Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 5: Sintra

We didn't go to sleep until after midnight last night. Didn't matter, because we slept in. I woke up at 8:40 (the bathrooms right across the hall are kind of loud) and felt pretty good, but Matt was still sleeping. I didn't have a hard time sleeping more, and we were both woken by the cleaning lady shaking rugs at 10am. That's some serious sleeping in for us and i slept great!  I don't usually like to sleep in too much on vacation because there is always so much to do and see, but we definitely needed some sleep. 

I opened the window in our room and it was just a gorgeous day. Perfect temp and not a cloud in the sky. Hooray! Also, last night we were reading about how to get to Sintra, and we found out that Tuesday is the best day to go because some of the things are closed on Mondays and Wednesdays. Totally lucked out with that one!

I hopped up to shower first. As I was getting my stuff together, Matt said, "Sorry, I would get up with you, but there isn't anywhere for me to stand!" Ha, he was right. This room is so small! But that's how it should be in my opinion! No reason to be in the room except to sleep. Get out and explore!!

The shower was quite interesting. I used the other one today (there are two on our floor) and the shower head was broken. So water squirted out in two spots - one being straight up from the crack on the top. Pointed the head down and towards the wall so the other stream didn't shoot straight out of the shower. But there was a little ledge in the shower so the water from the head hit that at shot straight back out to my stomach. Three water streams to manage, haha. Kind of hard to explain, but it was a challenge. :) Oh, and the water liked to go from scalding hot to ice cold in .5 seconds - probably whenever someone flushed a toilet or something. Can't complain too much though. Like I said yesterday, it was cheap, it's clean (minus the hairs - not ours - that Matt found in the bed) and its warm water!

I had emailed this hostel once we booked to make sure they had hair dryers. They said they did and I could just borrow it from the front desk. So I went down to grab it...and it was gone! He said someone had already borrowed it and he didn't remember who. Not cool. I had heard a hair dryer this morning when I first woke up, and then saw a girl who had clearly just dried hers. So when I saw her walk down the hallway I asked if she had one. She did, and it was the one she borrowed dell the hotel! Score!

We were all set and ready to take off for the day when the guy at the front desk asked if we were going to have the free breakfast. We though we were too late for that! Of course we aren't going to pass up anything free! It was such a cool space.  Little cushions and pillows on the floor, music playing from an old old radio, and all sorts of good food: bread, numerous jams, ham, cheese, cereals, room temp milk (still trying to by used to that), orange juice, coffee, fresh fruits. And all for free! I had a roll with jam, a bowl of granola, a banana, and a kiwi. The fruit is all so good here!

Matt had quite the time trying to sit on the floor and squeeze under the little table. Haha. He's not very flexible and sore from running, so we had a good laugh. 

After breakfast, we walked to the train station, which was just on the other side of the theater, which is right by our hostel. Just above the Starbucks we were at last night actually! Snapped some pictures of the gorgeous day on our two minute walk there...

Looking down to Rossio square from our hostel 

"Ghana" - our hostel is on the far corner

Rossio square from the other side of the theater

Starbucks on the bottom, train station up top

We had just missed the 11:53 train when we walked in, so we bought our round trip ticket for a whopping 9 Euros, bought a bottle of water from a little cafe, and hopped on the 12:08 train. 

Excited to be on a train in Portugal!

Matt read up on Sintra from my Lonely Planet book, and I got in trouble from the train ticket checked guy for having my feet up on the seat. :)

40 minute ride to Sintra, and not much to look at along the way. 

Once we got off, I needed a bathroom. And Matt needed sunscreen, since he didn't put any on back at the hostel. So we went in a little pharmacy right across the street from the train station. The nice lady working got us some SPF 30 sunscreen, but tried to convince us we needed the 50+. She also told us about some sort of panoramic small car to tour the sights in. We were sold. 

The bakery next door didn't have a bathroom, but of course the Pizza Hut across the street did! From there we went to find these little cars...

Just down the street on the corner was one spaceship looking car. It turned out to basically be a souped up golf cart made street legal. It was so awesome. 45 Euros to take it around for 2.5 hours. Done. 

