After four days in Lisbon, not only are we ready to leave, but we were debating coming home all together!
Allow me to explain the circumstance that led to our frustration…..
First of all, after leaving the fantastic country of Spain, almost anything was likely going to be a disappointment. Upon arriving in Lisbon, we were treated to a lovely room that ironically, didn’t have such a lovely smell. In fact our entire floor smelled like a backed up sewage system, which we later deduced was the odor emitted from their disinfectant sprays. Clean but smelly…..a bit of a paradox.
Not wanting to spend any more time than necessary in our room, we headed out to explore the city. Lisbon is definitely a different place. If I were forced to describe her, I would use a callous reference to Tara Reid; from a distance she’s attractive, but up close, she’s a little trashy. Almost immediately, we were starting to wish we hadn’t booked four days here….
After exploring for a few hours, we stopped for a bite to eat in one of the most popular spots in the entire town, just off of La Liberdale Street in the hip Baixa district. Some authentic Portuguese food and wine was certain to improve our moods. However, within five minutes of being seated at an outside patio, a passer-by propositioned me to buy drugs. When I told Megan that we were just offered some “smack” she gave me one of those, “sure you were baby” looks, which are supportive in the way a wife should be, but are ultimately skeptical. Obviously, she thought that the likelihood of a drug dealer randomly coming up to us at a café in the middle of the day was absurd, and I evidently must have imagined or misinterpreted it. Well, less than ten minutes later, a guy walked directly up to our table and blatantly, in a clear voice that could not be misunderstood, offered us, “pot, cocaine, hashish?”…..I tried not to gloat as I nonchalantly murmured, “Told you so.”
Throughout the hour long dinner (which, by the way, did nothing for our mood or taste buds) we were solicited one additional time. From that point on, our guards were on high alert every time we left our room. Any town that has such brazen dealers is a town that demands your full attention while wandering the streets.
We settled back into our urine smelling room and decided to check our email and possibly hit the gym. However, the Wi-Fi was on the fritz and kept kicking us off after a few minutes, which made it impossible to complete even one email. To add insult to injury, the “fitness center” that was advertised in the website turned out to be a farce. The hotel actually had listed in its directory, “fitness center.” But when you turned to page 19, it stated that there were two facilities within walking distance from the hotel. What a total jip…… Portugal was really starting to wear on us.
We hoped that our luck would change the next day as we set out to explore an area that was listed as, “one of the most popular and visited area’s in all of Lisbon.” On the map, it looked just a mile or two away, based on the dimensions of our walk the previous evening. We quickly found out that the scale of this map was drastically different than what we had witnessed before. A few hours and roughly seven miles later, we finally arrived at our destination. To our disappointment, there were only three or four cool monuments to visit. Aside from a nice lunch by the river (which suspiciously smelled just like our room) the rest of the day was a bust. On the walk back, we tried to meander through the, “most visited area,” thinking that it would be filled with lush apartments, swanky café’s and gorgeous parks. What we found instead were graffiti ridden buildings, dilapidated homes, and an unending supply of questionable looking individuals. At one point, as we were walking through a particular unkempt area, Megan jumped in surprise as something splashed on the sidewalk beside her, seemingly coming from nowhere. Luckily she moved with cat-like reflexes and missed the rest of the fluids coming from an apartment above. I quickly realized what had happened and proceeded to yell at the man above, who had dumped a liquid, that we are still not willing to speculate as to its content, onto the sidewalk below. I don’t think he spoke English, but I’m hoping that “jackass” is a universal word!
After a long and tiresome day of walking, we retired early with hopes of taking a train to a nearby beach the next morning. Surely, Lisbon would be better tomorrow. We awoke to a torrential downpour that pretty much lasted for the next 48 hours……so much for the beach, and for that matter, Lisbon all together.
We spent the next two days watching English TV, which was a surprising treat, and even got our hair cut at a salon next door. If you’ve never had your hair cut by someone that doesn’t speak your language, trust me, it’s a frightening experience……luckily they had pictures to point at, so it was close to what I wanted. Megan fared much better, as her girl was fluent in English. She finished off the spa with a conditioner treatment and a pedicure. Not a bad way to spend a rainy day after all.
Perhaps the beaches here are really fantastic and other cities are ripe with energy and charm…..but I doubt we’ll ever find out. From our travels, we’re starting to view places as we would people; we have first impressions that tend to shape our views. Maybe we are being hasty in our assessment, but when you have to travel halfway around the world just to get there, it’s not a place we’re willing to give another chance.
Goodbye Portugal……welcome back Italy!