This past weekend was yet another incredible adventure. We ventured to Lisbon, Portugal! Thursday night, we took an overnight bus (about 8 hours) to Lisbon. The bus ride wasn’t too bad. I slept for the first couple of hours and then we stopped at this gas station for everyone to grab a snack and use the bathrooms. Throughout the second four hours, many of us were wide-awake from stopping, so of course I was prepared. I packed the Benadryl. So, I passed around a couple of Benadryl pills and we were all out cold in about 20 minutes. We arrived at the hotel in Lisbon around 7:30 Portugal time (8:30 Madrid time) and went straight to breakfast in the hotel. We checked into our rooms afterwards and of course the first thing we did was test out the beds. THEY WERE AMAZINGGG! I roomed with my best friend, Kat, and the two of us laid on the bed and just fell asleep for about 30 minutes.
After our quick power nap, we woke up and took a 2-hour walking tour around the city. The sidewalks in Lisbon are not only cobblestone, but they are beautifully painted with these intricate shapes and murals. At the end of the walking tour we ended up by the ocean in this beautiful open plaza. We found a cute little restaurant overlooking the water and had lunch (sandwiches and beers). After lunch we took the metro over to this place called Belém. This is where we saw the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos—an open grass courtyard that connects to this huge Church. We sat on the grass for about an hour in this courtyard and just gazed up at the sky. I started to ponder about the fact that I am not only in Portugal, but I am living my dream! After that, we headed over to the Torre de Belém. This was a similar to a fortress on the water (see pics below). We had to walk up this extremely small spiral staircase, go through small doors, and walk through tiny walkways. It was so interesting to see how small these things were and think about how tiny the people were that used to occupy the Torre. After that we visited a little Pasteleria at Antiga Confeitaria de Belém. Here we got to taste the typical Portuguese pastries—fried circular things filled with custard. Of course, me being one who loves sweets, I was stoked to be there. THEY WERE DELICIOUS! By this point in the day, we were struggling. We were exhausted from the overnight bus, and walking around for about 10 hours. But it was all worth it!
That night, we went to a nice restaurant called Clube de Fado. Here, we got to eat a typical Portuguese meal while listening to Fado. Fado is basically a type of opera sung by a single Portuguese woman, accompanied with a man playing a guitar and a man playing a violin (see pics below). After dinner we went back to the hotel and got the ready for the night out.
On Saturday, we woke up early and took a bus to the Sintra. This is where we got to visit the Palacio Nacional de Sintra. This was another huge and beautiful castle-like building. We not only got to walk through the castle, but also got some of the best views of the city! (see pics) Next, we went over to another palace called the Palacio de Pena. This one wasn’t as exciting, but it was really cool to see the old-fashioned kitchen that was used in these huge palaces! After that we had some time to go shop. During this time, I found a small little market that sold Portuguese ice cream! How could I not try it?! So, I spent a Euro and bought this amazing ice cream bar. I was stoked! After that we walked to a restaurant for lunch. The restaurant was called Travessa. We walked in and the first thing that caught my eye were the open bottles of wine on the table. The restaurant had their own house wine—both white and red. Here we ate lunch with everyone and fine dined—but actually dined. We sat drinking our wine, had good conversations, good meat, vegetables and potatoes. I was loving every second of it!
After lunch, we departed for Cabo da Roca. This was my favorite part of the entire trip! Cabo da Roca is the farthest point west on continental Europe. It is the place where, back in the day, people thought the world ended. Well, being there and looking out over the cliff into the ocean, I could totally see how they would think the world ended at this very point where I was standing. I was not only absolutely breathtaking, but to think about the history in that spot was incredible. You looked out over the ocean and couldn’t help but think about the discovery of America and Christopher Columbus sailing that very ocean you were looking at. It is definitely an experience that cannot be explained in any amount of words, but was just amazing to experience.
That night, I met up with one of my sister’s friends who lives in Lisbon. We had been texting to meet up and for him to show me around the town and nightlife in Lisbon. A couple of my friends, and myself met up with him (Arto) in this area filled with bars called El Barrio. It was literally just about 10 streets in a row filled with bars, where thousands of people hung out in the streets, drinking, chatting, and going in and out of bars meeting knew people. When the natives would hear my friends and myself speaking English, they would swarm. They loved meeting Americans. So, I not only met a ton of natives but also learned a ton about the culture. I met a girl who was studying in Lisbon, originally from Ireland, a guy from Peru, another guy from Spain and tons more. It was lots and lots of fun!
Sunday morning, we woke up around 10 and went to the Barrio de Alfama and the Cathedral in the city. The Alfama was another castle, where we could not only walk the grounds of the castle but also go all the way to the top lookout spots and see another aerial view of the city. Here, we saw tons of peacocks (a popular bird in Portugal) and just took in the beautiful view. Afterwards, we had lunch at a restaurant in the town and ate cod. Cod is what Portugal is most famous for and it was delicious!
There were two things that struck me while I was in Lisbon. Everything we saw was made of cork—shoes, purses, wallets, backpacks, and more. About 80% of the world’s cork comes from Portugal (a statistic I learned in one of the stores). This amazed me and the stuff made out of cork was actually cool! Also, I learned Portuguese! Well, not as much as you would think but the basics—“hello” “goodbye” “thank you” “where is” “can I have” “please” “excuse me” and more!! I am getting more and more cultured and multilingual by the day and loving every second of it!!! Well, the weekend (as you can see) was amazing!! Definitely another weekend I will never forget!!! Thanks for reading and keep reading!! Next stop: Barcelona!
Besos y Abrazos