I took my final trip to Lisboa, Portugal. The flight to Portugal was fairly quick and therefore uneventful. Since we had previously had issues with getting to our hostel (see the first day in Mallorca blog if you are questioning this), I had looked up the bus route to take and then walking directions from the bus stop closest to our hostel. We get outside of the airport and see only airport buses and immediately know that that is not what we should be taking. So we keep walking a little bit to see if we can find just the regular buses, which we do find. However we do not see the bus that I had looked up. So thanks for the help Google Maps but apparently Lisboa Airport doesn’t recognize the bus that you suggested; so much for trying to be ahead of the game for once. Fortunately, the hostel gave us a list of other buses to use, we just didn’t have any information as to where we should walk to after we get off the bus.
When we get on the bus, Kaitlyn goes first and I overhear that she is having some sort of an issue. Apparently they couldn’t change what she was giving and they were asking for some centos, unfortunately they were asking in Portuguese so both of us were a little lost as to what they were saying. This would unfortunately become a recurring theme over the next few days. We finally figured out that he wanted 5 centos so I leant it to her so we could get going. We took spots on the bus and hoped for the best. We didn’t realize that we took the seats reserved for the handicapped, pregnant and elderly, but oh well, we can just blame it on being tourists.
The drive from the airport was fairly short and while we were driving it had started to drizzle. It’s amazing how unexciting and bland a city looks in really crappy weather because the whole time we were driving on the bus, we were both wondering why we even bothered to come at all. We had wanted another trip like Mallorca where we could relax by the water and I wanted to go to home to Madrid. Since we didn’t know where exactly our stop was, we were starting to get uneasy. We didn’t want to have another Sa Coma incident where we miss the stop and then have to walk for god knows how long back to our stop. I finally get up to ask the man which stop we should get off at to make sure that we hadn’t missed it and he muttered something to me in Portuguese which I could only interpret as “Not this stop, but two after”. We basically only knew that it was our stop to get off at because he gave me a look and then muttered something in Portuguese so we thought we ought to get off.
When we got off the bus, we didn’t see any street signs, we had no idea where on earth our hostel might be but we were really close to a huge traffic circle so we walked towards there. There were some banks around so I contemplated asking for help, but we figured they might be closed on Sunday. When I had looked up my directions from the airport it said to take a left near the traffic circle, so we started walking left in the cold, windy rain. We walked about a block down the main street and just had no clue where we were going. We didn’t see any maps or anything that might indicate where we were and more importantly where the hostel was. Finally, when we were about to cross the road so I could ask a hotel for directions, a very sharply dressed man asked us if we needed help, in English. To say that we were both excited and relieved to get his directions that the hostel was only two blocks down the road was an understatement. We followed his directions and finally get to the street that matches with the street name that we were looking for. We finally get to the hostel and realize it is literally right across the street from where the bus had dropped us off. Maybe if Portugal had some street signs, we would have found it without having to walk in a circle but whatever.
We check into the hostel and realize that we have a room with three bunk beds and immediately wonder if we are going to be sharing the room with anyone else, which was not high on my list of things that I wanted to do. Turns out that we didn’t have to, so that was pretty nice. The landlady was really nice, however she didn’t speak much English. After we put down our stuff, we decided we should go try to get something to eat because we were both starving so we began our big pursuit for McDonald’s. We decided that our best bet was going to be to walk along the main street (Avenida de Libertidade) where I was quickly greeted with some lovely shopping sights such as Burberry, Gucci, Armani and Louis Vuitton. We also came across the Hard Rock Café Lisboa while we were walking down the street and the Teatro de Eden, which had a really cool forest on the terrace. We also passed by a train station and the Opera House before we saw the heavenly golden arches, which was located in Don Pedro IV Square.
We went into McDonalds and both ordered our kids meals then headed upstairs to eat our food. Unfortunately, air conditioning is quite the luxury here in Europe so this McDonalds was about 1000F so I wanted to sit right in front of the fans, which we quickly learned was a bad idea once our stuff started flying around everywhere. We moved places and began eating, where Kaitlyn was quickly disappointed by two things: her McFlurry wasn’t adequately mixed and we both received lame boy toys. After we finished eating, I ran to the bathroom and Kaitlyn went to exchange my unopened toy out for a girl toy. I think that I have definitely compromised my sanitation requirements being in Europe but that bathroom was quite possibly one of the grossest bathrooms that I have ever been in. For starters, when I got to the bathroom, I noticed a girl waiting outside the bathroom so I asked her if she was in line and she responded that she was so I figured there might be only one stall in the bathroom. Then once someone came out, I realized that there was more than one stall so I was a little perplexed. Anyways, I waited for someone else to come out before I went in. Once I entered, I saw the same girl again who told me that she was still in line. Finally, someone was finished using one stall and she was loudly talking to her friend in the other stall in some weird language I have never heard but I am confident that it was not Portuguese. Knowing that that girl had been in the stall for quite some time I didn’t really want to use her stall so I waited for the girl in front of me in line to be finished. When I get inside the stall, I realize the doors don’t lock but I figured oh well, I’d chance it. Of course, the lady behind me in line and her young daughter try the door and I have to quickly close it. The also opened the door of the other stall where the girl was still in and get yelled at by her and her friend. Portugal sure has some nice people, let me tell you.
