I managed to pull myself out of the bed when the conductor called. I collected my things and found myself in the train station. I had to take 2 metros to get to my hostel but it was pretty straight forward and only a few stops.
Sunset Destination Hostels
When I arrived at my hostel I found that it was directly above one of the train stations. Literally on the floors above the foyer. It was strange and I could hear the announcements from the station below but it wasn’t overly bothersome.
I was feeling pretty shitty and had really hoped my bed was not used the night before so I could check in right away (even though it was only 8am). Unfortunately, this was not the case. I put my stuff in the luggage room and then laid on the couch in the common room for a good long while. I checked my messages, explored the hostel a little bit, played games on my phone, and just people watched while I let the time pass. Around 1:30 (half an hour before check in) i went down stairs to the station to grab some food.
There was not a whole lot to choose from but I got a smoked salmon baguette and sat on a bench to eat it. It was pretty terrible but I figured I should eat, even though I was not hungry.
When the clock struck two I went back upstairs to check in.
My room was pretty big. A 4 bedroom and the bathroom was only next door so I was pretty happy with the set up. Unfortunately I was on the top bunk again but, so is the life of dorms. I really did not feel like doing much so I put my stuff in the large locking draws under the bed (a great feature) and then laid down to waste the day away.
I watched some episodes of Millionaire Matchmaker, listened to music, avoided writing the San Sebastian blog, and overall just killed time and rested. I was content.
I ventured out to find dinner and opted for one of the super touristy places with 100 chairs outside. I got a Paella and it was awful. I returned to bed unsatisfied and feeling a little bit sick.
Getting My Tourist On
The next morning I decided to be extra productive. I was too weak to walk around and explore the town but I did not want to miss anything since I had heard from multiple people that portugal was amazing.
I opted for the all-too-touristy double decker hop-on/hop-off bus. I walked over to one of the ‘Yellow Bus’ booths (the best tour bus in Lisbon) in a nearby square and bought the full 48 hour, 4 route pass. I figured I could take my time over the next two days. Do 2 full routes a day and get off where I wanted for photos. It would be perfect.
I started with the old-town route which was actually done in an old-time tram. It weaved up the hills of the old town and through the Alfama along the historic tracks. Past churches and narrow streets and around sharp corners – it was really a neat experience. I got to see the tiled buildings up close and personal and scope out the places I would return to later in the trip for a walking tour (which is highly recommended for the Alfama region). I did not hop off but was pleased with the experience.
After the Old-Town trolly I walked over to the second route bus stop (the routes are in no order, but I just caught them in order of what was closest to me). This route was the “Lisbon” route. It was a ‘highlights’ tour of most of Lisbon, old and modern. We ventured far into the city, up to the top of hills, down along the water, past some major monuments, and through popular areas. It really gave me an idea of what Lisbon is actually like, away from all the tourism and ‘old-town’ areas which I was slowly growing tired of. I even found apartments that were modern enough to be in downtown Calgary and took more pictures of them than I have churches! I learned so much from the recordings along the way and saw more than I ever could have on foot.
After I finished up the trolly tour I stopped in to check out MUDE – Lisbon’s design museum. It was free and had some great furniture and clothing pieces from different time periods. It only took me about half an hour to go through it so I am glad I stopped in.
This was all I had planned to do today but there were still a few daylight hours and the day had been so perfect I opted to do a third route. One of the routes was in the Belem area and had to be accessed by the Lisbon route I had just gotten off. I decided to leave that one until tomorrow when I could appreciate doing the Lisbon route again.
This other route was called Modern Lisbon. It took us down along the river to the newer areas of Lisbon. Down in an area where the architecture was brand new, it was bustling with people in suits, and where the monuments were more 21st century. It was a great contrast to the first tour of old town. We went past the Science Museum where the audio guide explained all of Lisbon’s technological achievements and past one of the large train stations that had been beautifully designed with striking beams and rigid metal. It was a breath of fresh air. But the full Lisbon tour still took the cake.
