RVi Vice President Barbara Austin recently returned from a 2-week trip to Portugal with some amazing stories, spectacular photos, and a tiny bit of World Cup fever.  Barbara joined 51 other people for the trip – a group which included many fellow landscape architecture alumni and their families.  Ranging in age from 18 to 80, this diverse group visited the cities of Lisbon, Sintra, Cascais, Queluz, Evora, Nazare, Alcobaca, and Fatima.

Barbara’s favorite part of the trip was touring the Alfalma District in Lisbon, where she and her fellow travelers took part in the Celebration of Saint Antonio, the patron saint of lost things.  Barbara reports one of the most fascinating aspects of Portugal is their incorporation of tilework, or “azuelojs” into everything from buildings to subways to bathrooms.  The oldest tilework dates back to the 1500s and features intricate patterns of Moorish origin. Under later Dutch influence, tiles evolved to focus more on historic scenes.  Today, modern tilework features all types of subject matter and can be found right alongside the more historic pieces.

Barbara’s last day in Portugal was June 16th, when the country lost their first game to Germany in the World Cup.  She watched the game with the locals in an outdoor café in Lisbon.  “People take soccer very seriously in Portugal.  Their enthusiasm was infectious,” she said.  Though Barbara denies having converted to soccer fandom, we know she will secretly be keeping tabs on the US v. Germany game this week!