|San Francisco? Close - the Golden Gate's sister bridge in Lisbon! It made me feel right at home.|
|We stayed in a very cool hostel called "Lisbon Calling"|
|Our hostel was very comfortable and my two roommates and I got to stay in a room to ourselves. As always, we met a number of nice people (all Americans, except for the owners) who all shared their travel experiences!|
|The square in front of our hostel the first night|
The first night we made our way around the corner and up to Bairro Alto - supposedly the sight of the best food and nightlife in Lisbon. We went to a great local place for dinner where they only gave you three options - meat, fish, or vegetarian, but the food was amazing. The waitress, however, was less than thrilled with our lack of Portuguese skills (and even less enthused at our attempts to speak Spanish... we soon learned they do NOT like to speak Spanish here) and basically refused to serve us. We had to order everything through some locals sitting at the table next to us. In addition to ordering for us, they also told us a little bit about the Portuguese lifestyle, history, and culture. Definitely an interesting way to start off the trip!
The next day we ventured out into the city.
|Praça de Comércio, one of Lisbon's main squares|
We wandered down Rua Augusta, one of the main shopping streets in Lisbon. Everyone was roasting chestnuts for the recent holiday, and the air was filled with the sweet and fragrant nutty smoke.
|One of the most enticing bakeries we passed - we stepped inside only to find it absolutely packed!|
|The colorful breads reminded me of stollen, and made me very excited for christmas|
After walking down Rua Augusta, we decided to head up to see the Castle of São Jorge, which resides on top of Lisbons many hills. Lisbon reminded me a lot of San Francisco - it had the hills, the bridge, and the climate to match.
|The Castle on top of one of Lisbon's hills|
|There was graffiti everywhere in the city - some of it was very cool and artistic, while others were just words.|
|Lisbon very much felt like a "2nd world city" - Portugal's rough economy could definitely be felt in the city, but it was still a very cool place regardless.|
|View from halfway up the hill|
|An example of someone's home in Lisbon - while the building may look in bad shape, they still have a satellite dish to enjoy a multitude of channels! As in much of Europe, a very interesting juxtaposition of new and old.|
Once we were at the top, we got an amazing view of all of Lisbon, the Tagus River, and the Abril Bridge. As you can see from all of the pictures I took, I was obsessed with the bridge since it looked so much like the Golden Gate!
Some images from around the castle:
|Three of the roomies at the top of the castle! Lindsey, Betsy and I|
After the castle, it was time to head back down and towards Belém, another area of Lisbon. Our main objective in Belém was the Café Pastéis de Belém, home of Portugal's dessert of choice, the pastéis de nata. Although wikipedia calls pastéis de nata an "egg tart pastry," I would more consider it more like a personal creme brulee. So delicious!
|The famous café - we were lucky to get our pastéis right out of the oven!|
|Success - sprinkled with a little powdered sugar and cinnamon, the warm dessert was absolutely delicious.|
After devouring our pastéis, we walked over to Santa Maria de Belém and the Tower of Belém.
|The Tower of Belém|
|View of the river and bridge from the Tower of Belém... I mentioned I was obsessed with the bridge, right?|
The next day we hopped on a train to go to a little nearby town, Sintra.
|Our walk to the train station - I loved all of the colorful buildings.|
|Another view of the castle trying to find the train station! We got a little lost...|
|A café we stopped at for lunch once we arrived in Sintra. They had good food (and pastéis de nata!) and it was the perfect way to warm up on a chilly day.|
|A street we shopped along. It's always nice to go to the smaller towns where we can just slow down and relax without an agenda.|
|View of the town - the street wound in and around the hills. Very pretty.|
|Walking in the winding streets of Sintra|
|A local tile painter - he was very talented. He had signs that said no pictures allowed, but I finally convinced him to let me take one! (Someone will be getting Christmas gifts from here :) )|
|I loved Sintra - it was such a quaint little town. Definitely a welcome break from the chaos and excitement of Barcelona! Also a great place for some Christmas shopping!|
|City lights of Lisbon|