Lisbon (and the road towards it)

Despite my lazy assumptions, the prevailing wind in Portugal (in the south-west at least) is northerly.  The slightly crappy weather that nudged my into taking a week off was caused by a south-westerly, and a big-ass storm stubbornly stationed off the coast, and this resulted in tailwinds towards Lisbon by the time I left my workaway place.  So I went up there.  The wind direction, some half-remembered recommendations and a ticked box (I’ve been to most western-European capitals) were motivation enough.

I fired off a loads of couch surfing and warm showers requests, but none came through in Lisbon itself.  The two nights on the road up there were okay – I stayed a cool guy who is really into barefoot running (atypically the only host who didn’t smoke weed when I was around) who gave me the first tasty beer of my trip (a home brewed Belgian trappist) and a recently retired engineer who kindly offered to store my bike and panniers and lend me a backpack so I could go to Lisbon by train.  This proved to be a good move as my cheap/dive accommodation there was up four flights of stairs.  An elderly couple staffed the place, and there were more doilies than guests.

Lisbon itself was pleasant, but I wasn’t really in the headspace for a city-break. It didn’t help that I had no company, nor that I felt too decadent after splashing 25 Euros per-night on accommodation to actually spend any unessential money enjoying myself.  I mainly just traipsed around on foot, taking photos and eating pastais de nata. There was an independent film festival on, so I went to see a few films – the Raiders of the Lost Ark VHS ‘adaptation’ by a group of teenage kids and a New World horror (‘The Witch’) which I thought would keep me awake at night but wasn’t actually that scary.  It’s good though, with apparently period-correct dialogue, and the lead actor is that guy ‘Finch’ from The (original) Office.  He’s really good in it.  I also went to a multiplex to see ‘The Truth’, which was okay, and binge-watched eight episodes of ‘Better Call Saul’.  So yeah, you can get the impression that I wasn’t that bothered by sight- (site-? both are right!) -seeing.  My first real privacy in over a week and a strong wi-fi signal seduced me.  What a waste.

But that’s the benefit of travelling solo.  I wasn’t in the mood, so I took a dive.  I did what I wanted to do and I still got a flavour of the city (although I’d like to go back for a more sociable, booze-fuelled and Fado-soundtracked weekend) without feeling guilty for holding someone else back.  It’s not Lisbon’s fault – at the moment, and perhaps for the duration of this trip, I’m not really interested in cities, especially if my only option is to follow the standard tourist track.


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