I’ve decided, with the help of my good friend Mackenzie, that getting lost is an important part of traveling. She has always said, since the first time we travelled together in Marseille, that she loves getting lost because you get to experience the area in a new and unique perspective, and you’ll always find your way eventually. Sure, getting lost makes a trip last a little longer, but that’s not a bad thing when you’re surrounded by beautiful scenery and good friends.
Needless to say, getting lost on our trek to the castle in Lisbon yesterday was an adventure in itself. We strolled along residential alleyways and definitely got a good work out from the many stairs and hills we climbed up and down. And despite getting lost, we made it to the top and saw the beautiful view of Lisbon at dusk. Unfortunately, being the poor and budget-wise students that we are, we were unwilling to pay the 8€ to get into the castle, but it was beautiful to see!
We spent the rest of the day wandering around the different districts of Lisbon, and tasting the various treats that Portugal has to offer. My favourite thing would have to be the “pastal de nata”, pastry tarts filled with a SCRUMPTIOUS custard. I also had a delicious dinner of cod and chips, and braved the unknown seafood that was served along our bread as an appetizer. I think it was octopus of some sort, and while I am happy I tried it, I didn’t exactly dig in for seconds.
We attempted to go out to a few bars and clubs, but seeing as it was a Monday, the nightlife was underwhelming. We managed to make the best of a rainy and dead night though, and met two guys from Brazil who are also on their fall break from studying in Grenoble, France. They were very friendly and spoke Portuguese, which was helpful for getting directions throughout the night! We even met up with them this morning to take the train together to Sintra, Portugal.
Sintra was amazing! I was expecting a city similar to Lisbon, but it was surprisingly quite unique. It had much more of a tropical feel to it, and didn’t have the old-town vibe of Lisbon. We spent most of the morning at Moor Castle, a massive and breathtaking fortress. We walked all along its edge, which was yet another workout of stairs, both up and down. The view of Sintra from the top of the castle was fantastic, and made me feel like I was “The King of the Castle”, hee hee.
We had lunch at a cute little tourist trap of a restaurant, but our server was fantastic. He gave Naomi (he asked who was the youngest of the group) a handmade little pin of a Portugal doll, and ended our meal with a free shot of a cherry liquor made in Portugal. It was delicious! He was quite shocked when we all shot it back like a shooter, because he had tried to warn us to sip it because it was too strong. Gotta love ignorant North Americans. But he laughed it off. 🙂
We finished our day at Sintra by wandering around “Quinta da Regaleira”, a summer residence of the Carvalho Monteiro family built in the 19th century. It is HUGE!!! There are hidden grottos and waterfalls and tunnels that link the entire property, we felt like we were in Pan’s Labyrinth and/or The Secret Garden. It felt magical :).
Tonight we are having tapas and sangria in our hostel for 6€! I love hostel living 🙂
We fly to Barcelona tomorrow for 5 nights, which should leave us plenty of time to wander and eat our way through the city 🙂 Yum!
I hope everyone is surviving the effects of Sandy wherever you may be. I’m worried about everyone, even if I don’t need to be. That’s the life of an exchange student, living across the world from her loved ones.