I don’t know where to begin when retelling my tale of Lisboa or Lisbon. A lot has happened.
I arrived to Lisbon Thursday night. I took a train from Coimbra and got to St. Apolonia station. The best way to my hostel was a bus I think, but walking didn’t take much longer and it was still light out and I could tour a bit.
I walked through Alfama, one of the old Moor sections of the city and then stumbled upon the main commercial square at sunset, which was lovely.
Like Porto, there are a bunch of hills, and it’s worse. Actually, there were a lot of hills in Coimbra and I just decided Portugal is the home of the hills. However, even though I accepted this, when I came to this steep hill, the last several feet/meters before my hostel (Oasis Hostel), I started laughing in like hysterics? I trudged up the hill and finally came to basically the top to my hostel.
I knew once I checked in that I wouldn’t want to leave for food due to having a long day. This hostel offers dinner at 5 euros. So I decided to do it.
Dinner was at 8.30, which, I normally eat like 5.30 so I was pretty hungry by then.
The main course was vegan burger with sweet potato fries. I haven’t had the best experience with vegan, but it was super delicious! Like, as I write this, I want to eat it again haha.
They also gave dessert of vegan red velvet cake.
I met several people:
1. A, from Germany. She striked me as a person who was very relaxed and went with the flow. I liked that. We talked about her trip to India and what her future plans were. Again, she was going with the flow and didn’t know. She really liked Lisbon and thought maybe to live there. But she was also thinking London.
The second night, I was talking with her and suddenly she leaned in and said,
“Sorry if I’m weird, I just smoked and so I’m not all here.”
“No worries, couldn’t tell.” Which was true.
“Ok, good, I just felt awkward and so I felt like I needed to tell you.”
2. C, from America. Another just going with the flow, but he didn’t have that aurora like A did. He had been at the hostel for a while. He was trying to find work away I believe as well as figure out what he was doing in the future. He’s been traveling for a bit such as in Serbia so we got to talk about that.
3. I met an Israeli couple – at least I think they were together since the one said they just bought a house in Portugal. It appeared they were working at the hostel, maybe until their house is ready? There was many a talk about falafel and bagels lol.
So if I may, go back in time and bring up my time in Belgrade, Serbia, please see those posts, I met a Portuguese woman (S) at my hostel.
I messaged her that I was coming to her area and if she could meet for coffee. She offered to tour me around in her car, which was awesome!
So Friday, I toured around a bit in the morning, going into the main cathedral (free!), which has a fortress look due to the times of the Moors. The inside was ok, the outside is more impresive. And then along the water.
I came to the main commercial square again and stopped in the tourist office, which told me that museums are no longer free on Sundays (actually some are just for Lisbon or Portuguese residents) and that if I plan on taking the tram, it’s best to get the day pass as it’s 6.30 (I heard prior that the tram is 3 euros one way).
Finally I met S and we drove off to Sintra. This is a must go to place while in Lisbon. I had seen one paticular palace on Instagram and had starred it on Google maps as a place I wanted to go before I even decided to come to Portugal. S laughed,
“That one is my favorite and I think the better one.”
There are so many palaces in Sintra. There’s the apparently the more famous one, which is on a hill and is red and yellow (Pena castle) and another, on a different hill, which is the medieval Moor castle.
There are a few close to town. This one, Quinta de Regleira, wasn’t a palace per se. It’s very beautiful and grand, but it was, I believe, a Duchess who created it and then sold it (?) to a “commoner.” I mean, if someone can buy such an extravagant building for their summer residence….are they really “common?”
The next owners grew the property to make it look like today.
The entrance is 6 euros, which, I think is worth it as this palace is different and the park/land is unique and pretty large.
I enjoyed myself walking, climbing, and descending around the park. So the picture I saw on Instagram? It comes from this well, but I don’t think water every was there. There are underground passageways to get to the bottom of the well and from there you can walk to the top.
It’s a pretty tight squeeze when you have people walking up and down, but it’s manageable.
Unfortunately, the actual palace’s top floors were closed due to restoration and so we just saw the bottom floor, but that was ok.
I had heard that you need more than a day in Sintra, and I agree, if you want to do different hikes and see all the castles. I’ve seen a lot of castles and don’t need to see all of them. The Pena castle is apparently 15 euros, which I found a bit expensive.
We walked some streets of Sintra before stopping at a pastry shop, which according to S is popular. Sintra has 2 desserts you need to try.
They were delicious! Somehow a pigeon managed to get in (we were outside, but it was enclosed). It would not leave us alone and went so far as to pick the crumbs off out plate. I literally didn’t have to reach my hand out too far to touch it. It had no fear of us.
So I have an extra day because S was such a great tour guide and showed me a lot around the area that I didn’t need to do by myself.
