Catch-up #1 – Lisbon

In Photo, Portugal, Travel 2011 on April 1, 2011 at 3:54 am

My goodness I have been a bit slack lately! So as not overwhelm in one gigantic post, I think I’ll break it up bit by bit with the things you missed.

Starting with my brief trip back in Lisbon.

After leaving Stones and Roses, the Winter family and the new WWOOFers,
Julie and Damien (check out their Morocco pictures here, text is still coming but their shots are great!) you may say I was a little blue. Actually quite a bit blue, to be honest. For those of you who understand this analogy: think Montreat Blues, but on crack.

See, in addition to leaving such a comforting and nurturing environment, my first few days back in Lisbon were really my first few days as a truly solo traveller. Thus far, I’d had the comfort of friends all along the way.

I did alright, but I must admit, I’m still getting used to being on my own more often than not:

Down-sides: I’m a talker (duh), which means I’m developing a habit of talking to myself. It’s hard to take pictures of yourself all the time, without feeling a bit weird. When something is awesome or awful or really anything worth sharing, there’s no one to share it with straight away.

Up-sides: Every trip has it’s awkward/embarrassing moments, which, since I’m on my own, I get to share at my own discretion. I can make my own plan as I go. Being on my own means I meet people much more easily. And not to be too Eat, Pray, Love about it, but traveling on my own is teaching me quite a bit about myself and where I am in my life right now.

Anyway, we’ve had enough of my reflective attitude lately – I know if I feel like I’m droning on, you certainly must be sick of it!

So, back to the good bits. Arriving in Lisbon, a bit tired, sad and dusty, I must admit I was a bit of a hermit on my first evening. I didn’t feel too bad about it: washed a few clothes, did a bit of Morocco planning, edited a few pictures and attempted a good night’s rest (snoring boy on the top bunk, I still don’t forgive you for robbing me of my sleep).

Due to my bunkmate, I had an early morning start that day, which was fine with me – it only took an afternoon of laziness to start feeling shlumpy.

I enjoyed a morning trip to the train station, only to find out that all the staff were on strike. So no, I couldn’t book my train tickets while in Portugal. Oh, well, such is life – would have to do it in Madrid.

Instead I, shockingly, hit up two art museums and two churches: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Modern Art Center, Se Cathedral, and Jerónimos Monastery; and I even made it to the Monument to the Discoveries.

I must say, though I don’t usually enjoy what’s on display at the art museums that started as personal collections, I always find them fascinating purely because all that stuff was someone’s personal stash. Then they died and decided to give it over to a museum. Somehow, I don’t think the Harrod family’s beanie baby and happy meal toy collection has quite the same worth, but it just makes you think. I mean, how do you even become a private collector of ancient oriental texts?

The churches were beautiful, but I was having a bit of an anti-tourist day (yes, I realize that is very pot calling the kettle black), but both locations were a little over ridden by guides with umbrellas yelling in three or four different languages. So my visits were brief.

I did manage to fight the tourists for one very on the beaten path destination that is totally worth the small battle – Patéis de Belém, a cafe famous for its little sweets of the same name: think cheesecake, meets tart, meets custard. Best part is you get to self-dust your pastries with as much powdered sugar and cinnamon as you like. Yum!

I ordered two with my cup of tea, and then coyly asked for a third from my more than willing waiter. At on €0.90 each, they were so worth it!

Spent the rest of the afternoon just enjoying the Lisbon sunshine. It really is a perfect stop on the tourist path – not too overwhelming and very little pressure from any must see listless. Lisbon really just caters to a nice stroll along the tiled walkways.

For my last evening in Lisbon, I sort of stumbled into the hostel festivities. I’d made a few friends, some traveling masters students from Cambridge, and during a game of Oh Hell, the hostel (Traveller’s House – best hostel ever) host had started grilling up some chorizo – pretty hard to pass up. So we ate and drank far past contentment and decided to explore the infamous Bairro Alto.

Anyone who has travelled and partied in Portugal probably just sighed and shook their heads a bit. Bairro Alto has a bit of a reputation, and it most certainly lived up to it.

To enjoy and evening out in Lisbon’s bar district, you don’t really need a plan, which worked out well since we didn’t have one. You simply follow the crowds and join the street party. Bars are closet-sized, really only there for a quick top up, it’s the plazas and alley ways where everyone can be found. So really, the bar district is one enormous bar. I guess when it’s a balmy night on the Portuguese coast, why would you want to go inside anyway?

Had a marvelous time, right up my alley (pun intended) with good company, good chat, and lots of mingling. We all made it home safely and we’re only slightly worse for wear the next morning.

A few pics from the day below. I finest safest to leave the camera locked in the hostel locker on a night out.

Monument to the Discoveries – taken by a fellow solo traveler. We tend to seek each other out at times like this.

The first two – before I dusted them with the magical icing sugar.

  1. you forgot to pack earplugs… come on spreadsheet 🙂 love you

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