After this tour it was dinner time. I had been in the sun on the top deck of the bus for hours and was starting to feel weak again. I avoided the large tourist restaurants like the plague and found an adorable little place that looked clean and fresh. They had a brunch menu that they said I could order from and I enjoyed a great dinner of Eggs, toast, and fruit along with an orange juice and a tea.
It was a perfect day.
Time to Mingle
That night I was hanging out in my room when my hostel roommate invited me to eat. He was a very nice french man not too much older than me and this was his last night in Lisbon. His name was Laurent. He had heard of an amazing seafood restaurant called ‘Sea Me’ just up the hill from our hostel so we headed that way. When we got there there was a line up and the hostess said there was no chance we would get in without a reservation. Plan B.
We wandered around before deciding we wanted sushi and looked for places nearby (thank goodness for meeting Europeans that have phone plans and internet access on the go). We found a place nearby called ‘Umai’ and settled in. It was clean and modern and had a nice environment. The service was touch and go and it felt like we waited forever to order but once we did it all ran smoothy. The food was decent and only slightly more expensive than I was used to for sushi, and the company was great. The language barrier was not too bad as Laurent was pretty good at English and we only had to look up a few words.
Following dinner we took a stroll down some side streets in search of a beautiful lookout Laurent had found earlier in the week. Some of the streets were scary and one even had a group of men that followed me with their eyes and even started to move in our direction. We picked up speed and made it to the next street, one that had a nice restaurant and patio on it. When we looked back they had turned around.
We found the lookout and stood there for a while enjoying the view and cool breeze. It was a really great night.
We added each other on facebook since I would be visiting Paris next (where he lives) and planned to meet up again.
We then headed back to the hostel for a good sleep. The next morning he was gone before I woke up.
I had heard so much about the neighbourhood (or is it considered a town?) of Belem. It was famous for some sort of desert and was said to have some nice communities. It was the most visited place in Lisbon.
I hopped back on the Lisbon bus tour with my 48 hour pass and enjoyed, for the second time, the street art, modern buildings, old squares, tiny shops, and rich streets filled with trees and expensive stores. Half way through was the transfer point, at Jeronimos Monastery to be exact. I hopped off the bus and awaited the Belem tour bus.
There was an adorable English (they may have been Australian… i can’t remember now) couple waiting as well and we began talking about travel. They told me of their experiences when they were younger and traveling the world and how one of the ferry’s they were on from Santorini to Athens nearly capsized in a huge storm. They had to put the life jackets on and everything. It was terrifying. Glad I wasn’t heading back there anytime soon.
The Belem bus pulled up and we all climbed to the top for the best views and the best tan.
The Belem tour was really different. As is Belem in and of itself. We passed small stucko/clay townhouses with laundry hung out right before we passed what looked like California-modern houses with large pools and metal and glass decks. We saw the Palace (or at least the gates) and the entrance to a huge garden that is apparently a large part of the area). It was an eye opener and only added to my belief that this was the best city in the world (especially if I one day get one of those California-modern mansions).
Belem Desserts: Pastel De Nada (Pasteis)
At the end of the tour the audio guide pointed out one of the oldest and most authentic shops to get their world-famous desserts. The line was a little bit long but… it seemed worth it.
They sold these desserts all over Lisbon but I would highly recommend going to the source. I believe the address is 88 Belem street? or something similar.
The desserts are like tarts with a vanilla custard inside. I was a little hesitant because it’s not my usual choice for sweets but if it was this famous and this traditional I had to do it. I got 2 and walked over to a nearby fountain (which are everywhere and Calgary should seriously consider adopting even for the 2 months of summer we have) to enjoy them.
The recipe is secret but they sprinkle cinnamon and icing sugar onto each one before they leave the shop. It was adorable. I took my first bite and fell in love. It was creamy and delicious and sweet and flaky and perfect. I gobbled both up pretty quickly.
