Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, like Rome is the city of seven hills, and we climbed all of them. We decided to slow our pace and spend an extra few days in Lisbon. We saw the famous monuments on day one and Sintra on day two, and that left us two days to wander the neighborhoods and read in the park. However, Lisbon doesn’t really have parks. They do have cute cafes with cheap Galão (twice brewed decaf coffee), so we lounged in cafes for a few days and cooked healthy meals for ourselves for lunch and dinner. Each night we drank fresh Caipiriñhas (limes, 7-up and Cachaça).

The Portuguese pride themselves on their history of exploration, and their monuments honor their navigational exploits. Vasco de Gama’s tomb lies in their main cathedral and Henry the Navigator’s likeness tops Padrão dos Descrobimentos.

They also like to copy other cities. They have their own Golden Gate and Christ the Redeemer statue.

A band of twelve stray cats lived outside of our window. They would cuddle together then race across the roof for scraps of food. At night they fought bitter territory wars.

Sintra is 10 miles west of Lisbon and 10 degrees cooler. The Moors first built a castle their to protect their farmland from coastal attacks in the 800s, and then monarchs and wealthy families built themselves palaces and summer homes in Sintra since the 1400s.

Quinta da Regaleira has a garden full of grottos and secret passageways and it was awesome to explore. Some grotto passages were so dark I had to feel the walls in blindness until I realized my eyes would not adjust to pitch black and I needed a flashlight. Other passageways had just enough light for my eyes to slowly adjust before I could make my way forward confidently. These were the coolest moments, but darkness doesn’t photograph well. The entrance to one grotto was down a well, and another was behind a waterfall.

The Castle of the Moors was our second destination. The surviving structures are just the castle walls, but we could scamper across these and climb the parapets. Little-kid-me would have loved it, but current me had a fun time too.

Our last stop was the Palace and gardens of Pena. We had lunch in the palace and felt like royalty (we shared a cafeteria plate of creamed cod) then explored the vast gardens.

Small errands in a foreign country turn into a mission. My phone case is too bulky to fit my headphones, so I needed an adapter to extend beyond the phone case and receive the headphone jack. On the way back from Sintra, I walked into a tech store and bought a cable to fish the problem. When I got home a while later, the cable could not fit past the phone case either so it was useless to me. The next day I retraced my steps to the shop, found it, and tried to return the chord. With a mixture of English and gestures I communicated why I couldn’t use the current chord and the shop assistant tried a few others to substitute but they didn’t fit or had the wrong jack size. He then handed me a business card with an address, took back the chord and pointed me out the door. I was doubtful how I would explain to the next store that I wanted a refund without having a product to return anymore, but I hoped the sales assistant was going to call ahead or something. The new address was only a few blocks down and this shop assistant spoke English. She had the cable I needed and paid me the difference of what I had paid for the first chord even though the first guy hadn’t called her. I guess returns are a bit different here. I felt proud to have accomplished this little task, and now I get to listen to music for the first time in two months. I refuse to be the person on the bus listening to music through cell phone speakers. I have politely asked a few fellow passengers to knock it off, so it would be hypocritical of me to do the same thing.

2 thoughts on “Lisbon, Portugal

  1. Barry Calfee

    Your trip and photos continue to amaze me from castles to cathedrals to grottos,
    Wow. Thanks for sharing. Me my views today so far have been 4 schools. Where they walled off the lunch area in the quads with block walls, iron bars and gates. For a prison like feel. It makes you wonder what are they thinking.


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