Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lessons from Lisbon

This is Lisbon in a nutshell... if you need a more thorough explanation, read the post before this one.

1.  If you wander around enough, you will eventually end up... somewhere.

2.  If there is a man selling umbrellas and it looks like it might rain, BUY IT.

3.  Arriving at the monastery means that (1) you found it, and (2) you are in the exact opposite direction of where you intended to be.  Take a picture to commemorate the moment anyway.

4.  Trolleys are old.  Make sure you hold onto something nailed to the floor.

5.  Portuguese people are even more relaxed than Spaniards, if that is possible.

6.  Minced codfish, potatoes, and cream sauce is authentic Portuguese and quite tasty.

7.  Thirty-six hours is enough time to see most of the sights, but not enough time to fully appreciate the city as a whole.

8.  Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon, and therefore the most confusing.  Do not count on your map... especially if you are spatially / directionally challenged to begin with.

9.  If you go down a flight of stairs - or two, or three, or six - you will eventually have to come back up (in the rain).

10.  When the hostel owner raises his eyebrows when you say the rain won't bother you, it's probably a good time to reconsider.

11.  Pants dry out in a couple of hours.  Shoes take longer.

12.  Portuguese pastries are famous... "Since 1837" is a good indicator of where to start : )

13.  When you agree to play Five Questions with a random stranger from the hostel, prepare yourself to buy your him another round, and then watch out for distractions.

14.  Red Velvet cupcakes and cucumber water in a charming location with plush furniture can put the perfect end on any day.

15.   Ginja, Lisbon's cherry liqueur, should not be downed as a shot.  Ever.  Regardless, the men standing around watching will laugh.

16. As others' inhibitions diminish, they will probably assume they are the perfect ones to entertain you when they notice you are merely watching people.  Debating the merits of the European Union under such conditions does make for some good entertainment, though perhaps not the kind they had in mind...

17.  If you see the tram stopped at the bus stop and it's raining, that is the appropriate time to run.  Nevermind your umbrella.

18.  You can make hats, purses, and belts out of cork... and then sell it to tourists!

19.  There is a noticeable difference in Spanish and Portuguese porcelain art.

20.  It's breakable.

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