Lisbon. Lisbon was nothing short of incredible.
I arrived in Lisbon in the morning, after taking a night train on which I barely slept. There was a Chinese couple behind me who found it completely appropriate to carry on conversation throughout the night at regular speaking voices. But that’s not really important… I arrived at about 9AM, and my browser had decided to call it quits on me, while I had all of the information about the location of my hostel up in various tabs. I hadn’t written it down. I had an approximate idea about where it was located, so I spent a good hour wandering the streets trying to find my hostel. I walked by it three times without realizing it because there was no sign outside. Only once you were inside the building was it marked as a hostel… helpful? Totally. Anyhow. I did find it, and that was what was important. I checked in and promptly fell asleep because I was exhausted from the long, essentially restless night. I awoke and checked my email to find one from Miss k$, saying that her friend Sara would be more than willing to meet up and show me Lisbon! I contacted Sara and we made plans to meet at the University. Just shy of 8PM, I arrived at the station, texted Sara, and before long, she had found me! She was accompanied by her boyfriend, Luis, who, within five minutes of meeting me had offered me a place to stay at his apartment. We went into town and got food at the mall, and afterwards went back to his apartment where I met his roommate Pedro. We hung out, watched the Daily Show, and the Portuguese version of The Daily Show, then played Uno for an hour or two. I was getting tired, so they took me home and Sara and I made plans to meet at the metro station nearest to me at 11AM.
I woke up, ate breakfast, showered, and left the hostel to meet Sara at the Cais de Sodré metro station. From here, we took a train into Cascais (pronounced Kushkaish, Portuguese is confusing! OK, let me rephrase that… I am very unused to Portuguese pronunciation.). Cascais is a seaside resort-esque town. It’s quite ritzy and Sara says that everyone who lives there is very posh. We got into town, and began to walk for the port. We went into a bookstore that Sara said is one of her very favorite bookstores. I picked up a copy of Hunter S. Thompson’s Hells Angels for 3€! We then walked to the port and browsed the wares of some little stands, selling lots of jewelry and souvenirs made from shells. We were both hungry, so we headed to the mall to get something to eat at the food court. We decided on sandwiches, which were good, and filling… but there’s always room for ice-cream. We headed to a place called Santini’s which is renowned for its luscious ice-creams, and ohmygosh, I can see why! I got a cone with two flavors: Raspberry and Cream. Sara got Melon and Coconut. All of the flavors were incredible! She promised that we would return before I left Lisbon. After this delicious treat, we headed to a park to walk around. There were signs for a “Mini-Zoo” which we went in search of, to happily find that the cages were all empty. We saw some sort of bright green parrot that was cawing in a tree, and there were chickens, ducks, and peacocks wandering the park grounds! On the edge of the park property was an exquisite house/mansion/small-castle building. It used to be a Count’s house, and now it’s a museum. It was mind-blowingly decadent. We explored this, blown away by its splendor, and afterwards left to walk along the coast. We went and sat on some rocks right by the ocean to chat and rest for a while. I’ll say it now, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time in this entry: Sara is a beautiful soul. She is amazing and just so good. After a while, we walked up the coast some more and came to what is called “Hell’s Mouth.” A small open cove has been created in the rocks. There is a spectacular view up the coast from here. We decided that we had walked far enough, so we headed back to the station to go back into Lisbon. We went into town to the H&M so that Sara could buy some boots, and after that to a small antique shop, where we browsed their treasures. We were both quite tired from walking all day, so we returned to Luis and Pedro’s apartment. Neither Sara nor I were particularly hungry, so we just snacked. We ended up watching Poker TV for a while; it was playing a cash game of Texas Hold ‘Em. I’d like to learn how to play poker… I just need people to play with! As I said, we were quite tired, so around 11, they took me home.
