Monday, May 20, 2013

Day 4: Lisbon, Portugal

Well it was a rough morning. First of all, I could not sleep last night for the life of me. And then my mom decide to start texting me - 9 times, to be exact - at 12:30am when I was just about to finally fall asleep. So that was awesome. (I had to remind her of the time difference again...) We were both still exhausted when the alarm went off at 6am. 

It took awhile to get moving, but we were out the door about 6:30. Checked out and got in that stupid rental car - that we never drove once - and tried to find our way to the airport. We might of went around the same round-about a few times trying to decide which way to go, haha. Thank goodness it was early and they wasn't any traffic. It only took 5 - 10 minutes to get to the airport. We decided we would just pay for the fuel at the airport because it was just barely below full and we didn't want to mess with filling it up this morning. Turned out to not be a good call... (They charged us 10 euros for next to no gas, and another 10 euro fee on too of that!)

We parked and went in without damaging the car anymore. That was a success, I guess. The airport was dead, so once we dropped the keys off and the guy went out to "check the car for damage"  (ha!) we checked in and grabbed our boarding passes. Not one person in line for check-in or security. 

Went back to the rental car desk to see what the guy found. He kept flipping through papers and looked perplexed. Said he was checking on one damage. He asked if we had any problems with the car. I was dying inside. Finally he said he found a spot on the rear bumper and asked if we saw it there before. Ummmm, well, about that... I might of backed in to a cement post in the parking garage. He looked so relieved.  I guess I could of said that right off the bat, but I was hoping he would just miss it! (Yea, right.) I showed him our insurance and left my email address. They're going to email me the damage repair cost and all the documents I need for insurance reimbursement. Ugh. What a pain. Stupid rental car... 

Anyways, we breezed through security and wen straight for a little travel shop for finger nail clippers. I've had a jagged nail since we left and somehow forgot my clippers this trip. We browsed a few more watches and I almost bought a cool Calvin Klein one. 175 Euros was a little steep though. 

Calvin Klein suspension watch in black, in case anyone wants to get it for me ;)

When we went to check out and saw the travel adapters for plugging stuff hit us both that we had each left our adaptor in the freaking wall in the hotel room. Those things aren't that cheap. I was so mad! Matt just calmly said it was okay and bought two new ones. :)

Grabbed a little ham and cheese sandwich and a bottle of water before boarding the plane for our flight to Lisbon (which was delayed almost an hour). This time, while we checked in, we asked about our seats and had her move us to a window seat. Much better than stuck in the middle of the middle!

We both slept on and off a little bit. Flight was a quick two hours. Flying over Lisbon, you could definitely tell we weren't in American. All the buildings were white and they all had red roofs. I tried to get a picture but my phone was turned off. 

Landed, took a bus to the actual airport (no jet bridges here), and impatiently waited for our bags that we had to check again. I hate wasting that time! That's why I packed to carry on! 

Finally got out of there and decided to take the bus instead of a taxi. Taxi was way more expensive. And the bus would be an experience. :) So we bought our tickets (3 euros and they're good for 24 hours!) and waited about ten minutes for the next one to come. (While asking the lady about where to get off, I said "RAW-sea-o" and she corrected me to "rrro-SEE-o" with her fancy rolled r's for Rossio Square.  Matt thought it was hilarious. Whatever.)

We hopped on first (of course) and they packed that thing full. People standing in all the aisles. Glad we got a seat! The ride really wasn't long, about fifteen minutes maybe, and we drove by some cool stuff. We hopped off in Rossio Square, the city center. 

It's a giant square with a fountain in the middle and the national  theater on one side. Shops and stores line the little cobble stone streets in all directions. Everything is so old!

We obviously wanted to find our hostel right away, so we pulled out our directions I printed off, found the theater at one end, and walked to the right of it, per the directions. That corner just happened to be where all of the Africans communed together. It looked like we were walking through he streets of Ghana! The women wearing traditional bright clothes and head wraps, just sitting on cardboard selling beans and whatever else. 

We couldn't find our hostel though. There aren't really street names or signs or addresses like there are back home. So we pulled out Matt's phone and turned on the data to try and google walking directions. 

Do we look like lost tourists??

It gave us some directions, but nothing made sense and we were turned around. So we started walking up the hill. Like, straight up and it curved around...and we were in a very non-touristy sketchy area all of a sudden. And we screamed tourist lugging our suitcase up that cobble stone bumpy street. So we ducked in a little restaurant, and some guy who spoke English told us it should be back down at the bottom of the hill. Where we just were. Ugh. We had walked RIGHT past it. 

Not a very big sign...

We buzzed the little thing at the door and they opened it for us.  At least it's secure. Up some steep stairs was a guy at a desk. He gave us a big key and carried my bag up more steep steps. Lots of steps. Our legs were burning when we got to our floor. He opened the door for us in to our tiny (TINY) little room. But it's ll turquoise so of course I just love it!! But seriously, there is just a queen size bed and two end tables with two lamps on hem. And that is IT. That's all that fits in the room. No close or mirror or tv or anything. The shared bathrooms (two) for the floor were right across the hall, so that was nice!

Took this standing against the wall. This is the whole room. 

One of the bathrooms across the hall. It's clean and it has hot water. That's all the matters. 

We were both pretty hungry by this point, so we took off to find some food. There were endless options, and after we walked around for awhile trying to get our bearings and look for a restaurant the guy at the hostel recommended unsuccessfully, we ended up at a little place with tables and chairs out in the middle of the closed off street called Romans. We were just hungry and tired of  looking. Anything sounded good at that point. 

