Trip Start Aug 22, 2012
8Trip End Aug 28, 2012
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At the hostel I signed up for their 'Beach Tour', which basically meant going to one beach, but what a beach it was. We went to Costa da Caparica, which according to my guidebook is a tacky resort. This may indeed be true, however we were taken to a beach which was a few kilometres from the town centre. Oddly, a tram runs (irregularly) from the town centre which services the various beaches around the town, so a car is not strictly necessary to get to the better beaches, always assuming that you know where you’re going.
We set up at a beach bar that had bean bags, proper wooden chairs, tables, as well as the obligatory sun loungers and, probably most importantly, umbrellas
Once I realised the sea I would be bathing in was the Atlantic Ocean, I was expecting the worst. I naturally assumed it would be freezing. Remember I’d just come from the Mediterranean where the water is quite warm, so I wasn’t really surprised, when I finally mustered up the courage to go in the water, to find that the water was indeed quite cold, although, to be frank, not much colder than the Costa Brava at the beginning of the summer. So there I was at a beach that seemed to stretch out forever, chilling on a bean bag at a beach bar, sipping a mojito, thinking to myself, it really doesn’t get much better than this.
Five hours later, it was time to move on
However, not only is there a copy of the Brazilian statue in Lisbon, but there’s also an almost exact copy (Ponte 25 de Abril) of the Golden Gate Bridge right next to it. It’s definitely impressive, but just as the Cristo Rei is smaller than it’s equivalent in Rio, so the Ponte 25 de Abril is smaller (much smaller) than it’s American equivalent.
After the day’s trip it was back to the hostel for a rest before going to find dinner. Rossio is in Baixa (basically at sea level), but all the supposedly good restaurants and nightlife are in Bairro Alto, which, as the name suggests, is really high. Our guide for the day told us that there was a quick way up to Bairro Alto, just go up some stairs behind the station... just! It’s all well and good if you’re relatively fit, but my days of being relatively fit have long since given up the ghost of even trying to pretend that I can walk on flat ground without wheezing. Halfway up, I was gasping for air, I would have called for an ambulance, if not for the fact that a) it would have been pointless as it would have been unable to get up there, b) I can’t speak Portuguese and c) I couldn’t actually speak
Eventually I made it to the top and found somewhere to eat. Taking some advice, I went into a dive of a bar and ate very well (and cheaply). Sepia, potatoes and salad, preceded by vegetable soup (they do love their soup here). That was a fine rounding off to the day, that is until it was time to go home. I decided to take a different route home to the way that I had come. I had a rough idea where I needed to go: downhill and heading towards 10 o’clock (as in the direction of a clock). How hard could it be? Famous last words, anyone?
Of course, I got hopelessly lost, going both downhill and uphill, bearing left but sometimes being forced to go to my right... at night. But like a true man, I refused to get a map out or to ask anyone the way; I just gritted my teeth and kept walking. I don’t know how long it took, but I finally made it back to Rossio, tired and a little proud that I’d managed to make it back in the dark.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that, after a day at the beach followed by walking halfway up (what seemed like) Everest and then taking the long route back down, I was absolutely knackered. Looking on the bright side, however, despite an entire day at the beach and then my expedition afterwards....not once did I break into a sweat.