04.11.2010 - 08.11.2010
As I sit here at the hostel in Lisboa, I am thinking that Portugal is much more beautiful than it gets credit for. I am watching the [heavy] rain and freezing my hands in this living room because the windows are new and have no insulation (I can see the street through the space between the wall and the frame).
My expedition from Madrid to Porto wasn't so smooth, but I made it. A missed flight on Wednesday led to another ticket purchase, extra fees, and 25 Euros for my backpack to fly with me... Yes, I was pretty upset with myself for missing my flight, but I can't complain that I was stuck in Madrid for an extra night...I was able to take some night pictures of the city, see a live Latin group perform at a discoteca, and danced the night away... (made me remember the old days at Tallulas and Patio Loco in Chapel Hill, NC)
Thursday morning I was finally able to fly to Porto. I had hand-written the directions from the metro to the hostel in a piece of paper and had no problems finding the place. I stayed at Hostel Sky at Rua Lapa. I must say Sky was the cleanest, prettiest, coziest hostels I have seen. The staff treated us like family, sharing their own dinner with me (as I returned the favor by sharing my vino)...and so on. Since I had missed my flight and not come on Wednesday night, the hostel has canceled my reservation. When I arrived on Thursday I discovered the rooms were all taken, and I needed to wait until the end of the night to see if anyone would cancel... Turns out that each night was spent in a different bed. The first night I shared a room with two German girls. The second night with a bunch of teenagers from Spain (a nightmare!!!)...and the third night I got really lucky. I had the whole TV/lounge room to myself. This room had a comfy daybed, two TVs, bar area, patio, and in the early evening I received several guests in 'my room' ...haha I met a few girls from Holland and Ukraine.
Enough about the hostel. Thursday evening, after dropping off my mochila at Sky, I grabbed a map and started walking towards the river (downhill from Rua Lapa). I stopped at a little cafe for a sandwich, and soon continued my walk so that I could see as much as possible before it got dark. Going down to the river was a beautiful walk...I saw many historic buildings, narrow streets, interesting shops, and a few more old men who like to blow kisses at tourists. hahaha My first view of the river (Rio Douro) left me breathless. What an amazing view!
As I continued walking, I spotted a little market that sold olives and wine. I decided to try a few types of olives and bought a small bottle of Vinho do Porto... Now I was excited to get back to the hostel and try my first authentic Portuguese snack.
Only problem was...30 minute was to the hostel was now ALL UPHILL!!! AYYYY MADRE MIA!!! First 10 minutes was ok...15 minutes I was really tired...20 minutes I was sweating como una loca...30 minutes I couldn't feel my calves and was so happy to be at the hostel's door. As soon as I got in, I went straight to the dining room, opened my vinho do porto, and took a loooong rest. Meanwhile I made friends with a Brazilian turista, and spent a few hours chatting with the staff and other guests before going to bed.
On Friday I walked around the center of the city from 11 am until night time... My feet and legs are getting used to all this walking now...which has become my daily routine. Here are some of the beautiful views from Friday:
Friday night I met Lucy from Ukraine who now lives in Madrid. We went out to dinner first, then walked over to a street called Galeria de Paris, where there were soooo many people just standing on the street and enjoying their drinks There we met more locals and had a relaxing evening...
Saturday morning after I woke up, I met an Italian who was in Portugal selling truffles. We decided to go for a walk to see the beach and have lunch...
Then Saturday afternoon and evening I hung out with two girls from Holland, and a staff member from the hostel; Pedro from Cabo Verde. Pedro took us all to his friend's birthday private at a bar called Tubarão, and later we went dancing at the Contagiarte disco, where I randomly ran into a Brazilian guy I met in Madrid! What a small world!
Sunday morning I had to leave Porto. Still at the hostel, I opened the refrigerator to see if there was any free food available (usually labeled) and I got sooo lucky. A brand new pack of Jamon for freeeee...So I had a yummy sandwich with pan and jamon before heading to the train-station to go to Lisboa.
On the train, I tried my best to stay awake, but after about 15 minutes of looking at trees and fields, I completely passed out...and only opened my eyes each time a new station was called....
Three hours later I arrived in Lisboa. Had a little trouble buying a metro ticket, but everything worked out well after that... The hostel in Lisboa is in a great location, right in the center of the city.... As I was checking in yesterday, I met a Korean tourist who is also 25 and we decided to go for a walk together (from 3 until early evening)...We walked to a few plazas, churches, and even a castle! What a beautiful view and sunset we watched!!! WOW
After it got dark, we walked back to the Hostel and signed up for a home-cooked meal for 8 Euros, which included: pan, sopa de abóbora, and a beef stew with beans and chorizo...ah, y postre & sangria + vino. Que riiiiica comida!! Deliciosa... As the lady was cooking it, I kept going in the kitchen to offer help, but she wouldn't let me...instead, she kept giving me samples hahahahah Delicioooousss..
Ah, also at this hostel, free laundry service is offered. I was able to get all my clothes washed today After breakfast I met up with Duri again for another tour. We both woke up really early today and decided to explore the areas that were farther out...We went to the Belém region and saw the Torre de Belém and many other historic building.
Lunch in Lisboa today included stuffed trout and another type of beef stew, which Duri and I shared...As we were walking back to the hostel, a new idea come to mind...I was getting sick of my blonde hair (plus all the old men sending kissing to la gringa)...and I decided to dye my hair back to brown!
I think this is it for now. There's a construction worker here in the living room working on some cables (and hopefully adding insulation to the windows)! I must go figure out plans for dinner and pack my stuff. Tomorrow I am heading to the city of my dreams -- BARCELONA!!
Um beijo de Lisboa e até a próxima vez!