I was in Lisboa overnight for the second time in as many weeks. This time for a double-secret mission that cannot be revealed at this time. Truly, it would be really bad to write about why I was there, so I’m leaving that part out, but now I have a favorite hotel in Lisboa.
The Villa Rica in the off season is only 60 Euros a night. It has great rooms, pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, the usual breakfast buffet and 24 hour front desk. I had time on my hands before my “mission” and have wanted a new camera; there is a great mall I visited briefly once so off I went, I am not a mall junkie, but partying with your credit card once in a long while in a nice mall is just good fun.
Perfect mall day, windy, cold and rainy. It was huge and packed with shoppers. Quickly I bought a cute little wizard of a camera and other electronic necessities then headed off to the food court. The food court tells much about a mall, does it have cocktails? What is the variety and quality of food, does it have the stupid overpriced fake classy place, a tater-tot and steamed hot dog place and everything in between? That is the test of a good mall.
The Colombo Mall did not fail, and I had a bit of a place warp. I was back in the U.S.! Surrounded by Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Chinese food! There were sushi restaurants, glassed in foliage filled spaced with tables showing off their fancy china and linen napkins. The only thing vaguely Portuguese was a central “open air” café with double bicas (expresso), snacks and ashtrays.
Did the fast food taste the same? Not a single McMuffin has crossed my lips since I landed in Portugal; I wanted to see how authentic the worst food from my mother country tasted here, a fast food-mini marathon. First stop, a chicken wing from Kentucky Fried Chicken, yes, the 7 secret spices, same dependable greasy taste of my old home. Then McDonalds, with the exceptions of a few cultural compromises like expresso and decent tostas (toasted sandwiches they do really well here) the cheeseburger was the same cheeseburger I had 3 years ago in Florida. To think of it, it could have been made at the same time.
My fish sandwich at Burger King was happily not bacalhau, but unidentifiable fish that tasted like a fish sandwich should, the fries weren’t as good as McDonalds, just like any food court in an U.S. mall. And the Pizza Hut it was the same menu and except for the tiny hot dogs they call sausage here and a “fine dining” room I could be in Atlanta. It did fancy itself up a bit. the others were the cloned versions of the U.S.A.’s bastions of junk food.
Walking the rest of the mall; Sunglass Hut, MAC cosmetics, GAP; I could be in any mall in America. Sure there were Portuguese, French and other European chains, but they were outnumbered by the mass of American labels available for consumption in the capital of Portugal.
It didn’t take long to start getting the same feeling I always get in big malls, overpowered by stuff and all the people buying the stuff. It starts to feel like the all the air is getting used up. Time to go. A quick stop at the mega supermerchado on the first floor for “mission” supplies and I was back at the Villa Rica Hotel ready for a swim.
If you find yourself in Lisbon and are sick to death of great food and entrancing history of this ancient city dating from the Moors, it’s nice to know you can always go to the Columbo Mall for a Big Mac.
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