Lisbon, Portugal Domo Obrigado, Mr. Roboto

Morning flight from Dublin. Taxi to hotel. Sleep. Dance badly with 30 strangers.

Lisbon is fairly contained and reasonable as a city. You can get your head around it. Also, very pretty.

Some dancers took us out for Portuguese sweet rice and cakes. I’m not a daring eater, so this is always a delicate situation, but the culinary leap was not vast and I was starving anyway.

We picked up a straggler named Vikram from Mumbai. He was in Lisbon on business, so not on the email invite list, but he recognized me from the video and joined in. It cracks me up when that happens.

Linguistic factoid: learned that “arogato,” meaning “thank you” in Japanese, comes from the Portuguese “obrigado,” which I imagine has a similar root to the English word “oblige.”

How bout that?

I feel I need to address the recurring sentiment that I am not properly appreciating the places I’m visiting. Let me just clear this up: we are not on a sightseeing trip.

Organizing these events is actually a huge undertaking for both Melissa and myself. I am the engineer of a vast, unwieldy locomotive and Melissa is up ahead laying the tracks down for me. Any cultural enrichment that occurs between the flight catching, the hotel booking, the mass emailing, the paperwork, and the bad dancing is purely incidental.

I already got my free trip around the world. It was great. This is a different thing now. The priorities have changed.

The dilemma is that a lot of people read this site for vicarious reasons. I feel a certain obligado to “suck the marrow” and all that. So just know that I’m actually having the time of my life making this video, but it’s about more than just a guy who got a crazy-lucky opportunity and milked it for all it was worth.

To do that again would be…greedy.

Free wi-fi at the Hard Rock Café. Surprisingly tolerable pop music on rotation. Suppressed the urge to add the Lisbon branch to my swelling t-shirt collection. Cause you haven’t really been somewhere unless you can produce evidence in Hard Rock form.

Out-of-the-blue contact from a public figure of great renown. This happens every once in a while and I am not nearly mature enough to know how to handle it. But at least I have enough dignity not to blog about it…


38 Responses to Lisbon, Portugal Domo Obrigado, Mr. Roboto

  1. Vinicius

    finily you come to my country.
    Im glade for that and waiting impatiently the new video.
    Keep going e obrigado.

  2. toyoko

    I am afraid, I disagree with what you have just learnt about “Arigato”. Being a Japanese, I can confidently say that you got wrong information. “Arigato” originally came from “Ari Gatai”. In this context, “Ari” means “to exist” and “Gatai” means “difficult”. “Ari Gatai” altogether means, “Difficult to happen”. During the middle ages in Japan, people started to use “Ari Gatai” to express gratitude, for example, for obtaining something which is difficult to get. This expression had been used well before Japan started trade with Portugal. It is a sheer coincident that the word “Obligado” sounds a little bit like “Arigato”.

  3. toyoko

    Oh, just another piece of information about Japanese and Portuguese. You may think “Tempura” is a traditional Japanese dish. You are wrong! The word “Tempura” actually came from a Portuguese word “Tempero”(I am not sure what it means, though). I am assuming the dish was originally introduced from Portugal. There are a number of words in Japanese which originated from Portuguese.

  4. Rob

    And as it turns out the Japanese word “sayonara” comes from the Portuguese phrase “sai yo nara,” meaning “Yo, it leaves, it tells”–in other words, what happens in Portugal doesn’t stay in Portugal.

  5. You can’t just leave us hanging like that…what well-known public figure contacted you? C’mon…you brought it up, now you have to tell us. 😉

  6. Anonymous

    Japan distorted history. Before we arrived there, they were cold and ungrateful. With arigato and tempura, they became one of the most admired nations.
    Matt, did you say hello for me to Robert DeNiro?;)

  7. Rich

    Well how about that. I just learned something, then I re-learned something. It’s like checking stuff out on snopes.. 😉

  8. jdhosky

    C’mon, Matt. Fess up. It was Pee Wee Herman, wasn’t it? You just don’t want to tell us where you were when you saw him, right?

  9. Gabriel

    Glad u enjoyed Lisbon Matt, let me just give u some extra information, the word Obrigado, comes from the latin word “obligatu”, wich meant “imposed by law”, so our portuguese Obrigado means we are beeing imposed by the law of the good manners

    the origin of the japanese arigato beeing our obrigado is a myth, but they do sound similar, and yes there r other japanese words whose origin is portuguese

  10. Ivo

    Alguem tem o video que passou na tvi do matt a dancar com a gente todos?
    Se alguem tiver e fizer o favor de me enviar ou dar-me o link era meeeeesmo porreiro! :)

  11. Ivo

    Eu pelo menos nao econtrei nada,mas sei que passou no proprio dia á noite um pequeno clip na TVI.. arranjem lá isso,era genero.. mesmo porreiro :)

  12. Ivo

    Fixe!! Os clips estão á maneira,falta só mesmo o clip da TVI,era mesmo a cereja em cima do bolo :))

  13. Cláudia

    Tempero means seasoning (a substance used to add flavor to the food, especially salt and pepper). In Portugal, food isn’t food until it’s been properly “seasoned”. Thanks for stopping by, Matt!

