Since I had a week holidays from my study I decided to go seek the sun and go to Lisbon. For pictures I took with my analogue Pentax this week, check this portfolio post.
Since my flight would leave at 8 in the morning at Eindhoven (South Netherlands) and there’s no way in the world there are trains and busses early enough from Zwolle (North Netherlands). So I managed to arrange a sleeping place through the couchsurfing platform. I stayed with a really nice guy, he made his own furniture, listened to music with LP’s and was curious for what a vegetarian like me can cook. Though my intention was to go to bed in time we ended up talking half the night. We had totally different worldviews, but that way we learned a lot from each other!
So the next day; off to Lisbon! When I arrived it was only 11 in the morning (you also have to reverse your clock one hr), but I only had four or five hours of sleep. So there I was, no plan and I could not go to my hostel yet. That is when my tourist sightseeing book that I bought last minute would become my new best friend. The sun was shining, the wheather was nice, I was tired and hungry, and I had no clue where I was. So my first mission was food. And food I found! Lisbon is famous for all its pasteleria’s, and for a good reason. I knew that not stuffing myself with all that sweet stuff (it’s literally sugar paradise) the following days would be a challenge.
After that I went for my hostel after all, dumped my stuff and started exploring the streets around my hostel. Turned out my hostel was on the Rua Augusta, one of the main-main streets (shopping streets!) of Lisbon, which starts at the sea (yes, that bridge is a straight-away copy of the Golden Gate bridge, made by the same company),
and ends at Rossio square (big square. literally). On the Rua Augusta I first ran into some living statues (see the living statues page at the top of this page!), and I then went to the design museum. They have quite some fascinating items, especially in comparison to Ikea, where I was last year around this time (see “Knäckebröd, Ikea…Stockholm!“) (sorry again Josi 😉 ). Even when going to the toilet they surprised me with a specially designed wall of colored toiletpaper.
Well after that I was quite done for the day, so I just went to bed for a couple of hours, grabbed some dinner, and went to bed again. The next day would be really exciting, as I would go to Cascais, a city west of Lisbon near the sea, something I had been looking forward to, since it was supposed to be really beautiful. And it was! I got a free bike, chilled around a lot, made a lot of nice pictures, went to a beautiful parc and I biked along the cliffs of the coast line. At the end of the day I went to a restaurant to see the sun set from the balcony. When I came there, I thought the travelguide had made a mistake in their discription. I was a very big, fancy, expensive 5 star hotel. Going in anyways, they definitely didn’t make a mistake! The sunset was beautiful (no pictures unfortunately). Here’s the pictures 😀
On day three, the Saturday I went to Alfalma. Alfalma is the typical neighborhood that makes me love the Mediterranean countries of Europe so much: beautiful colored houses, small alleys like a maze, uphill, downhill, a lot of stairs, loundry outside and in the case of Lisbon; houses covered in cute tiles. As to be expected, I lost my way almost immediately. The idea was to start with tram 28, which is supposed to be A-MA-ZING, and go to one of the well-known miradouro’s, or; viewpoints. Let’s just say it was quite an interesting experience. I got on the tram, terrified someone would rob me after the many warnings I received, everyone all packed together like sardines in a can (which is also a famous product in Lisbon).
So I was looking around me, where I could see when to get off. Since there was no travelplan anywhere, I expected the driver to maybe announce the stations (as they do in any bus or subway). Not the case. It’s like Russian roulette, just pressing the button at some station, hoping you’re not at the other side of town. So I was hesitatingly waiting, until it turned out we were already at the end station. Oops. So I bought another ticket, got on again, and got off randomly in the middle of Lisbon. Luckily the walk was not that long from there. Anyways, once I finally got into Alfalma I really enjoyed loosing the way ten more times, going for a nice hot chocolate in some hipster-bar and ending up in the Castelo São Jorge. Beautiful castle, with a great view over Lisbon. And you can get a wine with a view; a glass of wine you can take with you to sit anywhere. I don’t like wine, but I appreciated the idea 🙂
After watching the sunset from São Jorge, I wanted to go to this little restaurant that was recommended for its typical Portugese fado music by local singers. However, I was also urged by the travel book not to be in the alleys of Alfalma on my own after dark. So as much fun it was to lose my way during the day, it became a little more serious at night. Just when I started to freak out a little bit I managed to find my way out ánd I found the restaurant. Which was an absolute waste of my time…It was totally empty (I was early) and the owner was raging against one of his employees. Toast with cheese from the shop on the corner it is…
Sunday I decided to go to Belem, one of the more outside-neighborhoods. After a walk that I totally underestimated I arrived at the LX Factory, an old factory complex which was turned into this mix of cool steampunk restaurants with old machines and shops that sold extraoridinairy stuff. Also, they have a secondhand clothing market on Sunday, which is always fun if you ask me. Though I did not buy anything, I had a lot of fun walking around, just taking some pictures and enjoying people’s creativity.
After I had done all that I realized that though there was more to see in Belem, none of it really sounded worthwhile, or at least not like something I felt like doing at that moment. Instead I just got back on the subway and went to a neighborhood on the other side of town; Parque das Nações. This is the more modern area, with city parcs alongside the water. I went to the Oceanário de Lisboa, which is basically a really really big aquarium (second largest in the world, largest of Europe). Though it was quite crowded, it was really cool to see (obviously). I had hoped for a bit more different aquaria, but as said, there was one really really large one to steal the show. After that I went to the Torre Vasco da Gama (to find it was closed, unfortunately) by Telecabine. A bit of a shame the weather wasn’t that nice, but other than that I had an awesome view.
On my last full day in Lisbon I went to Sintra, on the advice of many fellow travelers. I only went to one of the two castles I was advised to go to, because there were like seven of them and I was not sure which ones were supposed to be the prettiest ones again. So it is truly a shame I missed out on Quinta da Regaleira, but as it was my last day already I was quite tired anyways. Instead, I visited Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle) and the gardens of Palácio da Pena (Pena Palace). When I arrived at the trainstation there were like almost twenty people offering us guided tours, which was funny considering we were with more or less the same amount of people, a bit overwhelming.
I just bought a busticket to the Moorish castle, and I am happy I did. Not only was it a beautiful ride, uphill through a misty forest over a curvy road, it would have taken me half a day to walk. The weather was not really nice for taking pictures, but it was beautiful just to walk around there. By the time I was up at the cross in the gardens of Pena Palace, I just sat down and relaxed, and decided to not go further anymore, despite the high entrance fee. I met two fellow travelers that were also there on their own, and so we kept on talking and decided to spend the evening together. That was a very nice way to more or less close off the week, it was ‘erg gezellig’ and I learned a lot of new things about Portuguese food.
And that was it already! Next morning I went to a Miradouro after all, by elevadores (sort of tram, to get you uphill on steep streets quickly; really expensive in proportion, but worth the experience for once) and just chilled there a bit untill it was time to go. I truly enjoyed the week and it was just really nice to see how much fun it actually is to travel alone. For Lisbon, I think it is a very versatile city, which can be seen in the difference between the type of pictures I took each day. Definitely worth a visit if you can sometime!