Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Our Backpacking Adventure! Part 3 - Lisbon

From Lagos, Portugal, we took a train back to Lisbon
It's always an adventure coming out of the metro station in a new city
and trying to find your hostel.
After asking a local for directions,
we walked up 4 flights of stairs to arrive at Rossio Hostel!
Great place to hang out and meet fun people!
If you go to Lisbon and need a hostel, I highly recommend Rossio!
Our room was wonderful!
With an amazing view of the city square.
And you can see a castle at the very top of the hill behind the statue.
In typical Jesse and Jessica fashion, we set out right away to explore the castle.
We took a trolley to the top of the hill as the rain began to pour!
Amazing views from the top!
As we were video taping a water spout started forming right in front of us!
I love this one. Looks so surreal.Through the castle walls we had an amazing view of the harbor. It was so weird as I realized I had been there before in 2002 while studying abroad in Spain.
Inside the castle walls we found wild peacocks!
And lions!
Great day to explore a castle.
After much exploration, we continued up through the city, which is very hilly like San Francisco. Good for the glutes.
We found a church with a big red door and decided to take a peek inside.
A look back at the castle.
There are a few things that really typify Lisbon:
1) The red and white buildings and auburn rooftops,
2) The bread, cheese, and sardine pate
that they insist on putting on your table at every meal,
and then charge you for if you eat it,
but just throw it back in the bin for the next table if you don't
3) The tile, which can be found in various patterns
on nearly every building in the city.
4) The pastry shops,
which we sampled from quite often
(good thing we were always walking!)
and 5) The city squares,
which typically had some sort of black and white pattern on the ground,
and which were located in just about every block of the city .

We went out that night for one of our best meals in Portugal!
The salmon was amazing!!
The next morning we enjoyed another perk of the hostel:
free hot breakfast, made to order from an adorable Portuguese woman.
"Would you like eggs and toast, or crepes?"
Yes and yes!
Nothing like the Word to start the day
We booked a day tour to Sintra (10am-6:30pm).
Turned out we had a private tour in a car because the tour van was filled with school children.
Lucky us.
First stop was a castle located through this crazy little rain forest.
The king at the time had imported trees and plants from the Americas, creating a mini ecosystem around the castle.
Very eerie and misty! AND COLD!
Looking out into the "garden"
And back through the forest

to the lower garden where we had some fun with the shrubs.

Onward to another old residence...
"Quinta da Regaleira"
This place was renown for its enchanting and romantic garden.
The garden was amazing!

Typical Portuguese tilework.
Lots of statues (He may not be tame, but He's GOOD!),crazy streams, pools and waterfalls,
and scary dark tunnels and secret passageways
(I got a little scared),
take a journey with me through the tunnels!

Here's the top of the spiral staircase we climed.

There we lots of beautiful towers,

and hidden places to do this!
The inside of the palace was cool too.

Then back in the car to Old Town Sintra for lunch and of course their famous pastries!
Inside the pastry shop.
We learned that every town in Portugal has a pastry they're known for,
and that you MUST try. :)
Got pretty tired of not having to-go cups for our coffee though.
Where's my grande coffee with room?Spent some time walking around Old Town Sintra.
Came across a specialty shop
and sampled their famous cherry liquor, served in a chocolate cup.
After strolling the streets we hoped back into the car for our next stop:
The most western point in all of Europe!!
(The hiiiiiills are aliiiiiive! Laaaa, la, la, laaaaa!)
We walked all the way down to the tip,
and the wind was HOWLING!
Check out this footage!

Beautiful rolling hills,
a light house,
and this cross
marked the spot of the most western point in all of Europe.
Trying to smile against the wind was hard work!
And we jumped back into the car to finish the tour off
by stopping at a surf spot.

and sitting in a cafe for a little snack while the heavens opened
and the rain began to pour (perfect timing once again).
We watched as this poor little frigate battled the storm.
Then back home to our cozy hostel
to cook up a tasty pesto chicken and pasta dinner.

The next day we were supposed to take a flight to Munich.
Little did we know,
this was happening in Iceland.
Luckily we found out our flight was canceled before heading out to the airport.
We booked another night in the hostel,
redirected our plans and bought a ticket to Geneva, Switzerland,
and continued to make the most of our time in Lisbon.

And we discovered our new favorite pastime:
Tiling consists of hunting down tile
and capturing it on film.
A few rules:
1) You can never photograph the same type of tile twice.
2) You must find tile that is located just such
that your friend can take a picture of you standing in front of it.
3) The slab of tile must also be large enough to create an adequate background.
4) When photographed you must never use the same expression twice.
It got pretty crazy.

A little worship back at the hostel,
and then off to beddy-bye for an early wake-up to get to the airportShared a cab with some German friends to the airport at 5:00am for a 7:30 flight.
Our flight status said "Info at 7:30."

Drink up, Honey!
Ultimately, we waited 'til 7 to find out our flight was

We redirected again, this time buying a flight to Barcelona.
Spain's safe, right?

At least we weren't alone. Many of our other fellow hostel-mates
were in the same boat, re-booking extra nights.
Misery loves company!
We did what came to be known as the
"Walk of shame" back up the hostel stairs with our packs.
We were luckily able to book another night because other travelers,
who couldn't get to Portugal, were canceling.

More touring!
Where to?
A 20 minute bus ride led us to Belem,
where we found this beautiful monastery.
With amazing architecture!

A monument commemorating Portuguese voyage and discovery.A beautiful Saturday on the bay.

Puttin' our feet up on the steps of an old fort,
before venturing inside.
Back through a park,
Jesse found Starbucks!
And we found out that Portuguese people have no idea what to do in a Starbucks (apparently they're new). It was hilarious watching people coming in with confused expressions, cautiously approaching the counter, gazing at the menu in a daze. Jesse ordered like a pro, then the barista very slowly and with much emphasis asked, "May I please have your name sir. Thank you. Your drink will be over there (pointing), on the counter when it is ready."
Ha! We were dying!
And we kept tiling.

At dinner I wanted to try a Portuguese beer.
"Um, excuse me. I ordered the large beer."Here's to our last night in Lisbon! ...Hopefully.Once again, waiting for our flight. This time to Barcelona.
My grumpy frumpy face. Other disgruntled travelers.

After waiting in line for an hour we got to the front only to find out our flight was
CANCELED.Frustrated and desperate to go somewhere, anywhere, we waited in another line and booked a flight to Madrid for later that afternoon.
Walk of shame back to the hostel for a little facebooking and reconnection with hostel friends to vent our frustration.
(no more touring please).
A few hours later...our flight made it out!!
Madrid, here we come!!

Jesse and I learned the hard way that volcanic eruptions make air travel very difficult. A total of 23 airports in Northern Europe were completely shut down. (That meant all the trains were backed up, too.) Apparently the ash contains glass particles that rip airplane engines to shreds. No bueno.
So, we stuck to traveling in the south (although we wanted to meet up with our friends in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland), and got out of there early to avoid further frustration with travel delays.


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