Monuments and Selfies
Well… There had been a few monuments along the tour that we drove past and that were worth getting a better look. Two of them were straight across the highway. I could not figure out how to cross the highway (ps: I found
later that there is an underground passage way… so… that’s easy) so I hopped back on the bus and took it to the stops across the street (it circled a few blocks and took an overpass to get there). I hopped off and first walked up the the Belem Tower. It was originally used as a guard tower and stuck out like a sore thumb. It was an old-time castle-like structure with stone walls and crenelations to boot. It was, unfortunately, a paid monument so I opted to stand a few meters back and take photos of it instead from every external angle, selfies included. It was pretty neat looking.
Then I caught the bus again (hey, might as well use this pass while I have it) and got off at the next stop, the Monument of Discoveries (Padrao dos Descobrimentos).
It was a beautiful structure representing sea voyage and all of the people that played a part in finding a passage through to… India I believe? Some major trade route.
I, again, did not pay to go in and opted for the 10 photos and 3 selfies. Then I was hungry.
Dinner on the Water
There was a nice little Italian place right beside the monument. I knew it would be expensive because it was right beside one of Lisbon’s main tourist attractions, but it was easy.
I grabbed a table on the patio and ordered some cheese bread and a Greek salad. The restaurant was surrounded by water, even though the water was green, and had nice umbrellas which gave it a neat sea-side vibe. The greek salad was horrible and I wasn’t feeling well enough for the cheese toast but I enjoyed sitting in the fresh air for a little while.
After the Belem tour I was inspired to go see Alfama. I was getting tired but had heard there was a flea market up there that only happened once a week. I took the bus back to the main square where I transferred to the Modern Lisbon bus and took that to the nearest stop (this brought you near the Apolina train station where you only had to walk up the hill. The Old-Town trolly would have taken a long time).
I walked up the street hills and eventually found the flea market. It was shutting down for the day 🙁 but, at least it’s presence encouraged me to get up to that area so I began to walk around. I came upon the trolly tracks and decided to follow them. I figured I would find the places I had seen from the trolly and get a better look. At the same time, if I got too tired, I could hop on with my still-valid pass and get back.
I walked past a few churches, took some up close photos of the beautiful tiled buildings, and climbed the many stairs that are Alfama. Then, I came upon the most beautiful lookout of the city. It looked over the red roofs of the old buildings and had the crisp blue water in the background. It was up among an old church and some beautiful trees with musicians playing for the public. It was truly an amazing place.
I asked a nice couple to take my photo and took theirs in return and enjoyed the views for a few minutes. I also ended up buying some art from one of the street vendors. Just a few small canvas pieces of the areas I had seen and enjoyed most. 3 for 15 euros was my barter.
I soon left and walked back along the tracks thinking I would catch the next trolly. But before I knew it I was back at the main square. I returned back to the hostel and rested for the remainder of the day.
After I was well rested I was hungry again but really didn’t feel like dealing with the battle that came with being a Pescatarian in a country that hardly understood the word. So… I did what any non-respectable world traveler would do and went to a place similar to Pizza Hut and ordered a pizza and chocolate mousse. Now THAT I was happy with.
Beach Day – Quest for Seclusion
I have some bad news. I can’t for the life of me figure out where I was headed. I have googled and googled and cannot find the website that sparked my interest to head towards this particular beach… but I shall tell the story anyway.
I woke up the next morning and knew I needed to head to the beach. It was early enough that I could make a day out of it even if I had to travel a little ways. I did some googling and narrowed it down to 2 places. One was near Cascais (a quick half hour train ride) and the other was about an hour and half away. After much deliberation I decided that I wanted to go to the more secluded beach that was further away. It seemed like a bit of a trek with a few different changes but I was determined.
I asked the receptionist the best way to get there and she googled it and wrote it down. I had to take the metro to the bus station, catch a bus, transfer to another bus after an hour or so, and then get off and catch a small car-train that hopped from beach in the summer months. I set off.
