The next morning we woke up nice and refreshed and got ready for our tour. Braden had found a tour group called "We Hate Tourism Tours" that had rave reviews on all the websites we looked at. It was only a year old, and we were very excited. We went to the place where we were meeting and waited. The driver, Martha, was a bit late, but that's fine. We got in along with a Russian family of father, mother and daughter. In the front seat was a girl about our age from Canada who had already been picked up. We got started and went up through Lisbon to the suburbs.
Our first stop was in Sintra, just outside of Lisbon. She pulled up to a bakery and told us what to order and how much we would love it. She also pointed to a castle/palace on a hill and said that we would meet there in about 10 minutes. We got the pastries and were delighted, they tasted SO good.We were able to walk up a gently sloping hill and admire some great views and explore the area around the castle before she took us and told us about some awesome shots of cherry liquor that I am going to keep a secret for now :)
We got back into the van and drove to this garden/mansion place. We had to pay for our own admission that I wasn't thrilled about (though it was only 4 Euro), but I am so glad we did. I should have known they wouldn't take us somewhere stupid. The place was like a natural playground with Grottos, hills, caves, a church and a mansion! Here are some cool pics:
The mansion had a super cool room ont he third floor. It was a library that when I walked into it, I though was super huge. There was a floor floating in the middle of the room, seemingly supported by absolutly nothing. The books went from the floor to the ceiling on thie floor and the second floor below it. I was amazed at this floating floor and how it was holding up Braden when he walked in until I was told that it was mirrors all along the wall making it seem like there was an extra floor. It was so cleaver and so freakin' cool. We went up to the turret and got some great views of Sintra.
After that we got back into the van and learned that there really are no famous Portuguese people except Christian Ronaldo, and that's because he's pretty. Photo here:
Also, the richest man in Spain is richer than the top 10 richest people in Portugal, so they really don't have a ton of money. They are rich in scenery, though. Our drive from location to location was fantastic. We stopped quickly at a hotel that had a great view and then were off to Rocket Point, the furthest point in contenental Europe to the west. We stopped fast for her to pick up lunch and off we went. We talked about how Portuguese kinda sounda like bastardized Russian and Spanish when it is spoken, but when written is pretty easy to understand if you know Spanish. We talked a lot about language. We also found out that Maggie from Canada has been travelling Europe nonstop since November and has been spending a least a week in all of the major Western European cities that Braden and I are only spending 2-3 days in. She is doing our vacation only VERY extended. Which sounds awesome and terrible. It'd be great to really see all of these places, but I'm already getting sick of living out of a suitcase and I would not want to do it for 5 months straight.
So, we got to this point and the weather was perfect. It was soooo cool, and the closest that I will be to home until July!! The scenery was so picturesque, and now that we had friends, we trusted people to take a picture of us together with me not holding the camera!
After we walked around the area for a while, we stopped and had a picnic lunch right on the end of Europe. Literally, the people of Europe once thought of it as the end of the world, with everything else nothing but water until you get to China. So freakin' cool. We had a lunch of a sort of choriso hot pocket thing, fresh cheese and, a European staple, red wine. SO GOOD. Braden even had some fresh olives.
After lunch, we packed up and headed for a beach. The beach was perfect. Not much else to say except the water was supa cold.
From there was an excursion to Cascais, a town on the tip of Portugal where a friend of mine from high school and Concordia, Karine Norberg, studied for a year when I was a sophomore. It was hella beautiful and so quaint, and we had the best gelato ever. Hands down. It was at a place called Santini's and it was owned by and Italian, but it was so much better than all of the stuff we had the entire way through Italy. I had lemon, mango and cream and I was in heaven the entire time. Wow, it was so good.
From there, we went back to Lisbon after a stop in Belem to taste the pastries there (which, again, we fantastic). When we got back to the meeting point we rushed to the hostel and met up with the girls! It was so great to see them. We sat in the room for a few hours just catching up before walking around the city a bit and going to dinner and gelato (at the Lisbon branch of Santini's).
I tried to call Lauren, but the internet was not very good. I'm sad that I wasn't able to talk to her on her birthday. I tried again the next day, but it didn't ring. I did the best I could, though, and I'll try to call her tomorrow from France.
The next morning we woke up, packed up, ate breakfast and went off to explore Belem properly. It is an area of Lisbon that houses the President's house as well as 3 "discovery monuments". These places are here to acknowledge the hundreds of years of Portuguese naval strength in the world and their many conquests before the 1974 revolution ended all of the territorial holds in the world (namely, Brazil and 5 African nations). We saw some things, got some good views, but really just enjoyed each other's company. We got back to Lisbon's city center and walked through the tourist shops trying to find Braden a mug (I had already gotten my postcard and shot glass). He had found a mug in Belem, but I asked if he was sure that is the one he wanted and he put it back. Well, he couldn't find one and now he blames me for himself not getting a mug, though there were many to choose from. I'm fairly certain he didn't buy one just so I would feel bad about it. I don't, by the way, he could have gotten a mug.
Maria and April punch each other when they see smart cars, like slug bug. Well, I picked up on that game and got them twice. I think it's fun, but soon I'll forget about it and then I'll get punched a lot. They also say, "Oh Honey" a lot. This got me thinking, what do Braden and I do a lot. Oh yeah, we're writing a musical. Often times when we are just walking from place to place we just kinda break out into song. We make the words up as we go. Sometimes it's the song we heard on the Barcelona metro by a poor gypsey, "Senora, Senorita....Estoy pobre y inferma..." other times it is Braden singing about how he knows there is somewhere out there who loves him, he just needs to find him....and other times it's about me wanting desperatly to find a McDonald's because I'm starving and poor (to the tune of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina".)
I can't finish my discussion of Lisbon without addressing the number of times I was asked if I wanted to buy pot/hashish from random creepers on the street. Braden was asked once, but I was asked I think 7 times. I don't know why I look like a toker, but, I guess I do. It got kinda annoying. It happened twice in Barcelona, too. They just come up to you really creepily on the street and ask, "would you like some marajuana". I'm like....wtf is happening. Needless to say, I did not take them up on their offer. Anyone selling drugs like that does NOT feel legit to me, and I would have no idea what was actually being sold to me. Probably poison.
I'm really excited to catch up on Glee as well. Regionals are while we're in Paris...I don't know if we'll watch it right away...but I really want to. We will see, if not it will have to wait for St. Patty's day when I'll be back in Jena for a night.
We said a farewell to the girls (for a few days) and boarded our night train to Hendaye, France, the beginning of our next adventure. We have a bed again, so it should be a pretty good experience.