I can’t remember all the names, but I know we traveled to some beach towns and Cabo do Roca, the most Western point in Portugal (which was super windy). We ended our tour in Cascais, a more richer beach town and then I got on the train back to Lisbon.
When I left the hostel, I asked the reception about the dinner that night, which was a buffet of traditional meats and seafood. The woman said I needed to reserve quick because it usually gets full. However, I didn’t know the plan with my friend so I didn’t at the time.
When I got back to the hostel there were plenty of spots left.
During this second meal I met some more great people:
1. A young woman from Germany, F, who was working at the hostel.
2. A young woman from France, J, also working at the hostel.
3. 2 French girls, one living in Spain (L) and the other just got a job starting Monday (R). They had very stereotypical accents and they were extremely funny!
At one point, R, was saying how she can’t understand Black Americans when they speak as they have their own way of speaking. However, she kept calling them the N word. Now, she wasn’t using it as a racist context. I believe she was using it because that’s what she hears in movies and music and thinks it’s acceptable. This has always been my point- if you don’t want people to use that word, then don’t use it yourself. Yeah, maybe native English speakers might know to not use it, but I don’t think it’s fair to those learning English- and let’s face it, is the whole world – to keep using the N word because “it’s ok, your Black,” but then yell at people who are just trying to assimilate from what they see in movies and music (when every other word is N).
I don’t know, maybe I’m dumb, but I don’t say the C word because I don’t want to encourage it’s use as well as normalize it. I do recognize that in some English speaking countries, the C word is normal, but I’m glad it’s not in the States.
Now that I’ve taught English for about a year and learned Spanish, I know how hard it is for people when trying to figure out the language, but also culturally acceptable. I have done this myself in Spanish.
Another German woman I met later (P). Asked me what’s politically correct in English: disabled, special needs, or handicapped. As she works with these types of people. I had no answer for her as I’m a bit poor with these things. I did tell her that the R word is bad to use. However, if this group of people started using the R word all the time, I’m sure others and perhaps herself would say it. But then they will get scolded? Doesn’t seem right.
A Brazilian man and I tried correcting R about the N word, but since she meant well, and was a bit nervous about her English, we dropped it.
4. I briefly met T from Finland the night before, but fully talked with him this night. He was really funny and interesting and said he really likes Americans because we are confident. It was nice to hear that, but of course, C from America, had to put Americans down (mainly those who don’t believe what he believes) and said our confidence and our love of freedom makes us believe we can say anything.
I agree to this point, but only in the sense that sometimes on social media people put way too much information of their lives like what they ate. In terms of politics, which C was discussing, both sides need to cool their jets. Either way, T still likes Americans :)
5. There was a man from where I am from and who is Filipino. I’m not sure if I ever got his name. He was in town for a Ju Jitsu tournament and he lost, but now he was enjoying his time. He lives in Germany now. When he arrived to the table he tried being so smooth and then spilled his beer all over the floor and a bit on me. He was also making it a point to bring up his ancestry of being a Filipino, which was annoying because:
A: He was born and raised in America
B: He was judging me for wanting to go back and learn the language, laughing that it’s going back to my roots. But I don’t introduce myself as Filipina.
Then later, when people were going out, he was basing his decision on if I went out and said that he had done this many times and it’s always the same. He wants to rely on people or something. It was weird because we just met and just have fun. At the end, we somehow lost him or he just left.
6. There was this Australian girl, who just started university and she wanted to see every country in Europe in 90 days. I don’t like this type of traveling and wasn’t really interested further. Call me a snob, but I find you don’t really see anything this way and I understand that Australia is really far away, but you can’t say you have been to France when all you saw is Paris.
Besides this, she was extremely nice and very talkative. She truly wanted to meet new people and experience everything and in this, was really sweet.
The hostel hosts pub crawls and so a group of people left for it. Who was left was C, the American, the 2 French girls, J and F, the young workers, T from Finaland, and myself…as well as the other American / Filipino and another American. There were more but we broke off from them early, I mean large groups are hard to manage.
F was trying to get me to go out and change my clothes as I was in flip flops and I told her that the French girls were going to be the late ones and so it passed. I was ready long before they were.
Like I said, we lost the American Filipino really quick. The large group went to the first place together, but it was lime house music and most of us wanted Latino music and so we left. C was supposed to be in charge since he has been in Lisbon the longest, but besides leading us to the right street (Pink street), he wasn’t much help.
We stood in front of one place called Malt and Michael Jackson was playing. Everyone turned to me. I was clearly the elected leader for some reason. The cover was 5 euros and included 2 beers or one cocktail.
The group was fine so we went in. The music variety was really that- a variety.
I think this is a good spot for an intermission ;)
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