Bar 104

For once, the bar is empty. I stroll up to the front and casually order two large beers, because a litre is only one euro and fifty cents in this particular bar, if I remember correctly. The swarthy man behind the counter balks at the sight of me, and pours my Superbocks whilst staring.
“It’s been a while since you’ve been here – maybe 2 years?”
As my hands instinctively go to my mouth out of embarrassment I’m suddenly transported back in time to the first night alone in Lisbon.
I am 21 years old, and for the second time I’ve moved country to try and figure out what I want to do in life. I had just been given my spot in a 14 bed room in a hostel, which would be home for the next 5 months.  I have hung up towels and flags to block my bed from the view of strangers. Strangers who know Lisbon better than I do at this point.
Although it’s February there is a mildness to the evening breeze. It carries me out the door and up to Barrio Alto. It’s still too early for the night crawlers to start prowling the streets, but the day shift are certainly wavering. A few lonely stag dos wander the streets, separated from the rest of the pack. It’s a sight I’ll become used to; tipsy British men roaming the white cobbled hills, but right now I just need to find my love of the city.
Along Rua da Atalaia I see an old, run down, blue and white building. It’s so unimpressive that I would have walked right past it had I been in a rush to do anything with my night. I go in and buy a litre of beer for one euro fifty. There are no seats inside, so I carefully carry it out and along to Miradouro de São Pedro de Alacantara. The beer is ice cold, hurting my hand, and the warmth has left the city to be replaced by a bruise coloured sunset. As I sat with my giant cup near the railings of the lookout point I watched the sky blossom from teal to yellow and green, and then finally to the navy stillness marking the start of my first night there.
I would return to that spot many more times over the next few months, with many different people, ritualistic in my ice cold beers from Bar 104, and my love of the night sky. And it seemed that old habits would die hard. The passing years had no effect on my vigil appreciation of the city, and fortunately, very little had seemed to change. Including the price of a litre of Superbock.