…lisboa, portugal

June 17, 2007

written june 13th, on the train from lisboa, portugal to madrid, spain
(en route to marseille, then cannes… which is a long story that ends up short… next post)
my stay in lisboa has been relatively satisfying, expectedly with some ups and downs.

downs:

  • arrived in lisboa by bus an hour and a half early at 5am
  • not able to check in to my hostel until 2pm
  • kissed by 2 strange old men
  • ditched by my walking partners to the train station for madrid

ups:

  • succesfully navigated my wak from the bus station, approx. 5km to the hostel w/o previously mapping it out
  • lots of yummy goodness at the bakeries (including a monster corn-based, cakey bread, with hunks of chirizo, bacon, and sausage)
  • hostel staff & guests were my favourite so far (family owned & run, smaller place made for especially friendly stay)
  • i’m ready to sleep the whole way to madrid due to many walks & talks with a new friend, paula

key moments & observations:

– getting lost in Alfamo was actually fun, err… it helped pass time while i waited for my bed to be prepped. Alfamo looks as though it’s stuck in Portugal’s 1970’s (shoe stores still selling their old old stock) and extremely hilly (we’re talking 70 degree angles)
– cute old man in the main square had a full out conversation with me… err talked to me as i nodded… and then kissed me on the cheek. I gathered from the conversation that he was from north of the city, was a cook, and that he thought i was really nice, but should not be travelling alone.
– BIG celebration for Santa Antonio, the matchmaker saint. Evening began at 9pm with a parade attended by about 5000, i reckon (reckon, the influence of paula, the aussie). The parade sucked largely due to huge gaps btwn the… not floats, but people walking with instruments (drums mostly) and unimpressive costumes. In Alfamo, which i missed, partiers drank and ate sardines till the wee hours. Shittiest part, got separated from the group and stuck with an old dude the ended up cornering me in the elevator for a kiss. Bleh. The next day Paula & I stumbled upon what we supposed was the religious part of the last evening’s debauchery. About 1500 mid-old-age people slowly precessioned toward a cathedral with candles. My guess is they were going to pray to the saint for good matches for their youth. We felt out of place and exploitive… sure. But that didn’t stop us from grabbing a few pics, a little less than discreetly.
– day trip to Belém was honestly, for me at least, all about the pastries. At the Pasteis de Belém (est 1837), they are famous for these Portugese custard tarts of pure, divine, blissful yumminess. The trip only ended up costing 1.60euros since paula and i creeped onto the bus (hah! But were really chicken shits in the end).
– this may sound weird, but one reason i really… um… was ready to see lisboa or what i’ve been waiting for or noticing… is that black ppl in spain, from what i observed, occupied really low ranks. they were often the bums, scammers, and/or those who wouldn’t look you in the eye. in lisboa, i wouldn’t say it was refreshing or anything, as this is how it is more typically found in canada, but… made me feel better that they had relatively higher social ranking.

in all, the time i spent in Lisboa, was just enough.
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…but i’d go back for those tarts!

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