By Mehdy Ghannad
After a long day of traveling, The Hostel Life team touched down in Lisbon, Portugal at 6AM on a Thursday morning. We were greeted at the airport by a young Italian man named Paolo who despite being tired at the early morning hour smiled as he walked us to the van with the word hostel painted on the sides.
We bounced over the narrow cobblestone roads as we made our way to the oldest district of Lisbon: Alfama. Although it was still dark, we were able to get a sneak peek of the beauty that awaited us in Lisbon. We pulled up in front of the Alfama Patio Hostel as the sun began splashing the sky with light. Destroyed from the long trip and lack of sleep, we immediately crashed after checking in to a nice and cozy four-bed dorm.
Up by ten and out of the hostel by eleven, we were fully equipped for our first day of filming and incredibly excited for what was to come. Joao, the owner of Alfama Patio Hostel, was gracious enough to take us out on the town and show us around. Our first stop was conveniently located right around the corner from the hostel and an absolute must for anyone visiting Lisbon. Tram 28 is a trolley that runs through the hilly streets of Alfama. The way the old wooden tram rattles up the steep streets while somehow making it around what seem to be impossibly tight and narrow corners, makes you feel as if you are on the slowest rollercoaster of all time.
We were able to get an intimate feel of Alfama on the tram, taking in the sights and sounds while slowly snaking our way throughout the district. Lisbon is known as the City of Seven Hills and those hills give way to some stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area, studded with ancient castles, soaring churches and a bridge that looks incredibly similar to a certain bridge in San Francisco. After catching a killer sunset over the water we headed back to Alfama Patio Hostel to join the other guests for a scrumptious home cooked meal and some great conversations. And of course our first day wouldn’t be complete without a little touch of the Lisbon nightlife. We decided to take it easy and took in a show at one of the most popular fado spots in all of Portugal, Mesa de Frades. Fado is a style of music that was born in Portugal. The combination of sad and melancholic stories being sung by remarkable voices with lovely instrumental accompaniment makes the whole experience quite emotional and moving, regardless if you speak Portuguese and can understand the lyrics.
We returned to the hostel for some much needed shut eye after a long day that completely exceeded any of our expectations. We were thoroughly enchanted by the beauty of the city, the history of the country, and the warm and welcoming spirit of the people. With day one in the bag, we were beyond excited to get to bed so we could get up and out early for day two.