So, where was I?
Oh, yes. I'd decided to jet out of Heathrow to Lisbon. I was heading out to spend three days in a country in which I did not speak the language, with no plans on where I was going to sleep or people there I knew with whom I could crash. I was armed with a small Portugese phrase book with poor pronunciation guidelines, a copy of "Let's Go: Spain and Portugal", and a carry-on with clean underwear and deodorant. Oh, and I had some paper money and a credit card.
Let me also point out here that, in addition to not being able to speak Portugese, the only modern language I speak is English. All the semesters of Latin I took don't even really help me order off a menu written in a foreign language. I may as well have taken Esperanto.
You can see why I didn't graduate college "cum laude".
I seemed to luck out on the plane. I was upgraded to first class and I was seated next to another American, who was traveling solo. He was friendly and chatty. He had curly brown hair, bright blue eyes and what appeared to be a nasty sunburn. It was 1992 and he told me he was on vacation from fighting oil fires in Iraq. He said that this wasn't his first trip to Portugal and that he could hook me up with a hotel after we got off the plane.
So, after we disembarked the plane, I followed him to a waiting taxi and then to the trains. We got tickets to Estoril. I have no idea why I thought following this guy was a good idea other than I was a little freaked out by the situation I'd gotten myself into and he seemed awfully nice. I just wasn't quite the bastard to people then that I am now. In retrospect, this could have been a good recipe for winding up dead in an alley thousands of miles from home.
When we got to Estoril, we took another taxi through winding streets, mostly uphill. It was punctuated with frequent commands from my companion to the driver, "Aqui! Aqui!", whenever he wanted him to take a turn. Eventually, I was dropped off at a hotel near the border between Monte Estoril and Cascais, Foundedad something or other. I can't seem to find it on Google searches, so I don't know if it's still there. I never saw the guy from the plane again. He said he was being helpful because that what travelers abroad are supposed to do when they run into their countrymen. All I know was I was not raped or murdered or mugged and that was good.
The hotel was nice enough. I put the stay on my credit card. At the time, Portugal was still using the escudo as it's currency. There were about 200 escudos to the dollar. I think I could have bought all of Portugal with my credit card and still had some room leftover for a shoe purchase. The room worked out to about $25 a night. Not too bad. The room was next to the pool and had cable tv and a shower.
The plane trip was short, but the travel was still a bit exhausting. And, I was now without anyone who could speak Portugese.
I decided to take a nap.
Next - I Try To Order Pizza!
Eventually - Fish Heads and Sunburn!