The end of Le Tour de la Costa del Iberia, but the start of the real adventure! I absolutely loved getting to know everyone on the trip, but two weeks of group travel, for me personally, is a good amount of time. I feel ready to jump into solo Europe travel, but first. THE WEDDING!!! Can’t wait to see Kirsty and Dan profess their undying love for one another, perform the Hora and dance the night away.
Lisbon. What a beautiful city. But honestly, pack your walking shoes. There are hills, slippery cobblestones and the city itself is HUGE. If you’re like me and prefer to get lost by foot than taking public transport everywhere, prepare yourself for a lot of steps! I think I say this almost every time I get to a new city, but seriously- get to Lisbon if you can. Seemingly cleaner and bigger than most European cities I have been to, it has more of a lush and colourful feel. I believe this to be due to the earthquake that levelled the city in 1755. The Earthquake was during Holy Week, and with candles in most of the churches, fires spread like wildfire, with a tsunami adding to the devastation, people were sure that this was an act of God. They estimate that 275,000 people lost their lives to this event. Essentially, the whole city had to be rebuilt. But I think that they took the opportunity to do what most cities in Europe could not do at this time- undertake some proper town planning. With wide and leafy streets, white cobble-stoned footpaths, the city feels cleaner and fresher than a lot of other European cities.
It astounds me how such a little country managed to navigate and conquer so much land mass across the globe, and while it was a state of Spain at one stage, it has maintained its territorial borders for longer than any other country, ever- since 1297. There is so much interesting history, with dates that I, as an Aussie, really struggle to get my head around. For example, I was probably wondering around on cobblestones that were older than Australia- the country it’s known as today. When I discuss history with Europeans, they often don’t realise how recently Australia as we know it was founded, but that’s not to say that we don’t have a substantial history in our country (yes, I did have a bit of an argument with a German about this fact in Lisbon… telling him that our Indigenous Population are believed to be the oldest and most advanced in history). But honestly, with assassinations, overthrowing of the crown, conquests, dictatorships, natural disasters and fascist regimes, it astounds me that such a beautiful country has survived at the end of it all. But, the piece of history that interests me most in Lisbon, was what happened on the 25th of April, 1974; The Carnation Revolution. This day was so important in its history, they have named Lisbon’s equivalent of the Golden Gate Bridge The April 25th Bridge, commemorating the ousting of the fascist regime, without any bloodshed, with no loss of life. While they still have the bloodline waiting in the wings for the day they reinstate the monarchy, they are yet to make that decision.
We travelled over a 17km long bridge to get here and unfortunately did not manage to get a stamp for entering Portugal from Spain. But first stop, we had to try the Pasteles de Nata; Portuguese Eggs tarts of course. They were invented in the Geronimo Monastery, and shortly after their concoction, the nuns sold the recipe to the bakery down the street who has been selling them ever since. DELICIOUS.
The LX Factory and Barrio Alto was also a pretty cool area of town. Filled with artisan markets and street art, delicious delicacies and way too much shopping. I rode a bike to blend my own juice, was tempted by the cork handicrafts and got lost in the local markets. Literally, don’t know how I am supposed to carry my suitcase around now, but oh well, it’ll be my weight training.
I had heard many good things about the 28 tram, but to be completely honest, I didn’t catch it. I stood in the queue at one point ready to hop on, but with the dozens of other tourists in front of me, I gave up. I am one to enjoy the city by foot, and instead took to an afternoon run along the wharf, and an early morning walk through the street art centres and visited the Lookout of Saint Catalina, the oldest bookshop in Lisbon; Bertrand Books, and of course went on a hunt for coffee.
Lisbon for me was an opportunity to recharge, drink good coffee and pick up a few bits and pieces (aka go shopping). For coffee- head to The Mill (an Australian/Portuguese cafe, serving good ol’ smashed avo), Copenhagen Coffee Lab or Fábrica coffee roastery. All in all, top tip for the day- if the coffee place is selling its own branded coffee merch, it’s probably good. A delicious meal at the TimeOut Markets was the perfect way to say Adios to the rest of the group, and Em and I booked into our HOTEL for some R&R.
Next stop. Ericeira for LA BODA DEL AÑO!