Transportation to Nowhere
I caught the Metro just fine and found the bus station. There were many stops at this station and none were marked very clearly. I wandered around for a good 10 minutes before I found the bus stop I was looking for (40? maybe 44?) It came about half an hour later. The bus pulled away and hit the highway in no time. I was on my way! But just when my heart started to flutter and my head relaxed there was a loud noise and a large shake. We had blown a tire… The bus driver pulled over and went outside to scope the damage. He came back in and assured us that another bus would be there shortly to continue our journey. I asked him how long it was to my transfer stop in case the next bus driver did not speak English and so I could keep track of my own time.
When the next bus came the driver walked us all over and got on the bus with us. He was coming for the ride. He started asking me where exactly I was headed. I told him the beach name. He then asked how I intended to get there. I told him. Then he started to talk to the other driver in Portuguese. After some back and he forth he looked at me puzzled. He told me there was no way to get there without a car. I didn’t understand. We had googled it. I told him about the little train that went from beach to beach through the Natural Park and how I just had to get to the first stop, which was where the second bus should take me. He told me that that train had stopped running last year and you now needed a car. I was devastated. I asked where I could go. We were already an hour away from Lisbon and quite frankly I was scared to get off the bus and try to find one going back. He told me if I take this bus to the end, a city called ‘Setubal’, I would find a nice public beach called Praia da Figueirinha.
I was extremely overwhelmed and really just wanted to find a beach that was secluded and quiet and had crystal clear water and the one I had planned seemed to be the only one nearby of this kind. He told me that this beach was nice and had chairs for rent and a beach cafe. I was not interested. I began to cry. The poor bus driver did not know what hit him. He said that it was the only option in this direction that was easy enough to get to. He was very apologetic and said that if I walked down the beach past the main area I may find some untouched inlets to call my own. This was not ideal but it was the best I had.
When we were nearing the city he told me that he would be back at 7pm and If I wanted to I could wait to leave until then. If I needed a familiar face he would be there. I thanked him very much. He then dropped me off in front of the shuttle bus to the beach (a little bit off the bus route) and wished me luck, waving goodbye like a protective father.
Praia da Figueirinha
I walked over to the shuttle bus, still wiping tears from my eyes and counted out my change for the transfer. I held up the line trying to figure out which coins were which and once I finally had it counted out (mostly in small change) I came up 30 cents short. I began to cry again. This bus driver seemed less friendly but equally concerned. He told me it was alright and gave me a ticket anyway. We pulled away and I finally landed on the beach.
The moment my feet hit the sand of Praia da Figueirinha my tears were gone. It was a much busier beach than I had hoped for but the man had promised solitude. I kicked off my sandals and headed to the water. I would follow it around until I found peace.
Praia da Figueirinha – Private Haven
I had to wade out into the water and climb over some rocks to make my way around the coast but after about 10 minutes I found the perfect little inlet. The beach was untouched and there were large rocks on either side. I sighed loudly and maybe even shed another tear. I laid my towel down and then laid myself right down on top of it. I had found it. Absolute happiness. I closed my eyes and let the warm sun nourish my face and cleanse my soul (or at least that is what it felt like). I decided to take a few pictures of my new favourite place in the world as well as some of myself as well. I had never been so tanned, my hair had never been so white, and I had never felt so relieved to be in one single place in my whole life. They all turned out wonderfully.
I put my camera down and closed my eyes again.
I woke up a little while later. The water had come in and soaked the end of my towel. I was thankful that I had put my camera bag further away. I then remembered that I had waded out at some parts to get here and wondered how difficult it would be to get back. I packed up all my stuff, stuffed my shorts and tank in my camera bag, and headed back to the main beach. It was more difficult than I had anticipated. At some points I had to put my camera bag on my head since the rocks jutted out to a point that forced me into water up to my shoulders. My feet got a little cut up on the rocks but I managed not to hurt myself too bad in this natural obstacle course. I finally rounded the last corner and found the main beach. I was a little bit disappointed at the sight of all the people and wished that the tide had not taken away my haven, but I was not ready to leave.
I found a spot near to the end I had just come from and set up shop again.
The problem with people is theft. Every time I started to get too hot I had to walk to the water with my eye on my bag, dip in, and head back. I was alone and had no one to watch my bag so I was now unable to enjoy the peace of the day. It was a little bit of an emotional roller coaster and I fell asleep again.
