Although Britain is a part of Europe (don’t talk to me about Brexit, or Breadxit for that matter), at the same time we’re so different as a country it seems unrealistic to say this. After spending a week in Lisbon, there are so many things about this part of the world that took me out of my comfort zone and placed me firmly in a new one. To an extent.
The thing about Lisbon is that there is no patience. There is a need for speed: the taxi driver that took us to our apartment for the first time at 3am (no thanks to EasyJet and 5 hour delays) was driving like life was a race and he needed to beat the world record.
Queueing is a myth, and the people are rude about it. Maybe it was because we were evidently British, or maybe it was because we weren’t aware of their system (or lack of it in their case). Consistent and frantic apologies definitely don’t cut it here.
The thing about Lisbon is that things are just manic in general. There was something about this madness that distracted me and gave me a sense of (however contradictory) peace. There’s something about riding an open top bus at top speed being attacked by sand and wind from the surrounding beaches that leaves you with a sense of manic ecstasy. There’s something about climbing one of the many giant-ass hills, admiring the views (and the wine) and feeling like you can do anything (except confront the aforementioned rude people of course, that would be pushing it). I could see the whole of Lisbon in front of me, with only a portion explored. It’s a pretty place, not conventionally beautiful but still a place to be admired and photographed. I was lucky enough to ride in many cable cars, swing from treetops in an adventure park and even see a 360 degree view of the place. It was unexpectedly breathtaking.
Continuing on from the unexpected, things that seemed unnatural and radical at home seemed normal and completely natural here. If a British shopkeeper suddenly came up behind me with a back massager and started rubbing my back I would have instantly felt startled and uncomfortable. However when it happened to me in a store in Portugal I didn’t bat an eyelid (Check out ALE-HOP it is ace, bought the notebook and pen I used to write this blog post here).
Like pretty much every other European country, their English was often better than all our foreign languages put together (says the person doing a degree in Spanish). I can now proudly order custard tarts in Portuguese but that is where my knowledge ends, which is a shame. Why we are so lazy as a country when it comes to languages will always baffle me, I’m still a little ashamed that I struggle beyond the basics of Welsh when I live in Wales.
Lisbon is unique. Lisbon is historical. Lisbon is cultured. There are many things about Lisbon that I experienced, and have yet to experience. Comfort zones are comfortable for a reason, but sometimes stepping outside of it is worth it.
Stepping outside is sometimes worth it.