Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lisbon, Portugal

There's not many places you go on God's green earth and not hear an Irish accent - apart from those pockets of subculture known mainly as deli counters in Dublin - but I managed it there recently.

I took a notion you see and headed off to Lisbon, Portugal there at the start of the month, for three nights. I got the hole burned off myself too, thanks to that curious logic of mine which dictates that you only use sun block if you're on your 'big holiday' of the year. Short breaks don't count for some reason, even if you're in Hades for the weekend.

I know, I'm a clown.

I'm finding little pieces of me all over the place now as I shed skin like something off V. I'm actually a little embarrassed at all of my foolishness under the sun so now I just tell the staring people that I'm a self-harmer that has discovered corrosive acid.


Main Street Lisbon. De Sreeta de Mainos, in local dialect. Note the intricate mosaic tiling and turd-like tree trunks.



Anyway, Lisbon's alright I suppose. The weather was nice, the hotel was cheap - stayed just off their equivalent of O'Connell Street (without the scumbag chavs everywhere) for 70 yoyo a night, including an all-you-can-eat breakfast which would probably have included the waiter and his first-born had you asked for it, so helpful were the staff.

Importantly, the food was decent as well and the prices were reasonable. I think Lisbon is for now slightly off the tourist trail, hence the decent value and distinct absence of Antos and Decos from the flats falling around the place in their Ben Shermans calling everyone Bud.

Then again, there's probably another reason for that...the nightlife. Or lack of. Let's just say it's definitely not the most happening hotspot in Europe. Granted, I was there on 'school nights' but even still, the ghost-town quality of the city centre after 8.30pm was disappointing and a little unnerving to be honest. I sniffed out an Irish bar soon enough after a bit of hunting, and over many pints of Kilkenny (no Smiddicks, the backstards), Wes the barman directed me to the local night club area but it was dank, cavernous and maze-like, and full of folks at least ten years my junior who didn't look like they spoke Cavan. They were friendly enough mind you, almost every one of them approached me offering some local delicacy or other called 'Hashcokeree' but in the end I just cut my losses and buggered off home.


This yoke's gas. No really, it's an air-powered street lift connected to another one via a very high walkway across rooftops. I'm a coward, I stayed on the ground. Note the old lady in the foreground, she had a beard and asked to see my willy. We haggled, and I showed her my balls instead and she said they were lovely.


So if you're not 19, or 50-plus (there be's lots of older, retired folks around too like) Lisbon might not be for you, especially in mid-week. I suppose continentals don't drink like we do (i.e. at the drop of a hat, and feversishly at that) and sometimes you need to be in a very touristed destination to have the visitors to make up the nightlife numbers, such as Barcelona or Rome for example.
There's lots of building and development going on though and via an interesting pidgin French conversation I attempted with someone - which quickly reverted to English upon discovering his pidgins flew better than mine - I ascertained that there's an expectation for Lisbon to become much more popular in the coming years. So if you want to get there before the Paddy invasion, I'd go soon.


A street musician in a deep street muscial trance, with his rodent-like tremendo-dog. Note how the muscian thought I was being a typical tourist taking cutesy snaps, when actually I thought his mutt was hideous, feral and quite likely rabid, so I really just wanted to take the piss out of him on my blog. That's my fucking money in the cup though.


Overall, I'd give it six and four-fifths out of ten, the four fifths being for no other reason than I'm trying to effect an air of eccentricity here. Lisbon has, or soon will have most of what you need but if your experience is anything like mine, you'll be wandering all over at night thinking you've picked the week of the Portuguese hide and seek championships to visit. And you're shit at it.

Up until it got dark though, it's just nice to be padding around somewhere new and different in good weather and the worries of the world left behind you somewhere else. Now let me see, anything else? Oh yes, it's deceptively hilly, it feels very safe at night, you can get food in most bars right up to the closing time of about 2am, the local delicacy is a custard tart and there's a nice zoo where I got fierce excited making the acquaintance of the chap below there.


Wet beaver! Hurray!
Testicles! Boo...

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21 moos and woofs:

Kath Lockett said...

Any place with good custard tarts sounds like it's worth playing hide and seek with the public for in my opinion...

Rosie said...

the most useful thing you've ever written, Terence. Lisbon was one of the potential destinations for our upcoming holiday.

was.

you should work for Rough Guide.

Paul Heron said...

Are you back for good now ???

Terence McDanger said...

I'm fairly rough alright Rosie but canvas other opionions before crossing it off the list - don't listen to me! I'm sure it's a bit more lively of a weekend but the lack of a centralised pub area turned me off a bit I have to say.

Paul, I expect to be as erratic as ever for a while but hopefully there'll be no more month-long hiatuseseseses.

esses.

Indeed.

Thriftcriminal said...

Sounds good to me, but I'm just back fom a wedding in France. Of Irish people, so the manic drinking was de riguer. Nearly better. Nearly.

Wet beaver, Ha, excellent.

Bock the Robber said...

Lisbon would be suitable for me then? I'd probably find some bingo to go to. Great.

English Mum said...

Mmmmm, nice beaver. (sorry, couldn't resist).

Am also recovering from a serious Cavan p*ss up this weekend. Going teetotal now until...ooh... next weekend.

Seriously, you are a very good trav journo and should be commended. Except for the showing of your balls to old ladies. Bit much, possibly.

Terence McDanger said...

Arra shite I never replied to any of ye.

What can I say, I'm an awful bastard, sorry.

buxi said...

Hi,
i am from Portugal (Lisbon) living in Dublin. I understand your point of view. If you were looking for a pub its hard to find in Lisbon,you only find discotecs. You have to go to docas or Expo zone to went on a bar, you can even find a irish pubs there.
For long streets full of bars you have to go to Algarve not lisbon
And the bars usually open at 11pm or latter.
See you.

Terence McDanger said...

Thanks buxi.

See, I do know what I'm talking about.

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