It was obvious by that point that our plan of walking wasn't going to work. We should of done a little more research before hand. I though Sintra was just that one castle. It's actually a whole town with lots of castles and parks spread out. We disk know that until we were already on the bus, so our shoe choice wasn't the best for the day of hiking ahead of us. 

Definitely one of the cooler things I've done. It was like we were famous! Everyone stopped and pointed at us as we drove by. I have a few honks, too, haha. 

We cruised through the hills of Sintra, stopping along the way at Moorish castle and then Pena palace, which was the picture I found of Sintra that made is want to come here. 

Moorish Castle was awesome. It might of been my favorite of the day. I'll update late with more details and history, but just a few pictures for now...

 Walking up and down all those steps was my workout for the day. 

From there, we hopped back in our cool car and drove up hill a little further to Pena palace. It was a 10-15 minute walk straight up hill to the palace from the road. We were both still sweating from the castle, so the 2 euros each to take the tram up was well worth it. 

The Palace was pretty awesome. SO old and more great views. Again, I'm just going to stick with pictures for now...

We couldn't have had a more perfect weather day for my first visit to a real castle! It was 70 and sunny all day. 

Once we had finished walking all through the Palace, it was time to return the car. Aaaaand we got lost. There was a GPS thing programmed to take us on the loop to the spots, but somewhere we must of taken a wrong turn. And when we tried to turn around, it was a one way, ha. It didn't actually take us too long to eventually find out way back. The place was right by the train station so it was easy enough. 

We were both hungry by then - almost 4pm - so we started walking to find food. We turned on data on the phone and found a restaurant near by, but once we got in and sat down, nothing on the menu looked good. So we got up and started walking again. We had seen lots of cute cafes and restaurants up around the river when we were driving so that's where we decided to head. Of course we found a nice little cafe with good sandwiches and an outside patio with a guy playing guitar. It was perfect. 

The dessert was a traditional pastry from Sintra. 

Funny story: our nice waiter asked us where we were from. When we said Kansas, he said in his very thick accent and not so perfect English, "Oh I love Royals!" Ha, what are the odds. A Cuban waiter at a street side cafe in Sintra knows Greinke and some other Cuban player. Crazy!

He was super nice and told us the walk up to Quinta da Regaleira (a "Don't Miss" in my lonely planet book) was just 10 minutes up the main road. Thinking it was maybe further and that they possibly closed soon, we tried to track down a taxi. And the guy wouldn't take us! He was much more interested in smoking his cigarette and chatting with the other drivers. He waives us on and said it was just five minutes further. Ha, don't think Ive ever been turned down for a cab ride. He was right though. It wasn't very far at all. We had actually driven past it earlier. 

The place was a little weird. Palaces and underground tunnels, chapels and waterfalls. Just kind of weird. Fun to explore though! I made Matt follow me through some off the beaten path trails. He yelled the whole way, "No, Terri! NO!" But kept on following me "through the jungle" as he put it, haha. (See last pic in this section)

I'll write more about this place when I get back. For now, some pics...

This is what I made him follow me through. Then we found stairs 10 feet away, haha. He's going to kill me one of these days for the crap I drag him through... ;)

Once we had had enough stairs, we decided to leave and walk all the way back to the train station. Stopped in some shops along the way but didn't find any must-haves. Made it back to the station with seven minutes to spare before the next train departed. Just enough time to go grab another bottle of water from a cafe across the street. 

We didn't last long on the train ride back. Walking all afternoon (LOTS of stairs) wore us out. In fact, we didn't even realize we were back in Rossio. Everyone just got off and we started looking around thing to quickly figure out where we were. Sure enough - we asked a guy and he said Rossio. Oops! Should pay better attention next time I guess. 

From there, we walked straight to H&M for some new gray tights for me. Somehow I managed to get a hole in the leg of mine. Matt found a nice new shirt too! 

The gelato had been calling our name the whole time we had been salmon around is Lisbon, so we broke down and had dessert before dinner. Coconut gelato is legit. 

