There are certain simple things, little things, that bring us joy. A trip to Fiji might be wonderful but we can find wonder every day in our lives, wherever we are. As much as I bitch about Lisbon, there are certain things I enjoy here.
The capacity for this small tram is 58 people, though on a warm day there will be more tourists than this standing in line at any given downtown stop. So chances are you’ll be crammed in there, in a mass of people sloshing around as the tram turns impossible corners to make its way down impossibly narrow streets. There is always a car too close to the rails so the conductor always has to ring the bell, a cute, polite dring dring dring out of 1928.
I use my unlimited transportation pass to hop on the 28 just for a ride, watching amazed tourists with smiles on their faces, as if they were kids again, going for a ride on a little carnival train for the first time. The Portuguese who ride the 28 tend to be jollier than those in the metro, too, and during day rides there’s always a Northern European tourist to brighten this lady’s day.
The metro to the airport
Conference interpreting is very stressful and there are days when I leave class a bit dazed. I would normally walk home to relax but the pollution in Lisbon is really bad and after a few minutes I feel like I’m ingesting handfuls of cancer. Going to a cafe would be nice but I’m on a student budget so I just hop on the metro and ride up to the airport then ride back home for a change of scenery.
Well, this did start because I disliked Lisbon so much that I would ride to the airport just to make sure it was still there, lest I be stuck in Lisbon forever, but then it was just nice getting some exercise going up and down stairs while breathing decent air, and I got to read some, too. Not to mention more Northern European tourists…
Walking along the Tagus
A train goes from Cais do Sodre to Belem, where a wide, long cobblestone walkway runs right along the Tagus river. Tourists, families with children, elderly fishermen, couples – on a warm day all sorts of people are there, strolling along, sitting for a cup of coffee, sitting to watch the sailboats on the river. It’s lovely going there for a walk or a run on a sunny day.
The other day, I was walking up the street to the bottom of the 55 steps that lead up to my building when I noticed a typical elderly Portuguese couple standing halfway up the steps, by the empty lot. The man was wearing one of those Portuguese caps and the lady’s hair was perfectly coiffed. Behind the fence to the lot was a desperate cat who apparently couldn’t find its way out and the Portuguese couple were trying to help the cat, asking it if it wanted to get out. I started chuckling.
I always keep an ear open if I see a typical Portuguese couple by the supermarket’s meat counter. They chat with the butcher and they always utter some funny expressions. The funniest thing is that nobody laughs, it’s just normal conversation, so I just keep a big smile on my face.
My neighbor and his cat
You might experience the other things but this is my personal little thing. Two men in their 30’s live downstairs from me with their orange cat and their backyard is right under my tiny balcony so I can hear everything they say. Every other afternoon I’ll hear one of the men trying to convince the cat of something, usually of eating. The guy talks to the cat as if it were his girlfriend and as if he were trying to explain to her how her behavior is irrational. How could she not want to eat? “Come heeeere…” he pleads with the cat. “Meow…” goes the cat.