After we left McDonald’s we explored the neighboring area and got our cards and postcards then we figured we should start making our way back to the hostel and hopefully find a grocery store so we could cook the next few days however for some reason it does not appear as though Portugal has any grocery stores at all, at least none that we could find. We did come across a railcar, which was pretty nifty because one was featured on the postcard that Kaitlyn bought. Defeated, we went back to the hostel were I allowed myself to relax for a little bit before I thought that it was time to go to the concert.
In order to get to the concert, I looked up that I could take the metro, so I bought a metro pass for there and back, not thinking that the metro might close before I was heading back. I got to the concert with very little problems because by now I am a metro pro and also, there were flocks of people going to the concert too so once off the metro I tried to memorize my surroundings for later use. I followed the crowd and found the ticket booth where I was to pick up my ticket then continued walking towards the park. Since it was a huge festival, there was lots of security and little checkpoints to go through. I finally got to the park and found a spot on the hilly incline where I figured I would be able to see but I wasn’t extremely close that I would be in the pit and having to stand for the entire night.
When I got there, there was a Portuguese band performing that I had never heard of but I only had to listen to a few of their songs before their set was over. Then the waiting game began for Joss Stone. Why it takes so long to set up for each subsequent performer is a mystery that I have never solved while attending the many concerts that I have been to. After waiting for probably about 45 minutes, Joss Stone took the stage. I had only listened to a handful of her songs before going but they were pretty good, I enjoyed the jazzy feel of them and her voice is quite good. She performed for maybe about 45 minutes before she finished. By the time her set was over, the sun was down and I was starting to regret not bringing more than my light cheetah print sweater with me to Portugal and thus to the concert because it was not providing me with the warmth that I wanted. More waiting then occurred until Bryan Adams took the stage, who put on a really good show. It was partly surprising and partly hilarious how fanatic the Portuguese fans were for Bryan Adams. Regardless, I enjoyed his set because I had a general awareness of his music from the radio play that he still gets in the States. After he finished we had to wait over an hour for Stevie Wonder to take the stage. By this time I was incredibly exhausted and freezing and Stevie didn’t take the stage until 1am. I had come to Lisboa specifically to see Stevie Wonder, but my god did I want to leave while I was waiting for him to come on. When he did take the stage, I was as impressed as I thought I would be by him and his band. I have grown to appreciate seeing older musicians because they really have the whole package. I honestly think that it was harder to become a musician back in the day because there weren’t computers that could create the sounds of a guitar, bass and drums all at once. He played a lot of my favorite songs and even did a nice tribute to Michael Jackson. My favorite moment was probably when we brought his daughter over, who is one of his backup singers, to the piano and he sang “Isn’t She Lovely”.
He finished his set around 3am so naturally there was a mass exodus of people leaving the venue. I figured the metro was closed by this time but I had no idea how to take a bus back to the hostel so I figured I’d suck up the cost and get a taxi. I followed people out thinking that someone else had to be taking a taxi back to their respective destinations. While walking, I figured I’d ask a traffic security officer if he knew where I could get a taxi so I went up to him and said, “Excuse me, English?” and he replied in a rude tone, “No. Portuguese” so I asked, “Español?” and he replied, “French?” Clearly this was not going to work out so I just sadly said, “No. Thank you” and continued walking. I am not going to lie, I was kind of scared at this point, mostly because I don’t like being in a place where I don’t speak the language at all, because I didn’t know what form of transportation I was going to take home, because I didn’t even know the address to my hostel and the icing on the cake, my cell phone was dead. All just form a great combination. So I continued walking down the street and finally found a line of taxis, so I flagged one down and got in. The man of course did not know where my hostel was but I remembered that it was very close to the Avenida de Libertidade so I just told him that. Of course he started asking me questions in Portuguese but I just apologized saying that I didn’t know how Portuguese. I was soon discovering that Portuguese was close enough to Spanish that they could understand me, just not me them. So that was just dandy. He got me close to my hostel so I stopped him, paid the bill and ran up the street to my hostel where I couldn’t wait to get some rest since it was 4am and I had a long day of traveling, walking and concerting.