I walked 5k from Estoril to Cascais on the boardwalk, then rented a bike in Cascais for 4 euros to get to Guincho beach about 10k away. The water was chilly! But the views were fantastic. I biked back to Cascais, then on my walk back to Estoril I met up with 2 german girls who had stayed in the same hostel I had stayed at in Lisbon! What a coincidence. We hung out on the beach and got some gnarly sunburns.
Aside: It turns out that of the five german phrases I thought I knew how to say, I had been pronouncing one of them dreadfully wrong for years. Instead of saying "Gute Nacht," or "goodnight," I had been pronouncing "Gute nackt" which sounds SO SIMILAR but actually means "good naked" and NOT "goodnight." Oops.
At around 5 PM I headed back to the Cerqueira's house. Some of their friends came over and I had a lovely time trying to decipher Portuguese dinner conversation.
I made it to Quinta de Regaleira today, and I was happily surprised that there was a medieval-type play going on once I got there. The underground tunnels on this property are incredible and lead to a gorgeous spiral staircase/well that opens to the sky above. The castle itself was beautiful too, but my favorite part was hanging around in the garden and taking pictures of the funny costumes.
Just a 30 minute train ride out of Lisbon, Sintra is absolutely a must-see. I could have stayed there for 5 days, considering the amount of castles and nearby beach. Tonight I'm staying at "Nice" Hostel, which I highly recommend. Today I saw 2 castles after hiking for about an hour uphill... quite a trek, but enjoyable if you like to hike. Castle of the Moors makes you feel like you're King Arthur protecting a kingdom, while Pena Palace can be best described as 3 lego kits mashed together in the creative mind of a 10 year old, who mixed colors and architectural styles to make an impressive color-by-number sight to see. Both are absolutely worth going to, especially if you take advantage of the gardens. I'll organize these pictures better when I have more time (aka when I'm not exploring Portugal), but for now, this handful should give you an idea of my beautiful jam-packed day. I'm very glad I didn't do this little town in a day trip like a lot of people do!
After a 4 hour bus ride from Porto to Lisbon, I was less than pleased to find out my debit card wasn't working, which meant I had 6 euros cash in Portugal's capital city: NICE! This was after climbing from the bus station to my hostel WAY up up up on a hill for about an hour, getting lost a few times on dead-end streets, with a dead phone, a soaking wet map, and a 20 lb pack and 10 lb backpack. I was so tired that instead of being worried about the cash, I spent 5 euros on a delicious curry-style meal in some run-down Indian restaurant, and it was the best decision I could have ever made. My energy was back up when the cold bottle of water they gave me replenished my dehydrated body.
After checking into "Nice Way" Hostel, it was clear the day was going to improve. The hosts were lovely, the view from the outdoor patio was fantastic, and there was free coffee and tea all day. I eventually figured out my bank situation by calling the international number (who knows how much that'll cost me). I found the public elevator (aka the one I should have taken to get to the hostel) to buy groceries, then explored some small streets.
These are the traveling situations people don't talk about but that always come up! It helps to have fellow hostel-goers who have all experienced these kinds of frustrating situations and offer you sangria when you plop on the hostel couch, drenched with sweat ready for a nap. I met some fun people from Germany and Morocco and we shared grapes and cheese and olives watching the sunset.
Chao Spain! After leaving notes all over Charlotte's apartment, I took a train to Porto, walked from the train station with my giant pack into town, and checked into a different hostel just for fun. It was the right decision: Tattva has a rooftop patio. After a much-needed Skype date with my mom, I visited a massive church called "Se", walked across top of Luiz bridge for magnificent views, discovered tiny streets I hadn't seen the first time around, and sweat an absurd amount in the blazing sun. I had a 5 euro lunch (fantastic, ecuadorian-style almuerzo), and enjoyed a lovely ice cream in the sunshine. I REALLY enjoyed that ice cream. I napped by the other side of the river after eavesdropping on Portuguese conversations and admiring keepsakes in artisan stalls. I head back to hostel, then ate bruschetta and sipped espresso at a nearby cafe.
Took a train to Santiago and was BLOWN AWAY by the beauty of the cathedral. The train only took 35 minutes. I essentially walked around the old part of town from 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM when my train left to head back. Naturally, I took lots of photos, walked in 2 parks, and shared cheesecake with 3 camino-ers. Charlotte was waiting for me at the train station when I got back! We hung out in Pontevedra for awhile and then got tapas with her english teacher friends.
