My titles are getting worse.
BUT LET ME JUST START OUT BY SAYING THAT PORTUGAL IS PERFECT. It’s a picture perfect postcard place. It helped that my first impression of it was arriving at 5:30 AM as the sun rose and I had the charming streets all to myself. Those hilly cobbled streets and their streetcars (called “electros”), the colorful old buildings (almost always a certain shade of pink), children playing ball in tiny squares, old women leaning out of windows to hang their laundry; it is idyllic.
Here is my journal entry from my last day there:
“Today’s phenomenal weather does nothing to diminish my love for this place. Clear blue skies and 20 degrees (that’s 70 for those of you in Fahrenheit). I’m sitting on the porch of the hostel and it is lovely. Behind me in the courtyard, authentic Lisboans are chatting with their neighbors. This is a neighborhood, not a tourist district. Just outside, a vintage yellow streetcar rattles by and a dog barks at the sound, causing a flock of pigeons to fly into the air from the perch where they’d been sleeping. The sun is setting now and everything is golden and the beauty of this city is, once more, literally breathtaking and unparalleled with anything I’ve seen. I love love love Lisbon and Portugal and I’m already planning my return. This morning I walked to Castelo Sao Jorge. After walking amongst the ruins, I sat at the overlook, in the prettiest clear/CLEAN sunlight, and finished reading Mark Twain’s ‘The Innocents Abroad.’ It’s off to Barcelona in a couple hours but I never ever want to leave here.”
And here is the view from my hostel:
Though it was difficult to tear myself away from this beautiful setting, I did. I got an “all-you-can-ride” card from the hostel, allowing me unlimited access on all of the public transportation for the day (which only cost me 3.95 euro… keep that in mind when I talk about Barcelona). I took the Santa-Justa elevator, which shuttles you from the main part of town up the hill to the Baixa district. I’ll let my pictures do the talking now:
Lisbon has these great things called “miradouros” – aka scenic overlooks. Sure, other cities have them too, but Lisbon has about a million and they’re all gorgeous.
The Carmo Convent, destroyed by the 1755 earthquake, now an archaeological museum. Genius.
Sao Roque Church – from the outside, it’s a non-elaborate boring box of a church. But upon entering, you find a series of the most intricately decorated chapels in the world: gold, silver, jewels, carvings. I really love this style of Portuguese over-decorating.
The tomb of Vasco de Gama.
Castelo de Sao Jorge, super intact ruins of a Moorish castle, now home to many stray cats and peacocks…
Portugal has also got great food; these cookies tasted about 85% as good as they look.