After two rainy and gloomy days (but still good) in Porto, I took a plane to Lisbon. Yeah, plane. A terrific flight ticket which cost only R$ 9,90 euro (Ryanair, miss that so much).
I arrived in the Portuguese capital in the morning and went to the hostel by underground. I immediately liked the city and I can’t explain why. Perhaps because I came across some attractive and colourful pieces of urban art in the stations and that made a positive impression on me.
The hostel is amazingly located in the centre. I still remember that, after five minutes around those impressive and well-maintained buildings, I regret my decision of staying less than 48 hours in the place. I felt quite stupid because at that time it seemed just obvious that Lisbon must be marvellous.
I left my stuff in the hostel, then a new establishment which occupies a whole floor in a building. The place was way cheap and clean. Plus its good location, it turned out to be one of my best choices during that trip.
Lisbon was almost asking Please explore me, so my moral obligation was to stroll around it. Quickly I reached the coast, in front of a famous square, and I faced that sea, which inspired so many artists to write beautiful poetry and other sorts of literature still studied at school.
It was sunny. It was quite warm. For God’s sake, I fell in love with Lisbon.
I spent the first day to and fro admiring its architecture, food, people, slopes and history. As it would happen months later in Venice, Lisbon enchanted me. As if the place tells you a lot of stories. Each brick, each stone, each trace of painting carries a message from the past.
At midday, almost starving, I looked for a restaurant in some of those touristic areas. Definitely, they don’t rip you off in Lisbon, even though it’s a bit pricier than Porto. You can afford a decent meal for 10 euro in central spots, exactly what I did. Waiters were smiling and polite – the one who brought my dish asked if I was from Rio, after asking if I was Brazilian. They don’t know the obvious difference between a southern and another one from Rio, that was incredible! It was awesome to find out these differences between these two same languages.
Satisfied with the meal, I kept my stroll and tcharan! Alfama! It’s impossible to decide which spot was my favourite in Europe, but this neighbourhood was one of them for sure. Although there are loads of visitors there, it preserves its atmosphere of a picturesque village. It’s touristic place but, at the same time, you are around local people doing their chores.
I stopped at a church built where Santo Antonio was born and I bought two gifts, one to my mother and the other to my grandma. Simple postcards, but as I imagined, full of meaning for them. Actually, now this became my criteria for gifts – I only buy them if they will be somehow special for someone. Otherwise, it’s just pointless stuff.
In the evening I was exhausted, but still willing to walk and explore more from Alfama. Passing by a building, I heard some music coming from its interior. It was traditional Portuguese music. Like in a film! I guess that place was a club and its members were inside dancing, singing and having tons of fun. I rehearsed one or two attempts to go upstairs and see that sample of liveliness, but I was afraid of being intrusive. From time to time I remember that moment and I wish I could have tried at least!
Dead on my feet, I went to the hostel to have some rest. Something I discovered about hostels is that you cannot rely on their description on websites. I mean, some parts of the story will be correct, whereas others might turn out to be bullshit. They also say “we have adaptors”. It’s not true. It’s better to take yours, as I do now.
Anyway, the fact is that I needed an adaptor for my hairdryer. The power points are different in Ireland, where my device was bought. The hostel didn’t have, of course. However, the guy in the reception asked where the hairdryer was from. As I said “Ireland”, he immediately responded: “I’m Irish”. I couldn’t believe that!
Then things made sense. All the time I was wondering why he used to answer me in English when I was using the Portuguese language. At a certain point, I really considered that they had some trouble with my accent and I was near frustration for not being able to use my own tongue there.
The Irish fellow kindly lent me his personal adaptor. After giving it back, we started chatting away. The Irish love talking and I pretty much love them because of that too. He told me that he was from Kerry and was in Lisbon as a volunteer. Many people are doing that these days, but it was such a coincidence bumping into an Irish guy in Portugal. In result, I spent almost all the time in the hostel in Lisbon talking to an Irish person in English. A bit weird, but I still needed to practise more my second language than my native one, so it was great. Also because he came across as a lovely fellow – as the majority of Irish people I’ve met so far. He wasn’t good-looking, but he’s that kind of guy who’s so down-to-earth and chatty that becomes attractive. It’s stunning how Irish men are particularly talented at coming across as attractive regardless appearance.
The next day and my last one in Lisbon, I continued my mission to see as many things as possible in the place. In the morning I went to visit Belem Tower and its region. Unfortunately, it was Monday and the building was closed. At least I saved some euros, which were used to have lunch in a restaurant quite near there.
Here, it’s honest to mention that I passed in front of Pasteis de Belen, the well-known bakery where you can prove some of those traditional Portuguese sweets. However, I was put off by the number of foreigners inside. I’m far from that kind of traveller who classifies experiences between REAL and UNREAL regarding the level of locals involved. In my point of view, travelling is personal and it’s up to you to define what is good or bad. Back to the point of the bakery, for me it was bad and I really wanted to be around the Portuguese fellows at that time. In result, I chose a normal restaurant, somewhat cheap and with plastic tables, to see what they eat on a typical Monday. The food was delicious. What a great way to start the week.
I went back to the centre to explore some more streets. One of the things I loved most in Lisbon was the name of the streets. You find “Rua Augusta” (Augusta Steet), the same one you see in Sao Paulo. Also, there are some names which are extremely poetic and I believe you only understand its beauty if you speak Portuguese. Lucky I am.
In the evening, I had my last meal in a bakery close to the hostel. Then the weirdest moment came up. The waitress didn’t manage to understand me. Neither was I. Eventually I noticed that she was almost rude and angry with me, and it wasn’t my fault at all! I wonder that she thought I was a non-native speaker of Portuguese trying to speak the language or something like that. I would say that after this incident I stopped to freak out about my listening in English due to the impossibility to understand that girl.
Later, more awkwardness. At the bus station, I didn’t manage to understand the signs written in Portuguese. I wish they had been written in English or Spanish because then they would be somehow understandable. I’d never seen those expressions before. I tried to ask information and the guys there were bad-mannered as well. Gosh! What a bad ending. In some moments, though, I took the bus where I would have to get some sleep until to reach the last country in the schedule: Spain.
Seville was waiting for me and I felt on top of the world.