Thursday, 30 May 2013

Fall asleep in Seville, wake up in Lisbon

With Feria being a 10 day festival, we had a four day weekend, so I took the opportunity to go somewhere a bit further afield. As soon as work finished on Wednesday, I took a train to Seville and caught an overnight bus to Lisbon, Portugal.
I arrived at the majestic Oriente Station at 5am, welcomed by a chilly breeze and faced with the challenge to find the bus that would take me to the hostel .
A taxi ride to the hostel later (I admitted defeat pretty quickly, fighting fatigue and cold.) I was decidedly too tired to follow the original plan which was to drop off my bags and take the first train to Sintra - a small town 40 minutes outside Lisbon.
Instead I took a nap until 12pm and after a shower, I felt refreshed and ready to seize the day.
One of the first things I was surprised by was my lack of preparation. I had no idea where to go or what to see. So armed with a map I went for a stroll, taking a tram until a stop where everyone else got off and wandered around that area.
A quick trip to the tourist information centre informed me that Lisbon is pretty expensive city for tours, so I found an internet cafe to look for free tours.
This was quick and easy, and after 20 minutes, I had booked myself on a walking tour that started in an hour and a Fado tour for the evening.
The tour took around 3.5 hours, and took us all around Lisbon, and the labyrinthine streets of Alfama. It was very good exercise climbing up and down the hills of Lisbon!
The guides were very informative and helpful. At the end of the tour they told me the best areas to go and eat that were less touristy and thus less expensive. Also, a gem of information was when they told me where to go for the best and supposedly original Portuguese egg tarts.
The tours can be found here.

The traditional music of Portugal is called Fado. Famously melancholic, a little sad, there are also happier versions. We went to a restaurant and had some traditional fried cod cakes and flame cooked chorizo, washed down with copious amounts of red wine, sangria and a shot of ginjinha (cherry liquor) in a chocolate cup.
This might sound a little Spanish, but it was most definitely Portuguese.

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