I vividly remember our first date night since moving to Portugal.
Of course, this was before Covid-19 intruded on our lives–creating lockdowns and curfews, masks and social distancing. We’ve yet to see if the virus has killed the cinema.
Still, oh, the delicious irony of it all that night:
Together with a (Portuguese) couple watching a top-rated, first-run, American-produced movie based on a Swedish pop group, comfortably seated in a climate-controlled cinema in Portugal … listening to dialogue and music in English, while watching subtitles roll by in Portuguese … and understanding enough of the two languages to consider the accuracy and quality of the translation. Without missing a beat!
But, first, enjoying food from a variety of vendors.
It’s called “Cinema + Jantar” here at the Allegro shopping mall in Castelo Branco. Between Sunday and Thursday, it costs only nine euros per person for the movie and the meal. That’s just about US $10.
Throughout Portugal, restaurants and cinemas in shopping centers are teaming up to offer special deals like this.
It’s a win-win for all!
Where and when can one “normally” see a newly released movie in the USA for less than ten dollars (except for specific senior citizen show times and/or intervals when the theater is otherwise vacant)?
Whoever wrote the advertising copy for this film-and-fest could have worked at my public relations and marketing firm:
“Onde alguns ouvem Cinema e Jantar, outros ouvem encontro romántico, saída com os amigos, ou tempo a sós. A verdade é que ninguém quer ser a pessoa com a barriga a dar horas no momento mais tenso do filme.”
Rough translation: “Where some like the idea of a Movie and a Meal, others are enticed by a romantic encounter, going out with friends, or spending quality time by oneself. The truth is, no one wants to be the one with the grumbling tummy at the most inopportune moments of the film.”
(What’s isn’t mentioned is theseven-minute intermission during the film when you can get something to eat or take care of business, whatever it is …)
Regarding the sponsors:
Four different restaurants – each with great food – have had prime roles in the dining experience: a pizza parlor, barbecue den, hamburger haven, and “piglet border” (leitão beirão)—which is why we never should fully trust Google to handle our translations correctly. At each eating place, choose a main course, side dish, and a beverage.
Between us, we enjoyed some of the best burgers in town, pork bbq sandwiches, and a pretty darned good pizza loaded with lots of fixings. The sides – hand-cup potato chips – weren’t the greatest, but none of us were disappointed with our beer or wine … until our female friend gave me that evening’s Portuguese lesson, correcting my pronunciation of the word for wine (vinho):
“It’s VEE-N-YO,” she demonstrated, upper teeth deliberately touching her lower lip, to correct my hitherto Spanish pronunciation of the word (vino): “BEE-NO,” lips vibrating, but teeth never touching the lip.
Back to the show:
We saw Mama Mia II (Here We Go Again), which was wonderful … despite my frustration that nobody (except me) stood up to sway and swing and clap along with the music. The Portuguese, at least those attending that performance of the show, were much more constrained and sedate—although an elderly couple sitting opposite us sort of-kind of waved their arms in the air.
Showcasing a vintage Cher and Meryl Streep, the prequel-sequel movie ended with us in joyful tears, a moment blissful grace.
Words from the sponsors?
“Let yourself be swept away by the flavors and the plot.”
Climax and conclusion:
“There are happy endings that cost only € 9.”
Exit, stage left. And roll the credits …
Shared here are personal observations, experiences, and happenstance that actually occurred to us as we moved from the USA to begin a new life in Portugal and Spain. Collected and compiled in EXPAT: Leaving the USA for Good, the book is available in hardcover, paperback, and eBook editions from Amazon and most online booksellers.