Tuesday 13 November 2012

Spot the difference (no spots included)

As the thunder grumbles rather thrillingly around the sky, I offer you this: one of these places is where I last heard thunder, and is half a world away from the other. What are the links, and what are the differences?

Of course, the links are obvious, with the architecture and the pattern of the cobbles which, apart from the surface being treacherously slippery, is also as bad as yesterday's Floating Pavilion for making you feel drunk when not a drop of the drink has passed your lips. The other is that they're both Portuguese, which means that now you know the difference, if you've been paying attention as you've dutifully been reading this blog.

Yes, on the left is Macau, and on the right, Cascais near Lisbon. Back in the fifteenth century, the Portuguese were all over the world like a rash: Africa, Mauritius, India, Japan, Macau, Brazil... They beat the British to the world's first global empire by quite a margin, and hung onto it longer too, because they weren't made to hand back Macau till 1999, which was two years after the Brits reluctantly let go of Hong Kong. They were fully occupied with slaves, sugar and spices for centuries; but they did export a few things too: they claim that when they went to Japan, where they founded the city of Nagasaki, they gave them their word for 'thank you'. Obrigado - arigatoo: you decide.

What's certain is that Japanese tourists are a lot more adventurous these days than back when they moved about en masse and only emerged from their coaches to take photos of each other... Oh, well, all right, maybe things don't change that much. But that's a 150 metre sheer drop right there. [Capo da Roca, north of Lisbon, Europe's westernmost point.]

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