Okay so, here goes. Our trip has finally begun and I couldn’t be happier about it. I am also very excited to be writing again and I hope to get a post up at least every other day.
Anyways, we flew out Friday night, the flight was pretty typical, crappy food, crying babies and no leg room. No need to bore you with the details. In short, plane went up, plane went over water, plane landed in Portugal. Once we landed, it was time to play two of my favourite travel games. Game number one is trying to communicate with the customs officer. 1-0 Ryan. Game number 2 is especially fun. I have a personal rule to always attempt to take public transit from the airport. It gives you a good idea of the city culture and helps get you oriented with the city. 2-0 Ryan. Our hostel is called Lost Inn Lisbon, which may be the nicest hostel I have ever stayed in. The name is also great because it sets up a groan inducing dad joke. We checked in and then went and got lost in Lisbon. Great right?
Despite the fact that we were all basically characters on the Walking Dead by this point, tired, smelly and unable to walk straight, we took a nap, showered, downed a red bull and headed down to the hostel common room to meet fellow travellers and decide where to head for the night. We met another Canadian and a few Germans and ended up heading to a bar called Rooftop. What the person failed to mention was this bar was on the rooftop of a parking garage. By far one of the coolest places I have ever been. It’s nights like last night that really drive home the importance of meeting people while you travel. The entrance to this bar was literally the stairs in a parking garage. The music was great, drinks were cheap and it was full of young people. It was an amazing bar and we would’ve walked right past it had the people we met not showed us.
Day 2 began late due to a combination of alcohol and the aforementioned jetlag. We decided to rent biked and pedal along the river to a part of town called Belem. Along the way we stopped to see some of the sights including a windrose and tower built in 1960 to celebrate Portugal’s contribution to the Age of Discovery, and their 500 year anniversary of being a Country. 500 years. If countries were people, Portugal is the wise old grandfather and Canada still hasn’t been potty trained. We also visited a Portugese war memorial which commemorated the battles in Africa during the 50’s and 60’s where Mozambique and Angola, former Portuguese colonies were fighting to become independent nations.
Tonight we had one of the best meals i’ve had abroad. There is a market down from our hostel which has to be one of the greatest ideas a city could have. Picture St. Lawrence market in Toronto, except each of the stalls is serving absolutely delicious meals you can order and a buzzer will tell you to come back and pick it up. We shared a Portuguese style steak and egg, pan fried shrimp and a cheese platter with chorizo and prosciutto. Including a pint of local beer the entire meal came to around €12 each. Yum.
Lisbon in general is a beautiful city with a thriving culture. Markets, night life that spills into the streets when the bars become full, and some of the most intriguing and widespread history of any city in the world. It was the hub from which it’s old world explorers conquered and explored the world stretching from Eastern Africa to the South China sea and most of South America. It is fascinating to learn how these people influenced so much of today’s culture around the world because 500 years ago a few men with a ship and a crew set sail to explore this beautiful world. Now one of the smallest countries in Europe, it’s language can be heard as far away as Chile, Brazil and Central Africa.
As I write this, Shawyan is pestering me to head down to the common room to drink some of the Hostel provided sangria and begin another night out in this beautiful city.
Until next time, cheers,