Uh-Oh, We're Not in Kansas Anymore-Getting Lost in Beautiful Lisbon

Lisbon Travel Blog

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This morning fot off to a great start with a fantastic breakfast, including me teaching Duarte how to make French Toast, which made me wonder Is French Toast really from the French? As we left his place there came and Oh no, I'm screwed. Really screwed. He'd locked his keys inside, thinking that I'd grabbed them. I felt terrible, but as we waited in his parking garage for his mother to come and give him a key to get out of the garage, his sense of humor came out again as he drove around and gave me a tour of all the "Roman" artifacts down there. (One of thoese you had to be there moments, but trust me-it was funny).

All full and satisfied and finally out of the garage, he dropped me off near the bottom of the Alfama district before heading to work and I began my wandering of the city, stopping about every 15 seconds to take a photo.

I just can't help myself, I should have been born with a camera in my hand. I saw plenty of cool and beautiful monuments and churches, such as the Se Cathedral, where Portugal's patron saint was Christened.

After getting directions from a very nice man, I headed through the black market,complete with gypsies. Everything was sold there, from bras to iron nails, to linens. I guess it's sort of like our garage sales, but on a larger, more community scale. Two guys in their mid-twenties said hello and asked me to take a picture of them. Sure, why not? I absolutely love taking photos of people, but am usually too afraid of someone being offended when I ask them if I can. Now you will remember us, one of them tells me, which I thought was a strange thing to say, because why would you really want to remember someone you didn't even have an entire conversation with? But now they're in this blog and on my camera, so they're terribly right-I will remember them now!

My throat started hurting, so I was stopping about every hour to get a drink, hoping to not get sick this early in the trip.

Nonetheless, I forged on and in my quest to find the castle without a map, I found a sign directing me to a look-out spot. The view I found from the top of the Alfama nearly took my breath away. A gorgeous view of almost the entire city laid in front of me and I was in awe, to say the least. I could see everything, from the castle, to the Christo, to Lisbon's version of the Golden Gate Bridge. There were a bunch of teenage kids joking around with each other, and I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to live in a city like this. Do they sit on top of this hill every day an just go 'wow, I am so lucky for this to be mine?' Or do they just take it for granted?

Making my way back down the hill to the electric tram 28, I hopped on. Logically I got on the tram that was facing the way I had seen the castle, but somehow I ended up on the other side of town.

If only life always made sense! No worries though, there seemed to be an interesting cemetary just a few yards away. And interesting it was! With just about every grave came a sort of house/shrine building made of stone. Some were incredibly intricate and beautiful, with windows to look inside where you could see not only their casket, but personal effects and photos as well.

Then the real fun started. I started walking down the road and ended up in...the commercial part of town? I wasn't entirely sure. Actually, I wasn't sure of anything, except that I was no longer taking photos every corner, so I must be pretty far from the pretty tourist area. I definitely was. At one point trying to find my way back, I passed some obvious slums, with 'houses' made of nothing more than pieces of metel, plastic, etc.

Then I realized that I had reached the freeway entrences. Uh-oh. We're not in Kansas anymoreToto. (Wizard of Oz reference, if you haven't seen it, rent it!) Walking towards a brown sign with a crown that was pointing me towards a UNESCO sight, I figured I must be going in the right direction, but after about 25 minutes of aimlessly walking, I realized I wasn't going to make it back if I kept up like this.

I had reached a part of town though with lots of busus, so for the next hour I tried my best to communicate with Portuguese, everyone being very friendly, but all giving different directions, and with only every third sentence or so having any English in it. I managed to get somewhere with a little Spanish, and eventually made it to the Estacio Rossio, one of the main stations with shops and restaurants of every kind surrounding it.

I sat in a little cafe for almost 2 hours, as my throat was killing me, along with an earache and a headache. I was supposed to meet a friend of mine from my studies in London, which didn't end up happening as I was in so much pain, which I felt terrible about.

Duarte was fantastic as he picked me up though. He had managed to call a locksmith to get his door open with an x-ray (don't ask, I have no idea how this works!) and even ordered food in that wouldn't hurt me to eat. We spent the next few hours talking about life, politics, culture, and work, and I learned a lot more about the Portuguese way of life, and even about the relationship between Brazil and Portugal, which is fascinating in that the Portuguese first went over there when literally everything in Brazil was rotten, and they would actually eat it that way! The spices brought from the Portuguese made a huge difference though.

Interestingly, Duarte made a camparison to using spices to cover the rot of the food, to using perfume to cover terrible body odor. Another really interesting comparison he made was between Mexicans and Portuguese at one time. He said that Portugal was very poor, and many people were leaving the country to find work elsewhere, especially in Brazil, and sending money home to support their families. Hence, the Portuguese were Brazil's 'Mexicans.'

At this point I was incredibly tired, and we both decided it was a good time to crash. I had made up my mind to take my emergency antibiotics I had brought, as my ears were starting to ring and I could barely swallow. Tomorrow will be a rest day!

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photo by: Johnpro