When leaving for Portugal, I was excited to see how different things were in Portugal compared to my home in Toronto. My last international flight was to Jamaica and I found it fun trying to learn from the locals and observing the differences between home and there. So going to Portugal was no different. I was packed and ready to see how others lived! However, after a few days, a few things stood out to me. Here are some things that I did not expect while visiting Lisbon, Portugal.
10 Things I Did Not Expect in Lisbon
1 | Smoking
Oh my goodness, I feel like I had inhaled a month’s worth of cigarette smoke within the 6 days I was there. People were smoking on the patios, smoking while waiting for the bus, smoking while waiting for the train, smoking while on the platforms, and smoking literally everywhere. While I know Europe does not have the same non-smoking patio culture that Canadians have, it got to the point where I felt that once I walked into the square downtown, I was uncomfortable with the smell. We had spent an evening having a patio dinner and near the end, someone lit up a smoke a couple feet from us and needless to say, I wanted to get my bill ASAP and get out of there. I mean, it is what it is, and people were not literally as there were patios with ashtrays but I just personally found the smoke to be uncomfortable.
2 | Off leash dogs
Dog poop, dog poop everywhere. Okay maybe not everywhere but there was quite a bit of poop on the residential streets! We thought it might have been because a lot of dogs were roaming leashless so the owners might not have even known their dogs did their business. However, I must say that they were very well trained (stayed wth their owners, kept to themselves, etc) and were quite friendly. As you know, I love dogs so being able to see a husky run off leash or seeing a little maltese run up to me to me to be pet was quite the highlight for me!
3 | The dangers of cobblestone
I fell. At least once completely onto the floor and a handful of times by stepping into holes in the ground. I noticed that their cobblestones were quite slippery and a few times while going downhill, I’ve had to catch myself. There were also a lot of random holes where some stones went missing or were overturned that I didn’t notice and stepped in a couple times. Luckily I came out in one piece and have learned to keep an eye out for holes in the ground! (Note for the entire trip, I wore Birkenstocks).
4 | Strange hours of operations
I’m very much used to tourist attractions (especially in Toronto) to pretty much to always be opened (or at least M-F). So when planning out our itinerary, it was odd to find some places closed on random days of the week (ie a monastery was closed on a Monday where as a castle was closed on like a Tuesday). Just something to keep in mind while planning your trip!
5 | Roasted chestnuts
So I totally did not realize roasted chestnuts were a thing in Lisbon! It felt like every 2 blocks downtown, there was a guy with a roasted chestnut truck selling them. Sadly we never really got the chance to stop and try some. But on day one, Vicky and I did not expect it and when we kept seeing the trucks, we were like “what are those? Chesnuts?!?!?!”
And then there are a few other things that I had expected but did not know to what degree…
6 | Hills and stairs
I was expecting hills and stairs but I did not expect how steep and how uneven some of them were. Some locations there were not any rhyme or reason, it can be a completely different height and length after a short landing! When in our Uber going downhill, we were pretty scared! Our driver was of course driving like a local so that meant gunning down the hills and narrow streets – it felt like a roller coaster! (Note: be really careful if you jaywalk – I’ve seen cars showing no signs of slowing down when people were darting across the streets)
7 | Tipping
Tipping is definitely less than what you usually tip in Canada/USA.
8 | Being hustled
While walking downtown, it felt like every few intersections, there would be like 4 guys with a restaurant menu trying to talk you into visiting their restaurants. At first, I was polite, said no (after being lured into a long conversation previously), and then move on. Near the end of my trip, it got to the point where I did not even acknowledge them and kept walking.
9 | Bring a change purse
Coined in Canada are 5, 10, 25 cents and 1 and 2 dollars. Coins in Lisbon were 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents in addition to the 1 and 2 dollar coins, I thought oh it can’t be that bad but by the end of one day, I had a ton of loose change in my bag and was awkwardly digging through my bag whenever I was buying something and pulling out the wrong change!
10 | Washrooms
Yes you have to pay for the bathrooms but if you use the bathroom at places such as fast food joints, hotels, restaurants, and pretty much pee whenever you see a free one, you’ll be fine. However keep in mind that outside of the airport ones, the bathrooms in Lisbon are cramped. Like I had to press myself against a wall to open the bathroom stall door to get in and out cramp. Whew.
11 | Starbucks
They do not take the app or your gold card. And their “collectible mugs” aren’t the same style as the current ones where the images are slightly raised on the mugs. Yes Vicky and I were disappointed and did not go home with a pretty mug.
Whew, so there are my 10 (and bonus 1) things that I did not expect in Lisbon! Did any of these surprise you? I’d love to hear your thoughts! What was the last thing that surprised you in your travels?
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