Monday 11 November 2013

What NOT to do in Lisbon

I learned much during my time in Lisbon.  

Things like, the subways are awesome and you should totally ride them. The roasted chestnuts taste as good as they smell. FADO will make you cry, even if you do not understand the language. The wine is cheap and flows freely. The pastries are...well, don't even get me going on that subject!

There were some very basic "touristy" lessons as well. Things you should be aware of should you visit Lisbon (and you really should). For the benefit of anyone planning a trip to Lisboa, I have compiled a handy list of things that you should not do. So, without further ado,

                              When in Lisbon DO NOT:

--Ask for "coffee" unless you want an espresso. Sounds easy enough, but it took me three days to figure this out.  Of course, the moment you start asking for café com leite, (coffee with milk) or for a cappuccino, you might as well slap a sticker across your forehead reading, I AM A TOURIST, as the locals do not consume either of these beverage choices after 10 a.m.  So, pick you battles--wear the tourist label or be crazed on caffeine.

Coffee (espresso)

--Wait for the light to turn green. That might be the rule of the land here, but there, phaw! Just dart the cars, buses, mopeds, trams, trucks, little old ladies, and anything else that might come zipping around a corner. If you can hop on one leg, while maneuvering a cane in the other, go for it. If you stand and wait for the light to change from red to green, you will find yourself alone on a curb, perhaps wondering, "Do.I.Go?" Don't waste the time. Go.
Walk like a local--right on the street

--Wear high heels. Sure, those four inch stilettos are guaranteed to make your legs go from dowdy to sexy and vixen-ish, but let me tell you friends, the danger lurking under those heels makes wearing them, just not worth it. The sidewalks are made up of tiny stones. Your thin heel can become trapped in-between the stones, or you can twist an ankle when the stones are suddenly uneven, or disappear altogether and your foot is down a hole. Yes, you will see local women wearing high heels, but don't be fooled.  You are not one of them. Consider how sexy you will look in a cast if you ignore this piece of advice.  
From this
To this

--Ask questions without first offering a proper, "Bom dia," (good morning) or "Boa tarde," (good afternoon) greeting.  Even if you start with the ever popular and polite Canadian, "Sorry to bother you....", it won't cut it. Use the, "Good day/afternoon/evening," greeting then go ahead and ask your question.

--Sit down in a restaurant and immediately proceed to tell the server what you would like. Even if you know exactly what you want. Even if it was the only reason for going to that specific restaurant.  No siree. Sit your butt down, pretend to look through the menu you are handed, wait for the server to re-appear, at which time you may tell him/her what it is you would like.  

To summarize the learnings

Wearing your most comfortable flat shoes proceed to your favourite café greeting the server with,”Bom dia,” and asking for a table outside from where you can watch the local ladies effortlessly stride over the multi-stoned sidewalk wearing their four inch heels while you wait for your server to return to ask you what you would like at which time you will request a cappuccino and one of those fabulous pastries from the window and by the way does he know where the nearest Metro stop is?

Disclosure: My making these recommendations does not in any way suggest I was personally involved in all of the situations that led to these handy tips. Really. Honest.

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