Oh wait - backing up - while we were walking around, some guy walked right up close to us, opened up his palm to show bags of drugs, and quietly said, "Marijuana? Cocaine?" O. M. G. If you could of seen my face. I don't think that's ever happened to me. Matt quickly shooed him away. I kind of wanted to buy some cocaine just to say I did it, and then scream and throw it away, haha. Joking! (Kind of.)

Anyways, back to lunch. We decided to split a pizza and it came pretty quickly. Just as we were talking about how crazy it was that we just for offered drugs in broad daylight in the middle of a busy street, the same guy came back!! He was persistent. Trying to tell us it was legal, etc. which I think it might actually be. Anyways, we were having no part of it so he eventually left. 

Our waiter actually warned us as soon as we sat down to beware of our things. Especially our phones. He said there are lots of pick pocketers - especially the guys trying to sell sunglasses! Nice of him to warn us. We held our things a little closer and didn't leave our phones sitting on the table. 

After lunch, we were still kind of hungry so we went back to a little pastry and fruit place we had seen earlier. It was packed, so it must be good. And I was. I had my eye on a little pastry with baked apples and cinnamon on it. Then we got a heaping bowl of fruit. 

Since all that was so great, we pushed our luck and grabbed one more some sort of pastry on the way out the door. I actually grabbed it myself and took it over to the register since they were so crazy busy. The lady working saw me and said, "Self service! 1 euro! Regular 2 euro!" Haha. Unfortunately I wasn't good at all and we tossed it after one bite!

We wandered the streets of the Baixa district and looked in several shops (including a H & M). I got a scarf from a street vendor, we wandered in an ancient cathedral, and we made our way down to the water. It was a gorgeous afternoon!

New scarf number 1

We were both pretty tired by that point, so we went back to our room at the hostel for a quick (45 minute) nap. The bed really wasn't too bad! Better than the hotel in Ponta Delgada, I think. 

Once we woke up and felt better, I convinced Matt to go on another jog with me. Only three miles today, and it's so much easier to run when there is a view! (We ran along the bike path all along the water.) Felt great. :) Well, I felt great. Poor Matt is hurting: back, legs, knees...shins especially. I think he might take tomorrow off. :)

Back to the room for quick showers and after spending way too much time trying to figure out where to go for dinner, we ended up just setting off on foot for the Barrio Alto area - map in hand. 

We were looking for a specific street, which we found, but what we didn't intend to find was even better. An old tram ran up that steep street. So cool! (Anthony Bourdain took it when he visited for his No Reservations show!) So up we went, in an old rickety yellow tram. 

Going up. 

Getting off. 

The real reason we wanted to go up that way was to get to this view point called Sao Pedro de Alcantra that we read about. And when we got off the tram it was right there. Perfect. And so romantic! There was a guy aging guitar, the sun was going down (and glowing behind a fountain), and there was a spectacular view of the city. 

From there we decided to walk around (and down) to Bairro Alto for food. And once again, we were overwhelmed. First off, the whole area was about the cutest little thing I'd ever seen. Tiny little streets lined with tall, old buildings, and chairs and tables in the street out front. Most of the restaurants and bars were just tiny little one room places that didn't seat more than 20. We walked and walked and just took in the European views. 

While wandering down one particular street, I just happened to look inside a tiny one-room bar, and spotted some stuff -jewelry maybe? - hanging on the wall. Of course we went in. And yes, I walked out with about scarf / necklace thing. It was too cool to pass up. As was buying it in a bar on the streets of Bairro Alto. :)

Getting hungry, we knew we had to decide on a place soon. But it was so impossible. So we pulled out the phone again and checked trip advisor. Didn't help too much. It did rule one place out I guess, but there are always good and bad reviews at every place. Finally, a nice guy who spoke English walked by us as we were debating between two places, and told us about them and which one he would recommend. Thank goodness. In we went to the tiny O Barrigas Portuguese restaurant. 

I ordered pork and Matt had steak. They were both delicious. So we're the mashed potatoes and the soup appetizer had. And the bread and cheese. Okay, it was all delicious, and we really enjoyed it. 

I had to wear BOTH my new scarves to dinner. 

We had talked about walking to the Alfama district after dinner for some drinks and fado (traditional Portuguese music). But once we started walking (and tramming) back down, we were cold and tired. We took a break in Starbucks (they're everywhere) to warm up and figure out what we wanted to do. Bed for the win. I know we should go out at some point, but we were both just worn out!

On the tram back down to Baixa

Once we had hiked all the way back up the stairs to our room (there really are a lot of them - and they're steep), we realized we didn't have any more water. Although the guy at our front desk and google assured us we could drink the tap water, we both voted to make the trek back out in the cold and down the stairs after 10pm for water.

On our walk back from dinner, we noticed another street off Rossio Sauare right by our hostel that had some shops along it. So that's where we went. And I'm glad we did. Not only was a big bottle of water cheaper than the smaller ones off the square, but Matt found some beautiful hand painted art work there too! One of the tram and one of the streets of Lisbon. Pretty much the perfect souvenir from this awesome night. 

We noticed a ton of people standing right by a bar on the corner, all drinking out of little shot glasses. A line out the door. Once we got back to our room, we watched a clip from Anthony Bourdains show again and that bar is where he was! They serve some traditional cherry wine or something that apparently we are going to have to try tomorrow night. 

Off to bed for now. Plan tomorrow is to sleep in a little (for once!), maybe go for a run, and then venture to Sintra for the day. 

Great day 1 in Portugal!

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