A marathon of tours before the marathon
So, for some reason my internet is not working at home so I am stuck using EUSA's computer lab, unfortunately. Anyway, let me tell you about Portugal.
I got back from Ireland into Sevilla around 10 ish on Thursday, the 18th. I left for Portugal at midnight on Friday the 19th. So I basically only spent a day back in Sevilla before I was off traveling again. Derrick and I were lucky because we got some of the last tickets on a very full bus.
The bus ride there was not too bad. It was technically a 7 hour ride through the night because we passed through a time zone. Fortunately, it was warm and the seats reclined enough that I was able to get about 4 or 5 hours of sleep. We arrived at 6 am at the bus station. After finding the metro, we discovered it would not start running until 6:30. We took a breather and waited for them to start running. Finally, they did and because there are only four lines, we were easily able to figure out which one to take to get closer to our hostel.
Technically, our check-in time could not be until after 11 am because the other people staying in our room still had to check out. However, Lea (I think that was her name) let us in. We went ahead and paid and hung out in the living room. The hostel was called Black and White hostel. It's the cheapest in Lisbon but it was definitely cool. The whole place is decorated in black, white, and red. Some of the walls are painted, like in the bedrooms and the kitchen. Only Ricky and Laura had beaten us there but around 23 of us were going to take over the hostel during the day.
Once Ricky and Laura woke up, we ate breakfast at the hostel and freshened up for the day. Derrick and I had made a tentative list of things we wanted to see. Up top was the Castle of Saint George. After breakfast, we headed there first. Lisbon is very pretty. The sidewalks are white and black and in the plazas there are mosaics. There are also many plazas, tram cars, and monuments. It's spring, so some of the trees were starting to bloom. It was going to be a beautiful, bright day. On our way to the castle, we found a church. I'm not sure of the name of it but it was free to go inside and so we did. Once in the door, we could hear music playing. There was a young woman who was being taught to play the organ and we listened for awhile. Nearby, there was a patio and overlook where you could see the city below and the river. Most of the builings are white and have red tiled roofs. It's very pretty.
Lisbon is hilly, by the way. We hiked up what felt like a mountain to get to the castle. The caslte was really cool though. It also offered a wonderful panoramic view of the city. When you first enter, you are in a stone courtyard with big trees growing everywhere. Then you follow thruogh something that resembles a garden. There were peacocks rooting in the bushes and cats lounging in the sun. In the castle itself, you could climb up the stairs to go along the walkways and look into the guard towers. The breeze coming up from the city was a welcome relief to the heat of the day. We took plenty of pictures and then were on our way to find the Lisbon Cathedral.
Now, you would think a Cathedral would be easy to find. There are normally towers and a cross that project over everything else but for the live of us, we could not find it. Instead, we found another church which was big enough to be a cathedral but it was closed. Consulting the map again brought us down near the river. We realized we had passed by the cathedral and not even seen it. By that time, it was nearly 1 and Derrick and I had bocadillos waiting for us back at the hostel. We split from the group, saying we would meet at the race expo in Belém (a part of the city that requires the metro and the bus system to get to) by 3:30.
After hiking back up to the hostel, Derrick and I were pretty sweaty and exhausted. The long ride here was starting to catch up with us. I ate my bocadillo, we finally checked into our rooms, and I passed out for about 45 minutes. At 2:30, we woke up and figured out our route to get to the river using the metro system. We made that leg of the trip fine. It took half an hour to get there but we figured we would make it in time. Nope.
When we reached the river, we could not figure out which bus we were supposed to take to get to Belém because none of them had it as their final destination. Also, the Portugese do not speak English and get insulted if you try to speak to them in Spanish. Some guy told Derrick in broken Spanish to take a certain one. We were not sure and he jumped on the bus first to go ask the driver if it would take us to Belém. Little did we know that the doors would immediately snap shut behind him and the bus took off without giving me a chance to get on.
So there I was, lost, alone, and without a phone in Portugal. Great. I thought Derrick might get off at the next stop so I kept walking down the road that the bus had taken. However, the next stop was pretty far and when I got there, he wasn't there. I decided I would just walk to Belém. It couldn't be more than half an hour, right? Wrong again. The walk was easy enough because it followed the river, but an hour and a half later, I arrived in Belém at the race expo and no one was there. Crap. So I rummaged some change out of my purse and called Derrick from a pay phone. I forgot it was long distance so it gave me 5 seconds because it hung up. When I called him back after feeding the machine more money, he told me he was nearby but he had not been able to find Ricky and the rest of the group.
Thankfully, on the way back, he ran into the group and we all reunited. I went into the expo and got my bib, timing chip, and the tee-shirt (the most important). We decided to continue with some of our sight seeing before it got dark since we probably would not be coming back to Belém until after the race. In Belém, there was the Discoveries monument which was built to commemorate the Portugese who took part in the age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries. You can pay a little fee to go to the top which gives you a great view of the Tagus river and the rest of Lisbon. You can see the Tower of Belém and the Jerónimos Monastery.
Next, we went to see the Tower of Belém. Unfortunately, by that time most things were closing and we only got a look at it from the outside, but I still have some pictures. I guess that counts. The same went for the Monastery which is huge! It's also where our race ended on Sunday. We made one more stop before we were done which was to go to this bakery to get pastéis de Belém which is a little custard cake. Supposedly, only three people in the world know the recipe. They're cheap too and so I got two of them which were still warm from the oven. They were delicious! Definitely worth the entire walk there.
Once done with our sightseeing, we figured out which bus to take back and finally arrived back at the hostel. Dinner involved getting some Brazilian food. Yum.
I'll write up about the aqueducts, Sintra, and the race later. I have class! (See, I do studious things!)
Love you and miss you all