I woke up nearly gasping for air in the heat when my feet got wet. The tide had yet again caught up to me. I moved all my stuff a few feet up the beach, did a quick dip without taking my eye off my bag, and then laid down again.
Once the tide caught up once more I decided I was done. There were kids running around beside me and kicking sand on my stuff. This was not where I wanted to be.
I packed up my things and headed to the beach cafe for a salad and lemonade. It was not amazing but it would do. I ate quickly and headed for the bus back to the town. Once there I decided to just catch the first bus (even though it was half an hour before my bus driver friend would be back). I was not worried about getting lost and just wanted to get home. It was a long ride but I played Bubble Witch and Forest Mania on my phone and it went by relatively quickly.
When I got back to the hostel I had a nap.
My new roommate was heading out for the night with everyone but was going to hang by the pool upstairs first. I decided I should try to be social and accepted his invitation. We both grabbed teas from the kitchen and then sat with our feet in the water along with 5 french girls. I watched them proceed to try to push each other into the pool and opted to return to my room still dry.
I then went to sleep once again.
The next day I followed my plan to go to Sintra. It was on every ‘top 10 things to do it Lisbon’ list so I figured I should head out that way. I walked to Rossio train station and caught the train to Sintra. It was extremely easy as the trains came every half an hour. The train ride was also only about 45 minutes.
When I got off the train I was not entirely sure where to go. There were some hop on/hop off options but I was not interested in the monetary output for those – so I walked. I started to follow the signs to the castles alone with a few other ambitious people We weaved along a narrow road that looked into a gully. It was well forested and there were some nice houses along the way. Street vendors set up shop along some of the stone walls and there was a misleading area that claimed it was the castle (though with further inspection I found it to be a theme park and cafe – and most of the other walkers were almost tricked as well).
After about half an hour I made it to the first major tourist building – Sintra National Palace. I walked up to it and, after reading that it was 18 euros to get it, walked away from it. I admired the exterior and the view from the terrace and then continued on my way. I could see the 2 major castles at the top a mountain and started following the signs towards them. After another half an hour I decided I could walk no more. I was still sick, my cough was not letting up, and my energy levels were shot. I stopped in at a conveniently placed tourist center and asked how to do everything. There was a 5 euro bus that stopped right outside and did a loop to all the major attractions. It was the closest thing to a city bus and was a good price. I went outside and caught the next one. As it weaved up the hill we passed a few more ambitious hikers tackling the switchbacks like troopers. All I could think of was how friggen glad I was that I stopped and asked. Near the top the people were looking pretty haggered and I saw one girl hit her boyfriend. Yes – the bus was a very good idea.
The first stop was at Moorish Castle. There was a bathroom at this stop, thankfully, and a cute souvenir stand. After a quick look around I started down the path towards the castle. There was a long walk from the main entrance to the castle doors that weaved through forest and castle wall ruins. I followed signs to the guard tower. It was a small building that you could only admire from the outside and on the other side was a dirt road. I wondered what was down there and if that was the place to go to get to other ruins. After walking for 20 minutes I hit the main road again… and the bus passed me. I had completely missed the actual castle. I treked back up towards the guard tower and retraced my steps to the last sign I had seen. By this point I was exhausted. I weaved my way with the path towards the castle and took no side-roads. Once there I went up to the entrance. It cost 18 euros to get in… COME ON. Tourist attractions are such a scam. I could see most of the inside and it was simply more ruins and stone walls with a few stairscases. I mean, if I was not running out of money I may have considered it but at this point I was tired and pretty over ruins. Also, it didn’t quite compare to what I had seen in Scotland a few years back. So, I took a few pictures of the outside and headed back to the bus stop.
I took this bus to the next castle, Pena National Palace. It was brightly coloured but I could see the sign from the bus. To even get near it you had to pay 10 euros, and if you wanted to go in it was an additional amount (I cant quite remember how much now). The line of people waiting for the bus was massive (even I had waited 40 minutes to get back on after the first castle) so I decided to stay in my seat and continue down the hill.
