Day 19 – A packed day in Portugal
15 April 2015
Left Madrid at around 10am and flew to Lisbon, Portugal. It only took around an hour. We only planned to do an overnight stay. We were already around the area haha and so we thought why not go to Portugal, even just for a day? The weather forecast that day wasn’t that great either, it was supposed to rain hard in the afternoon. At the airport we used the free Wi-Fi to find exactly where our hotel would be. Once we found it, we got on a bus, which stopped near our hotel. We only had to walk less than 10mins to reach it. The only annoying thing about walking was that the pedestrian paths were all cobblestones and very uneven. I was worried I was going to wreck the wheels off my luggage again. It had been raining as well and so it made the paths slippery too.
After checking in, not wasting any time we headed to the nearest metro station and made our way to the city centre. We ended up by the Tagus River. The sun was shining at this point and it got quite warm. First stop was Praça do Comércio, a square commissioned by King Jose who reign from 1750 until his death. His statued stood in the middle. As we were walking around taking pictures, a man walked by. I looked at him briefly and he looked at me and with some distance between us, he discreetly showed me something in his hand and nodded at me. I was pretty sure he just offered me some drugs :S but I just shook my head and walked away. It was such a surreal experience. It wasn’t the last time though.
Walking out of the square we headed towards an area where restaurants were aplenty. We were getting quite hungry as it was way past lunch time. Before settling on a restaurant we saw Elevador de Santa Justa. The elevator that connected the street below and the square above it. We didn’t really have time to explore that area plus we were dying to eat something already. We chose an Italian restaurant haha but they served paella! The paella in the picture off their menu looked very appetising and so I ordered that. Wifey got the grilled sardines which seemed popular with the people already eating there. As we waited for our food, at least three shady guys walked past presenting their ‘goods’ at me. Wifey told me to just look at her instead haha. I bet it was the hat I was wearing, too hipster lol a magnet for drug dealers. Our food came and I was a bit underwhelmed by the look of my paella, same as the taste. I was pretty disappointed but since I was really hungry I ate all of it. Wifey was happy with her sardines. To get the fishy taste out of our palette we bought some gelato and continued to explore the city.
I was looking around for a castle on the hills, Castelo de Sao Jorge to be precise as I read that that is the place to get a good view of the city. Not really knowing where we were heading, I just thought of looking for stairs that would lead us higher up and eventually we saw some, plus a sign to the castle. We walked up the stairs leading us to the street above, followed the signs until we reached the top. We walked past many interesting buildings, the houses looked quite rough but was charming at the same time. We had to watch where we were walking as dog poo littered the streets.
A couple more winding roads and alleys and eventually we found the castle. It cost €8.50 to get in. The view was totally worth it. You could see the city and the river, I bet it would have been awesome at night. We explored the castle, climbed the walls and towers. In the distant horizon a huge, dark cloud was heading our way. The rain was coming and it looked like it was going to be a heavy one. Lucky for us that we’d already taken pictures and so with no hesitation we headed back down and as soon as we reached the bottom, it started to pour. We took shelter at McDonalds, bought some fries and a drink and waited for the rain to stop. We thought of the people that were still at the castle and the others who were still making their way up there, it would have been a mess up there. After around an hour, the rain didn’t stop but it weakened to a drizzle. We decided to just go back to our hotel as it would have been difficult to explore the rest of the city in the rain. Down the metro station we saw a bakery that sold authentic Portuguese tarts, we bought a box of 6.
It was still drizzling at night and so we decided to just stay in. I walked around the streets in the area to search for a place to eat but I couldn’t find anything remotely decent and so I ended up buying food again at another McDonalds. I didn’t need to speak Portuguese as they had a self service ordering system in English which helped a lot. And so our only night in Lisbon was spent in bed with fast food #romantic.
We would have liked to see more of Portugal but due to time constraints we only had to settle for a day but at least we got to see it. The city had its own charm, a different vibe from all the other cities we had visited so far. I could have done without the drug dealers but they didn’t force you in any way to buy anyway, if you say “No” they stop bothering you. “Obrigado Lisboa” (thank you Lisbon), it’s been nice.