Nine days of fast and furious fun with my parents in Spain distracted us enough to almost forget what was to come after their departure. So when boarding our plane from Madrid to Lisbon, I was literally clueless about what to expect for our next destination. Admittedly, if you had asked me a few months ago where Lisbon was on the map, I shamefully would have had to admit that I had no idea. So with nothing to expect, and everything to learn, we arrived in what I will boldly call my new favorite city: Lisbon, Portugal!
Lisbon made our list solely based on its proximity to Spain and the price of a cheap flight. Also, we really wanted to sneak away to the Canary Islands for a couple weeks for some Vitamin D and flights were much more affordable originating from Portugal. So in the spirit of “just c’est where”, we booked our tickets and stumbled into what I now consider one of Europe’s unsung cities.
Descending into Lisbon on a gorgeous sunny morning was a picturesque scene befit with a San Francisco-like bridge, sparkling blue water, and rolling hillsides full of pastel painted buildings. Once we entered the airport itself, we were welcomed with cookies and juice by friendly attendants informing us that it was “Smiling Day” and they hoped we had a wonderful stay in Portugal. As you can see, things were looking good for Lisbon! Sugar highs secured, when an accordion-playing man sporting a miniature Dachshund on his shoulder came waltzing through our metro car on our ride downtown, I knew we had just found the best place on earth.
Friday afternoon, we checked into our first bad Airbnb rental. Unfortunately, it looks very little like the pictures online and is decorated as if the owner was trying to create a Portuguese TGI Friday’s with creepy figurines, puppets, and unicyclist’s covering each wall. Décor aside, it’s also dirty and smells like smoke. Yuck!
Refusing to let our enthusiasm for Lisbon be squelched by a bummer of an apartment, we set out to complete the CrossFit 15.5 open workout downtown. We were welcomed with open arms at Bakery CrossFit, set in the building of an old bakery, and had many cheerleaders (most looking like they could be Dan’s bearded brothers…I think he’s secretly Portuguese!) rooting for us as we completed our death by thrusters work out.
Our ability to walk completely demolished, we (slowly!) navigated the hills of Lisbon back to our apartment to get ready for a fun dinner at a restaurant located in an Old Moorish building. The rest of the weekend continued at that pace and we enjoyed sunny afternoons in the park, wandering up and down the winding streets, and of course, eating well. On Saturday, we even found a cevecheria that became home to Dan’s favorite meal on our trip!
On top of that, Lisbon is arguably the friendliest place we have been so far, even though we don’t speak a lick of the language! First of all, Portugese is crazy! I had Googled a few key phrases before we left (so we could at least thank a waiter after they brought us our drinks), but that didn’t get us very far. My best description is that it sounds like Spanish, French, and Russian had a baby. And it’s FAST! In spite of our linguistic shortcomings, the people have been more than willing to speak English if they know it or engage in enthusiastic hand gesturing and pointing. Although not a foolproof means of communication since I was misunderstood at the gelato stand and “accidentally” walked away with a triple scoop cone…but who’s complaining?!
All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better first impression of a new place. We have yet to learn much about the history of our surroundings so we are putting our tourist hats back on today to do a historical walking tour of the older parts of town. Can’t wait to see what’s in store! But if the sunny skies and warm breeze coming through our windows is any indication, we’re sure to have another lovely day in Lisbon. Lucky us!