Sunday, November 4, 2012

Life in Lisbon

When Angelina and I planned our trip, we weren't sure we were going to be able to make it over to Portugal. Both of us really wanted to go, but in the context of Europe, Portugal is difficult to get to! The shortest train ride into Lisbon is from Madrid, which is a 10 hour overnight train. Let me tell you, overnight trains are hell on earth and at this point we had already taken three of them, so I wasn't particularly excited to have to hop on another one. On top of that, we had to get to Paris by November 1st to start the lease on the apartment we rented, and the train from Lisbon to Paris is twenty-three hours - fuuuuuuuck that. I did NOT want to spend my Halloween on an overnight train. But alas, we figured out a solution to our problem - flying! We sucked it up and booked the overnight train from Madrid, but then decided to splurge on a flight over to Paris to save 21 hours of our lives, our Halloween, and our sanity.

Well, everything was looking great until the morning we arrived in Lisbon. Apparently Madrid really took it out of me, because I woke up with an epic sinus infection. Awesome. If you've never had a sinus infection, it feels like having regular cold, but ten times worse. The worst part about it is that it causes you to be constantly lightheaded. As a traveler having to always move around and be aware of my surroundings, being lightheaded is the worst thing ever.

We started our first day with a free walking tour, which was actually one of the best ones we've been on. Lisbon reminds me a bit of San Francisco because 1) it's made up entirely of steep hills and 2) there's a big red bridge that looks suspiciously similar to the Golden Gate. Other than that though, it's definitely got its own flavor. It's very exotic, beach-y, and laid back. Sadly, the  walking tour ended up being all I ended up doing that day because of how ill I felt.

(A view that our walking tour took us up to. Notice the Golden Gate bridge look-alike in the background!) 

The next day I was feeling a bit better, so when a couple of friends from our hostel invited us to go on a day trip to Sintra with them, we accepted. Sintra is only a 30 minute train ride from Lisbon, and is known for its gardens, castles, and all around fairy-tale persona. It ended up fitting that description perfectly. We started our day roaming through an amazing park with underground caves and stone towers. I really wish I could remember what it's called because it was absolutely incredible. After about three hours of that, I was already spent for the day, but everyone else wanted to hike up to Sintra's famous castle/fortress. I was planning on heading back early to get some rest, but hiking up to a castle sounded way too cool (also, I'm the type of person who hates feeling like I'm missing out on something!) so despite all my better judgement, I decided to push through and go hiking. Potentially one of the most agonizing things I've ever done (sinus infection + epic castle hike = begging for death) but when we reached the top and got to explore the amazing fortress, it was totally worth it. It had by far the biggest view we've seen so far on this trip! Later that night we got a couple of people together for an epic post-hike pasta feast. The boys cooked while we sat and waited (best thing ever) but sadly, I could barely eat - and  that's how I know I'm really sick, because I can always eat!

(The castle fortress we hiked up to) 

(Our little group inside of one of the stone tower lookouts) 

(Inside one of the caves we hiked through. Some of them are lit up like this, others are pitch black. We found ourselves having to bust out our phones and use them as flashlights!)

(When we finally made it to the top of the fortress. Sick and exhausted - but how amazing is that view!)

(Shitty iphone photo of our celebratory pasta feast!) 

The next day was Halloween, and my sinus infection was not having it. My body said fuck you, no more. I had definitely run myself into the ground the day before. So while Angelina and our hostel friends went on another day trip, I stayed in Lisbon. I slept in a bit, then decided to just have a leisurely day by myself. I sat in a cafe and read, checked out some shops, picked up some Portugese pastries and sat on a dock by the river. It was interesting actually, because it was the first day I had spent entirely by myself. Originally I had planned to do this entire trip alone, and this day gave me a taste of what it would have been like if Angelina wasn't with me. Though I did enjoy myself, I realized how happy I am to have her to share all my experiences and stories with. Life is better when it's shared, in my opinion.

(The view from where I enjoyed my coffee and a book. Not too shabby!) 

(The main shopping street in Lisbon) 

Later that night, everyone was ready to celebrate Halloween and I was ready to go to bed. I had planned a glorious night of doing nothing but eating candy and sleeping, but, as I mentioned earlier, I hate feeling like I'm missing out on something, so when I saw that our hostel was having a party, I caved and joined in. The hostel we stayed at was a mansion-turned-hostel, and they turned it into a haunted mansion for Halloween. They played music and projected the movie Dracula on the ceiling. They even brought out a big box of costumes for all the guests to use. It was a fun, relaxing way to celebrate. We did end up going to a club later that night, but left pretty quickly because of how crowded it was, and I'd say my sinus infection appreciated that pretty wholeheartedly.

The next day before our flight to Paris, we met up with Celine, a friend we met in London who lives in Lisbon & offered to show us around a bit before we left. We got breakfast, caught up on life and walked around the city. It was a nice way to end our trip.

Even though this is the last post from my travels, that doesn't mean I'm going to stop blogging! I'm definitely going to keep it up while I'm in Paris, and hopefully be able to spend more time on it now that I'm not constantly moving around. But, Angelina and I are planning on backtracking to Scotland before we head home, so my travels technically aren't over - yet!

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