The long walk through the city had really made me build up an appetite. I could smell the delicious aroma as we entered the blue mosaic tiled building. A quick glance at the buffet and a sudden odd sensation hit me. Something wasn't right. Something was missing. It suddenly all hit me like a crashing wave into my heart (and stomach). "Where's the meat? WHERE...IS...THE...MEAT?"
Side note: Lisbon is known as the city of seven hills. Legend has it that a serpeant Goddess awaited for her love to return from sea. When he never returned she felt betrayed and slammed her tail against the ground creating a ripple through the city and thus creating seven large hills.
We had spent the last three hours (okay, maybe thirty minutes) walking up hill to eat some vegetables...??? This did not sit well with me. I tried to be polite and calm and agreed with everyone when they all boasted about how delicious everything looked, but in my heart I truly longed for some lobster and mussels.
I told myself I could do this. I've dove with sharks, played with grown tigers, and even drank whiskey with a dead cobra in it. Surely I could have one meal that was made up purely of...vegetables. Thankfully the presentation of the food was beautiful. This was point number one for the veggie restaurant. Point two came in a tall bottle of white wine. After letting go of the fact that this would not be the seafood meal that I had so been looking forward to, I decided to dive in and try a little bit of everything.
Having supper with an international crew was really entertaining. We compared the difficulties we face in teaching internationally, swapped travel horror stories, and shared what some of our best moments abroad have been. It was great to be sitting at a table with such like minded people.
After another couple of days of workshops and some extremely decadent lunches provided by the hotel, we managed to squeeze in a bit more sight seeing. We headed to the Old City and enjoyed dinner and sangria at a traditional Portuguese restaurant, where I finally had my seafood - a traditional cod and cream Portuguese dish. We had more drinks at Hard Rock, made a quick stop at the city beach, used the 'world's sexiest toilet' (you get to choose any colour of toilet paper you like), we took a 'Hippo' boat/land tour where we saw the monument of the discoveries, monument to Christ statue, Belem Castle and the famous Belem tart bakery - Café Pastéis de Belém (with incredibly delicious custard tarts!).
After a whirlwind three days in Lisbon and new contacts made from around the Globe - including new friends I plan to visit in Qatar, it was time to pack up and leave this beautiful and vibrant city behind. Lisbon was a city I could easily see myself visiting again or even living in for a short time. There is a ton of green space, live music everywhere, and everything is so colourful and alive. I will definitely be back someday!
Check back soon to read about my European road trip through seven countries with my parents and friends.