Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day Three...also known as Thursday!

Finally, I get to our first full day of vacation. A normal day of waking up, eating breakfast, and then walking all over a city I've never been in before. Okay, maybe not so normal. But no airplanes, no boarding passes, no trying to sleep in an upright position.

Here is what I wrote in my sole travel journal entry from the entire trip. I wrote this early Thursday morning: "Without a doubt, the hardest bed I have ever slept on in my entire life. I am up - the sun is up - I have no idea what time it is. Maybe 8:30?" That's it. I never wrote another word. I sat on the terrace for a bit, ate my cornflakes, and then we got going on a very full day.

First stop: The Praca do Comercio, right along the River Tagus. As you can see, it was an absolutely beautiful day in Lisbon. I don't have a picture, but in the square is a statue of Dom Jose I, who was king at the time of Lisbon's great earthquake. The arch behind me is the Arco Triunfal which marks the entrance to the Rua de Augusta which is full of shops and other fun stuff. We'd be back there later.

 Hello from Lisbon!

The river was really beautiful too. The water was pretty cold though. No swimming for us.

Less than an hour of sightseeing and already we are resting.

Our next stop was to get on Tram 28, which is one of those stereotypical street cars....think Rice-a-Roni...only a little smaller. It was fun to ride, and easier than walking up the steep hills of Lisbon. It's known for pickpockets, but our tram seemed pretty tourist heavy. Our pockets were safe.

We were on our way to the Miradouros de Santa Luzia. Miradouros are lookout points in Lisbon. Being so steep and hilly, there are lots of these around the city. This miradouro had a lovely cafe where we had lunch (gazpacho, melon and ham) and also a little church, the Igreja de Santa Luzia, which was not open. I was disappointed, but need not have been. If there is anything in Europe, there are a lot of churches. Plenty of them awaited.


David with a Superbock, the common beer in Portugal which was neither super nor a bock.

Lunch was yummy, and our waiter taught us how to say "Thank you" in Portuguese. Obrigadah if you are female, Obrigado if you are male. We now knew one word in Portuguese.

Next we wandered up to the Castelo de Sao Jorge. Great views of Lisbon up there and well worth the admission price. My brother had posted on Facebook that we should see this and who am I to not follow the advice of my older brother?




There were also a lot of peacocks there. A whole flock of them it seemed.. And lots of little baby peacocks. Ever seen a baby peacock. Now you have!



After we left there, we just wandered back down the hill. I wanted to find this cathedral I had read about. On the way, we passed what appeared to be a woman who was chasing a guy who may or may not have stolen her purse. She was following him, they weren't moving very fast, and she was saying, "you can keep the money, I just want my purse back". Weird thing was, she was holding a purse, and he wasn't so...who knows what was really going on.

We got a little lost, but that was okay because we stumbled upon some Roman ruins and that was really cool. Then we stumbled upon the Cathedral. Yay!

It was really beautiful. One of many many cathedrals and churches we were going to see on our trip. David suggested we light a candle for my grandma while we were in there (she passed away the day before) so we did that. This was one of many cathedrals we saw that were built on the site of former mosques. The pictures at the link above are much better than any of the photos I took.

By this time, I was feeling pretty tired, but in a good way. The weather was beautiful and we were just enjoying the winding roads. We wandered our way over to the Elevador de Santa Justa.

 
Just an elevator built at the end of the street.

We didn't actually ride it, but we did make our way via streets up to the top, where the views were really amazing.


Since it was so hot, we of course had to stop for gelato. Yum! We went to a place called Santini which seemed quite popular. You choose two flavors, and somehow the servers twist them together. Amazing.


At this point, we then wandered back up the Rue de Augusta, stopped into H&M (there were like three H&Ms in Lisbon...if you want to go to H&M here you have to go all the way to the Mall of America. In Lisbon they seem to multiply), and gave some spare change to this living statue. Yes, that is a guy dressed as Mozart's tombstone (I think...he may have taken some poetic license). He winked at me.

 
There were several more items on out itinerary, but we were pretty tired. We walked over by the Convento do Carmo but didn't go in. It was destroyed in the earthquake and will be on my list of things to see when I return to Lisbon. After a full day of sightseeing, it was time to head back to our apartment on the Rue de Hera.. I think we were in the Bairro Alto neighborhood.  Kym had some leads on dinner options! Yes! Dinner!


Our first stop was the Port Institute, which seemed pretty swanky. I do not like port, but I did like the cheese and crackers.


Then we wandered up the Rue de Atalaia which had lots of restaurants and bars. Some of the bars were so funny....they looked to be the size of a large closet. Enough space for just the bar and maybe a couple stools. As such, much of the festivities were out on the street. Very vibrant and seemed like a lot of fun.

But, I was hungry! We settled on Bota Alta, which means Old Boot and there was a lot of boot decor inside.While we waited for them to have a table ready for nine people (no small feat), I believe each person in our party was approached by either a man in purple pants who appeared to be trying to eat the cast on his hand, or a guy in a gray hoodie, asking if we wanted to buy some cocaine or pot. They were charming fellows. Just so charming - guy in the hoodie totally looked like a meth head. Eventually they left, wandering down the hill towards someone rolling a keg up the hill.We were seated shortly thereafter.


Our wine was served in these fun jugs and there was plenty of cheese and bread on the table. David and I each ordered the special for the night which was cod with caramelized onions and fried potatoes. Lots of potatoes. Cheese, bread, and potatoes were to be a common theme on this trip.


After dinner, our waiter offered to bring us "firewater", which was essentially paint thinner. More on that later. Tomorrow.


Kym, Kyle, and Kelly all opted to hit the bars after dinner while the rest of us headed back to our apartment where we sat on the terrace until the poor woman below us asked us to please go inside as she had to work the next day. Ooops.

Overall, a wonderful first day of the vacation...I know - it was really day three, but the first day was all spent traveling and doesn't count at all. The second day was mostly traveling, so that only counts a little.

Even after only one day in Lisbon I wanted to come back. I loved the skinny, windy roads, all the outdoor cafes, people dressed as someone's grave. Other than the purple-panted guy and his hoodied friend, everyone was very friendly.

More to come about how we overcome the ill effects of the firewater, find the train station, and head to Sintra to see more castles and ruins.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ooooh another cliff hanger ...