I knew very little about Portugal before I booked my bus ticket from Seville. After $50 dollars and a 6 hour bus ride I arrived in Lisbon.
When I arrived it was just starting to get dark. The plaza, where we were dropped off, was empty. As soon as I was off the bus another female traveler asked where I was going and we both decided to trek to our hostels together. The first thing I noticed in Lisbon was the steep streets. My hostel wasn’t far away but I did have to catch my breath after the uphill climb.
I found my non-discreet hostel with fairly little trouble. I organized my things and was ready to meet up with Lydia, a friend I had made in Seville, who was also staying in Lisbon.
Sometimes when you travel things just don’t go the way you want. What would have been an easy task in a familiar city was beyond difficult in Lisbon. I walked outside and it started drizzling and slowly it turned into a steady pour. I hadn’t studied the map before I left my hostel and I ended up walking in circles. With a drenched map in hand I ran by a bar where a guy smoking a cigarette outside helped me hail a cab. He spoke to the driver in Portuguese for me and I thought I would finally be able to meet up with Lydia. After a few blocks and trying to speak Spanish to the Portuguese driver I said stop and got out. It seemed I had only gone around in a circle. I was able to use the few minutes I had on my phone to tell Lydia I wouldn’t make it. I was disappointed and frustrated.
With my tail between my legs I returned to my hostel. Once inside I took a better look at the map and I decided I didn’t want my night to end on that note. Whenever I’ve been sad or lonely I’ve always treated myself to good food. I know, I know, I eat my feelings, but I’m OK with it. I scoped out the food situation near my hostel and I found myself in a small restaurant called Sol e Pesca.
Sol e Pesca, is a tiny little restaurant that is decorated to look like a tackle shop. Inside there are canned fish tins that line the walls.
I sat down alone squeezed between a group on a double date on one side, and couple on the other. There are a lot of people that would feel uncomfortable in this situation, but it’s really not bad. Be brave, eating by yourself won’t kill you I promise.
The waiter tried to speak to me in Spanish. When I didn’t understand he said, “People will probably try to speak to you in Spanish here because you look like you are from Spain”, which after being in Spain I can tell you is a major compliment. The items I ordered were amazing. I hadn’t ever eaten sardines before and didn’t think I even liked them. I was definitely wrong. Portugal is known for this canned fish, which I learned later. The food I ordered was amazing, sardines, cheese, and deliciousness.
The waiter then went on to tell me Anthony Bourdain had eaten there and had loved it. The waiter was so nice to me and really changed my whole outlook on the night. After getting soaked and lost I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. This is why I wanted to travel alone. Here I was eating food I had never tried before and following in Anthony Bourdain’s footsteps. I left the restaurant feeling amazing and proud of myself for having deciding to take this journey alone.