“Tatsy!” exclaimed Simon to my girlfriend, who was in front of the screen at the time, “You guys are becoming nocturnal!”
Well, yes, it does rather seem that way.
Whereas in Toronto, I fight to get to bed before midnight in order to ensure a decent night’s sleep (I typically rise at 6:15 a.m. for work), in Lisbon, it simply did not seem possible to get to bed before 3 a.m. local time most nights – and even so, we were considered by most to be turning in “early”!!
Dinner in Lisbon begins around 8 p.m. Many restaurants don’t even open until 7:30 p.m. (Most nights in Toronto, we have finished eating by 6, and are getting the boys ready for bed around 7 p.m. or so!)
After dinner, people have a drink or two, then many head to a club, before turning in for the night. Bars don’t generally open until about 11 p.m., and clubs often don’t open until much later. Drinking in the street is permitted, and friends tend to congregate in various public squares before heading to a bar, buying a drink, and then congregating in the streets some more, to chat with friends or make new acquaintances. Around 2 or 3 a.m., the club scene begins to take shape, and people move from drinking in the streets to dancing in nearby clubs.
For this sleep-deprived Torontonian, it was unreal!
Although I myself am not much of a drinker, I do confess to exploring the bar scene a little while in Lisbon, primarily because we wanted to check out the local, er, “alternative” bars, as one of our hotel desk clerks referred to them when giving us suggestions of where to go, you know, the type of bar that caters to “a lot of different types of people”, as she explained. :-)
New Year’s Eve we went to Bairro Alto and were amazed by the throng of people in the streets; even at 3 a.m., the party showed no signs of slowing down!
Last night, our final night, after dinner, we met some friends at the Café Pensao Amor, a burlesque-themed series of lounge spaces that turned into a pretty happening dance room after 11 p.m., and whose sound system was such that the welcome diversity of jazz, alternative and 50’s rock sounded almost live at times.
Once we’d had enough of Amore, we headed around the corner to a completely different scene, sort of a blue collar club where ladies got in free, and men paid 5 EU entrance, which included a drink at the bar.
Our friends were both male. The first handed the bouncer 10 EUs, waving his hand backwards to refer to his boyfriend, who was behind me and Tats. The bouncer wanted to know “which of the boys” was with him, but soon realised his mistake, and apologized profusely to Tatsy.
Inside the dank, smoky joint, the DJ was spinning tunes from the 80s, which I and my friend’s boyfriend (who is also well into his 30s) enjoyed tremendously (the tunes, not the smokiness!) Also tucked away at the back of the club was a small stage with a pole for dancing.
Tats visited the ladies’ room, where she was promptly told off by a bouncer in Portuguese. It seemed he, like his colleague at the door, had mistaken her for a young man, and insisted that she use the other washroom!
But the jewel of the evening was the 1 a.m. show of Fabiana, a well-known Libon stripper who does two short shows a night at the Viking Bar at 1 and 3 a.m. She is adored by both male and female fans, it seems, because she is rather generously proportioned. Her confidence turns on the men, and her healthy body image appeals to the women, apparently.
I suspect that our friends would have easily stayed out another few hours, but by 1:30 a.m. I was ready to head back to the hotel; I still wanted to skype with Trevor and the boys, and besides, we had an early morning the next day, our travel day. So, we night owls turned in ”early”, heading home just before 2 a.m.
I reflected on Simon’s comment later… nocturnal could work for me, I suppose… I like the solitude of it at home, when others are sleeping…. But it’s the constant, necessary early arousal the next day that kills me. Going to bed at 3 a.m. or later only works if you don’t have to get up at 6!