  14. Filipa

    Didn’t anyone get it? It was Robert De Niro who recognized Matt. Right?
    At least I know he was here, visiting some art gallery of sorts.
    Anywho… I’m glad you got to see my sweet little city, Lisbon. Ok so it’s not mine per se but I love it alot. Kinda bums me out that you couldn’t realy see most of it, I should make you promise to come visit more often, and other portuguese cities!
    Oh and Toyoko, where the hell did you learn that the japenese word sayonara was from a portuguese phrase or expression or whatever? Never heard of it in my entire 18 years of being a “tuga” (that’s what we – portuguese – cinicaly call ourselves).
    Well, thanks for the inpiring life you lead Matt! Take care.

  15. Nuno Quintas

    I love it, i was there just to see matt, because i recived an email a month earlier from this site and it was wonderfull 😀

  16. Paulo Correia


    I saw you recent movie, and was great to see Lisbon on it. Next time (I hope it will be a next time), send a message, and I would tour you around outside Lisbon to some other beautiful places with wonderful sight-seeing. Great life you have. Hope you enjoy it 101% 😉

    Best Regards
    Paulo Correia

  17. nagareboshi

    libon rules. if you ar planing on coming here again go to sintra it´s beautiful! it´s paradise in the earth!

  18. Marco Calado

    Thanks for dancing in our country, next time visit my city: “Setúbal” as one of the most beautiful bays in the world.

  19. Daniel Viana

    Hi love the last video it is magical!!
    I admire this small things that makes us all alike (dancing for example) hehe very inspiring. I would like to now more about your work and if i can halp in anything.
    So if you got time send a reply.
    Keep up the good work

    Grande Abraço Daniel

    Porto, Portugal

    PS: Come to Porto it´s beautiful =)

  20. Carolina

    Darn it. Also missed you here. And I was in town by then. My daughter could have actually danced with you!!

    Arigato does not come from obrigado, by the way. hehe.

  21. Manuel

    I think you guessed right, Matt.

    An older form of saying “(I) thank you” in English is something like “I’m very much obliged to you”, meaning “I have an obligation / debt towards you, for what you did.”
    The same formula existed in various European languages – and the Portuguese version was “fico-lhe muito obrigado”, which in time was shortened to “obrigado”.

  22. D. Sebastião

    It was me, the “public figure of great renown”. I was waiting for the right moment to comeback to my beautifull Lisbon again.

    From the other side of life, El-Rei D. Sebastião!

    PS: who the hell is bob de Niro?

  23. Raan

    I was quite surprised with “Tempura” “Tempero” and sayonara comment (which are all lies)
    Even Big Foot makes more sense to me

    Has for the Arigatou and the obrigado link, erm, from my japan nerdish I doubt it, but i’m no expert
    But for what I know, Portugal and Japan only had contact around 1542

    If you ever come to Portugal again, come to porto
    I promise you won’t regret it, for it has amazing spots ;D
    Keep up the good work o7

  24. Edgar

    Perhaps Domo means “muito” (in english “very much”).

    Well i’m not an expert but i can say that Obrigado comes from Latin, and maybe arigato don’t have to do anything with our Obrigado and Arigato comes from Japan origins like someone else said earlier.

    Thanks for visiting our Country and keep up the good work, i just want to visit 1/10 of what you already visited… i would be very happy with it :)

    Obrigado/Arigato/Thank You for your visit and your video.

  25. Susana Petrizzi

    You just had a breathtaking idea.
    I send all the people I know the link to your video. Anyone needs a good smile.
    Thanks to your sponsors. If they have that kind of gum were in Portugal, that´s what i´m going to buy. Just for you and your girlfriend’s work.
    If you ever come back here to dance, please please tell me!

  26. Anthony

    Many portuguese people think the Arigato word comes from the portuguese language (including me). I googled it a bit, and although the possible false information in Wikipedia, I think it’s the most complete and well structured page I’ve found.

    About the false Arigato’s portuguese origin (you can also find some other words brought by the portuguese to Japan), please see:
    link to

    I would love to receive you next time you come to Portugal, IF (ah ah ah) you promise me to include the beautiful São Pedro de Moel beach (for an evaluable preview please see link to ) in your video. :)

  27. Margarida

    Thank you for coming to Lisbon and I really hope that you have the opportunity to get to know the city better in a future visit.

    About “tempura”, it does come from portuguese and the recipe comes from the portuguese dish “peixinhos da horta”. The only difference is that portuguese only do this recipe with green beans and japanese do it with all sort of vegetables (and shrimp).

    About the origin of the word, I actually heard of a different version… That it would come from the word “temperã” which, supposedly, meant seasonal, something that has a specific time to happen. And this would be because portuguese people would eat this food in a specific time of the year, easther, to avoid eating meat. Anyway I’m not sure about this word part, only the recipe part.

  28. Melissa-Anne

    Hey Matt! I’m from New York but now living in Chaves, Portugal. Are you coming by Portugal anytime soon ? If you are contact me, my friends and I will be happy to dance with you 😀
    Love your video !

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