26 April 2011

Road Trip Part I: Lisbon, Portugal

All the way back in February, my best girl friends and I decided that we were going to go on a road trip for our time off during Holy Week (Semana Santa). Originally we had a big plan to go all through Portugal and Spain, but felt conflicted because we wanted to see some of the special happenings in Granada during Semana Santa. Portugal seemed the most important place for all of us to see, so we just decided that we would spend extra time there instead of driving hours upon hours (which we ended up doing anyway!). A couple weeks before we left, we talked Troy into coming with us...and thus begins the trip of a lifetime.

Our destinations in Portugal were Lisbon, Sagres (also known as the "end of the world") and Lagos; our stops in Spain would be Cadiz and Marbella. We rented a car from Friday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon from the city of Málaga because it was cheaper than from Granada. We decided to stay in a hotel for two nights in Lisbon and then camp by the beach the other three nights we were gone. Here's a general route of our trip:
(The part along the coast is the return trip to Málaga...sorry I didn't know how to make the two lines separate colors to distinguish)

Friday morning we were all packed up and got on the bus to Málaga, picked up our rental car, stopped by a grocery store to pick up traveling food and we were on our way to Portugal around 2pm. Our first day we got lost quite a few times, we had directions on my computer, but getting through cities proved to still be challenging for us. Needless to say, we got lost just trying to get out of Málaga; we ended up on a different highway then we planned, but it ended up being great because we got to see some extra pretty parts of Spain.
(Just outside of Rhonda, Spain)

We drove all that day, getting lost periodically and making up a route as we went. It was pretty frustrating at times, but we all worked together really well. There were places we drove through that were exquisite, especially once we got into Portugal and we got to see the most beautiful sunset! When we finally reached Lisbon, we were all so excited, although tired and hungry and then managed to get lost in the big city for around two hours. We finally reached our hotel at 12:30am Saturday.

None of us really knew much about Lisbon or what there is to see there, but that made our day there kind of fun and special, we just wandered around and followed where the other people were going and ran into some great sites. Before any of that happened, we ate the most amazing breakfast at a bakery downtown...the breads and pastries in the window looked so good, we all ordered two things each and just ended up making a buffet for ourselves.

(Me enjoying breakfast! Photo Credit: Olivia Boots)

Everywhere we went in Portugal, the people were so friendly and helpful, but I think our waiter at this place was probably our favorite of all...we was just a really sweet and funny old man.

After stuffing our faces with delicious carbs, we started exploring and immediately came across a famous arch and plaza in Lisbon dedicated to famous explorers from Portugal.
(Arco da Rua Augusta)

(Olivia, Me and Colleen celebrating our sunny day in Lisbon. Photo Credit: Olivia Boots)

On our way up to a castle that we could see at the top of a hill, we wandered into one of the beautiful cathedrals of Lisbon that was getting ready for Palm Sunday and unlike churches in Spain, we were able to go in for free.
(Inside Church Santa Maria Maior)

The next site was Saint George's Castle, it had a great view of the ocean and the whole city of Lisbon. It wasn't the most interesting place we visited, but it was cool to see, maybe if we knew about the history of it then we would have done more than just walk around aimlessly. :)
(Olivia, Colleen and Troy)

Then we went to the Saint Anthony's Cathedral, an early Baroque styled cathedral with a beautiful white exterior. We spend a few minutes there taking some time to relax and recuperate energy.

Then, we embarked on a ridiculously long walk across town. On the map it didn't seem so long, but we realized about half way into it that we should have taken the Metro instead. But we walked along the water which was nice and got to see parts of the city I'm sure most tourists don't see. We were headed to la gran ola (big wave) as Troy called it, it was the only site he knew of in Lisbon and really wanted to see it.

The "big wave" turned out to be a monument to the discoveries made by Portuguese explorers and it certainly was big! Unfortunately, we got there after it closed, but there is a museum inside that tells about the history of the monument and various explorers.

Right across the street from the monument is the Jeronimos Monastary, which from the outside was gorgeous! There was a beautiful park in front with ponds and fountains and the building itself is very detailed and ornate. Also unfortunately, we got there after hours, but were able to go in the chapel because a mass was being held at the time. That chapel is where Vasco de Gama is buried, the Portuguese explorer who discovered India.

That concluded our touring of Lisbon for one day, we were all wiped out and there was a Real Madrid - FC Barcelona soccer match that night, so we found a restaurant to eat, hang out and watch the game.
It was a great and highly productive day of touristing...this post is quite long from it, but we really did see a lot of things in one day! We all loved Lisbon and like I said, the people were incredibly nice and helpful to us! Most of the time they spoke in broken Portuguese/Spanish to us, but many of the people spoke English very well and clearly.

This will be all for now, it seems our roadtrip will take a few posts to get through it all, so I will try to post again soon!
Thanks for reading!


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