Traveling the world, learning languages, and immersing myself in new cultures.

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All my travels, encounters with language and culture, and of course, learning the language.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lisbon, Portugal: Couchsurfing the Capital during Carnaval

Synopsis: Last minute decision (a few days before) to use a three-day weekend for travel and I want to go to Portugal. Porto, Faro, or Lisbon? RyanAir times don't work for me so I'm gonna have to pay a bit more. Let's go to couchsurfing to see if I can find a host. Hmmm, got a response in Lisbon, guess I'm going there! And this will be my first time staying with someone from couchsurfing.

Trip Overview:
Day 1: Land in Lisbon in the late morning and I hail a taxi. I am trying to speak spanish to the cab driver, who is nice about it, but tells me, in broken english, that they speak portugese and I am saying everything wrong. He tries to drop me off and I say I don't see the house and he is just pointing. The cab fare is 8€ so I give him a 10€ and say keep the change. He directs me to stay in the cab and then drives me the extra distance to the actual place of my host, in Alfama. Money talks!

So, I'm in a pretty sketch neighborhood and I manage to figure out which house is my host's and I ring the doorbell. Apparently, I woke him up and he tells me to come in. He introduces me to his other surfer, Diana, from the Philippines, who is touring Europe. She arrived last night and has no plans today so I invite her to walk around the city with me.

First we head to São Jorge (St. George) castle. It offers an impressive view of the city and there are peacocks all over. From there we go down to the Praça do Comércio, the main square, and go down to the harbor. We sit with all the teenagers and tourists, watching the boats go by.

Thoughts: I won't describe in too much detail about my host's place, but it is not the most well-kept apartment. There is also no heat, and my "couch" that I surf on is actually a mattress in the attic, accessible only by a ladder (yes, a legit ladder). I slept with all my clothes on, including my shoes, because of the lack of heat and the uncleanliness of the place.

My new pose for pictures. The Superman


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