Eurotrip 2012: Lisbon, Portugal
When I planned my trip, I considered leaving Portugal off my list of destinations. Reasons being, Portugal was west of Madrid, the opposite direction of my main route, and required a 9+ hour train ride which made the trip seem impractical. However, I discovered a night train between Madrid and Lisbon at a discounted fare with my Eurorail pass. With my trip being flexible and being able to secure a bed in a couchette at the station the same day, my alternative plan with Portugal included was put in motion.
This was the first time I had set off on a night train. The idea of sleeping on a moving train with random people wasn’t appealing at first, but overall, the journey ended up satisfactory. I had a male roommate around my age; we had a small conversation just before relaxing and going to bed. Being a small dude, I was able to sleep comfortably in the bunk-style beds. The train ride was roughly nine and a half hours long, but I slept the entire way. The compartment included a small sink and mirror, so I was able to freshen up slightly the following morning.
no images were foundI arrived around eight in the morning from the station to the Lisbon Poets, a modern, artsy, and spacious hostel. I quickly settled in and ate breakfast at a nearby cafe. I noticed the area was very active. After some exploring, I found out there was a local festival developing at the Commerce Square (Praça do Comércio) [icon icon_name=”camera”]. There was also a Euro 2012 group stage match scheduled between Portugal and the Netherlands later in the day. I took a relaxing scroll around the Eduardo VII Park in front of the Marquês de Pombal Square [icon icon_name=”camera”]. Back at the hostel, I was able to befriend a group of Brazilian travelers that were around my age and fluent in both English and Portuguese. They invited me to accompany them to a small, cozy restaurant where we conversed over seafood dishes and wine.
no images were foundCome night time, our small group found a populated plaza where a cover band played Brazilian/Portuguese Pop-Rock and served drinks. I introduced myself to other travelers and students studying abroad and continued socializing for the next hour or so. We then left the plaza to the Bairro Alto, an area nearby suggested to us for its fun night life. The best way for me to describe this area is like Austin’s sixth street, just a bit more wild. The area was a maze of hilly, cobblestone streets with clubs and bars around every corner and public drinking was allowed (most of Europe was, I eventually found out). They had small windows outside some of the bars to serve people in the streets. The cheap beer, the dancing, and the lively spirits of the many tourists and locals made the night entertaining.
no images were foundThe following day, the same group including I decided to check out some of Lisbon’s historical sites. We took a local rail to the southwest of Lisbon where we wandered along the coast, viewed the Monument of the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) [icon icon_name=”camera”], entered the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) [icon icon_name=”camera”], and exhibited the Bernardo Museum of Contemporary Art. We then dined at a seafood restaurant with a hilarious staff and ate tasty desserts at Pastéis de Belém, a popular pastry/cafe known for their famous “pastel de nata” (or Pastel de Belém), a Portuguese egg-tart pastry [icon icon_name=”camera”].
Later that night, we took a walk with some of the hostel staff to visit a few pubs hosting performances of fado, a Portuguese opera-like type of music genre. Most of the places performing were full, but we still managed to listen to some of the performances from the doors. While the mood of the music was a bit of a downer, the voices of the performers sounded nice. Later, some of the group decided to go out for drinks and wander around the city. I ended spending most of the night with a very sweet girl from England. I really loved her accent; we flirted and shared stories sea-side til late night/early morning. 🙂
no images were foundOn the last day, I visited the Lisbon Oceanarium (Oceanário de Lisboa) [icon icon_name=”camera”] and some minor attractions in the vicinity. I haven’t visited a zoo or an aquarium in a long time, so I felt like a kid again seeing some of the sea-creatures. The adventure lasted most of the day. I spent the last few hours packing and booking my hostel for my next destination, Valencia, Spain.