Lisboa - Day 1 and 2

Trip Start Apr 01, 2009
Trip End Jul 13, 2009

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Where I stayed
Travellers House Hostel

Flag of Portugal  , Estremadura,
Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lisboa - April 16 - Day 1

Today, I woke up early to check out of my room at the hostel. My flight was not until 3:15 PM, so I hung out at the hostel until around 1 PM and watched a movie, Jackie Brown, with the hostel staff and caught up on my blog.

I arrived at the airport around 2 PM and checked in for my flight. I flew the discount airline, easyjet, which was very nice even though they pack people onto their flights. I'm not complaining! My flight was only 40 euro!

I arrived in Lisbon, Portugal around 4:15 PM to a bright and sunny day! After stopping by the tourist information center and buying my metro pass, I boarded a bus for the 40 minute ride from the airport to my hostel, Travellers House ( Travellers House is rated the #1 hostel in the world! The hostel is right smack in the middle of the best neighborhood in Lisbon, the Baixa neighborhood! After a warm welcome by the hostel staff, I was asked if I wanted to join one of the staff, Jeoarme, for a traditional Portuguese expresso, Bica, and the famouse Portuguese pastry, Pasteis, which is AWESOME (! Lisbon seems to be much more inexpensive than the other big cities that I have been in! A Bica in Lisbon costs 0.50 euro, whereas an expresso in Madrid or Paris would be 1.50 euro! After my Bica and Pasteis, I headed out to explore the neighborhood.

After walking about 100 yards from my hostel, I noticed the very famous Elevador de Santa Justa , which rises roughly 100 ft over Baixa and offers a spectacular view over the city. After checking out the great view of Lisbon, I headed down the steep hill, passing many cool boutique stores! Many of the stores sell funny t-shirts that say things like, "Portugal, the country next to Spain" and a great flower pot that you can check out on my pictures page! I then cruised down the grande pedestrian street Rua Augusta, which is were my hostel is located, and snapped a few pictures of the arch before the Praco do Comercio. Unfortunately, the massive Praco do Comercio is undergoing some substantial renovations, but was still able to snap a few photos of the view of the 25th of April Bridge, which looks very similar to the Golden Gate Bridge, and the statue of Jesus looking over the city, which is very similar to the statue of Jesus looking over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After some great pictures, I cruised back to the hostel to get a recommendation for dinner.

Incredibly, one of the best and most affordable Portuguese restaurants in Lisbon, Alicorista, is right down the road from my hostel. The waiter recommended the octopus salad, sword fish and rice pudding. The octopus salad was amazing and the sword fish was the best fish I have ever had in my life. I repeat, the best fish I have ever had in my life! Very bold, but very true statement! After filling up on a wonderful meal, I headed back to the hostel to crash for night.

Lisboa - April 17 - Day 2

Today, I woke up and grabbed an incredible breakfast! Included in the price of my room is a made to order breakfast, which includes eggs, toast, cereal, coffee, tea, oj, ect. Very good!

After filling up, I took one of the many 1950's style streetcars up to the Graca neighborhood, which is right beside Baixa. After the short ride, I stopped into a cafe for a Bica and an almond pastr, which was excellent! I then took in a fantastic view of the city from monastery overlooking Baixa. After a few photos and a short rain spell, I decided to explore the neighborhood. To my amazing luck, I stumbled across a bar called Terrace, which had an incredible view of the city. I stayed at the bar and chatted with the bar tenders for about two hours before heading down the hill for a bite to eat! After a small sandwich, I decided to take the streetcar back up to Graca and check out the other side of the hill. After cruising the streets for about an hour, it started to rain pretty hard, so I decided to go back to the hostel for some relax time.

At the hostel I decided to join another guy in the TV room to watch a movie. The room has incredibly comfortable cushions to lay on, so instead of watching the movie, I snoozed for about an hour! After my snooze, I once again headed to Alicorista for dinner. The waiter recommended another dish, which consisted of stewed chicken, sausage and rice in an olive oil and wine sauce! Incredible! So incredible, I am going back tonight!

After my meal, I headed back to the hostel to catch the Lisbon night tour, which is put on by the hostel staff. At 9 PM, six people from the hostel piled into a small van and headed out across the city. Although Lisbon is a large city by population, 3 million people, it only takes 20 or so minutes to cross by car! The tour took us from the vantage point in Graca that I had seen the day before, to the new commercial district, followed by a view of the longest bridge in Europe. We then crossed the city to check out the fantastic Belem neighborhood, where we stopped at a Monastery and the famous Pasteis de Belem pastry shop where we sampled, what the locals claim to be, the best Pasteis in town. We then cruised by the famous Padrao Dos Descobrimento, which is a monument to Henry the Navigator and the Age of Discovery and the Torre de Belem, which is an old fortification built to protect Lisbon's harbor from pirates! We then loaded the van onto a barge and crossed the Tejo River. The crossing only took 7 minutes, but provided an excellent view of Lisbon! On the other side of the river, we drove through "new Lisbon," which was not very impressive and across the 25 of April Bridge. We then cruised under a massive aqueduct and through the very posh financial district before heading back to the hostel. The tour was absolutely fantastic and gave me a view of the city that I otherwise would have never seen. The tour took 3 hours, so when we got back, I hopped in bed and went right to sleep! Great day!
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