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The Dangerous Business of Going Out Your Door I am often tired of myself and I have a notion that by travel I can add to my personality and so change myself a little. I do not bring back from the journey quite the same self that I took. - W. Somerset Maugham

Last Night in Lisbon, People, and Numbers

PORTUGAL | Saturday, 23 January 2016 | Views [638] | Comments [1]

Last Night in Lisbon

I am sorry to see my time in Lisbon come to an end. It ushered me so gently into this endeavor that I have begun to feel quite comfortable here, and I am looking ahead with a little bit of nervous anticipation again. I have managed to see most of the big sights, including a day trip to mythical Sintra, so I spent my last day enjoying simply being here - listening to, observing, appreciating, and absorbing as much of the ordinary as possible. I have found that I still have to make an effort to be mindful and really live in the moment, so I hope to develop that ability as I go along. It was rainy and overcast the last two days, which made for an enchanting time in the Moorish Castle of Sintra, but today Lisbon rallied its best weather, a sunny 60 F (15 C), to bid me farewell. I wandered around and lingered by the river, which feels very much like the sea, dreaming about whether it would ever be possible for me to live in such a place as this, and if I ever were able to live here, wondering whether I would appreciate it as much as I do now, or whether this too would eventually be enveloped in the haze of the mundane. 


A Short Review of People

Even though I overheard some German tourists joking about the "typische Südlander," into which they often group southern Europeans, I have found the Portuguese to defy that stereotype. To me, they seem more organized than expected, soft-spoken, patient, friendly, and willing to help, without the machismo. English knowledge is widespread and they project no bitterness or derision when speaking it with tourists. Shopkeepers do not pounce when you enter their shops. They keep their distance until you initiate contact, then they are welcoming and helpful, not pushy or aggressive. Their manner is a relief and makes the whole experience more enjoyable. 

The young people look like young people anywhere these days with skinny jeans, big scarves, and smartphones. Boots are popular for women, but they mostly have flat soles. I imagine that heels would be a nightmare in this uneven city with so many steep hills to climb daily. For the same reason, I suppose, there are not many people riding bicycles, and they do not walk very fast for residents of a capital city. The people are fashionable, but not outrageously or uncomfortably so. They are, however, dressed for winter at 60 F. Their clothes are mostly black or dark, making them seem like shadows swirling amongst the bright colors of the buildings. In their present narrow strip of Europe, I wonder if they ever feel like shadows of their ancestors who built the first ever global colonial empire. I doubt that they do. The older people dress more formally, with men in vests under suit coats and hats, and women in smart, long woolen coats. 

The written language is somewhat intelligible if you have a bit of Spanish knowledge. However, the spoken language has a surprising sort of Slavic sound superimposed on a soft Spanish sound and swallowed at the end of some words like French. As far as I can tell, the Slavic impression comes from the prevalence of consonants like 'zh' (as in vision) and 'sh' (as in ship) and nasal vowels. Overall, it is a pleasant language to hear. 

There is enough of a police presence to make you feel that the area is safe without feeling militarized. Lights at pedestrian crossings are treated as only a rough guide. If no traffic is coming, most pedestrians will cross on red. The ones who do not cross at such times appear to be unsure tourists or smugly law-abiding citizens. ;)


The Numbers

For those interested in budget travel or just keeping up with whether I can stick to my budget of $50-75 per day, here are my numbers from the time I left my house until now, which includes eight full days. My transportation to Spain will be included in the next portion of the trip.

  • Airfare from the US to Lisbon (one-way): $96.40 + 20,000 AAdvantage miles
  • Shuttle from LGA to JFK airport: $14
  • Private room with shared bathroom in a hostel for 7 nights (breakfast included): $202.39
  • Lisbon guidebook: $11.19
  • Portuguese phrase book: $7.19
  • Daily expenses (food, entertainment/attractions, laundry, ground transportation, etc.): $209.31

Grand Total: $540.48

Average: $67.56 per day

I'm glad it is below $75 per day, but I hope to be closer to $50 per day in Spain. The hardest thing for me has been limiting the food costs. I love eating in restaurants and cafes, so I have found the food budget to be the biggest limiting factor and I have not taken much advantage of the hostel kitchen like I intended to. We'll see if I can improve on that later!

Tags: budget, lisbon, portuguese, sabbatical, travel




Compromise on museums cost don't compromise on the food experience 😄

  BS Jan 25, 2016 6:02 AM

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