zimena: (Misc - Doll-like woman)
I'm back from Portugal!

In fact, I got home Saturday evening, but this is the first time I'm on a computer since before leaving. There is so much to tell from this trip, but it's probably easier to split it by category instead of trying to write a long and coherent post. This might be rather long anyway, though.

Are you ready? Do you have coffee/tea/something else to make your reading experience nicer? Good, then let's go:

Flights: This was only the 4th flight in my adult life (of course not counting multiple flights during the same trip separately). As I'm not used to travelling this way, I find it (mostly) exciting. I'm not sure it's that fun to sit in a narrow seat with limited space for my legs and even more limited space to the person in the next seat for 4 hours, though. Seriously, the plane to and from Lisbon was so cramped. I had another flight to get home from Oslo yesterday as well, and that plane was slightly more spacious. I mean, shouldn't that have been the other way around, considering the fact that the flight to Lisbon is much longer?

Hotel: We stayed in an absolutely awesome hotel in Lisbon. Almost everything was perfect there. Our room was nice and spacious, the beds were comfortable, we got free bottles of drinking water every day (very nice when you get home late, as we usually did). Also, they gave us four pieces of hand-made chocolate daily. On the day we arrived, they brought that to our room quite soon after arrival, while on the other days we found a plate with chocolate in the room when we got home. Did I mention yet that this chocolate was absolutely delicious? Well, it was. Especially the white kind.

What else? Yes, the hotel had a pool in the basement, as well as a slightly smaller (outdoor) pool on the roof. We tried both, but the coolest experience was definitely when we went swimming in the rooftop pool at 11:30pm once. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to stay there for long, because you weren't supposed to swim there after 8pm - only, there was no info about this anywhere. The woman from the staff who came to ask us to leave was very nice about it, though - she even gave us some extra soft towels because we were apparently not supposed to use the ones from our room that we had brought there (supposedly due to the high amount of chemicals they would put in the water for the evening/night-time cleaning process). Even though that was a short and kinda illegal swim, it was awesome, and much cooler than swimming in the same pool in the daytime would have been.

City: First of all, Lisbon is NOT an ideal city if you are a wheelchair user or if you otherwise cannot walk perfectly. It's very hilly, and those hills are mostly very steep. That, coupled with streets covered in mini-cobblestones made of some slippery, glass-like material, makes for a big challenge. Our hotel was located at the top of a hill, and we actually had to take a bus just to get down from there in a reasonably comfortable way - because strangely enough, the two nearby metro stations were also located at the bottom of the hill.

Other than that, what I saw of the city was very beautiful, though. My favourite spot was probably the Parque das Nações - a huge park with a long promenade along the river Tejo. This is also the location of the MEO Arena - which could possibly host next year's Eurovision Song Contest. Apparently, this whole area was made for Expo '98, and it was cool how there were also flag poles with flags and info about every country in the world.

Another place I liked was the Praça do Comércio square. It reminded me a little bit on Prague's Staroměstské Náměstí. We also saw the only rain during our trip while we were here - it started raining enough that every restaturant around frantically moved all sorts of stuff indoors. By the time they were done with that, the sun came back out. HEH.

... and that brings me to:

Weather: We had perfect weather all week. Perfect as in about 22-25 degrees and slightly cloudy much of the time. There was a slight breeze most of the time, too - apart from one evening when it got very windy and almost chilly (maybe mostly because I was just wearing a thin singlet-like shirt that had been enough all day, though). Strangely, I know that there was a heatwave with temperatures up to 40-45 degrees the week before we were there, and there's a forecast of up to 50 degrees for next week, so that makes the weather we had even more perfect.

Metro: I'm madly fascinated with metro/subway systems. There is of course no such thing in my town, so perhaps that explains why I find it so cool. Lisbon's system was very cool when it was working, but also badly marked and with limited info available when something was out of the ordinary. For example, lifts to get into the metro were often located in strange places far away from the stairs to the same station. I mean two streets or so away, for example. Also, half of those lifts were either out of service or only available to one line and not the other at the points where you were supposed to switch between lines. Luckily, I can walk at least a bit, and the stairs were often quite good, so with some workarounds metro travels worked kind of okay.

Seriously, though, Lisbon metro people, I know you were super-helpful and friendly and everything, but one thing: MAPS! How about putting a map near the stairs, showing where lifts and other stairs to the same station are? That would have been extremely helpful.

That reminds me:

Maps, signs and tourism: Getting around Lisbon on foot if you don't know the city can be somewhat difficult, because the signs with street names are either too small to read from a distance or simply not there at all. Especially near the hotel, lots of streets were simply unmarked. Also, the city does not seem to have much of that typical "tourist-y" stuff that other big cities do. I did not see a single souvenir shop, for example. (I'm sad about this, as I would have wanted at least something that said Lisbon or Portugal on it).

I don't mean to complain, though, because I had an absolutely amazing time. Very much thanks to:

People: I'm impressed by Portuguese people, really. They're so friendly and helpful, and I'm amazed at how they seem to genuinely care about you even if you are a total stranger. For example, sometimes we we were just standing around for a while because we got confused about where we were or where to go. My experience was that if we did that for more than a few moments, someone would stop on their own accord and ask if we needed help, or simply just try to resolve the issue if it was obvious what was up.

For example, we had some trouble at a metro station because 1) there was no lift even though there was supposed to be one, and 2) the ticket barrier refused to work, even though we had valid tickets, and 3) there was no station assistant to be found anywhere.

