Lisbon, Portugal

After a pleasant four hour bus ride Kellie and I arrived easily at our hostel, the sister hostel of the one at which we had stayed in Lagos. We had made the booking only that day, but someone had forgotten to correct the vacancy figures on Hostelbookers, to the effect that the hostel had actually been full. A lot of people were are studying in Spain come to Lisbon, and other such locations, on the weekend. The hostel was very apologetic about this mistake, but as the beds were all double bed size, they asked a couple to share and asked if it would be OK if we shared one. We said fine, because we could already tell the vibe of the hostel was very fun and worth sticking around for. The next night we were moved to another room with our own very roomy beds.

Shortly after we arrived at the hostel was the ‘family dinner’ which involved everyone staying at the hostel on a long table eating effectively unlimited pasta. Everyone then played games and hung out at the hostel for three hours until the midnight pub crawl, which saw us walk up the steep / and what felt like freezing cold with the icy wind / Lisbon hills to get to the bars and club. There were so many people on the pub crawl and many more swarming the streets, and it was a shock to the system after Lagos. It made me appreciate having a small group at Lagos> I nearly lost the Lisbon group twice!

The next morning I joined everyone having a leisurely and free unlimited pancake breakfast in the Gastronomy Room. I strode off to catch the 10:30am walking tour but walked in the wrong direction and didn’t make it in time. No matter, as I knew everyone else at the hostel were heading to the Thieves Market together, so I joined Kellie and four other cool people on a fun day of Lisbon sightseeing. I had to run back to the hostel to put on jeans and an extra jumper, because despite it being hot in the sun, it was annoyingly very cold and icy in the wind and shade.

We took a bus that dropped us right in the middle of the thieves market, or a large market in which people were selling what looked like it might have been stolen items, but was probably just junk. I bought a 3 euro watch that seemed to be working and was only an hour out, having misplaced mine in Vietnam when I took it off to go on the Ha Long Bay trip.  Although I had filled up on pancakes the others were hungry so we stopped at a sunny nearby restaurant cafe and had same tasty pork sandwich thingies. One of our number, Daniel, seemed to be mustering up enough Portuguese to get us by, because nothing was in English!

We then walked for a while through the picturesque streets and along the windy but pretty seafront to the tram, which we took to Belem, the famous ritzy area a bit out of the city. Luckily Nick, the New Zealander, was skilled at orienteering and took us without fail and barely consulting a map. When we got off at Belem we realised we had lost two of our number, who we had assumed had been on the tram with us! Unable to do anything about this we found the famous pastry shop and joined the queue. A few moments later, Erica and Jules arrived, having been shut out of our tram but taken one shortly afterwards! We purchased the delicious custard tarts and took them to a nearby park. They were certainly worth their fame!

After leisurely eating the tarts and people watching we walked over to the famous monastery and walked around inside a bit, taking some photos. We were then ready to tram and metro back to the hostel to catch a nap before the Portuguese BBQ at 8pm that was being run by the hostel. This was literally a four hour affair of amazing unlimited meat, salads and bread. We were all hungry by the time it was served and had more than our fill. It was so cold that I was wearing all the layers I brought and we had to bring the party inside before too long. The five of us who had spent the day together played games with the addition of three Canadians who were staying in our room.

We then, albeit a smaller group than the night before and therefore easier to talk to everyone and so more enjoyable for me, embarked upon the same pub crawl at midnight, but with a different club at the end to which we had to take a bus. I,ll tell you what, though, I’m not a big fun of the Spanish and Portuguese going out so late such that you don’t get to the club until past 3:30am. You end up very tired by the time you get there!

After more unlimited and social pancakes on Sunday morning and a nap, I headed off in the afternoon to the big park that overlooks Lisbon, and the statue of he who redesigned the city after the 1755 earthquake. I then walked down the park and along the Avenue de Liberada (or something like that) towards the sea. I stopped at a pastry shop and bought a custard tart, which, although probably not as good as the famous one, was still very tasty.

I then stopped at a touristy restaurant. For some reason the slightly annoying but English speaking waiter seated me randomly in the shade far away from everyone else who was sitting in the sun. I forgave him, because he brought my new favourite food: a roast suckling pig ‘tosta’, or fancy toasted sandwich. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to find such a thing again and I’m sure it was tasty becaues it was full of fat and oil and butter, but it was absolutely amazing. The pork was so succulent, and the bread was the best bread I have ever eaten. But I find that everywhere I eat out overseas is quite delicious, wiht the exception of that one disappointing pancake in Vietnam: I’m sure that in Australia not every random place you eat at is so delicious.

Feeling very full, I walked over to the castle and had a quick look at the view from the bit you didn’t have to pay for. Feeling a bit tired of sightseeing and like I had seen enough of Lisbon to suit me I walked the half an hour back to the hostel.

When I was nearly there Kellie called to me from a cafe. She started discussing with me the same feelings I had been having on the walk: mainly fatigue with drifting from place to place and a desire to settle somewhere, and sometimes feeling down after the initial euphoria, as well as the difficulty meeting people only briefly but not being able to make any long lasting friendships right now. But I think I just need to take it easier: back at the hostel now people are watching TV, and this is more like what I would normally be doing on a Sunday evening to unwind. I need to relax more and do less feverish sightseeing: after a while there do get to be a lot of statues, cathedrals and nice parks.

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