~And let us pursue that most tempting of
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Lisbon, Portugal – It’s Party Time!
The overnight train from Madrid to Lisbon meant I did not sleep. I always try so hard, but I always seem to fail at sleeping all night while sitting up. This specific train prohibited me from laying on Bryan as there was a big arm rest in the middle which would not move. Never the less, it is always cheaper to do this than buy a sleeper coach, and when it comes down to it, we seem to always choose cheaper.
We arrived in Lisbon around 8am the following morning and I swore I would never take another night train. We met an Australian girl who was also staying at the same hostel as us. We all took the local bus and finally made it to a place called People’s Hostel about 15 minutes outside downtown Lisbon.
Bryan and I slept for a good chunk of the day and then decided to see what Lisbon was all about.
Before arriving in Lisbon we had many people tell us it was one of their favorite cities in Europe. I quickly realized why many thought this. Many of the sidewalks, alleys, and roads were covered with off white/brownish square tiles which was a local stone from Lisbon. It was amazing to see how much time and effort it must have taken to cover the majority of the city with this.
After arriving in downtown via the local bus, we noticed a bar/restaurant next to the water with a huge variety of colorful bean bag chairs, and I immediately knew this was going to be a cool city.
We were not planning on staying out late, as we were still pretty warn out, but plans change sometimes. As we were walking around the relatively small city we noticed many booths being set up on the roads and sidewalks. We had no idea what this meant, so I asked a man who was selling 1 Euro Sangria. He didn’t quite know how to explain in English, but he said “tonight we drink and tomorrow we sleep”. Later, another guy said it was the festival of St. Antonio and was arguably the biggest day in Lisbon. He also said something similar to the previous guy, emphasizing that it was an excuse to drink and eat all night and have a holiday the next day. We felt pretty lucky to have arrived on the biggest day in Lisbon and could not justify going to bed early.
The majority of our time at the festival was spent walking around a neighborhood called Alfama which was sort of medina like with narrow alleys, apartments, and cafes.
The festival was filled with a vast array of food and drinks, including local sardines, meat sticks, farturas (like churros but softer and better), and 1 euro sangria and beer. Bryan was in heaven. There was music, people dancing, colorful streamers, and people everywhere. The streets were packed.
After awhile we found another hostel in the middle of the action. Out of curiosity, we wanted to know how much it was. After about 2 minutes into the conversation, the guy running the hostel invited us in and sent us up to the communal kitchen to hang out with friends from his university. Soon after, we were surrounded by local medical students. We were offered free food, beer, and sangria. Again, Bryan was in heaven.
We did not make it all night, like many did. At about 1am I looked at Bryan and said “It’s time for me to go to bed.”
The following morning we did laundry. It is surprising how much time is dedicated to a couple loads of laundry while traveling, but it has to be done, especially when you’re married to Bryan. Love you, honey.
A couple days before arriving in Lisbon, we met a couple from Portugal on couchsurfers.com who were interested in meeting up and showing us a bit of the city. We were supposed to meet them at 6pm but were about 15 minutes late after accidentally hopping on a bus that went an hour out of our way.
We both hate being late and felt so bad, but they were sweet and understood. They took us to a local bar for food, showed us a wonderful view of the castle and Lisbon, took us to a library in an architecturally brilliant building, and then we all made our way to a bar to watch Germany vs. Holland. Overall, it was a good night and it also showed us all the many wonderful people we could meet by using couchsurfers.
The next day we woke up thinking we weren’t leaving Lisbon until 10pm until we went to buy our train tickets and realized we could go directly from Portugal to San Sebastian on the night train. We left Lisbon at 4pm and arrived in San Sebastian, Spain at 6am the following morning. Again, I got little to no sleep.