Monday 7/29 – Though hungry and tired, hours later we arrived safely in Lisbon! From the airport, we took the metro to our hostel area, and proceeded to walk through what can only be described as the Warsaw ghetto of Lisbon – we finally found Johnie’s Place on the top of a mountain. Since we couldn’t check in for a couple hours, we stopped for lunch at a nearby restaurant that happened to have a tasty 8-Euro menu option. After gorging ourselves and watching the Portuguese version of Dancing with the Stars, we meandered over to the benches by the second highest look out point in Lisbon; there we napped like homeless people until about an hour later when we checked in. Johnie’s Place was nice enough; we were back to having a mixed 6-person room and bathroom.
Post Wi-Fi party in the common room, we got out and explored the surrounding area in the Gracia neighborhood. The streets in “old Lisbon” are incredibly hard to navigate and the area is hillier than San Francisco. We hung out at the highest lookout point in the city for a bit and then stopped by a grocery store on our way home. Thankfully, Johnie’s Place had a kitchen accessible to guests so we were able to whip up a gourmet dinner of ramen and salads. Later we got back out again at night and attempted to scope out the way to get to our meeting spot for the day trip the next day… on our descent we got lost amongst the convoluted side streets and ended up in someone’s backyard basically – ‘twas creepy. Eventually we found our way to Rossio Square, where we treated ourselves to some traditional tapas (cod croquettes) and beers.
Tuesday 7/30 – We managed to wake up in time for our We Hate Tourism Tour that started at 9 am; it’s a really cool “untraditional” all-day excursion in Lisbon and many surrounding areas. Our guide’s name was Miguel- a young Portuguese guy that had actually lived in Barcelona for a bit previously. Cruising around in an old, yellow VW van, we started the day in Cintra for a typical Portuguese breakfast of coffee and queijadas (soft cheese based sweet pastries) at a local favorite bakery called Queijadas da Sapa. Then we stopped by the nearby Bar do Binho for Ginjinha (essentially a shot of cherry liquor served in a chocolate cup). Not my usual morning routine but certainly delicious! After that we had a long stop at Quinta da Regaleira (what used to a private estate and is now a park)- my favorite part there were the underground tunnels and the hidden waterfall we found.
From there we sped on to Cabo da Roca, which is the most western part of continental Europe. The views there were spectacular but right before we got there, evidently a local man had just committed suicide by jumping off one of the protruding cliffs that jut out over the ocean. So there were a lot of medical and emergency professionals all around the general vicinity; Miguel told me that unfortunately that’s not uncommon there with the crippling effects of the crisis and all. We slowly made our way over to our designated picnicking spot; Miguel treated us with a Portuguese picnic complete with: bread, mixed cheese, salami, olives, chips, melon, and of course red wine. It was wholly delightful!
We covered more ground after lunch by driving along Guincho beach, and then taking another stop in Cascais (a beautiful coastal town where we had the best gelato ever from Santini). The day was rounded out by ending in Belem, where we visited the monastery and at the last minute were surprised with another sample of a famous Portuguese pastry. All in all, the tour was well worth the money and super cool. We went back to our hostel for dinner. The mushroom flavor of ramen smelled sweet and gross so flavored the noodles with the last of donated soy sauce and salt (it was a low point meal-wise). Bri realized she more than likely had viral pink eye. Later, we went over to Barrio Alto for casual drinks… cool area!
Weds 7/31 – For the last full day of our backpacking trip, we slept in and then walked to the metro station to take the train back the to beach in Cascais. We laid out for hours and I inevitably roasted; it was a much-appreciated day of rest and quality sun. Back at Johnie’s Place, we got ready and packed up our backpacks for the last time. We made our way back to Barrio Alto and soon bought a few 1.25-Euro huge beers. We tired out more quickly than we had planned, so on our way back we stopped into the Lisbon location of the famed-gelato shop, Santini; I got hazelnut and vanilla – to die for!
Thurs 8/1 – We pulled ourselves out of slumber around dawn, tried to not disturb our new French roomies, and hopped on the metro towards the airport. We were very impressed with the super friendly airport staff in Lisbon. Also, flying on Vueling is worth it, if for nothing else besides that you get a free checked bag. And with that, we waited to fly home to BCN.