I took the bus right to the train station and got on the train back to Lisbon.
Did I waste my trip to Sintra? Maybe. Do I regret it? No. I was nearing the end of my journey and I was quite tired of sight seeing. Sintra really didn’t do much for me in terms of sparked interest but I am glad I get to say I’ve gone. At the very least I burned a million calories.
When I got back I went and got more pizza and chocolate mousse from the nearby fast food joint, and settled in with Millionaire Matchmaker.
That night I found a market down the street that had something similar to a food court. They had all kinds of food, most of which I could not pronounce. I wandered in circles a few times feeling frustrated before a man at the noodle bowl place handed me a menu in English on my third pass. I bought a seafood noodle bowl. It was delicious.
I went back to the hostel. I had had to check out that morning because I extended my stay and the room I had was already full. I got all of my stuff from the luggage room and they showed me to my new room. This room was way on the other side of the building and you could hear every train announcement (since the hostel was above the train station). But I was not complaining… why? BECAUSE I GOT A BOTTOM BUNK!! Finally.
I laid down for a little while, spent some time on my computer, and had a nap.
Later in the evening my roommates came in. One was a girl from Quebec and one was actually a fellow Calgarian! What are the odds. The French girl had a little bit of an edge and was not overly welcoming (can’t say I was surprised) but the guy, Zack, was extremely friendly. He told me about a BBQ that was happening upstairs and invited me to go out with everyone that night to Bairro Alto, the famous bar district of Lisbon. I had only been out once this whole trip and figured I should try to be social again. I was still feeling a little bit sick but pulled myself out of bed and got ready. I decided to wear a scarf in case I had a coughing fit like I had been all day (best decision ever).
Zack and I went upstairs and got ourselves some tea and sat at a picnic table with some other travelers. I met a lovely girl named Barbara who was from Amsterdam and traveling with her boyfriend. It is amazing how people from Amsterdam have no accents. Every person I have met from there speaks perfect English without even a hint of an accent. I also met two fun girls from Brussels, Marine and Alicia. Their English was slightly more broken but we didn’t run into any barriers.
After everyone finally finished eating, deciding where to go, doing last minute touch-ups, and reconvening in the lobby, we were off!
After a quick hike up the hill near the hostel (up where I got sushi with Laurent actually) we found Bairro Alto. It was a series of narrow roads lined with bars, pubs, clubs, and restaurants. We stopped in at the first empty bar we saw and everyone (but me) got a drink. Once everyone had finished their drinks the place was packed – your welcome small bar owner. We moved to the next.
Another bar had live music and the man was playing some great oldies. But I think everyone stopped in because their ‘large’ beers were… well… XXL. After everyone managed to get THOSE down we kept moving again. This next time we found a club. It seemed pretty fun inside so we weaved our way in. It was pretty busy. We ran into some other people from our hostel, including the french girl in my room, and all stayed for most of the night. It had great music and everyone was dancing up a storm. I was a little anxious being in such a crowded place but was happy to have my scarf for stray coughs or when weird guys came up to talk to me.
Next door there was a bar with very very cheap shots. People tended to leave the club (which had expensive drinks) and go there for their liquid courage. Eventually there was a cover charge to get back into the club but, thankfully, our hostel hosted a pub crawl and that pub crawl was at the bar – so we just had to show our hostel bracelet and they thought we were part of that group.
Eventually the club grew old and we stood outside for some fresh air and to plan our next move. People were smoking all around me and I was, again, very happy to have my scarf. I could barely breathe and finally convinced people to keep moving.
The weird thing about Europe is that when the bars close, the clubs open. There is this street called ‘Pink Street’ that has all of the larger clubs. It was now about 3am so that meant it was club time. I was already pretty tired since I was sick and well… let’s face it… I’m an old lady, but decided to go for a little while for the experience.
