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Europe/Africa 2014: Day 01 (Portugal 01): Oct 05

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Here we go again! Another awesome trip planned by Karen Ha. This time we are off to Portugal, Morocco, Dublin.

The first big headache was discovering that we’re only doing carry on and those sizes are… small. Ryanair especially, 55x40x20cm. Basically 0 space for souvenirs. So sad.

Landed in Lisbon at 7AM, 2AM EST. We are so tired… well, I am.

Got through customs kind of slowly when you realize the customs officers said absolutely nothing to the people, or least to any of us. Jumped on the metro, 6 euro reusable card with NFC chip embedded into it to allow entry and exit for transit for 24h. Interesting.

The subway was easy enough, but they don’t call out the stations, so you have to pay attention. There are a couple more lines that go all over the place than Toronto even though the city is so old. It seemed like there was an event going on though, a marathon or run or something, hundreds of people with numbered bibs on the subway.

Getting to the hostel a bit early for check-in, we drop off our stuff and head back out. First stop, just steps away on the waterfront, Arco Triunfal da Rua Augusta. Clean streets, empty roads, lots of tourists, sunny, big open square. As we join a line at the tram station, we wonder why is it taking so long, there are so many people waiting here, there’s gotta be a bus coming, right?… -_- Karen went to ask the random group of cops nearby and apparently the roads are closed surrounding the square. We assume it’s for the run, although it could have been some political thing according to what we passed. Either way, no one was gonna get anywhere waiting in that line, thanks, for watching us all waste our time.

So we head down the road past some blocked off streets and find another bunch of people trying to figure out the buses as well. Ending up standing at a stop with that bunch, a bus swings by and yells out something and everyone seems to swarm to the doors. Karen says we should get on, ok! Haha. As we crowd towards the doors, I feel my bag get snagged, hmm, pull, no problem, looks like someone clothes. It was not until I get on the bus and sit down do I notice that one of my front pockets is unzipped. *sigh… Fortunately that pocket held my macbook charger and the power converter, nothing a thief would care for. Ugh. Anyways, off to Belem!

And if you’ve been to Portugal before, you must have guessed it, Pasteis de Belem. This place is so damn busy and the queues just seem to manage themselves, filling up tables as parties leave, waiting for the staff to clean the table and serve the next group. We didn’t wait too long, and got a couple of drinks, duck pies, ham and cheese puff pastry, and of course, their famous Portuguese tart. It was all really good… I’m hungry as I write this. The tart tasted like creme brulee mixed with the egg tart we know and devour, very nice, we think Karen is in love. At this point we have no idea if we tip, and it’s easy enough for the next party to come up and grab it for themselves, so we grab our change in hopes of finding our server… with no luck. Oh well.

Mosterio dos Jeronimos, which consisted of the Church of Santa Maria and the inner monastery cloisters. Beautiful architecture, stain-glass windows, and sculpture. Spent a good hour and a half walking through and snapping pictures. It just so happens that the first Sunday of every month, admission to all museums are free, lucky us!.. and the thousands of other tourists. I wonder if it’s still as busy otherwise.

Heading towards the shore, we approach a huge tower, Padrão dos Descobrimentos. The city facing facade is of a sword pointing down, it’s depth creates a boat like structure out to the river… that has several sailboats and a bridge reminiscent of the golden gate. Looking west down the water, our next destination, the Tower of Belem.

Tower of Belém, which looks like a small castle in the water, looked cooler from the outside than in. Heh. It seemed to be essentially a trap of lines going in, out, under, throughout. The tower has two small winding stone staircases leading up and down. Down goes to the prison cells where you have to crouch to get into, and up leads to the… top. Since the staircases are so narrow, they installed a system of lights. Every three minutes, you can either go up, or down. Clear the stairs otherwise. Of course, this was also self managed by the tourists… Many times people got trapped going either direction and forcing their way up, infuriating other guests trapped in the never-ending line ups. It was fun :P… I jumped out on a random floor on the way down and met Michelle and Karen after the next rotation, spinning down the stairs as the bell kept ringing, counting down my allotted time.

The National Coach Museum. Yea, those coaches. We didn’t stay long.

By this time we were so tired. 330pm. Not having slept yet, uggggghhhhhh. Haha. After a little debate, and bus trouble, we head up to the Tile museum, much, much further away on the other side of town. How far, you ask? I can’t remember, I fell asleep on the bus. 🙂

After getting off the bus at some ghetto stop, we find our way to the museum. It was actually quite surprisingly nice after the let down at the coach museum. National Azueljo Museum, had centuries of old tiles, as boring as that sounds, it was not bad at all. It had several rooms and a couple floors that we perused through.

We headed towards a sightseeing lookout point next, after a series of transfers. It’s a very good thing that we have offline maps and GPS. It was a nice overlooking view of the city and across the river. As if my stomach was reminding me, next, we head to dinner. Seafood!

Recommended by Karen’s friend, Cervejaria Ramiro. Order by the pound, fresh, abundant seafood. So good, and kinda pricey, but not too bad. Favorite, the crayfish. Mmm…

Back to Home Lisbon Hostel. RFID powered locks with programmable bracelets. Pretty cool. Sleep. Sintra tomorrow.

Pasteis de Belem Church of Santa Maria Tower of Belem National Azulejo Museum Cervajaria Ramiro

Pasteis de Belem, Jerónimos Monastery, Tower of Belem, National Azulejo Museum, Cervajaria Ramiro

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