Thursday morning I woke up, and I had managed to cancel the last night I had booked at the hostel, so that I could go and stay at Luis and Pedro’s instead, so I checked out, and left to meet Sara at the Areeiro station. I put my stuff away and we left to go and see the Lisbon Castle. We took Tram 28 to get there. Tram 28 is one of the public transit trams, but its route gives a very good tour of the city, so it’s like a tourist tram without the exorbitant price. We rode this until it stopped at a convenient spot for us to walk to the castle, so then we did just that. I say it was a castle, but it’s really the Lisbon fortress. No one lived there; it was only for defending the city. The view is, it almost goes without saying, spectacular. Lisbon is a city that I fell in love with instantly. Sometimes this just happens. You don’t need to get out of the train/bus/metro/tram/whatever. You just instantly fall in love; it’s got the right vibes. Lisbon was one of the cities that I instantly knew I adored, a feeling that was further proven, the longer I spent there. In a way, Lisbon reminded me of Quito, Ecuador, with all of the beautifully painted houses in oranges, yellows, reds and pinks that speckle the hills. This may have something to do with my instant affinity for the city; I adored Ecuador.
After the castle, we went to the mall food court to get lunch. After lunch, we went to find “the Elevator.” It was designed by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, an apprentice of Monsieur Gustave Eiffel; I feel that his influence is quite obvious. It also offers a beautiful view of the city. The elevator neighbors an old cathedral, that was partially destroyed in the Earthquake that devastated Lisbon in 1755. It was not entirely ruined though, and its remains have been turned into an Archaeological Museum, that we decided to go and see. The museum was incredible and featured some really exquisite finds from all over the world. The most incredible thing was certainly the pair of mummified children, found in Peru. Pictures weren’t allowed in this part of the museum, which is so disappointing because I wish I could share a picture of this strange sight. Sara and I stared at them for a good ten minutes. The museum itself is amazing, because they haven’t bothered to repair the roof which was destroyed. So, the beginning of the museum is open air, and it’s like standing in a cathedral’s skeleton, because all that remains of the roof is the arc structures. It’s quite incredible, really, as you will see in pictures below.
After the Archaeological Museum, we returned to the apartment. Sara and Luis made dinner of fish and potatoes, which was delicious. After dinner and some television, we drove into town in search of pastries. The place that they wanted to take me was closed, but we went to another place that they said was also very good. We had a pastry called “pastel de nata,” and afterwards went to see the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. We then went to Starbucks (gosh, how American) for some coffee and then home to sleep.
On Friday, we had a lazy morning, and got a late start on the day. Pedro had eaten, but Sara and I hadn’t, so we went to get lunch. After lunch, we took the ferry across the river to see the Christo Rei statue (Christ the King). It’s a smaller replica of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil. We really had taken much longer in leaving than we should have, and by the time we got to the statue, it was 6:05PM, and last admission was at 6PM… we had missed it by minutes. We sat around for a while and watched the sun setting behind the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge, that looks like a smaller version of the Golden Gate Bridge. We caught the bus back to the station, where we caught the ferry back across the river to the Cais de Sodré metro station. The station has a grocery store within it, so we all bought dinner and headed home.
With it being Friday night, we made plans to go out, but for one reason or another, we all found ourselves quite exhausted. Sara and Pedro both fell asleep before 10PM, and I followed suit shortly after taking note of their behavior. None of us had fallen asleep intending to do anything more than rest, but we never made it out that night… I guess we all needed the sleep.
We had made plans to go to the beach on Saturday, so after a slow and lazy morning, we were on our way. St Julian’s Beach was wonderful. The beach itself was comfortable, with beautiful scenery, and only scattered with people… far from busy. The water wasn’t freezing cold, either! I went and walked through the waves as they kissed the shore, and Pedro was even brave enough to go swimming! If I had brought a swimsuit or been wearing decent underclothes, I would have gone swimming as well, but as this was not the case I enjoyed the water as the ocean met the sand. After enjoying a sunset over the beach, we drove on into town to go and play mini-golf. I feel that I cannot adequately describe how wonderful this was. It made me feel at home, doing something with wonderful, truly beautiful people. It was the way I would have spent a Saturday night back in Arizona: hanging out with wonderful friends. After the mini-golf, we had a minor altercation with an asshole security guard, but it’s not worth going into. We walked into town and got dinner at a pizza place. After pizza, we drove to Cascais so that we could get Santini’s!! Sara had promised that I would have Santini’s again before leaving Lisbon, and she kept her word. After ice-cream, we drove back to Lisbon and fell asleep quickly after a long and beautiful day.