Well, a random Portuguese woman just stopped and tried to help out. She was very sorry that the info about the lift was incorrect, and that we were having problems. She also called the station assistant and waited for him to resolve at least the ticket barrier issue. Then she proceeded to tell him off for our problems, for not having info in any languages other than Portuguese and for a number of other things that I didn't understand clearly. The point is that she took the time to stay with us and make sure we were okay, even though we had never seen her in our life until then. We were total strangers to her, and she still got so emotionally involved in this whole situation.

What's more - she wasn't one of a kind. People everywhere were just so friendly and caring and helpful. I don't think I have ever seen this general attitude in other countries, so it was amazing to see.

I don't know if I feel like going back to Lisbon in the future, though. I had a fantastic time there, stayed in a wonderful hotel, and I'm very happy with having been there. However, the city is more than a little impractical from my point of view, and I would rather visit a new place next time I'm going to travel by plane; not go back to one I have already visited once.

PS: I posted some photos from the trip on my Instagram account.

Date: 04/07/2017 00:48 (UTC)From: [personal profile] upanddisappear
upanddisappear: (Default)
I've only flown 3 times in my life!

I want to swim in a pool on a roof! But I'd only want to do it at night.

I wonder how the local wheelchair users adapt to the terrain?

I'm so glad you had lovely weather! And that everyone was so kind!

Date: 04/07/2017 02:54 (UTC)From: [personal profile] yuuago
yuuago: (Moomin - Snufkin again)
Sounds like it was pretty good overall. I'm glad to hear you had a good time. <3 It sounds like people are so friendly and helpful... That's so nice to hear.

I understand what you mean about finding metro systems fascinating. I'm the same way, since we don't have them here either. Only been on metro/train a couple of times in my life, and that was on another continent, so it just seems very exotic.

Glad that you mentioned the difficulties of getting places on foot (due to hills + signage); I'll have to keep that in mind if I ever go.

Date: 04/07/2017 10:47 (UTC)From: [personal profile] catness
catness: (keep_flying)
Sounds like a wonderful holiday - so glad you had such a good time! And a good hotel is very important. I know some people don't care, they say that they travel to see the city, not to be stuck in the hotel; but IMHO, the hotel is an essential part of the holiday atmosphere. (And wow, free chocolate :)

I love metro, too. It's the most convenient way of transportation because the routes are so clear, you can figure out everything from the map, and because everything is so spacious and protected from the weather. But also because it feels nostalgic. I had never lived in a city with a metro either, so it's associated for me with traveling / vacations / fun stuff :) (As a child, I was fascinated by the dark tunnels... was always looking in the window and trying to catch a glimpse of something interesting. My best find was an abandoned station which the train passed without stopping - all dark and deserted, faintly illuminated by the dim lamps... so mysterious :) But I see how it can be a problem when you have to rely on the lifts. I remember suffering so much in Paris' metro - I was wearing sandals, and my feet got awfully swollen after a couple of days, so taking the stairs was a challenge every time (most of the stations don't even have escalators).

What about food? Where did you eat, and what did you find most impressive?

Did you buy something cool?

Date: 07/07/2017 15:21 (UTC)From: [personal profile] jenni_blog
jenni_blog: (Default)
Yay! You're back! First, let me apologize for not being around again until now! I think it's because I decided at the beginning of the week to go off all my allergy meds - I was concerned that I'd been taking them every day for years now and thought it wasn't good to keep doing that. I didn't know if it would bother me or not but doing so has made me quite groggy and of course, my allergy symptoms are worse but I've been trying to reduce my sinus problems/pain by using a Neti Pot and nasal spray to try to keep my nose clear. But sometimes I have these horrible headaches and drowsiness so every time I get on the computer I can't bear to stay on for long and can't manage much reading or any writing.

Finally, today, I don't feel too bad so perhaps my withdrawal symptoms have finally resolved.

Anyway, I'm so excited to read about your trip to Lisbon!!! It is one of my favourite cities, not because it's beautiful but mainly because of the people! They are just as you described them - so helpful, friendly, smiling, lovely people! Always willing to help you!

It's a big city for sure and it has seven parts! (Like Rome.) And as you said, there are many steep places to climb. (We went to the Sao Jorge castle in the Alfama District - the approach is a very steep walk up a hill and I never thought we'd make it!) But I'm glad we did - the view from the top was lovely.

There are so many places to go and things to do and see! And I loved all the seafood! We ate in so many delicious restaurants or little cafes! I know the food is not very special but it was good!

I know what you mean about the signs as well! It's odd that in Portugal they are so bad but in Spain it is the total opposite! But I found that in Spain the people are what you could call "neat freaks" and everything is constantly being cleaned, washed and the signs everywhere are the best in the world, I'm sure! Nobody could get lost in Spain - it's not possible!

I could go on and on about Spain and Portugal. I love that part of the world (but of course I have not been to many places at all - I think I have flown not much more than you - maybe 20 or so times and that includes the return flights.)

Anyway, I love your write-up on your trip. It made me very nostalgic (sniff). <3

Date: 14/07/2017 12:26 (UTC)From: [personal profile] gobtastic
gobtastic: (Minnie)
I thought Lisbon looked quite hilly from the IG photos I'd seen. Didn't realise it was so bad though, argh! And cobbles, omg. I know they're old fashioned and cute and probably practical too, but unless you're a car or someone wearing trainers (and it's not raining), cobblestones are the bane of a person's life. Especially wheelchair users. The amount of times I've gotten my wheels stuck in cobbles around here (Sheffield has lots of cobbled streets too) is unreal, and it's so hard to get out because the gaps between them are really deep.

I LOVE the sound of the Portuguese people though. How awesome was that woman at the metro station? So sweet!

Yay for having an awesome time in Lisbon - so glad you got to go, yaaaaaay!

Ps: I hear you so much on metros. Maybe there's a Lisbon metro IG account...? *trainspotter hat on*

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