Monday, March 30, 2009

30/3/09 Lisbon

I got up around 9:30 and went downstairs for breakfast. They had two women making whatever you wanted. I asked for pancakes and toast. I always forget that pancakes are more like crepes than pancakes here, and I'm always pleasantly surprised. These were particularly awesome, and they gave us some Nutella to put on them. I don't know how they make pancakes here, but whatever they do I want to figure it out.

I showered (a nice shower) and started my over an hour walk to Belem. I took a different route than I did yesterday, instead of along along the industrial wasteland by the beautiful water, I sort of went through the town a little. It was much better.

I finally reached the Golden Fake Bridge (I just made that up, I'm here all week) and there a pathway along the water finally started. It was another sunny day, even warmer than yesterday. I hardly wore my hoodie today.

Turns out I wasn't that far from Belem yesterday. The first thing I saw was the huge monument to the 'discoverers' right on the shore. It's kinda cool, my book had the list of people that were in there, including da Gamma. I figured Columbus would be? But I guess since he sailed for Spain they probably didn't like him that much.

Next up was the Torre de Belem, which I was really excited about. It was built in the 1500s after the first couple expeditions worked out. At the time, it was on it's own island in the sea, but the land has expanded out so that you can walk up to it basically. Unfortunately (reoccurring theme) it was closed on Monday. So I couldn't actually go walk around in it. Somewhat disappointed, I decided to see what I could do. There were rocks all around the tower, so I decided to climb out on them. Turns out it was a great decision.

I went out in front of the tower and sat out there by myself for maybe a half hour while the waves crashed in. There were clam shells all over the rocks. It was really nice, sort of what I wanted to do while in Lisbon.

From there I got a little ice cream cone and went to the Monastery, which was built in the 1500s and is a UNESCO world heritage site. It was closed on Monday.

The tropical garden was not closed however. It is a park with all sorts of rare and endangered tropical plants in it. I walked around for a half hour or so. They had strange birds there as well. I even saw some turtles, I was excited.

From there I went back and tried to go to the Maritime Museum, but that was closed as well. I wanted to go in there a lot. Bummer.

Next I walked though a park and a pastry place from 1837, but they didn't speak English there, so I didn't know what to do there, so I left.

I walked back to town through the narrow streets of the town. I think it took me sort of out of the way for a while but it was a very authentic Lisbon feeling to me, not many tourists if any.

I was pretty beat after going up through all the hills of the city, but I wanted to get to the church left in ruins that I saw yesterday and I didn't know what time it closed, so I went up there. It wasn't as cool as the church in Scotland in ruins, perhaps because this one seemed cleaner, more altered. It's also an architecture museum in the part that didn't collapse on the churchgoers in 1755, so there are a lot of other ruins from churches in this church, taking away from some of the feel. The ruins are almost cooler looking up from the city at them towering over the city than they were from inside.

I went back to my hostel and had some water and tea. I went online for a little break as well. Soon after I went out again, this time back to the Se church. I went in a little yesterday, but during the service. Today it was much more empty. It wasn't that exciting, and the best part you had to pay to go see, so I decided not to. I lit a candle (and didn't pay, like usual) so that sort of evened it up.

I didn't know what to do next, so I looked around for food for a while. I finally found a coffee shop across from my hostel looking over the square. I ordered a 'cottage cheese and tomoato' sandwich, which I figured couldn't have been really cottage chesse, but I was excited to find out. It was basically just a panini. I also had two pasties. They were ok, nothing spectucular.

After dinner the sun was setting so I went down through the arch to the water. The sky was turning pink and purple behind the bridge, so I sat for a while and watched. The other incrdible thing was that there were literally thousands of fish right up against the walls there. I'd never seen anything like it. I get excited when I see one fish, there were fish one after another, all facing the same direction, stretching out for a long ways into the river. If I had a net, I could have fed an African village for years. But I loved watching the sun set over the water, it was another one of those things that felt very Portuguese to me. I was very interested in the relation of the water to the city, and this felt right. (Get ready for lots of basically the same pictures).

I came back to the hostel because it was getting late and it was cold, so I went back to the hostel to plan and book the trip that mom and I are going on. We're going to be in Rome Sunday-Tuesday and then Paris Wednesday-Friday. I wish we could have had more time in London, but I'm more excited about going to Rome than anywhere, so I hope it'll be worth it. I need to figure out the London highlight tour to give my mom in about 12 hours. It should be really awesome to be in Rome on Easter Sunday, that's just one of those things that are completely unique to do. Maybe we'll see the Pope.

I booked all the flights and hostels, and started to work on the blog. I'm not going to get the photos up tonight, it's too late already, but I should have those up soon. Tomorrow I think I'm going to Cascias and the beach for a little tomorrow. I don't have a swimsuit or anything, but I might bring a towel and sit around for a little.