“Everyone got their passport, boarding pass, and money?”
“Yep, we’re ready.”
This is how our morning (actually night) started off. We got to the airport around 2am so that we could post up and sleep there for the night before our flight at 7am. We met up with another group of SLU students before we parked ourselves in front of the check-in gates. As we were chatting with the other SLU people, Rachael realizes that she brought the wrong boarding pass. It was a minor obstacle, but little did we know this was going to be the theme of our trip to Lisboa, Portugal.
Running on minimal sleep, we arrived in Lisbon at 7:30am and were off to find our hostel. Because we couldn’t check in until later in the day, we dropped off our bags and raced to meet our tour guide for the I Hate Tourism tour. The tour was a suggestion from many people who raved about it in the past, so we were all super excited. It was supposed to last for 7 hours, so we planned on seeing a lot of the city and trying local food, especially desserts. The time is now 8:50 and our tour starts at 9. Frantically looking around the plaza for any sign of our tour guide, we decide to ask someone for information. We find a phone number to call, learn that we’re in the wrong plaza, and are told to wait while they contact the driver to see where the tour is. It’s 9:20 when we get a call telling us that the tour is too far for us to meet them and that the only way to catch up to them is to take a train. We were so angry. The tour only had 7 people on it: the 4 of us who were lost and the 3 other SLU students who we were with in the airport. We later found out that we were actually only 5 minutes from the bus (the lady on the phone thought we were elsewhere) and that the bus driver wanted to wait for us but his boss told him no. Nonetheless, we were pretty upset. Our anger eased up a little when the tour company agreed to give us a 100% refund.
Even with our money back, we had no idea what we were going to do for 7 hours on our own. Needless to say, everyone was in a rough mood after missing the bus. Down in the dumps, we wandered back into the information shop to see what else there was to do. We found a tour that took us on a double decker bus around the city for 1.5 hours and then on a river boat cruise for 2.5 hours, and it was even cheaper than our original tour. With our moods slightly raised, we boarded the top deck of the bus and rode around the cute city that is Lisbon, Portugal. We had a few hours between our bus and boat tour, so we had time to grab lunch in the city. Both of the tours ended up being a lot of fun. I think we made the best of it.
Now it was time for us to check into our hostel. I had no idea what to expect. We go to check in only to realize that our bad luck has not run out. Our booking had been wrong, and I only reserved a room for 1 night. And the hostel was completely full. Here we were trying to find some place to sleep in Portugal. Because it was such late notice we were all a little nervous. Thankfully the workers at our first hostel gave us some recommendations and we found a place to crash the next day. Yet another bullet dodged, we were exhausted and called it a night after walking around the city, stopping for dinner, and enjoying some pastries.
Saturday was beach day. Our only plans were to take the train to Escoril and soak up the sun. The clouds covered a majority of the sky, but we still enjoyed our day of relaxation. It was such a change up from what we’ve been doing the past 4 weeks. We’re constantly on the go, so I definitely appreciated the time I spent laying in the sand. When my skin couldn’t get any more sunburnt, we headed to dinner and then back to the new hostel.
Both of our hostels exceeded my expectations. It’s like girl scout camp on steroids. Everyone there acts like this is your actual home and that you’ve lived there for years. It was clean, down comforter blankets, free sangria, free dinner, and free breakfast every day. Everything you’ll ever need. And it’s chalk full of people our age so I loved it even more.
We were exhausted by the time we got back to our first hostel, so we traded free sangria for a few more hours of sleep. However, at our second hostel we were more than ready for some sangria and socializing. We walked into the lounging area to a couch full of about 6 German boys, all very cute. I’m socially awkward and didn’t talk very much, but by the end of the night they were convincing us to go on the pub crawl hosted by our hostel with them. We had saved 15 euros on the tours and the pub crawl cost 15 euros so it seemed like fate.
The pub crawl included a total of 3 bars a disco club which gave us 2 shots, a mojito, and an hour of unlimited drinks (and of course a fun night with cute German boys). Pretty sweet deal. The Germans pretty much kept to themselves at the first bar, a little upsetting. So when we had gotten our drinks and were heading towards the dance floor, I tried to get the one I was crushing on, Ralph, to come with us. Unfortunately he turned me down. Rachael struck up conversation with one of the more chatty boys so I chimed in on their talk. They were playing the “Fun Fact” game. His fun fact about himself was that he didn’t like Americans…good one. But really these German boys said that Americans were loud, obnoxious, rude, and uncultured. Those were the stereotypes they told us anyways. I was really adamant on hanging out with Ralph, so Rachael slyly threw it into the conversation that I thought he was cute. These Germans were so socially awkward; they were not picking up any hints. So all night it was a constant struggle to keep a conversation with them let alone dance with them because they hated the American music that was playing. At one point in the night I thought I’d attempt the “Fun Fact” game with Ralph. His fun fact? “I’m boring.” Then he walked away. Rough times, but he was so cute. All in all it was a super fun night. Finally around 3:00am we left for the hostel to get at least a few hours of sleep before our flight back home to Madrid at 11am.
Portugal itself was a beautiful city. I’m glad that I got to spend a weekend there, but it definitely wasn’t what I expected. It was super touristy and almost everyone there spoke English. I never would have thought that that would bother me. I realized how much I love speaking Spanish in Madrid. Personally, I feel that the US is doing it all wrong. I’m also slowly realizing how much I dislike about America. And it upsets me that every other country hates Americans. For example, I can’t even travel to Morocco because they hate Americans that much. Can’t I just live in Madrid forever?! By the time the weekend was over, I was ready to come back to Madrid. It’s crazy how fast this place has become home for me. I almost missed it while we were gone. And to think it was only for 3 days. Oy vey. On a negative note, I only have 3 months left here. Doesn’t seem like near enough time. Guess I’ll have to come back.
Our first weekend trip around Europe started off a little bumpy but ended up being a weekend that I’ll never forget.
What a weekend.