February 24 & 27-28, 2000
My first city to visit was Lisbon, Portugal. Excitement pumped through me as I jumped on a bus that was going to the area of town where I needed to go. A huge backpack on my back and a small one at my side, I awkwardly waddled onto the bus and relinquished my seat to an elderly woman.
As a wobbled in the aisle looking for signs I figured I might have to take the bus route around town twice... where are the street signs? OK, there they are, up on the corners of some buildings.
I walked around and explored, dreary from jet lag but curious of the surroundings. I hiked up to the bull fighting ring (looks like a baseball stadium with seats all around) and took a peek in the door. There wasnīt much I could see as it is closed for the season, but during the Spring and summer there are bull fights every Thursday night. In Portugal, they donīt kill the bull in the ring, but itīs so tired and torn at the end anyway, they kill it after the event and prepare the meat for the market.
Walking toward the river, I hiked up to Castelo de Sao Jorge (a castle). The view got better every time I got higher and just when I thought I was at the top, another stairway was seen, and the view was even better.
I found some cats (the cats and people are both smaller in Portugal) and thought of them jumping from building to building as in the short Portuguese film, El Gato de la Luna. Returning back towards the hostel through the winding streets of the old town, I felt like I was on a movie set. Two women leaned out of their apartment windows on different floors and had a conversation while the sun set lighting up the hillside and draping shadows from the next building over on the faces in the streets below.
I settled into the hostel and read the graffiti on the bathroom stall that was in English. "Viva Brazil, Go home Nazis, Morocco has no toilet paper and something about a girl from England." In this place, Iīm not surrounded by Portuguese, but dozens of other nations.
There are a lot of Brazillianīs here mainly because they speak Portuguese their as the primary language as well. Itīs very much like Americans visiting the U.K.
A Brazilian and Spanish student were roommates of mine could sleep through anything and figured I could too. They found they could both speak Spanish together and babbled on forever loudly. No me gusta en el noche.
I spent another day in Lisbon and visited a museum. From all the walking around, my feet started to feel it. I will no longer be wearing my sneaker like shoes... hiking boots are perfect. When in Rome do as the Romans, right? There are very few Europeans wearing sneakers and thereīs good reason for that: coble stone side walks werenīt made for running shoes!
Despite some of the discoveries here I canīt say Lisbon has impressed me. With a stye in my left eye that kept it from opening, I threw on my shades and head out to the country.
I was about to take the train to Sinta and looked up enough words in Portuguese for my first conversation to find the train station. I will translate in English to show you how well I can speak it and how the responses sound:
"Hello. Please. Where is train?" "blah blah blah blah?" "Train???" "blah blah blah." (points up the street) "Thank you." "blah." "Bye."
I'm off to Sintra!
February 28, 2000
The next day I was back to Lisbon, which is where I am now. I met an Australian traveler (thatīs almost repetitious) and we went to a nice little Portuguese restaurant. They take bread seriously in Europe and closed the doors when they ran out of dinner rolls! We said we didnīt mind and had some good eats.
"So will you be my new mate and join me?"
My new friend and I will take a 5 hour bus ride leaving soon to two more towns like Sintra today and then the next day I will head out to Évora, Portugal and he will go off to Spain.
The stye shrunk and I can now open my eye almost completely. No longer a hideous cyclops, Iīve also been invited up to around Porto by an Australian girl in Sintra and a French man to see Lisbon again. Life is good.