I'm not 100% sure on what my expectations was of Lisbon, from what i had heard, there's a bit of crime in the city but I'll keep a level head on and see what cards i get dealt. The first day we arrived (1st October) we walked out of the train station to find the sun was half way up in the sky bearing down on us with loads of heat, while being surrounded by old dusty buildings with a dusty, sandy road bearing along the waters front leading to the countries capital Lisbon in the distance. We could decide with our funds whether we should catch a taxi or give hiking a go. After a while our backpacks were thrown on and we trekked off for the walk. About an hour later we arrived in the city to start looking for the street
. Now those who will have been to Lisbon will know the streets aren't the most organised, and very run down and dirty. As we walked around in circles throughout the mixed streets trying to find our hostel, we finally stumbled upon our street. The numbers were all over the place so finding the number was another challenge, but we managed! I'd been carrying 20kg on my shoulders for the last hour and a half now and was looking forward to putting it down. It is so hot, and I'm literally saturated in my own sweat, so i headed up through the entrance to the 3rd floor where the hostel was. Inside was really pretty actually and colourful! Had all these awesome comfy beanbag chairs, and rugs everywhere. I nearly fell asleep on one when i sat down. The beds were so squeaky though and i can just tell with 8 people in the room turning about at night i wont be getting much sleep. For now we had a shower which was just unbelievable and i think i stood there for about half an hour in the warm water! However, the rumors which i heard about showers flooding in Portugal came true - the piping system isn't exactly the best in this country and every few minutes i had to turn the shower off to let all the built up water drain out that was into a pool at my feet, haha!
*rumble* *rumble* - was that my stomach? ...i think so! We went down the road to this local cafe. Nothing seemed open here as it was a Sunday
. In this cafe, the lady was just staring at us like she'd never seen a Caucasian before. But she was very friendly, and i ordered this Portuguese sausage wrapped in some sort of pastry and a cream cake of some description. Danielle had the same, and a sum total of 3.60 euro it all cost! HAHA - i can see myself revisiting this part of the world :o) After satisfying our hunger, we stepped out again into the dusty, dirty city that came with often whiff's of sewage at every corner; again and went for a walk to the centre bit. As i was walking around i felt very unsafe standing out like a tourist and felt like i was just waiting for someone to mug me as there's alot of dodgy looking characters around here. The streets and paths were all cobble stoned, and buildings were sandy grey coloured 2 - 3 story buildings cramped in random pattern's running down both sides of the street. I got eventually to more centre part of the city where there were markets lined along each side pedestrian street. Not many souvenir shops though for tourists, which is always a good thing, but interesting paintings and other things to look at in the stalls. Within 1 hour of walking in the city centre i was offered drugs 12 times (alot more than i was in Amsterdam), ranging from marijuana to cocaine. Is it because i have the 'Australian Surfer' look, or is it just this city? I'm thinking its the city :-) A close eye on my valuables i think I'll be keeping. After exploring for a few hours we headed back to the hostel to meet the others there as it was getting near dinner time
. Out in the lounge area (which again is so cool - very 'techno hippyish' if you get me?). I chatted to these 2 English girls and this other English guy named Brendan which was on a work holiday. They all had eaten and were going out after, so we popped out quickly to get something to eat which was the beginning of my demise haha! This is funny, but we went out looking for something to eat, ignoring the dozens and dozens of restaurants which do anything to get in your way to try you to force ya to eat in theirs... Found one out of the way with a good atmosphere. Sat down and ordered, but before the main meal we had these bread things with these sauces they gave us. I plopped a huge spoonful of this sauce on my bread not knowing what was to come... This Canadian from another table spoke out and warned me "watch out, that sauce is bloody hot". I thanked him for warning and got rid of a good 3/4 of the sauce from my pita bread and dug in. Well a few seconds later i found out that i got rid of no where near enough as my mouth was on absolute fire! SO MUCH PAIN! I've never had anything so hot in my life before. I literally could not sit there, i was going berserk with a drink and eating so much bread to try and get rid of the heat. The Indian waiter came out and started laughing at me... "typical tourist, they always put to much" he says. The rest of the meal was really nice, but the first 10 agonising minutes killed me and made my stomach feel so sick for the next hour or so!
Back to the hostel with no intentions of heading out for the night and to get some rest as energy level's aren't exacs tly at the highest! As soon as i got back to the lounge area in the hostel i met everyone and got to chatting. They all sound really nice bunch of people. We have a friendly Kiwi, 2 crazy Pommy chicks, 1 drunken Pommy bloke, 2 French sisters, 1 South African that talks like an italian and a guy from holland named 'Jop' - seriously the funniest guy ever! Well peer pressure kicked in and i was pretty much forced to head out with em all to check out what Lisbon night life has to offer... Cant say no to socialising can i? :-)
Well Jop seems to have been in Lisbon the longest so he volunteered to take us out and show us whats to offer. All of us got some shoes on (as none of us happened to be wearing any, haha) and headed off about 5 or 6 blocks away to these bunch of grid like streets. Jop happened to be an Amsterdam tourist guy as well. On the way to talking we all ran into this guy from our hostel (that works there), so being a local and all he took us to a few local pubs. - Thankgod, as Jop being gay kept trying to take everyone to these gay pubs... The night life here is very different. The streets and pubs are so small that everyone just drinks up outside filling up several blocks. No way any type of vehicle would get through, and would you really want to drive your car/motorbike through with all these drunks filling up the street? Well i had a drink bought for me, "pontapé no conya" (which in English is 'kick in the cunt' apprently!) It was some spirit mixed with ginger ale i think
. It tasted very sweet and a little thick. I think i'll stick to the beers :-) Me and Brendan (the drunk pommy) got on pretty well. At the next pub Brendan, Jop and I all ended up having 3 of these shots (filled 2/3 way full with Vodka, then Absinthe poored onto a slice of lemon with cinamin sprinkled on it to fill the rest of the shot glass up and give it a sweeter taste - then eat the lemon after you finish. Had all 3 in about 15 minutes so completely got all 3 of us guys toasted! From here the night went on, and ended up at another pub which seemed everyone was smoking... When i say smoking, i mean so much that i could barely open my eyes they were stinging so much - a few of us had to bail outside!. Not wanting to die from smoke inhailation, we all caught a taxi to 'Lux' - a night club owned by Sean Pen and John Malkovich. We linned up for a while but was shutting at 7am, and its 5:30am now, so we all got in another taxi and headed home - except for the 2 crazy Pommy girls which stayed.
So yes, my tired relaxing night in ended up a rediculous night out on the beer and Absinthe! But got to know an absolute great bunch of people really well!
Time for a few hours sleep before getting up to explore a bit of the Portuguese south-west coastline.
I write this diary entry laying in a big cushy beanbag in the social lounge of the "Lisbon lounge" hostel which has been more than a great time.