Summary: On the hostel patio this morning, we had grapefruit and coffee-grindy coffee, followed by a port visit filled with traditional tablecloths. We planned our time like champions, utilizing our hop-on-hop-off tour to the max. After essentially eating lunch in the ocean, due to a glass-protected restaurant, we headed back to the hostel, got a cab to the bus station, and headed to Pontevedra, Spain. I felt so special to see Charlotte's apartment! I wasn't even surprised she had 2 boxes of KD on her bookcase in her room.
Oh yeah! I'm reading a novel in Portuguese. This is unreal. It's Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari. It's like reading Spanish, and when I don't know the word, I sound it out, and it's like a mixture of Spanish and maybe some French... so I can very easily know exactly what the sentences are trying to get across. The longer I read, the more I get into a rhythm, and it becomes easier. I can't guarantee any pronunciation (I thought it was Russian when I first got here), but I know I could write you a solid book report.
Plug for Duolingo and Memrise! These are the two apps I've been using for two months to learn some Portuguese here and there, stemming from a ridiculous crush I had on a Brazilian (It didn't work out but now I speak broken portuguese. Life is funny.) Thanks to these two apps, I understand the sentence structure and can hold a conversation with a vendor, ask for directions, discuss meal options... Who wouldn't known? I must say my Spanish base helps a ton, but I still wasn't expecting results like this.
Since Charlotte hasn't yelled at me yet for taking too many photos, I snap them wherever I go because it's so beautiful (and yikes I can't fit my camera into my bag, meaning around my neck is a perfect option). Here are more photos from the rest of the day at the beach, plus some mixed in from the morning at the port.
Quick Summary: We started the day off with a boat ride on the river, followed by a lovely hop-on-hop-off tour. We saw the largest bottle of wine in the world, followed by another port wine tasting. A tambourine dancer serenaded Charlotte on the street, I had traditional sausages with olives for lunch, and after running after the bus (literally, we ran), we spent the afternoon soaking in ocean views of HUGE crashing waves. Later, I spoke 4 languages while drinking 5 cups of tea in our chill hostel. A fantastic day.
We enjoyed our morning walk even though we got completely soaked. We did buy an umbrella though! First, we visited an important church with the most beautiful tile facade, and continued on to an artsy market.
The Livraria Lello bookstore is where J.K Rowling developed her inspiration for Harry Potter, so clearly we had to visit. Tripadvisor considers it the 3rd most beautiful library in the world, so historically and architecturally speaking, it wasn't bad at all. I bought a book in Portuguese for fun SO we'll see how that goes.
The port was absolutely beautiful, even with all the fog. We crossed the Ponte Luis I (bridge), and had a free port wine tasting because it came with our hostel booking. The view from the top of the port wine building was beautiful, and we enjoyed some virtual reality exhibit. After a coffee and lunch under a heated light outside by the water, we grabbed postcards and stamps, bought some chickpeas to go with salami and baguette for dinner, and headed back to the hostel.
I was so giddy to see Charlotte that I jumped out of my chair and FLEW down the stairs, to jump into a her huge bear hug faster. SO MUCH EXCITEMENT! You know those friends who just understand how your mind works? Who share the same sense of humour? Who know you're crazy but love you anyway? I'm just very grateful that I met her two years ago in Ecuador because she's the kind of person who just makes me feel happy inside. Now we're meeting in Porto, of all places.
We're staying at a hip hostel called PILOT, and so far it looks great with a neat atmosphere. Looking forward to tomorrow.
SOOOO I fell behind, but I'll come back and fill this in with more details as my current trip comes to a close, as I'm currently on a plane (hello Portugal). Here are 10 great things I did in the past 2 months in France, which I half-forgot to fill you in on, half-was-too-lazy. I will progressively jump back in time to catch up on the stories and pictures I haven't shared yet, but in the meantime, enjoy these and the ones that are are coming your way from more current travels.
1. Visited Mont Blanc, France with my Family
2. Moved to Teeny Tiny Trebeurden, France
3. Became an Au-Pair for a LOVELY family
4. Started a Pottery Apprenticeship
5. Applied to Master's Programs
6. Had some BOMB runs with BOMB views
7. Started Teaching Private English Lessons
8. Improved my French
9. Had a Job at a Creperie (GREAT View, AWFUL Hours)
10. Took time to Relax, Reflect, and Recharge
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