Trip to Lisbon – Day 4

Day 4

After a terrible night and a even worst morning I decided to finally do some sightseeing in Lisbon itself. The plan was to walk those old streets up to the castle, then walk everything down to the river, and stop by any landmark on the way.

Lisbon Castle

São Jorge Castle, Lisbon

My head felt like it was holding a wardrobe and all my muscles hurt, except my feet, because I could not feel them. I entered a cafeteria, ordered an espresso and a pastel the nata, and couldn’t help but notice a foreign girl across the room having the exact same thing. “In Rome be Roman” I thought to myself.

Pastel de nata

The breakfast of champions

That breakfast made me feel better but I was not quite there, so half the way to the castle I had to make another stop, this time for a beer. And you know what? That beer really hit the spot. I felt like Super Mario after eating a star. I was sitting outside having god’s drink when I saw that same foreign girl walking up the street. She passed by and I discretely checked her rear attributes by fully turning me head around. When I turned back again I saw the waiter smiling at me, nodding, like he was saying “Yeap, I saw that too.” I picked my stuff and continued my journey, but not before having another beer. Another sweet cold beer.

Super Mario's Star

Super Mario star

I got to be honest, my orientation skills are not my best quality, and on my way to the castle I got lost, finding myself on a viewpoint square I had been before. I could see the castle across the valley, which meant I would only have to walk everything down and up again. Luckily there was a bar with an esplanade and a funny band playing outside. So I stayed there a little bit, enjoying the sun, the view, the band, and another Super Mario star.

I hit the road and as I was going down I saw that foreign girl again, walking up the street. “This is odd”, I thought to myself. So, after going all the streets down and up again, I lost myself. Again. This time finding myself on an empty street. Seriously, an empty street right in the middle of Lisbon, and no one in sight to ask for directions. I was wondering when exactly had I passed the dimensional portal, when I saw her yet again. That very same foreigner girl I’ve been encountering all day was walking up the road straight in my direction, and I thought to myself “My God, she walked through the dimensional portal too!” Her hazel hair danced with the wind, and beneath I saw her light coloured eyes looking straight at me. She recognised me. I waited for her to get close, and asked her what any other guy would ask in the same situation: “Are you following me?”

Luckily she had a good sense of humour, and we ended up seeing the castle together. The place was huge, and lordly, totally worth those long kilometres I did on foot. There are endless corridors on the walls, cannons, old ruins, and a nice garden where you can find one of the most beautiful view of Lisbon. Highly recommended.

Cannons - Lisbon Castle

I wished I had powder with me

What was the most important thing I learned that day? If you decide to visit Lisbon on foot, always carry sunscreen, otherwise you will look like a lobster at the end of the day.


Trip to Lisbon – Day 2

Day 2

The second day was hot as hell. I was expecting to see the main touristic points in the center of Lisbon, but instead the certified female rally driver and her co-pilot toke me to Belém. It’s a lovely place where you can see the iconic Belém Tower and the magnificent Jerónimos Monastery, as well as the Monument of Discoveries and the famous “Pastéis de Nata Factory”. I was very glad to have someone who could drive me there, even if it meant being seen inside a car playing the Spice Girls really out loud, with the windshields down. I still can’t get that damn music off my head…

Padrão dos Descobrimentos The Monument of Discoveries was raised to honor the Portuguese discoveries, the greatest gift that Portugal has given to the World. There you can see iconic Portuguese people who, over the time, contributed to this great deed. I will write about that some day. The monument is located right next to the Tejo river. I also discovered that day that the Tejo river is know by foreigners as Tagus river, hell if I know why. I felt proud just for standing there.


