Two Days and Two Nights in Lisboa
Trip Start Dec 29, 2008
27Trip End May 30, 2009
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I finished my final exams this past Monday to great success as I just found out that I passed my month long intensive language course with a high A. I had exams in Culture and Grammar and a presentation in Communication, so needless to say I was ready for a break. I took an Easy-jet flight on Tuesday afternoon from Madrid to Lisboa where I was to meet up with my friends at the hostel.
I called my friend Alex Hoffman before leaving to ask him about the transportation situation and he informed me of a cheap bus that runs from the airport to the center. I got off at the correct stop and tried to call Alex back, but he did not pick up. To make a long story short, I spent two hours of my afternoon wandering around the area looking for la Rua Alexandre Herculano. Fortunately I packed a relatively light weekend bag so as not to have any problems with lost baggage. I finally reached the hostel only to discover that my friends were down the street eating dinner (they said they were too hungry to wait).
That night we settled into the hostel, met some really cool German guys named Peter and Benedict (with whom I spoke some German). We had a few drinks and headed to Barrio Alto as we heard it was the hot spot in town. It was not. Granted it was a Tuesday night, but the bars were all quite small and largely unoccupied. Nevertheless, we decided to have fun, so we ate some great tapas and met two Swiss guys at the table next to us in one of the bars. We were all very tired and all headed home early, except for Peter and the Swiss guys. As I would later find out, the Swiss guys left him at a certain point with a group of what were probably Portuguese guys. He did not speak any Portuguese and when he went to leave, they took all of his money. I suspect he was so drunk by that point of the night that he just gave it to them, but either way it was a terrible thing. Upon hearing his story we decided not to head back to Barrio Alto the next night.
The second day was spent touring the city. The city is absolutely beautiful, albeit a bit over graffiti-ed. Marni, Alex Cole, Alex Hoffman, and I went through the main plaza, up a tourist elevator for better views, and finally down to the riverfront. Interestingly enough we did not see too many tourists on our way through town. We planned on taking a 3:00 PM tour leaving from the hostel Oasis, but we took so long getting there that we arrived right on time. Unfortunately, the receptionist failed to mention on the phone that the tour was the next day, so we were understandably annoyed. Rather than taking a self-guided tour, we resolved to sit at a cafe and take in the views. We were on the bluffs at that point, so we chose a well situated cafe that ended up having great food at even greater prices.
That night we decided to cook dinner in the hostel's kitchen and drink in the hostel rather than risking muggers late at night. As is always the case, we made far too much pasta and ended up sharing it with the rest of the travelers. Staying in was a great decision because we saved a lot of money on pricey food and drinks and had a wonderful time meeting fellow travelers from the US, Brazil, Portugal, and France.
The next morning we took a train to Sindra, a small town outside of the city that the people at the hostel recommended. We were pleasantly surprised to discover a town complete with four palaces, a mountain-top castle, a quaint shopping district, and views of the ocean and the surrounding area. We made the hike up the mountain to the medieval castle for a photo shoot and had lunch at a nice cafe in town. We left at around 4:00 PM and got back to Lisboa with some time to spare. Our flight was at 8:30, but ended up being delayed until 9:00 PM.
On the flight back I reflected on how different Portugal was from Spain. Not only does the language sounds drastically different, but the people seem different as well in an unexplainable way. At any rate, I highly recommend Lisboa and Sindra for a weekend excursion if you are ever on the Peninsula.