You really, really do have my heart. And when I say that I feel like such a basic bitch who just came back from Europe, but it does! I left it there. But seriously, what a gorgeous city. If you aren’t too familiar with Lisbon, it’s the pretty, coastal capital of Portugal, full of breathtaking views, colorful, tiled-houses, bright streets, and warm people.
I arrived here one spring evening at 9:00pm, when the air was pleasantly warm. That was my first taste of Lisbon happiness. I had just spent a month in North Europe, mostly in Denmark, Netherlands and Belgium, where the mornings were freezing and the nights even more so. The very first 5 days of my trip were spent drying my icy-wet socks and warming my stiff-cold fingers in Copenhagen, where it snowed for 3 days straight. So Lisbon was quite literally, a breath of warm air. Boy was I happy to be here.
My first experience climbing one of Lisbon’s thousand of impossible, cobblestone hills, involved dragging my suitcase up to the front doors of the hostel. But I didn’t care. The next morning I woke earlier than humanely normal, and rushed outside to taste the very highly spoken about Portuguese egg tart, the Pasteis De Nata. I like to joke (although there is some element of truth in this) that the moment I decided to visit Portugal occurred when I saw these tarts pictured on someone’s blog post on Travelling in Portugal. I then obsessively started researching these tarts and having dreams of them before my trip. I have issues. Anyway, that morning I tried the tart, and went straight to heaven. This tart is such a simple and minimalistic creation, yet so fucking incredible. My explanation won’t do it justice, but just picture biting into crunchy, flaky, warm pastry, only to find a creamy, sweet, decadent filling inside………….! Need I say more?
Besides these orgasmic tarts, the streets seemed to be always filled with happy (and often loud!) people, historic trams, and lots of beautifully tiled-buildings. I couldn’t tell you how many hills I walked up, my calves became machines basically. I think it explains the gorgeous Portuguese bodies, and butts in particular (yes I did do some butt-checking). But I couldn’t help wondering how the old folk walk up those hills. I guess that’s why the trams are super popular. Besides being a cute, artsy addition to the cities aesthetic, these trams were very, very handy. I also got to do some volunteer work for several weeks during my stay, and this way, met some locals and learnt the basics of the Portuguese language and culture. I think my favourite thing about the people here were how welcoming they were. And smiley. Always smiley. At first I thought that was just the volunteering environment, but then I felt it almost everywhere else too. I felt warmth, kindness and love radiating from so many. Except the gypsies….. they did not radiate much of that, but that’s the exception. I was fortunate enough to spend 5 magical weeks in this city. The people I met, the friends I made, and the things I saw during this time, I’ll cherish for a lifetime. The city is full of so many joyful humans, and that made me happy. People who find joy in the simple things, like a Friday afternoon spent sharing drinks at the park with friends, or walking along the river and watching the sunset while street music plays. This is the kind of place I want to be.
There was one night in particular, which I still think to this day, was one of the best moments of my trip, and life. During the course of my travels I made notes in a journal, of the moments where I felt an immense amount of happiness, and I called them Happy Moments. If I didn’t have my journal, I recorded it in my phone. One Saturday evening, I was heading back to my hostel after a day of exploring Lisbon solo, when I stumbled upon a mini street festival. There were stalls selling all kinds of delicious goodies, and lots of people drinking & laughing, on top of a hill, overlooking the entire city. I sat there on a bench, for an hour, before pulling out my phone and writing this in the notes app:
Date: 13th April 2018
Title: Happy Moment #4
It’s 11pm and I’m sitting on top of this hill in Lisbon, drinking beer, listening to an old man strum his guitar, looking out into a very lovely view. The smell of Portuguese chorizo cooking is in the air, and the moon shines brightly above all, illuminating this entire magical city. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this before. I’m in awe of this city and with this life I get to live. Above all, I am grateful beyond words. And proud of myself for coming here and doing this. In the end, it’s always up to me. What an honour it is to live life the way I please.
Reading back on this note in my phone always makes me so emotional. It makes me emotional because a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t think this kind of happiness was possible. I had spent many lonely nights filled to the brink with darkness and misery, and I really didn’t think this kind of happiness would ever find me. I had read about it in books and seen it in movies, but seldom felt truly happy. It makes me emotional because what I felt that night was real, and all I want are moments like that, for the rest of my life. I wish these kind of moments meet us all. And yes they are beautiful, but I think they can be even more so when shared with the person or people we love. I now have someone very special I can share these with. But it was still equally as special being there on my own that night.
I think these moments are rare and I’m full of joy now because I know these places exist, and those moments exist, and that feeling exists, and that one day I can go back there if I really, really want.
Isn’t it funny how the universe often pulls us towards a certain place? And sometimes we can’t really explain it to anyone, but we just know we have to go. I think when we feel this kind of pull, we must go to that place. I’ve found that this is just our heart begging, trying to tell us to go.
If you ever get the chance to visit Lisbon, please do!!! For me, it is one of those places on planet Earth that feels good. I hope you can find your place or places in this world where life feels good, and maybe even where life seems too good to be true.
I can now confirm that these places exist. And they are waiting for you.