Last Stop Lisbon

When I got off the train in Lisbon, I officially checked off every city I’d intended on getting to this trip, with more than a handful of unexpected others already visited. I made it with eleven days of travel left. I accomplished everything I wanted, and I ended up with a week to spare.

Maybe I could have hit one more big city. I could have spent one more day each in Berlin, Prague, Munich and Vienna. I couldn’t know that then. I’ve been in 39 cities (outside of the train station, wandering). I’ve stayed the night in 34. I’ve stayed more than one night in 25 of them. I’ve stayed long enough to call it a 4-10 day vacation in 17 of them.

And now I have a week to spare.

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Potentially the final trip map, not including Istanbul, Cappadocia and Ankara, but I’ll probably wander through Spain a bit more on my way back to my Barcelona flight home. The isolated stars in Spain, Italy and Greece are additional places I went in 2009 – and I keep forgetting to star Dubrovnik, Croatia.

As the days are shorter and it gets dark earlier, I am the lamest backpacker when it comes to nightlife. I just don’t go clubbing. I don’t feel like drinking all that much, I don’t have the clothes for it, I don’t want to rub up on foreign men… I’m probably missing out, but I’m having a grand time during the day.

When I researched Lisbon, one of the first things that I read said it is a charming old tourist destination that has never once been dressed up or cleaned up for tourists.

Today, I woke up late and got out later. I could have visited the monastery, or the castle, but for whatever reason wasn’t in the mood. Maybe because I could stay here ten more days if I wanted- they’ll be there. I took a walk.

Lisbon is beautiful, and it is charming. On a cloudy and dreary day like today, it also can look very, very rundown. I’d left the main drag of tourist shops and restaurants and walked through town toward the bridge. It was amazing. You had six lane roads, modern buses and metros… and the most rundown sketchy buildings right next to car dealerships. Scary in the gloomy weather’s light.

And every bench in Lisbon seems to have an old beady-eyed man that stares sitting on it.

I think if I’d come here, with this weather, as one of my first solo destinations, Lisbon might have scared me, silly as that may sound. As my last stop, I actually enjoy the thrill. Some of the cities I’ve been to (first thoughts being Salzburg and Munich) were almost too clean in spots to be real. Locals don’t go here and there. This is for tourists.

Not so in Lisbon.

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My hostel is fantastic but at about fifteen minutes from the main restaurant/cafe/tourist area, just too far out on a rainy night. The walk home to the hostel is entirely uphill and my jeans shrunk again. Things would be considerably uncomfortable if I had to jog that uphill walk home drenched from a storm.

Considering I have potentially nine more nights here (though probably not), I settled for the Chinese restaurant around the corner of my hostel. I could at least get Portuguese beer, and I did. It was called Super Bock and it was super okay. The restaurant had three families in it, loads of empty tables and a “special menu” price of 7.50€ for a spring roll + any chicken dish + rice. I made it just in time for the special menu offer to still be valid. Reading the rest of the menu, I considered a fried banana, but decided against it for both money and “being healthy or whatever” costs.

Because I had nowhere else to be and families were still being seated – not enough for me to worry about giving up my table – I stayed and read On the Road. I have never had so much free time, and it has never taken me this long to finish a book. I have forty pages to go.

And twenty minutes after my dinner plate had been cleared, half my beer still to go, the waitress brought me a fried banana, on the house.

I’m going to miss this.

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