Portugal, Day* 1: Toronto to Lisbon

So the asterisk is there to represent how I’ve lost track of time on this journey.

Friday was a bit hectic. Not a regular March Break traveller, I got myself a bit wound up about getting to the airport on time to catch a 6:30 flight. School ends at 3:15, but I’m rarely gone at that point, and when Daina told me he was going to be running late, I got stressed. Fortunately, not going to anyplace in the Caribbean during March Break helps and we made it through check-in, customs and snack time at Pearson with time to catch our flight.

Not the greatest of flights, mind you. I had reserved us some exit row seats for the extra legroom, on account of us being larger-than-average people. Little did I know that a larger-than-me person would have the same plan, as a man who was 6′ 4″ and probably pushing 260 booked the aisle seat, leaving very little room for anybody to move. Physics were not in anyone’s favour, a fact he didn’t recognize when he (somewhat sarcastically) asked if he could use the armrest for the last two hours, when I thought that he already had been, and then got upset. So that was mildly uncomfortable. As were his sweatpants which had to had a busted drawstring, which revealed his bare rear end to us every time he stood up. As was the cold that seemed to be penetrating Schipol in Amsterdam, our connecting airport. All in all, we had a seven hour flight, a five hour layover, then another three hour flight before finally landing in Lisbon.

Now, full disclosure – up until a few years ago, Lisbon and Portugal weren’t on my radar. I think I always had Portugal in my mind as “Spain Junior”, to modify a Simpsons reference. Yet, the more positive things I heard from friends who have travelled here, the more interested I became. And with summer funds and timing already spoken for this year, Portugal seemed to fit the bill.

So far, good decision.

We rode the metro in from the airport, with a woman named Lurdes guiding us to our AirBnB in the Rossio district via WhatsApp. Once we got out of the metro, we found the polished cobblestones under our feet, music filling the air, and an energy in the air that probably comes with being +20 in March as opposed to -20. Our BnB overlooks the Elevator de Santa Justa, which we’ll be looking down from tomorrow, and is in the heart of all of the action. Needing to get some food in us before going to bed, we did a quick wander down to the Ask Me Lisbon office to pick up some Lisboa Cards (discount cards that will get you everything we’ll be talking about over the next few days) before hitting up Tripadvisor for a restaurant reco. We landed on Lisboa Tu e Eu 2, a cozy spot located off a plaza, under an arch, and up a set of stairs in an alley. It’s attached to a hostel, which makes the Sharpie-reviews written on the wall make a lot more sense, and in spite of being super crowded, gets by with fantastic food and servers who just seem adorably overwhelmed while an older woman keeps everybody in shape. It’s probably the definition of “Hidden Gem” that everybody now knows about, but still worth it.

Even got the token Cute Lisbon Tram Picture already.

So aside from walking around and thinking “this is pretty”, we didn’t get to do too deep of a dive into the city today. That will be tomorrow’s job. Can’t wait!

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