Day 2: Lisbon

day-city-header220 August 2014

00

I woke up around noon. Groggily fiddled with my MRP work a little bit then got ready to head out. WiFi was in and out. I have to say though, it’s really nice to have gotten my own private room and mattress during this Couchsurf stay. I had a small breakfast of bread and fruits at Rita’s and let her know I’d be back in the evening.

Today, I decided to explore Lisbon’s city center and the neighbourhood district of Belém. I went to Chiado-Baixa station again and explored the area around Castelo de São Jorge (The Castle of São Jorge). I didn’t go in though; the line up was a little long and I still wanted to walk around the Alfama ‘hood and eventually head to Belém before coming back. Side note: I did notice that this place (and so many others!) offer student discounts, so make sure to bring your student card if you have one!

03

Musicians near the entrance of Castelo de São Jorge.

After my visit, I found a recommended place to eat on the hostel map. I was initially disappointed to see that it looked more like a touristy place, but I ordered the Spanish omelet – richly stuffed in goat geese and veggies – and was very satisfied with it! But… I also got a coffee for €2 – what! I paid €0.50 for coffee yesterday!

After I ate, I looked over my map. The bus stop to catch Tram 15 to Belém was southeast of where I was. Naturally, I ended up heading northeast. I don’t remember if I got distracted by something or if I just started walking that way thinking I was actually going the right direction. I do both all the time. Here are some pictures from my wanderings, which includes the beautiful Fado Vadio graffiti mural:

And my favourite view of Lisbon!:

Greatest view ever!

Eventually, I made my way back to the city center and found the tram stop just north of the Praça do Comércio. And then took Tram 15 heading in the opposite direction of Belém, lol. It all worked out though because I ended up meeting a fellow female solo traveler from Colombia named Jadey. She was also heading to Belém. Yay, I had a new travel buddy for the day!

A one-way ticket to Belém is a whopping €2.65, which you can get on board the tram. Luckily the day-pass, which is only around €6, is compatible with the metro and buses so I just had to validate mine on the tram.

Our first stop was the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery). Kevin had been in Lisbon a month beforehand so I made sure to take a similar photo in front of the monastery as he did. :) From there, we doubled back a bit to line up and try the famous pastel de nata (Portuguese egg tart pastry). I put lots of cinnamon on mine. Honestly, it’s really good, but I don’t understand all the hype – I’m sure I’ve had egg tarts just as good elsewhere! Afterwards, we continued walking along to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) only to very sadly find out that it was under renovations. Bah. There was a nice view of the 25 de Abril Bridge (25th of April Bridge), the “Golden Gate’s twin sister”, and Cristo Rei (Christ the King) statue in the distance. We continued walking further along to Torre de Belém (Belém Tower), which was already closed for the day.

Despite the Monument being under construction and the Tower being closed (I don’t think either of us really planned to go in though), we had a great time walking through Belém and getting to know each other. It was her first time traveling by herself so she was a little bit more nervous than I was, but she was staying with friends of friends in the city and would be meeting up with family later on in her trip in Spain. Like myself, she was trying to jampack her short stay in Lisbon and had also been to the Castelo de São Jorge area earlier that day.

She felt like her English was a little low and my Spanish is non-existent, but we totally made it work and decided to continue hanging out after Belém.

Torre Belém (Belém Tower)

Torre Belém (Belém Tower)

I told her about a place that hosts free Fado (an old and melancholy Portuguese music genre) performances on Wednesday evenings (found on my hostel map! This thing was turning out to be more useful than my official tourist map from the airport) and she was down to join.

Back in the city centre, we walked to Bairro Alto through some alleyways filled with bars and tapas joints.

We found Tasca do Chico for the free Fado performances around 10pm – it was overflowing with people crowded outside and peeking in through the door and windows! The performances started at 9pm; I should have known to arrive early for anything that people know is free. We listened a bit and it was really cool, but we were crowding the alleyway a little too uncomfortably after a while and decided to double back to a place we had stumbled upon earlier called Tapas Bar 28.

I wish I had seen the reviews for the place before we decided to head here, lol. I was too taken in by the awesomeness of sitting out on the stairs in the alleyway and enjoying the atmosphere! There were no seats available at the time we got back there though and we were seated inside. My travelmate was not particularly an adventurous eater or very hungry so we got one tapas plate to share first and would later decide if we wanted more. We decided on the swordfish ceviche. The place was really busy so it took a while to get served. The dish was way too salty, and pretty overpriced. We giggled at each other over our disappointment and left eating crackers we had packed up.

30

We walked to Rossio metro station and had our goodbyes there. At the station, I managed to get WiFi for the first time all day and check my e-mails. Rita and the new couchsurfer from Spain, Arnao, were planning to go to Lisbon for some drinks with Rita’s friends and were waiting for my reply if I wanted to join them. The e-mail was sent a couple of hours ago! The WiFi cut out before I could reply so I rushed to a payphone that ate my change before I finally got a hold of Rita to talk to her. Then the payphone cut out and I asked a young woman sitting on a bench if I could borrow her cell phone, to which she kind of reluctantly agreed. I told Rita that I would have loved to join them but was already so tired and pretty eager to get home for some rest. We arranged to meet each other at the train station closest to her apartment so that she could give me the keys to get in, and I would buzz them back in the building when they came back.

Ahh, I was pretty embarrassed that they had to wait for my reply before heading out, but they were both super easygoing about it. I got back to the apartment and worked a bit on my MRP and answered emails and messages from back home. Rita and Arnao came back just past 3am and we talked briefly before saying good night. I looked up stuff for Sintra and any other last thing I might be able to see or do in Lisbon on my last day before falling asleep around 5am.

portugal&spain

Portugal: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5
Spain: Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16

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