No money and

Lisbon Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 12 › view all entries
It was pretty obvious when we transitioned into Portugal.  The countryside started to look more green and it was more hilly.  A minor stop outside of Lisboa and 45 minutes later we were at Estacao Oriente, the local bus station.  We went underground to find the metro, and Vlad decided that he wanted a smoke, so we went around to the end of the station and outside.  As soon as we both stepped outside, we both noticed one thing about the difference between Lisbon and Portugal - it was clean!  Maybe I had spent too much time wandering around Madrid in the middle of the night where people threw trash on the streets and guys peed in every nook and cranny of the city, but Lisbon seemed cleaner at a first glance.  After the smoke, we asked a couple of people in a smoke shop for directions to the city center, which is where we wanted to find a hostel.
  We asked a security guard by the metro entrance just to make sure and we were off on our way.

The metro stations are simply beautiful.  A lot of the stops that we passed on the red and green lines had tiled artwork due to licences that were given to major Portuguese artists and ceramicists to decorate the system's stations.  We exited at the Rossio station and both wanted to wander around a bit before finding a hostel.  about 30 minutes later we were both hungry, so we picked a nice restaurant to stop in to eat.  The owner knew Portuguese, Spanish, and English.  I barely know two languages!  He showed us the steak of the day, and it looked good, so that's what I ordered along with a beer.  Vlad ordered a sandwhich and a beer.  The steak arrived and as I dug in, it was great.
  As good as the steak was, I realized that in my time on the Iberian continent, I hadn't come across any local cuisine that had more than salt, garlic, and grease.  That would be my new quest from this day to the end of my trip - the search for spices (Haven't people been searching for spices since the beginning of time?)

On to more immediate concerns, with our belly's full and our pallets quenched; we were on our quest to finding shelter.  We walked towards to water because I knew that there was an information center.  I stepped inside and asked if they understood English.  She replied to me "Of course, we are an information center."  Feeling rather stupid, I asked for a map and a list of hostels, which she kindly handed over.  We noticed that the list she gave me showed a bunch of hostels on Av.
de. Liberdade, so we headed off in that direction (North).  We saw one hostel near the
Restauradores metro stop, but decided to look around some more as the front of the building didn't look too appealing.  About another hour of walking around and we still hadn't found a hostel or a free WIFI network, so it was out with the trusty Lonely planet book.  Pensão Imperial was recommended (note that it was across the street from the hostel that we already passed by earlier. 

The older gentleman spoke spanish, so Vlad did all of the talking.  35 Euro for one night and all I had was 30 Euro and some change.
  The man agreed to take 25 now, and we would pay him after going to the ATM.  We dropped off our stuff and headed down to wander around some more and find an ATM.  We walked towards the Chiado, which was supposed to be one of the hot spots in the city.  Hearing music and seeing people in the street, we took a mental not to return and kept walking towards the water and up
Cais do Sodré about half a mile before realizing there was nothing there.  We turned back and stopped at the first ATM.

Denied, but I thought nothing of it and we tried another one.  Denied still.  Vlad thought maybe they weren't world banks, but that didn't make sense to me since we were in the touristy district.  But based on his idea, we tried bank of Santander which is a large, multinational bank... still Denied!  I knew I had money in the bank, maybe I was trying to take too much?  I tried 200 Euros, 100 Euros, 60 Euros, and even 20 Euros.  Nothing worked.  Defeated, we headed back to the Hostel.  The nice gentleman wasn't so nice.  He wanted his five Euros and was ready to kick us out if we didn't cough it up.  I pulled out all the change I had, which was 3 Euro and some change.  He said that tomorrow, we owed him 40 Euros.

Being late at night and Neither of us not knowing where the nearest phone house was, I decided to call Bank of America from my Iphone and the ridiculous $2.
40 a minute.  Of course the number on the card was to the bank office, the number for the fraud monitoring was different.  When I finally got through the automation and to a real person, he didn't quite get the urgency of getting this done as quick as possible.  Of course they suspended my card because of the overseas purchase of our bus tickets (even though I had called them before leaving) and I did have plenty of money in my account.  The card restored, we were back in business! 

We paid for the remainder of the current night and next and were off to find some bars.  We went back to where we heard and saw people.  Apparently, it's legal to drink outside of the bars in Lisbon, and the bars gladly offer plastic cups if you want to do that.  It's a really cool concept.  You walk around, find a bar with cool music or people standing outside, go in grab a drink, and then hang out outside.
Not only that, you could get a beer for 1 Euro!  So, we grabbed a couple of drinks and hung out, wandered around all night.

The bars close at 2AM, but Vlad wanted to keep going, so we asked some guys we saw what was still open.  They started talking to us and realized that we weren't locals (i.e. easy targets).  We played along.  One kept asking me to talk in Portuguese thinking i might be Brazilian and messing with them.  At one point he even said, "Don't talk to me in English."  To which I responded, "I can talk to you in another language, you just won't understand me."  It was obvious to us they weren't going to tell us what was still open where we could drink and it was obvious to them that we were street smart and onto them.  So eventually we all got bored and went our separate ways, us to our hotel rooms and who knows where they ended up that night.
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photo by: Johnpro