Arrival to Lisbon
It was 3rd of February and I got the best birthday gift ever: a flight ticket to Lisbon. Why Lisbon? I got a scholarship to study and live in the next six months in Porto. I can honestly say that choosing Portugal was one of the best decision I could take.
One year ago there was no direct flight ticket from Budapest to Porto (now there is by Wizz Air), that’s why my first destination was Lisbon where I spent three beautiful days. After that, I went to Porto by train.
Before my traveling, I found Venie on the side of Couchsurfing. At first sight, she doesn’t seem nice to me, but anyway I wanted to try Couchsurfing, that’s why we decided that I will stay in her home. I was so open to get to know different people and culture, try to speak Portuguese language and just discover the region of Lisbon. I was also excited because beforehand I have never spent more than one week far from my family, friends and the usual surrounding.
The first challenge was to find her home which was quite far from the city central and the airport because she lives on the outskirts of the city, – as she said – in the middle of the ghetto with her mother, sister, and grandmother. They also have two dogs. Before I arrived five puppies had been just born. They usually stayed on the carpet in the bathroom, so taking a shower was not that easy. Leading the dogs out was a longer process than taking a shower.
After I had arrived at their home, I got a big surprise. Suddenly they had turned the light off and started to sing the “Happy Birthday”. Venie’s mother cooked a muffin and put a small pink candle in the middle of it. It was the first time when I have felt how hospitable and kind the Portuguese people are.
The next two days Venie worked so I went alone to the central to visit the touristically popular places which were the followings:
Torre de Belém
Lisbon’s icon is one of the most popular sightseeing points. It’s a symbol of the Age of Discovery because it was the starting point of the many of the voyages of discovery and for the sailors, it was the last sight of their homeland. It’s also the part of UNESCO World Heritage. I didn’t go inside because I should have paid but it was amazing from outside as well.
Castelo de Sao Jorge
It’s a huge castle in the central of the city where you can take an overlook the Portuguese capital.
Praça do Comércio
It’s a huge square next to the ocean. It reminded me to Deák Ferenc square in Budapest, because in both it’s a meeting point for young people who are hanging out, here the subway lines intersect each other, and moreover it’s the main tourist attraction, so many people go there to take some pictures and admire the view. I was reading, enjoying my time and trying to realize where I am right and what happened since I have left Hungary.
Igreja Santo Antonio
Venie has talked to me about a tradition connected to Saint Antony’s statue. According to this, it’s an opportunity for those who wish to have a new or better girl/boyfriend. If you can throw and land a coin in the book of Saint Antony on the monument, your life is turning on the right way in terms of relationship. I didn’t visit this place because in that time I had a boyfriend, but next time I definitely go there.
The pink street
On the second night, we were planning to go out to the pink street and meet Venie’s friends. But we weren’t able to get the energy to move and leave the house and I’m not so addicted to parties, so rather we preferred to stay and talk to each other. But I can suggest you this place if you love parties or are curious about the nightlife in Lisbon.
One day in Cascais
My last day was Saturday in the capital and it was a free day for Venie, that’s why we decided to visit a small city nearby called Cascais. We wake up so early because we have cooked before we left. In my opinion, the transportation system is really good in Lisbon because the subway is linked to the nearby cities, so we could easily reach Cascais. We rented bicycles and we were riding across the ocean. It was relaxing because the air was fresh, the view was wonderful and the weather was so warm in February. (I’m from Hungary and here in February the weather it’s so cold and snowing. You need to wear a super warm coat if you don’t want to freeze. That’s why I was so surprised because of the weather. ) We have found a calm beach where we ate our lunch, talked and Venie tried to learn how to do hula-hoop. After it has got colder we went back to Lisbon because next day my train started so early in Porto.
My first impression
All in all, I really enjoyed my time in Lisbon, however, I was alone many times, but I always tried to find something interesting at the moment. I succeeded it more or less. It was my first impression about the Portuguese people. Venie was the best. She has always helped me when I got lost and it had happened several times. Her family was also really kind. They always tried to help me even we didn’t really find a common language. I was a beginner in Portuguese and didn’t really understand their fast speaking. On the other hand, I consider Portuguese people so friendly, hospitable and helpful. They always tried to understand me in the restaurant, railway stations, and buses.
I felt happiness, excitement and some fear of something new and I was waiting for the new challenges in Portugal.