English – Unlike many other countries in Europe (France, Spain, and Germany to name but three), People in Lisbon seem to have a very good grasp of English and don’t mind speaking it. At first I was trying to speak Spanish, because I figured that way everyone (including me) would be having to speak a non-native language and it would be closer to Portuguese and so easier for them. But my new friend Rui told me last night that despite my good intentions it is actually considered condescending and rude (as if not knowing that Portuguese and not Spanish is the native tongue), so I have stopped. One interesting possibility for why they speak so well is that their TV programs (if they are originally in English) are not dubbed (as they are in many countries), but subtitled. So this helps them have quite a better command of English.
French Tourists – And speaking of language groups, I can’t get over how many damn French tourists there are here, far outstripping any other group. They are everywhere.
Drugs – I can’t get over how many times I have been stopped on the street here by people trying to sell me drugs, and not just the soft stuff either.
Cobble stones of death – While they are beautiful to look at and add a lot of charm to the place, the cobblestones that cover every surface can be a little hard on the feet. And heaven help you if it rains in Lisbon, the whole place becomes a slippery mess.
Cheap – I can’t get over how inexpensive everything is compared to every other place in Europe I have been. Breakfast usually runs about 2 dollars, for example.
Land of canes – Much like in neighboring Spain, there are a surprising number of people using canes and crutches to get around.
Pubs – Likewise, there are a surprising number of pubs around (the English and Irish kind).
Shouting in the streets – Perhaps it is just my neighborhood of Alfama, but there are an inordinate amount of people just hanging out in the streets and yelling a lot. A LOT.