We had decided that on Sunday we were going to take a day trip to Sintra, a city outside of Lisbon, known for its Moorish castle. Off we went; we didn’t go to the castle, because they’d been only two months prior with k$, so instead we went to the Monastery of Capuchos. The monastery itself was quite large, but all of the rooms were tiny. Each doorway was only tall enough for an average sized five-year old to walk through, so going inside them was an amusing sight. We walked around the monastery grounds and found no short of ONE MILLIONS SPIDERS. There’s a picture of one below; they were everywhere!!!! After the monastery, we drove further up a hill and then walked up to a church which sits atop it; it offers an incredible view of the coastline. We drove back down the hill and to the western most point of continental Europe, where there is a beautiful lighthouse. We had some grilled chestnuts, which are a traditional treat when that you can find when the weather starts to cool down. From here, we went into town to get pastries! They were called travesseiros and they were AMAZING. Portugal really knows how to make pastries. After pastries and coffee we began to head for the car, but on the way back, I spied a shop with a sign reading “Ginja in a chocolate cup. 1 Euro.” I asked them what this was and they told me it was a traditional Portuguese drink, so I went to go and have some. They give you a tiny moulded cup of chocolate, into which you pour the Ginja, an alcoholic drink made from a berry that looks slightly smaller than a cherry, and apparently, is more bitter. You take a small sip of the Ginja, then put the cup into your mouth and bite down. It tastes like a cherry cordial chocolate!
After this small detour, we went back to the car and drove home. I showered and then Sara and I had a video date with our love, k$; I love these girls. After our hot date it was time for bed.
The next morning I woke up, put my things together , said my goodbyes and headed off for Porto.
Sara in the bookstore that we went to
Books and books and books
A peacock in the park we walked through in Cascais
I love peacocks… I think they’re just the prettiest birds. Is that predictable?
The courtyard in the Count’s house.
The Count’s house
Fishermen at Hell’s Mouth
A lighthouse in Cascais
A view down the hill from Tram 28 in Lisbon
Lisbon! Isn’t it gorgeous?
The view of Lisbon from the Fortress
The entrance to the fortress
The view from the top of the fortress
I know the white balance could be better, but the frame that the window gave the city made it look like a postcard
The Cathedral that was partly destroyed in 1755
The view of the fortress on the hill from the Elevator
The Cathedral skelton
The 25 de Abril Bridge
Sara and Pedro
Sunset behind the bridge
The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Sara at the beach!
Luis at the beach!
Sara and Luis– super cute!
Beach, beach, beach
Sara and I!
Sunset over the beach
Pedro playing mini-golf!
Sara playing mini-golf!
One of the million spiders we saw at the Monastery.
From within the Monastery courtyard
The view of the coast from the Monastery grounds
A giant rock that Luis and I climbed onto
Hello! This is me standing on said big rock.
The church on the hilltop
The lighthouse at the western most point of Europe
And again at the western most point
In love 4ever.
Castanhas, or chestnuts
A seagull with the lighthouse in the background. Sara, and Luis said it looked like a postcard
Travesseiros! Mmmmm, in my tummy, please!
Lisbon. Just amazing. I am so lucky to have had such an incredible experience there, and come away with such amazing new friends. Sara, Luis and Pedro are all incredible wonderful people. If any of you are reading, thank you again, so so much for such an amazing time. ❤
Porto up next… at some point.