The moment we got there and walked in the doors I knew it was a bad idea. The bar was FULL of the douchiest, chauchiest, most guido men I had ever seen in my life. Honestly. every one of these guys took longer to get ready than I did and the designs shaved into the sides of their hair told full stories of their GTL ways. Not only that but the place was pretty much a smoke pit. I could barely breathe. I found a washroom, used it, caught my breath, and then forced myself back into the crowd. I found my new friends over in the middle of it all and danced with them for a few minutes. This, however, became less and less fun with every puff of smoke blown in my direction. I couldn’t be here. I waved goodbye as I was already heading for the door and burst out into the ‘fresh’ air. I could not believe how that was legal. I mean, I could have lung cancer from that single experience.
I speed-walked back to the hostel (since there were many creepers lining the streets whistling as I passed) and immediately changed into my pajamas and washed my face to feel even a little bit clean. As I was crawling into bed Zack came home as well. I guess the party had been enough for him too.
The next morning Zack, the french girl, and I all went out to breakfast at a place Zack showed us. It had a delicious smoked salmon full breakfast with eggs, beans, salad, toast, etc. It was wonderful. The service took a little longer than we had hoped but I liked the environment.
We headed back to the room where the french girl grabbed her bag and left and Zack headed off to Sintra. Today I decided was going to be my beach day.
Beach Day – Easy Come, Easy Go
I did a more googling and opted for a beach that was a little bit closer and had reviews from this year and this month. Costa da Caparica seemed like a place I needed to check out.
I asked the receptionist for a quick rundown on how to get there and, after making sure her directions were accurate, I headed out. I had to catch a ferry (the terminal was conveniently RIGHT beside the hostel) to Cais do Sodre and then catch a bus on the other side to the beach. It was relatively straight forward and I got lucky with timing. The bus, however, felt like it took a lifetime. I can’t tell you how long because it may have only been half an hour but to me it felt like over an hour. I got off at the terminus station and asked the driver how to get to the beach. He pointed and I went.
Once I made it to the beach I did not walk far to find a spot. This time I was just content being there. It was an extremely long beach with over 20 sections and restaurants all the way along. On my way to the spot I had been eying a little dog ran up to me. He seemed to be a Chihuahua cross and was absolutely adorable. I knelt down and pet him. I looked up and his owners were sitting on lawn chairs nearby watching us. They seemed nice. So I laid down beside him and played with him giving him belly scratches, kisses, and cuddles. Well after the point where they thought I was crazy (though they were still smiling in my direction) I gave him a pat goodbye and headed to my spot. A great way to start the day.
I don’t have much to say aside from that. I laid on the beach, watches surfers, and tanned… all day.
Around 5pm I headed back to the bus and headed home (which felt much shorter than the trip there).
I spent the rest of this evening in bed and introduced myself to my new roommate, Daniel, and went to sleep.
Beach Day – One for the Road
The next morning I packed up my stuff. It was my last day in Lisbon and I had to catch my train to Paris at 6pm. I had considered walking around the town and seeing some sights I had missed but really felt that the beach was where I needed to be. I ate breakfast and invited Daniel along. He agreed.
I had decided to go to Costa da Caparica again because it was easy to get to and I wanted to make sure I could keep to a good schedule.
We caught the ferry over to the other side and then got on a bus.
Public Embarrassment – not that I was concerned at the time
This bus felt like it was even longer than before and I started to feel quite ill. I was rocking back and forth pretty good and must have looked like I was near death because Daniel started to get concerned. I pretty much had my head between my knees when the lady in front of us told us where the nearest hospital was. We had just missed the stop but could get off and wait for a bus heading back… That did not seem like something I wanted to do. I continued to waiver and Daniel went up to ask the bus driver. Thankfully there was a clinic near the beach and only a few stops away. At this point I am sure I was green. I waited by the back door and the moment it opened I bolted for the nearest garbage can and said goodbye to breakfast. It was awful. I had never thrown up in public before. Daniel hopped off the bus and came to my aid. Poor guy had no idea what he was signing up for when he agreed to a beach day. He helped me to the clinic and went into different stores to ask for directions. I started to feel a little bit better as I walked in the fresh air and contemplated if I actually needed a clinic. Insurance is SUCH a hassle to go through… But I decided it was probably in my best interest.
