From the moment I sat in the departure lounge at the airport surrounded by Portuguese-speaking people I knew I wasn’t in Kansas (oops, Berlin) anymore. I honestly don’t know how I’m ever going to master this language, but learn it I shall. As we soared above the clouds and left Germany behind, I found myself chasing the sunset and my what a view it was! It was a visual prayer that seemed to be guiding me to distant shores.
Nothing spectacular about the three-hour flight to Lisbon, but if you ever decide to fly in, do it like I did and arrive at night when it seems as though you are landing right in the middle of Smaug’s lair! It is a breathtaking view that only confirms the 3000 (yes, three thousarnd) year history of this spectacular city.
The airport was a breeze and it rather reminded me of the Bangkok airport. The weather? Spectacularly pleasant! I took no time in ditching my jacket and walking around in a light cardigan. Ah, but it is not all fairy tales. I arrived at my hostel, and was taken aback by the simplicity of it all. The narrow stairs seem to pre-date Vasco da Gama, and the reception is on the third floor, with no elevator. So I left my three suitcases standing alone at the foot of the old creaky staircase and made my way up. This entire system gives informality a new perspective, but I have landed in a brilliantly international setting and find myself conversing in Spanish with everyone, which is the common denominator here. I had to chuckle inwardly to myself at the bizarreness of it all and I absolutely love it.
Then I found out that my private room will only be ready tomorrow, so for my first night in Lisbon I am blogging from the lower bunk bed in a room for six people. Not at all what I expected. Should I have booked a night in a five-star hotel to arrive in style? Honestly, I wouldn’t change this experience and opportunity to dive in head first with the new situation. I never did the hostel hopping in my youth, and seem to be doing things in reverse the older I get, but what the hey.
Alas, the airline did not serve food onboard. I mean, there was food for sale but I opted out of that, hoping to get out of the airport in time and grab a bite at a restaurant near the hostel. Hmmm… My heart took an abysmal plunge when the taxi nosedived into a narrow and steep road leading to the hostel, not a restaurant in sight, everything silent for the night. All quaint and cobblestones, but what the fudge was I going to do to pacify my grumbling stomach? Ha! A southasian minimart to the rescue some 20 metres away that is open until 11pm! So I made a dash for it, and armed myself with the basics, including something to tide me over until lunch tomorrow. So my first dinner in Lisbon consisted of a banana, an orange, 2 mini chocolate croissants and a can of Coca Cola. I stashed the pack of M&Ms in my backpack to munch at the office tomorrow, along with another banana.
I hear snoring soming from somewhere, and I can’t tell if it is from my room or nextdoor, since there is just a sliding door that separates us from the next set of bunks. It’s like being in college all over again. I am glad I have my earphones with me! I couldn’t unpack and unwind as I had planned on doing, since I am moving rooms tomorrow, so I went spelunking among my suitcases to dig out my stuff for my first day at work. No clue where some other essentials are, but hey, this is all part and parcel of the adventure, right? I wish I knew where my socks were…
Stay tuned folks! The adventure is just beginning.