Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hola from Lisboa

Let me just start by saying that Europe is expensive. Very very expensive. Which can be frustrating when you're trying to do pretty much anything on a budget. That being said, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to call it my home for a few short months and travel around.

Since your lovely authoress last wrote I have been to yet another beautiful country: Portugal. I had been told that Lisbon was beautiful but I'm really kind of a lazy traveler so I didn't take too much time to research before I went and consequently was utterly surprised at how much it had to offer.

I think I can best describe Lisbon as a combination of Rome, San Francisco, and Barcelona mushed together and shrunken down in size a bit. Though I was only there for three days I managed to try every possible form of transportation: trolly, tram, bus, metro, and ferry. They were all pretty easy to figure out, though I think my favorite was the trolly. I tried to get my friends to sing the Trolly Song from "Meet me in St. Louis" but apparently not everyone in the world has seen that great movie. If you're one of them please fix it. Immediately. Seriously, stop reading this blog this very second and go watch. Ok. See? Wasn't it worth it?

So to continue...we stayed at an adorable hostel called the Lisbon Poet's Hostel which was a great location, cheap, friendly, and offered (for the most part) great advice. Though I don't know too much about Lisbon's history, I did find out that it had been founded at least 1000 years before 52 BC which is ridiculous and incredibly cool.

On our first day we checked out the Cathedral (this seems to be a theme of traveling in Europe, but they're always quite beautiful and impressive), followed by Belém Tower and the Christopher Columbus Monument. I had completely forgotten (or perhaps just never knew to begin with) that Columbus set sail from Portugal. The monument was pretty shnazzy and we spent a good hour just taking pictures there.

The next day we headed over to the "Thieves Market" (aka flea market) which was possibly the biggest garage sale I have ever seen in my life. It went on for blocks and blocks. It takes place every Tuesday and Saturday and hundreds of vendors come out with every imaginable product from old scuba diving suits to porn to saaris to phone chargers. I had a great time just browsing and Linda's friend John found a toy that chirps like a bird when you blow into it. Unfortunately, he lost it when we went to the castle right afterwards. Really quite upsetting for all of us.

The castle is pretty close to the flea market and it is both huge and incredibly intricate in its design. We had unbelievable views of the entire city and treated the castle grounds as an adult size playground. Serious fun to be had there.

Saturday night was the downfall of the trip: Fado. Apparently Fado is a must see in Portugal and our Hostel recommended what I certainly hope is the WORST representation of this music. It was bad to the point of amusement, and way overpriced, but we learned a valuable lesson from that experience. I'm not sure what lesson we learned, but I'm sure there's one buried somewhere in there.

Sunday we headed out to the Christo Rey statue which is a replica of the one in Brazil but it was a bit too foggy to be worth the 4 euro ride to the top so we just let Jesus shelter us from the rain. Classic. Then we headed back across the bay (on the ferry) to a great (free!) art museum, some quick lunch followed by ice cream and return to the airport. They may not get the idea of vegetarian food in Lisbon (uniformly awful) but they certainly know their ice cream.

I just have to mention the tiles in Lisbon. Linda did more research than the rest of us on the trip so she new to expect this artwork but I did not. Almost all the buildings are covered in these hand painted tiles. Mostly they're white with blue paint but you can really find them in all colors and designs and they're stunning. Just one more reason you should go to Lisbon.

So to review:
Fado= really really bad and expensive
Trolly= super fun
Views of Atlantic= fantastic and beautiful
Tiles= impressive and surprising
me= broke and tired

Sorry this got so long, words really can't describe how great my last two trips have been. But I want to make this more interactive, so if you have any suggestions about places I should go while on my next trips (Seville and Rome) then please do send them my way. If I take up your offer you could be the lucky winner of my love and devotion. What better prize is there really?

Besos y abrazos

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