I am not one of those obsessive runner people, I swear. However, I do admit the sole initial reason I decided to visit Lisbon is.. well.. because.. of.. running. One of the things I really wanted to do on my journey was to find a half marathon to run in. So, Lisbon's race worked out with my trip's timing perfectly, and it was at the end. It was what had kept me motivated to keep running, no matter how much my body really did not want to since I had abused it with foreign food and alcohol for a few months. I would say I was decently prepared for it, considering I was living a nomadic lifestyle-- hostel to hostel-- surrounded by endless temptations to ... well... not, take care of my body.
In my opinion , I was really lucky to have been healthy during my entire trip thus far. I mean, I had eaten horse and lamb, for God's sake-- two things my body is completely not used to. I had drank nearly everyday (in moderation, but every single day, give or take a few). It's just how Europeans live- and I was not going to pass that up. I was about due for an immune system- shutdown.
The day before the race, I think my body was just pissed at me and I felt really nauseous-- I had no appetite and nothing appealed to me in the least bit-- That is incredibly strange for me. I am usually hungry most of the time and usually know exactly what I am craving-- There's not much I won't eat.
So, not surprisingly, my race in Lisbon was without-a-doubt- the worst race I have ever ran. I literally felt like I was going to throw up the entire time and I honestly do not know how I ran 13.1 miles he way I felt-- But I did- and I am so happy for that. That's all that mattered to me... just finish the damn race! I told myself. Yes, it was really cool running in a foreign city and hearing about 8 different languages running-- that was one positive.
Another positive was the fact that Sarah (my Aussie friend!) was waiting for me at the finish line. We ended up being in Lisbon also at the same time!! So, once I got to feeling better, we explored the city and tried some of the delicious Portuguese soups and other dishes. I would have liked to have spent more time there (I was only there 3 nights), because it is truly a beautiful city. The word that comes to my mind in describing its architecture is "Pristine" and very royal-looking, without Rome's overwhelmingness. And there was an old-fashioned, wooden trolley car that is not only for tourists running through the city!
There was a metro system there, but it's quite possible to walk most of Lisbon, if you're willing to hike up and down the steep hills of the city. I was expecting Portuguese to be similar to Spanish, and at first, it seems like it a bit-- but in actuality, it's not at all. Thankfully, most people in Lisbon speak near-perfect English, and they are all very welcoming to foreigners. I had several people tell me, "Welcome to our country!!" with loads of enthusiasm. I liked that-- Instead of being bothered by visitors, they were proud they even wanted to be there. A Humble bunch- the Portuguese. This is also where I saw the most attractive men on my trip... So, that's where they are all hiding-- in Portugal.
The Lisbon night-life was nearly on par with Madrid- just on a smaller scale. There were lots of little bars and awesome bands playing into the wee hours of the morning. And I did love my hostel--the last one on my journey. It was a really old building that had been renovated very well and there was an awesome vibe going on in that place. Except, the rooms were named, and my room was called "Blow." That weirded me out a bit.
One of the best parts of my Lisbon visit was Anarita, Philip's friend, who is a Lisbon local. We met up and she we walked me around all the parts of the city where tourists just don't know how to go to. She showed me her very first apartment, told me stories of her life as a dancer, told me about life in Lisbon, walked me to a beautiful point where you can see the entire city, and took me to an adorable cafe for coffee and some sweets-- what Portugal is famous for. So, that was very special for me-- I love meeting the locals and knowing what it is really like.
So, my last stop was Amsterdam, a place I have always wanted to visit. Thank God flights in Europe are cheap!
And we're off...