Oh, and we got asked to buy drugs three times in less than 30 minutes. Right in the middle of the city center. I mean, it must be legal because there are cops around and they are so obvious about it. It's not as exciting anymore when they ask. Just annoying. Do we really look like druggies?! Come on. Neither one of us ever have (or ever will) done any drugs. We've never even smoked a cigarette for goodness sake. Cocaine is going to be a tough sell on us, haha. 

Anyways, We decided to take our gelato with us for a can ride up to St Jorge's castle that overlooks Lisbon. A different view on the other side from where we were last night. 

We had to buy a ticket to get in (along with every single place we went to in Sintra). They charge for everything here. Even bathrooms. And no place takes credit cards. Get with the program, Portugal!

The castle was pretty awesome. It would have been more awesome I we hadn't just got back from the coolest castles ever in Sintra (seriously, that place is a must-do), but still a neat place to visit. If nothing else then for the view alone. 

We stayed until the sun set and then went in search of food. We couldn't decide if we should try the touristy Clubbe de Fado in Alfama or find somewhere better. We wanted good food and good fado music - not necessarily at the same place. We had read reviews that Clubbe de Fado was awful food, expensive drinks, but good fado. We were convinced to go when we stumbled upon a cute little restaurant that looked too good to pass up. We Trip Advisored it real quick, and decided to go in. Good choice. Tiny little restaurant with seven small tables. I had vegetable soup, then grilled veggies with cheese. Matt had some sort of chicks. Both were so so good. Our favorite meal of the trip. The chef really took pride in his food and was watching as we took our first bites to see our reaction.  I was like fine dining at regular prices. 

We were just too stuffed for dessert which really bummed me out, because it looked amazing too. Ended up asking the guy behind the bar where to go for fado, and he immediately said NOT Clubbe de Fado. He told us about some street full of fado bars, and wrote down he name of one bar to go to. He gave us some directions that we kind of understood, so we set off - not really sure which way to go. We walked a couple of blocks, then decided to put the street name in Matt's phone and follow it. 

Freaking iPhone. The night went down hill from there on. It took us down small alley ways in the shadiest neighborhoods late at night. I mean, we're both pretty chill people, but we see both uncomfortable where we were going. And to top it off, the street he named off had like two open bars on it. I don't know if it was because it was Tuesday or because we weren't quite in the exact right area, but it was not good. And we had completely lost our sense of direction in the windy, hilly neighborhoods. We were both so pissed we were about to just find a cab to take us back to the hostel - not that there were any around. But we asked one more guy for directions - who again told us not to go to Clubbe de Fado, but we already had out minds made up at that point to just go there. We would take touristy over the Alfama part of town we were in. We walked and walked and walked. And finally we saw the sign. Thank goodness.

We had come this far, and it was our last night in Lisbon, so we went in the packed full of white people restaurant. Got a pretty good seat close to where the fado would be performed, and about two minutes after we sat down, the guy started singing. He was good. I don't know what I was expecting, but I wouldn't of wanted to stay there all night. We sat for three or four songs (one set) and left after that. 

Video of the performance on YouTube. Click on my page from the icon on the right side of the page. 

We were tired and there's no sleeping in tomorrow. Still no exactly sure how to get back to a main road for a cab, we just started walking one direction, and luckily saw a ton of people walking out of a fado bar and towards a street. We followed, and sure enough, there was a cab right there who took us right to Rossio. We weren't far away and could of walked, but we had done plenty of that today already. 

Before going back up to the room for the night, we had to try the famous cherry liquor called Ginjinha we heard about last night. There was a line for it again! I just had a sip of Matt's, but he really liked it. 

Back to the room - more freaking stairs! - and packing up again. Leaving here at 7am in the morning for our 9am flight to Barcelona, Spain!

1 comment:

  1. I am cracking up at these posts! You two are so funny and so similar to Luke and I. I'm always hard up for a bargain and getting my way, come hell or high water (or thousands of miles of walking;) and Luke is always the practical one, willing to pay more than I am for convenience. Love these travel adventures Terri and that you take the time to write down every memory :) Miss you guys!!