Torre de Belém The Belém Tower also can be found by the river. Going inside is not for free, and the ticket line was absurdly long that day. But then something wonderful happened. A foreign female tourist approached one of my friends and offered her ticket, while explaining how she had no time to visit the tower. We discovered later that the ticket was also valid for the Jerónimos Monastery, and we wouldn’t have to wait in any of the lines. Talking about having a good luck charm 🙂 The tower served many purposes throughout Portugal history, and is now considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos The Jerónimos Monastery is also classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s a great example of the famous Portuguese Manueline style. Please do not confuse it with “manual style” if you want to preserve some of your dignity. It is also very big. Very very big. We used the ticket, skipped the line, and toke a look inside. The place is magnificent. Here you can see a picture from outside.

Pastéis de Nata Last but not least we went to the famous “Pasteis de Nata Factory”. It is a sort of café where they make the best pastéis de nata in the world. I’m not exaggerating, hands down the very best pastéis de nata in the entire world. The rally driver gave me an history lesson about this little tarts. It seems like they were created by monks a long time ago. They used the white part of the egg to make clothing, so they had a lot of yolks to spare, and that was how the pastel the nata was created. If you don’t know what a pastel de nata is, please hang yourself.

The rest of the day was just wondering around and chill out. We saw a wonderful view point and had a couple of cold beers in a wonderful spot. Typical vacation routine. I was hopping to see the center of Lisbon the next day. But things didn’t work quite that way…

Trip to Lisbon – Day 1

Lisbon TramI am Portuguese and I’ve never seen Lisbon until last week. I spent five days in the capital, and I’m going to write a post for each day.

Day 1

The first day was pretty uneventful. I decided to go to Lisbon by bus because there was no way I was going to take my car into that chaotic mess they call traffic. I arrived during the afternoon, and had a friend waiting for me at the station who helped me figure out how to use the urban transports.

Later I hooked up with some other friends, one of which had a car, and she drove us for dinner to an awesome market. Trust me, there is nothing as hot as watching a Portuguese girl rampaging through the streets of Lisbon in a 16v VW with one hand on the steering and other on the gear shaft.

Later that night I decided to go out for a beer in the most famous place in Lisbon for this purpose: the Bairro Alto. It is basically a maze of narrow streets full of pubs. I met a friendly group of Italians and we spent the night “sharing” our cultures.

Right next to Bairro Alto there is a wonderful viewpoint where you can see the whole city. We stayed there for a while beholding that magnificent sight. I felt butterflies in my stomach while imagining how it would be to walk those historical streets during the next day.

But the next day was holding some surprises…

Miradouro Sao Pedro Alcantara

Weekend in Arouca

Arouca CalvarioLast month I attended a wedding in a Portuguese town called Arouca. It’s a beautiful place located in the north of Portugal, half the way between Porto and Aveiro.

This small town was settled during the Roman occupation, I don’t know exactly when that was, but I’m sure it was a long time ago. It was settled in a giant valley, surrounded by huge mountains and thick vegetation, making it a perfect place if you seek nature and peace of mind. The landscape is breathtaking, enough to make Arouca a member of the Global Geoparks Network. In the town itself you can find those old buildings made with granite stone, a few parks, and many references to Christian religion.

I spent the whole weekend there and I had the opportunity to attend the Feira das Colheitas (Fair Crop). Arouca has fertile land, and during this fair people mount little tent stores along the streets to sell their fruits and vegetables, along with some regional gastronomic products and handicrafts. I kid you not I saw figs the size of apples, and olives the size of walnuts. It’s probably due to fertilizers or Chernobyl’s radiation, but I don’t discard the possibility of alien experiments.

During this weekend the small town of Arouca becomes crowded with tourists, and when I say crowded I do mean crowded. The masses of people moving through the streets can only be imagined by those who have seen The Walking Dead. A day in this Fair Crop will dramatically improve your abilities to dodge and squeeze through. You can think of it as an intense training to the inevitable zombie apocalypse. But don’t be alarmed, I’m sure the town is quite peaceful during the rest of the year.

If you like to explore those isolated towns in north of Portugal, you will surely enjoy spending your time in Arouca.