2005-02-27 :: Lisbon
Ouch. It was a rough night at the pension- I'd forgotten just how
stiff a cheap bed can be. As a result, we were a bit sluggy all day
Sunday and didn't push to do all that much. The main plan was to just
go out and take a look at Lisbon in the daylight. To help get things
rolling, we started the morning off by visiting a pasteria near our
pension that looked straightforward enough for us to order at.
Gloomy skies, but warm coffee
It should be said that one of the great things about Portugal is
that they are very serious about their pastries. Every town that we
visited in Portugal had multiple pastry shops, which are called
Pasterias. As I said a few days earlier, they really do an impressive
job with the pastries. My favorite was the
pastÚl de nata, which looks like a
little quiche pie, but is filled with custard. Oh they're so good. Of
course, the downside of going to the pasterias is trying to
figure out the right way to order at them. In one of the trendier
places it looked like you had to tell a guy at a lone cash register
what you wanted, pay, and then take
your receipt to the counter to have it picked out for you. Since we
had no language confidence, we opted to move on to a smaller place
where we could just point to what we wanted in the cabinet. Our
surveillance led us to believe that the right thing to do was just
order and eat standing up at the counter. We were kind of confused,
but the pastries were worth it.
The big plaza by the water
Having received the morning's injections of sugar and caffeine, we
set out to conquer the city. Our first course of action was to
retrace the steps we took the night before to see what the main
pedestrian strip looked liked in the daylight. The place was much
more lively- there were a lot more buildings awake today, looking for
our attention. We continued on down to the water, where we caught a
glimpse of the Ponte 25 de Abril (the 25th of April bridge). Renamed
for Carnation Revolution, this bridge is the longest suspension
bridge in Europe and was made by some of the same people that built
the Golden Gate bridge.
The weather wasn't looking so good, so we set out to find a metro
stop so we could go to a museum (museums are also free on Sundays).
Our quest for a metro stop zig zagged us all over the place,
and made us realize that tourist maps should also include altitude
information (we wound up climbing a hill to get to what we thought
was the closest metro stop).
We seem to be going up..
The museum was a good way to spend a chunk of Sunday afternoon-
there were some cool collections and by the time we got out, the
clouds were starting to clear up. We made our way back to the Pension
to freshen up, and then headed out to find a way to get to the top
of the neighboring hill, where there was a large castle-like building.
We followed the guidebook's advice and hopped onto an old
electric trolley, which clanked around the streets and slowly started
making its way up the hill. Unfortunately, we didn't know when to get
off, and by the time we noticed that we were leaving the interesting
stuff behind, the trolley started going downhill fast and we were
back where we started. Doah.
Rather than admit that we'd missed the stop and change trolleys, we
stayed on to see where the ride would take us. There were about seven
other dumb tourists that did the same thing, so we didn't feel too
bad about the whole thing. Well.. The trolley just kept going and going,
until we were a long way away from where we wanted to be. And then..
we hit the end of the line and the conductor booted everyone off. Amy
and I wandered around the area a bit, trying to look like we'd meant
to do this. We tried to find a good place to get a picture of the
25 de Abril, but there were too many buildings in the way. We admitted
defeat and headed back to the trolley stand- just in time to see our
trolley (and our former trolley mates) clanging down the road. But..
the joke was on them because some guy had illegally parked his car
on the trolley tracks just down the street. The trolley had to stop and
call in some police to figure out what to do. Meanwhile, Amy and
I spied a bus stop that just happened to have a bus route that went
back downtown. It was hard not to smirk as we rode by our former
trolley mates. So we did just that, mouthing the word
The Great Car-Trolley Standoff. Ha ha!
Ahh.. Back in tourist land we opted for an Italian dinner (next
to Indian, Italian is a vegetarian traveler's best friend). Pretty
good stuff, plus we ordered a bottle of the "green wine". Unlike
green beer, green wine is a legitimate drink in Portugal. Sort of
bubbly, a bit like champagne, and slightly green. Having had so much
success with the port, I think Portugal's trying to branch out
and try pushing new beverages. Based on our experiences (port,
Ginjinha, and now green wine), they're making good with the drinks.