First Impressions: No Sweat!

Trip Start Aug 22, 2012
Trip End Aug 28, 2012

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Where I stayed
Lisbon Destination Hostel

Flag of Portugal  , Lisbon,
Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fortunately leaving home today presented no problems – not like forgetting all my leads to my gear when I left for Oz or leaving home with the wrong bag on my trip to London. This was a stress-free departure...apart from the heat of course. It was boiling today, which meant that I must have lost at least 5 litres of liquid in sweat. Not a good feeling. Not unlike Ice Cold In Alex, I was wondering if I would actually make it to the airport/Lisbon without suffering a heatstroke. If it was that bad in Barcelona what was waiting for me at the other end?

Arriving at Lisbon Airport, I was presented with my first surprise. The airport is in the city. I thought it was weird when we got off the plane and onto the bus to take us to the terminal that we seemed to be driving extremely close to public traffic. Given my experience of the tight security when trying to enter Melbourne Airport, I was also surprised that there was no security check at the airport. We just walked straight through to the carousel to pick up our bags and then out of the airport. No one asked to see my passport. Surely that can't be right?

Anyway, on leaving the terminal, I then came across problem number two. I realise that speaking English and Spanish is of not much use in Portugal, but surely it would help a bit, wouldn’t it? Now, the first person I spoke to (an assistant selling tickets for the airport bus) spoke perfect English, but the second he started saying place names in Lisbon, I got horribly lost. The pronunciation of standard letters is completely different to anything I’d encountered up until that moment. For example, the letter 'R’ is hardly pronounced in England, although it is positively rolled in Scotland and Spain. In Portugal, however, it is pronounced like something between a ‘GH’ and ‘KR’ – it’s really odd. Portuguese is not difficult to read, but to understanding spoken Portuguese is next to impossible.

Going back to the subject of the airport being in the city. We left the airport and almost immediately hit heavy traffic in the form of city roads not on a motorway. Only at Broome International (ha!) Airport had I seen something similar. But that was some backwater (no offence) airport in North Western Australia, not the main airport of a capital city! Although to be fair, Western Australia probably has cattle stations bigger than Portugal. Now, this might seem na´ve of me, but surely it’s downright dangerous to have airplanes taking off and landing in the middle of a city, isn’t it?

I had no idea how I was going to get by in Lisbon with no Portuguese, but, fortunately, it was surprisingly easy to find my hostel as it is in the main train station, Rossio. After my experiences in Australia, I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to the standard of the hostel (Lisbon Destination Hostel), but I was pleased to see that it was actually very comfortable. I had also been a little uneasy about the fact that the hostel was in a train station, but surprisingly, the trains can’t be heard, so there’s no problem there.

After settling in I did what any good tourist would do, which was to head out and stop at the first bar with a terrace. This brought me on to my final observation of the day; it is much, much cooler in Lisbon than in Barcelona. At least if not cooler, then it has much less humidity, which, basically, amounts to the same thing. I had been a little sweaty on arrival, but that was as much to do with lugging my suitcase down the street as anything else, but once I got to relax and even wander through the streets in the evening, I was struck by the fact that I was remarkably dry. So, what is my overall impression of Lisbon? No sweat!
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