A Rough Start, But...

It was a double puking.

I probably haven't seen someone throw up for 15 years when my younger brother threw up in the back seat of the minivan on the way to Grandma's.  My sisters both rolled the windows down and held their faces out, wailing the whole time that they too were going to be sick and how would they survive?

The flight from Casablanca to Lisbon is very short and the plane size is commensurate to the journey.   When the man behind us suddenly passed out and vomited into his shirt pocket I traveled back in time to the minivan's backseat.  I, however, didn't attempt to stick my head out of the window -  for the obvious reasons but also because I wanted to help.  Too bad I don't know anything about helping other humans in need of physical aid and I could only sit there holding my puke bag out lamely... in case he needed another one?  Note to self: take a first aid class for crying out loud.  

I'm not sure what actually happened, but after someone roused the cabin crew the man came to, changed his shirt and everyone went back to their Portuguese Sky Mall equivalents like nothing had happened.

Very strange. 

The second puking occurred on the church steps next to our guesthouse.  4:30 in the afternoon seemed a bit early for drunk street puking, but what do I know about Lisbon?  (And actually, I later learned that "street drinking" is a legal and popular activity in Lisbon.  It's just what it sounds like.  Yikes.) 

That's not a very good way to start off describing what was a wonderful trip we had in a wonderful place, but sometimes people get the idea that travel is all about leisure and glamor.  Sometimes you have to wade through a bit of street puke to get to the "leisure" part....and I'm not speaking metaphorically here people.

ANYWAY, all grossness aside, we arrived at our guesthouse overlooking the Tagus river at about 5:00 PM and were greeted by what sounded like a Brazilian dance party.  A retro jukebox blasted a mix of classic American Rock and rhythmic Brazilian Forro.   Pedro, our host, worked a juicer to the beat - churning out two tall glasses of orange juice for us.  Do you ever feel like you are the least cool person at the party?  That's certainly how I felt in my librarian sweater (it's a bonafide, honest to gosh librarian sweater we are talking about) and Rick Steves guide book sticking out of my camera bag.  But whatever.  If you worry about not being "cool enough" for the Europeans, or the Jet Set, or the World Travelers or whoever you'll never go anywhere.  Who cares.  Wear your librarian sweaters with pride I say!

Lisbon. Is. Beautiful.  We keep coming back to the adjective "easy".  It was easy to get to and from the airport, easy to walk in the streets at night, easy to find something cheap to eat, easy to ask people for help.  Our first night we took the quaint city tram (not unlike San Fran's) up to the top of the Alfama neighborhood - where sailors and salty sea characters of yesteryear once rousted.  This area was one of the few places in Lisbon not destroyed by the 1755 earthquake that leveled most of the city.

That night we wandered down the steep lanes and stopped at lookout points to take in sweeping views of the Atlantic as the sun set.  We sampled Lisbon's famous Bacalhau - fried salted cod fish - and the Pastel de Bacalhau - a kind of codfish cake with potatoes, parsley and eggs all fried together in a delicious ball of goodness.  The Bacalhau tasted a bit like beef jerky with breading - only made of fish..  In its defense, we did stop just before closing time when the Bacalhau had been sitting under a heat lamp all day.  Mea Culpa.

Bacalhau Shop
For our actual dinner we took a ferry across the river to the other side of the bay and dined on squid stew and a cod fish and cream dish.  Even though squid isn't at the top of my 'love it' list, I feel very strongly that you just have to eat the things the locals eat when you travel.  Have I ever gotten sick?  You'd better believe it.  But I have also discovered many new things I like - the stew was actually quite good and the squid very tender.  But the best moment of the night was when Max asked the waiter if they had anything with pork on the menu.  After months of pork-pravation in Casablanca when he brought out a large dish of mixed Chorizo with flames still licking up through the sausages we knew we were going to love Lisbon. 


  1. What a beautiful place! And way to try the squid.
    Sorry for the puking...it's the one thing that gets me frazzled. Meh.

  2. This post made me think of 2 things:

    1) that if you haven't seen someone puke in 15 years, it's because you went to BYU!

    2) never, ever visit Oxford (England) during the last week of university. I have never seen so many people puking and passed out in the streets.

    Sounds like a great trip! Happy birthday to Max!