We found the hospital and I paid the $50 drop in fee. Not a bad price compared to the few hundred I had spent in San Fransisco a year ago when I had strep. Daniel waited in the waiting room and I was taken to another hallway to wait. I spent about half an hour walking back and forth to the bathroom to blow my nose and finally it was my turn.
The doctor was nice. He had a thick accent but I could understand what he was saying and his English was pretty good. I explained my symptoms and he listened to my lungs… turns out… I had a serious lung infection that had spread to my sinuses. He was amazed that I had been living with this for over 2 weeks. He prescribed me something for my cough, penicillin, and a nasal spray. I thanked him, went to the pharmacy down the street, and picked up my medication. I remember now that I threw out the receipts afterwards thinking only that I would not be returning the medicine… goodbye insurance money. Haha. Luckily I don’t think it was too expensive.
I took the pills immediately and set my alarm for the various times. I had to take the penicillin twice a day and the cough pill 3 times a day. This meant that I took 2 at 11:00am, one at 7:00pm, one at 11:00pm, and one at 3:00am. Fun.
But no matter. We had made it to the beach. Poor Daniel deserved it. He had brought a Frisbee along and we set down our bags and played a pretty decent game, taking a step back every time we caught it and getting pretty far away from each other. It was probably not my best decision to play a game with so much running but I was having too much fun to care. We tanned, he lathered on sunscreen like it was going out style, and I sprawled out in hope of darkening my tan as much as possible since it would be the last sunshine I would see for my trip (Paris and London are gray… very gray).
Then it was time to go home. We caught the bus and headed back… well… almost all the way back. About 1km from the ferry terminal I had to get off the bus. I was rocking again and this time I didn’t think I would make it. There must be something about the lung infection that made me extremely sensitive to motion. Daniel alerted the bus driver and he pulled over immediately. I ran off the bus and straight to a garbage can. I stood there for a little while and thought I’d be ok. As I began to walk away… I ran back. Two times getting sick in public and both on the same day…
We went to the nearest pharmacy and I asked for motion sickness medicine. The pharmacist did not speak English really well so when she told me to take pills every 3 hours I knew it was a mis-disgnosis. I tried to explain that it was only for travel, and that I was not throwing up all the time. She brought out a couple of boxes before one of them finally had pictures of a plane, train, and automobile (ok… it was a boat and a car… but that doesn’t sound as good). I paid the 13 euros, popped 2 asap, and we walked the rest of the way to the ferry. The ferry ride was relatively smooth sailing.
Napping on the table
When we got back I had a little bit of an appetite. Daniel and I decided to walk over to the food court I had found and grab something to eat. What I found out was that the tables in the food hall were very comfortable. If I could read Portuguese I maybe would have known that the motion sickness pills were not non-drowsy. While Daniel finished his noodle bowl I laid my head down beside my plate.
After we ate I went back to the hostel, showered, and got my bags. I said goodbye to Daniel, my nurse, and thanked him 100x over for taking such good care of me. Then I caught the metro to the train station.
It Was That Time Again
When I got to the train station I still had an hour until my train. My backpack was SO heavy, as were the two large duffel bags I was now carrying around with souvenirs. I decided to plop down on a bench and wait. My eyes were so heavy from the medicine that my blinks were at least a minute long and, finally, they were shut.
I woke up and my train was there. Safe…. I had fallen asleep on a bench in a train station for over an hour. How I managed to wake up in time and how none of my stuff was stolen was an absolute miracle.
I boarded the train, settled into my seat (no bed for me this time), got my sleeping bag and neck pillow, and slept…
I woke up a half an hour before my stop in Paris – about 15 hours later.
Yup. That was a lengthy one… but so much happened!
Honestly, Lisbon was my favourite stop on the whole trip. I made it through alone and with a lung infection and I still believe so, so it must be awesome. I hope you enjoyed it too 🙂
To end: Here is a gallery of some of the sweet street art around Lisbon: