Harry Potter meets Lisbon

“An interesting question to ask yourself at night is, What did I really see this day?”
— John O’Donohue.

That is precisely the question I asked myself this evening, which I think is a valid question on a Manic Monday evening. Let´s start at the very beginning, shall we? Since it rained most of the weekend, the temperatures dropped significantly, and by that I mean I had to re-insert the fleece lining into my rain jacket. Shiver. Shudder. But at least the rains stopped for the timebeing. It´s a new week, so time to look ahead and embrace whatever adventures come my way.

My Uber driver this morning is not a Lisboan native and it showed, especially in the way he was eager to promote just about every city in the surrounding areas of Lisbon. He hails from Madeira and spent most of the drive trying to convince me to ditch Lisbon and move to Madeira. He did put in a good word for Porto as well, but he was hell-bent on promoting Madeira with heart and soul. To distract him, I began asking questions about the interesting buildings we were driving by, and that way I learned something about my new hometown!

That was the harmless part of the day. The bus ride home, which is usually my chance to unwind and mentally shift gears, turned out to be something right out of Harry Potter. Remember the scene where Harry gets on the Knight Bus and said bus squeezes between two muggle busses? No? This might jog your memory… I swear that could have been (should have been) filmed in Lisbon instead of London. The location scout read the instructions wrong and ended up in London! That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

Well, two things about the video apply to me: first, the part where the Knight Bus was literally two coats of paint away from the next bus. Monday is delivery day for most restaurants, supermarkets, and what-nots. The delivery trucks were out in full force around town, which is fine in the larger avenues, but when it comes to the narrow ancient streets in my area, the bus had to slow down to a snail´s crawl so as not to hit the cars parked on the left or the vans double parked on the right.
Oh my freaking heart!
We were so close to the van I would have been hard put to even stick a finger between the two vehicles, and we knocked the mirror off anyway. But I wasn´t the only one aghast and had to contain my laughter when the young man seated two rows behind me exclaimed in horror while this all unfolded. He took the words right out of my mouth when he said that the last time he saw something like this was in Bangladesh.
Same, buddy, same.

Second thing that struck me about the Harry Potter clip was how much the Knight Bus reminds me of my hostel. It´s a wild ride here every night, and you never know who or what will cause a ruckus outside my door. Last night it was a group of seven Peruvians who live in Spain and decided to hop on down to Portugal for a little escapade. I never saw them but I certainly heard everything! They arrived huffing and puffing, shouting and squabbling among themselves and wanted seven beds … with no reservations. The poor manager was at a loss and said that if they had arrived 30 minutes earlier he could have offered them the space. Alas, he was short of two beds for the rowdy bunch, but called around until he found accomodation for them and arranged their taxi. See why Lisbon always lands in the top 10 most friendliest cities in the world? The manager could have just slammed the door on them and left them to their own devices, but instead, he took care of something that wasn´t even his responsibility.

Oh, and I dropped by my little minimart across the hostel this evening and was greeted with an exhuberant “Ah Senhora!” While I stood at the counter paying for my fruits and snacks a man came up from the lower level but couldn´t move forward because I was blocking the way. You have to imagine that this little shop is not meant to have more than four people in it at a time or someone will roll down the stairs. Well this guy was wanted out, so he placed both hands on my shoulders and moved me aside, saying softly Com licença (excuse me). I was too amused to even get annoyed. It was so gently and politely done that I felt like an errant cat who was blocking the doorway.

So yeah, it can be wild, it can be bumpy, but you always land on two feet in Lisbon and end up smiling.

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