Hello from the hot dessert of northern Europe (aka London)!
It has been super hot the last few weeks, with a toasty 31 degrees in the lab. I have, however, managed to write a few words and edit some photos (around 100 to be exact) from my recent trip to Lisbon. My sister has been living in Lisbon as an exchange student for half a year, and I just managed to squeeze in a three-day visit before she left for Norway again. I think she has been enjoying herself, and many people have told me it is a cool city, but I didn’t expect much other than having a good time with my sister for a few days. I was in for a really pleasant surprise!
I flew in on a hot Sunday afternoon. It had taken me 2,5 hours to get to Stansted (I hate that airport) as well as never receiving my Stansted express tickets I ending up paying a double fare. Therefore, it was extra nice that it cost me little over a euro and 15 minutes to get from the airport to my sisters flat in Lisbon.
We started my visit by taking the metro to Cais do Sodré and had a quick peak at the Tagus river, followed by beers and tasty tacos at Guacamole on R. Moeda. I was then taken on a mandatory touristy tour around central Lisbon, ending up at the Castelo de St. Jorge, trying to find a neat spot to photograph the sunset. The secret viewing point my sister knew about was closed off for the day, so we walked the streets just south of the castle, exploring the annual Sardine festival. I am not mad about sardines so I stuck to people watching instead and having a casual Ginja in a chocolate cup. After walking for another hour I had been introduced to Lisbon cathedral, the tram, countless more streets and Cais das Colunas.
The following day I was introduced to Instituto Superior Técnico and its pastel de nata, and waved goodbye to sister’s boyfriend, who was heading back to Oslo. We then took a ferry over to Cacilhas because we were recommended a restaurant called Atira-te ao rio. The weather was great, we met a friendly stray dog and the restaurant look idyllic. The food however was not as good, and we were basically yelled at for not finishing the food (that has never happened before). It didn’t matter much though, because we were now on a quest to find Jesus.
There is a large Rio de Janeiro like Jesus statue overlooking a Golden Gate bridge copy, which links Almada to Lisbon over the Tagus. The views were supposed to be great at Miradouro do Cristo Rei (aka Jesus Christ viewpoint), so we set off to find Jesus. After a trip using a manned lift from the seafront up to the residential streets of Almada, followed by 20 minutes of uphill hike in 30 degrees we finally found Jesus. The views were good, but a 30 min walk back to the ferry wasn’t too tempting, so we got an Uber back to Cais do Sodré. Well back, we headed up to Barrio Alto to watch football and have a burger at A Cultura do Hambúrguer (the steak sandwich was real nice). One of my sister’s friends stopped by and we went off to a jazz club and watched a gig (sister’s boyfriend also came as his flight was cancelled, poor soul, Lisbon airport is the worst). I often feel out of touch with my generation, especially because I hate staying up late and be out in town (and hate to speak when music is loud). After being ridiculed by sister’s friends for desperately wanting to go back at 1 in the morning, we finally headed home (I did however get praise from dear sister for being up so late without complaining too much).
Tuesday was the best of all the days. We took the train to Sintra around 1 o’clock. Sister had been here 2 times before so I was skilfully guided around town. First stop: Quinta da Regaleira. Wow, what a place! It was just like walking on a set of a Lord of the Rings film. It is an estate from early 1900s, made to entertain the rich family of Carvalho Monteiro. It is an absolute clash of styles, towers, grottos, wells and hidden paths, overgrown with moss, an adult playground so to speak. I wish I could have captured this place better. After spending 2 hours walking around, we had a lovely sandwich at the estate café before heading back to the center in search of a tuk-tuk to take us up to Palacio de Pena. It is quite a steep walk up and lots to see up there so I highly recommend you save your legs and take a tuk up to the palace entrance (and buy tickets in advance).
The palace was great. Didn’t see any of the indoors bits, but we had a great time exploring the strange outsides of the castle. It is a brilliant castle, so eccentric and strange. Another clash of styles and colours, tiles, paints and towers. It is how I would have built a castle was I 10 years old. The grounds around the palace did not disappoint either. They are extensive. We walked over to the viewpoint over the castle to photograph it during sunset, but we had to wait a long time and got cold so we started heading back down early. We didn’t meet a soul, and it was clear the ground had been closed while we waited for the sun to set. We didn’t feel particularly rushed by that and had a leisurely walk down, exploring the ponds, bridges and towers on the way down. The exit was of course closed and we had to climb the wall (no problem). No tuks to take us down either, but the sun was setting beautifully and the trains back to Lisbon were still running, so no need to hurry. We walked down to the city center, partly on tracks and partly on the road. It took us a good 45 minutes with photography pit stops. We made the train to Lisbon with minutes to spare. Although Sintra is touristy, it was brilliant. I would love to come back very soon.
Last day was mostly about moving dear sister out of her flat, but we also had time for a juicy burger at Ground Burger and a walk in Jardim Amália Rodrigues. The check-in at the airport was the slowest on the planet, but both planes to London and Oslo were delayed so it didn't matter. The airport has also invested in about 2 chairs, so we were stuck on the floor, but it didn't matter much either, as it was a super lovely trip!
Thanks for reading!