Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lisbon, Portugal

I left Vienna early friday morning (4:30AM wakeup), went through heathrow, and made it to Lisbon by about 4:30pm. I had read that the taxis in Lisbon tend to try to rip you off by taking longer than necessary journeys, so I was semi-prepared. However, I was still slightly ripped off - but only by a euro or so..:) I checked into the hotel, and took the lift up. I was greeted with the hallway in the image to the left! This hotel is all about black and white, and they are quite liberal with the black! I was tired, so in order to find my room, I just scanned my key until I found one that worked..:) The room itself is quite nice - very "pantages" style (in toronto), with more artistic license. In the bathroom, there is a lot of mirrors and 1-way glass, so I was, uh, very confused at first!

I relaxed for a bit, then headed out for dinner and a drink. Of course I was going to old lisbon, so I took the metro down, which is a very easy system. Once again I'm reminded how dumb our system is in Toronto! I ended up walking a lot through the old town - I don't think any pictures can do it justice. It's a collection of small alleys, very hilly, and covered in graffitti. It's very moody - very cool! I eventually settled on a tapas place where I could sit outside, with some live portugeuse music. The tapas were good - especially the octopus. I then walked around to check out the nightlife, and was offered every major drug in the book over and over! They're all over anyone who looks like a tourist - and perhaps my map and camera gave me away..:)

I called it a night fairly early, and got to bed. The hotel room has an electronic system for closing/opening blinds. Not the normal blinds - the one that essentially covers the entire window (and a translucent one as well). The next morning when I woke up, the room was still completely dark! The breakfast was great - then it was off to tour the city. I took one of those open-top tour buses, always a great way to get introduced to a city. Every few stops I would get off, wander around, and get on the next one. Once I arrived in the central square, I noticed some tour busses. I had been advised to try to get to Sintra, and it turned out a bus was departing in 10 minutes! Ah, it always works out....:)

Sintra was very nice - lots of history. Then it was off to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost tip of continental Europe. Basically, that excludes any islands (ie England). It was very beautiful - the coast was just amazing. Not much time to just chill there, which was disappointing. The bus made the way down the coast back to Lisbon - and this drive was quite nice as well. It reminded me a bit of the shoreline highway in California.

Now I'm back at the hotel, taking a break. Enjoying a nice glass of Portugeuse Red, then back to Old Lisbon!

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