Normally when we choose a destination for holidays, adventures, whatever it is, we have a reason. I went to live and study in Paris for six months because I’m in love with French culture and I have family connections there. People go to London to visit Buckingham Palace and the British Museum (I think? I have no idea actually… maybe they go to stalk Kate Middleton). People go to Pamplona for the running of the bulls, Egypt for the pyramids, and wherever else for the history, the culture, the food, the architecture, and the scenery. Most of us don’t close our eyes and point at the map.
Well, that’s pretty much what I did for August. I knew I was going to Tenerife to spend time with family at the end of July, and I knew that in September I was planning to be in Vienna and then London for a while. So what should I do with all that time in between? Let me walk you through my thought process…
Step 1: Look at map of Europe
Step 2: Observe that Morocco, Spain, and Portugal are right next to the Canary Islands
Step 3: Realize that I’ve never been to these places before
Step 4: Cross Morocco off the list because I don’t want to go there alone
Step 5: *Shrug shoulders* Portugal & Spain, it is.
Step 6: Lisboa is the capital of Portugal and easy to get to. Great, let’s go to Lisboa.
That’s it. Geographical proximity led me to the decision to go to Lisboa. I know absolutely nothing about the city, or the country of Portugal for that matter. I don’t know what they eat, I don’t know the history (other than their colonial legacy), and I sure as hell don’t speak a drop of Portuguese. I don’t even know why other people go to Portugal, never mind what I’m going to do there. But I made my decision, and off I went.
I flew from Tenerife to Madrid, then Madrid to Lisboa and I found an awesome AirBnb to stay at while I was there. I gave myself a few days, although now that I know I love it there I wish I had stayed for a week or more. It is now one of my absolute favorite cities. I’m going to sound like such a hippie right now, but one of the things I loved most about Lisboa was the vibe. It just had really awesome vibes, man. Seriously though, it did. There’s no other way to put it.
Aside from the vibes, I love that it sits right on the water. I love the old-European charm of its uneven cobblestone streets, even if it means I’m tripping over myself five times a day. I love the beautiful tiles all over the city that make old, worn-down buildings still look beautiful and charming. I love the castles. I LOVE how cheap it is. I bought a handful of things at the grocery store one afternoon (yogurt, crackers, fruit, etc.) and paid LESS than 3 euros. This is not a joke. I wanted to stay forever just to please my bank account. And last but not least, I loved the surfers. No, not just the cute ones. There is a huge community of surfers in Portugal and a ton of awesome breaks up and down the coast, which just adds to the chill vibes and fun atmosphere.
So, what did I do in Lisboa? Walk around the city, visit Castelo de São Jorge, play at Parque Eduardo VII, go to the beach, and hangout with some non-local locals (somehow I ended up with three Venezuelan friends all staying in Lisboa) and a few other AirBnb guests: a Russian girl, a French woman, and a South Korean girl. Oh, and we went to a bar that used to be a brothel and they, uh, kept all the original art work and decorations. Yeah, that happened.