I’m currently living in Anjos, Lisbon. I have three months here and if you’re a regular reader of this little blog it’ll come as no surprise to you that I did zero research or preparation before arriving. Literally nothing. I couldn’t even point out Lisbon on a map (probably still can’t, actually). I tell people it’s because it makes it more exciting to discover things once I arrive but really, planning is boring and I cannot be arsed.
Turns out I’m a pretty quick learner though, and in the two weeks since I arrived in Lisboa I’ve already learned a lot about the city that I currently call home. Here are some highlights.
By this, I obviously don’t mean I’ve learned how to speak Portuguese. I’m still trying to master Spanish after two years of half-hearted ‘learning’ so there’s no chance I’m attempting to pick up the lingo of another country at the same time. What I mean by this is I’ve quickly learned that I’m shite at Portuguese. Like, even shitter than I thought I would be. The thing is that when it’s written down I can understand it (it’s a lot like Spanish), so when I arrived here I felt like I’d recognise a lot of words and be a-okay. I was dead wrong. When it’s coming out of people’s mouths I have no clue what’s going on. Portuguese sounds nothing like Spanish (I know many of you will be rolling your eyes at me right now) and even the simplest of interactions are blowing my mono-lingual mind. Speaking it is even more of a challenge. Portuguese uses sounds that my English mouth cannot wrap itself around. I don’t know how to pronounce my street name (Arroios) or my closest metro station (Anjos). Without Uber and Google Maps I’d be in mighty big trouble trying to find my way home.
A Portuguese friend told me if I use Spanish words but pronounce them in a drunk Russian accent then I’m halfway there. I’m not sure that I believe him, though.
Fucking hell it’s so hilly here. I hate hills/mountains. Why didn’t anyone tell me before I booked my flight? Like, an alert should flash up when you’re about to confirm your flight – “Warning: you need to be fit as a butcher’s dog to live here”. You go uphill to go downhill to go uphill again. Sometimes you’re at the top of a steep hill and you don’t even know how you got there. It’s so confusing. I could get used to the steepness (probably) but the real issue is how bloody slippery the steep hills are. When the tiled pavements are wet it’s like constantly practicing for some sort of urban Winter Olympic event. Every step is utterly terrifying and potentially embarrassing AF.
To avoid having to tackle any particularly steep hills (my neighbourhood is relatively flat) I’ve set my Tinder radius to 1 mile. Nobody in the world is sexy enough to make me tackle inclines. Speaking of which…
My initial observations of Tinder in Portugal are pretty positive. Deciding to not travel far for dates while in Lisbon has actually worked out nicely because my area (not a euphemism) is teaming with gorgeous people. It’s astounding. Other Tinder observations include the fact that almost every man in Lisbon is called João. I don’t know how to say that name so I’m avoiding swiping right on Joãos which is hugely limiting my options.
My first Tinder date in Lisbon was meh. We matched and I immediately asked him for a date (I’m trying this new thing where I ditch the front-end admin and just get straight to it). We went to a bar and had two beers and lots of awkward conversation. Then, he suggested we go to a Nepalese restaurant and it felt rude to say no so we did. He ordered for us because apparently I live in the 1950s now and he picked THE spiciest meal I’ve ever eaten in my life. It was unreal. For some reason, my body reacted to the spice by producing a large amount of sweat FROM UNDER MY EYES. It was running down my face as if I was crying. There will be no second date.
Perhaps my luck is changing, though. I’ve since been on a date with another dude and we have a second one planned. Our first date was fun but also bizarre enough to warrant its own blog, so keep an eye out for that.
I have learned some other things about Lisbon – here they are:
Crossings are optional – there’s no way of knowing if a car is going to stop at a crossing. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. So, I approach oncoming traffic as I would a bear in the woods. I make myself real big and go for some powerful eye contact. Sometimes I also let out a mighty roar (kidding). Never back down, guys. That bus hurtling towards you is more scared of you than you are of it.
Kebabs – other than ‘Cheeky Nando’s’ I have no knowledge of what traditional Lisbon food is. However, judging from my neighbourhood, Portugal’s national cuisine is the humble donner kebab. There’s a takeaway serving spits of mystery meat on every corner and my mouth moistens every time I see one. If you’re in Lisbon and see a chubby girl strolling around drooling, that’s me say hi.
It’s so cheap – half a litre of wine is €2 (lethal), a Brazilian wax is €12 (cheap for a reason – ouch), and a massive Nepalese feast for two is €18 (probably because the only ingredients are chillis and then more chillis).
I will share more learnings if/when I learn more stuff (don’t hold your breath). Are you in Lisbon? Do you know about this city? Answers on a postcard, please. Oh, and if you’re coming to Portugal and actually want to learn stuff before you arrive, this website is quite nice.
Here are more rambling tales about my poor tourist credentials: