaining post, I´m just popping by at my house and off to leave in a couple of minutes but this cheered me up, now the the day won´t feel as gray anymore… And everything´s fine, it´s just the weather.

    Tonight they´re showing the Finland Episode in Conan O´Brien Show, eager to see it :-p

    All the best,

  10. i, for one, really enjoyed your random style of storytelling and the “abandoned husbands of lisbon” was a fun way to end it! then again, it’s always a delight to read your blog.:)

  11. Gawk, you came to Lisbon??? I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while now and I would had love to meet you, since I live in Lisbon. I’m glad that you and your sis enjoyed the trip.

  12. helloo, hello people! and hi marta! i had no idea that there were any vistors from lisbon around here… it would have been lovely to meet up… you have a very fine city there 🙂

  13. Heheh, you’re an international superstar.

    Very funny stories, I especially liked the part about the golden trolly.. I so know the feeling.. once I managed to snag first class on Hawaiian airlines.. was amazing, but just knew the attendants recognised I wasn’t a regular.

  14. EXACTLY, miss jen… i know they can just smell a fraud! especially when the fraud is wearing stinky trainers 😀

  15. I’ve had a bit of a rubbish day but the abandoned husbands cheered me up no end. The ultimate example of this, in my opinion, is the line-up of a.hs. on sofas in a very posh shop I visited lately which sells mother-of-the-bride outfits. Not only are these chaps supposed to admire their wives in these outfits, but the ensembles probably cost more than the couples’ first houses did. My husband was waiting in the car, by the way, and I fled the shop before an assistant could offer to find something for me.

  16. ‘Sham Marriage: Yes Or No?’

    Ha! Shauny you crack me up, I’ve been reading your blog for ages and have always enjoyed it but this post made me start laughing out (really) loud at uni…oops!

    Thanks for making my day!

  17. Glad we got snippets of it albeit delivered in a haphazard manner. Well I live in the country!! I’ll take anything!! Let me just live vicariously through you! Now that I’ve got that out of my system, glad to hear that you were much refreshed from your time away. Very Fancy hotel sounds awesome. How was food there and stuff? Bet Dr G was glad he got out of being left at the man creche 🙂

  18. Hi Shauna! Glad to hear that your holiday went well. I appreciate any snippets you can throw this way as you know lliving in this part of the world I feel kinda isolated. Its not like “oh I’m bored which neighbouring country shall I visit this weekend?” So its great to be able to live vicariously through you 😉
    I have people at work to which think it strange if my hubby goes to visit a mate in Qld without me. Some I know here has only spent one night apart from her husband in 8 years of marriage! Strange but true … I think space is good. Anyhoo I know Dr G would’ve been glad to get out of the man creche.

  19. hmm I thought hte first comment didn’t get put up so I expanded and re-posted. Sorry if I seemed like I was a rambling fool.

  20. great post. i like the format! i always nick stuff too. i have bottles of stuff from thailand, singapore, sri lanka, quebec and new york in my bathroom cabinet. do you ever use them back at home?

  21. I am laughing my HEAD off from that photo. Hohoho. Did you know that in IKEA (I think – or some similar institution) somewhere in Germany, they actually do have a male creche? Where all the men can drink bear and watch football! It’s true…. Now. Is that sexist or just pragmatic??

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