We caught the 9:20 bus with no issues at all. I was impressed with how timely the bus was considering it ended up stopping in every little town along the Historical Way all the way up to where it starts at Santiago Do Cacem. I enjoyed seeing the scenery go by. The little towns we passed through seemed similar to the ones we had already visited, but we were not along the coast, so I am sure those towns would be different and the views would be stunning. Next time!
We arrived in Lisbon around 1pm and had no issues finding our next hostel. The metro system here in Lisbon is really quite simple and easy to navigate. There are only 4 lines. And they only cross over in a couple of places, so it isn’t that confusing. We found a super cheap hostel (30 Euros) right downtown in the centre called the Welcome Guesthouse. It is located in a refurbished old building, so the old stone steps leading up to the main level of the hostel are original and the window ledges and door frames are beautiful stone arches. Everything inside has been redone with new whitewashed concrete and all formed narrow passages to the various rooms and shower and toilet areas. Although a maze, it was well done so it felt quite private and quiet.
I had tonnes of energy because I am used to walking many kilometres and today we had sat on the bus all morning, so off we went. We needed to find an Internet cafe to print off our Ryanair boarding passes. There is a 50 Euro penalty if you don’t print it off!! But have you tried to find an Internet cafe lately? When I was in Guatemala 12 years ago, they were everywhere as no one had internet in their homes and public wifi was unheard of. Here, now, everyone has data and wifi is everywhere! It is crazy. So, needless to say, finding a place to print things off is much harder than it used to be. Thankfully, Shawn downloaded a map to take us across town and print off our 4 pieces of paper.
I am glad we had to walk around to get our tickets because following the random map to our printing destination took us through more local areas and we got to see different things than just the typical shopping and main square areas that we would have probably stuck to with the limited time we had here today. But we walked through the African and Indian areas of town. There were many beautiful African tailors and hairdressers filled with people having elaborate outfits made and hairdos done. Shawn stopped in an Indian/Nepalese restaurant and ordered the cheapest meal ever including some chicken thing, samosas, beer, and a coke for me. We then walked up past the hospital where a taxi was blocking the entrance and we got to see an ambulance escorted by police-motorcycle who yelled and helped to manoeuvre vehicles in order to gain admittance through the red gates into the hospital. We then walked down the hill and through the bulk buying area. There were numerous sewing shops with bolts of fabric on stands outside the shop doors. There were tool shops with saws sitting out out purchase or rent. And then (after almost dyeing at a huge uncontrolled round about with crazy traffic) we walked up another hill with a street car running up the middle of the cobbled street. We tried not to get run over as we passed cork store after cork store. There were little wallets and purses and hats and shoes. It was all I could do to keep walking.
Finally we found our Internet cafe – which was clearly not that anymore. But the random guy understood that we wanted to print something and he only charged us 2 Euros to print, so it served our purposes. Not sure what the location is really used for now though!
On the way back down, I did a bit of shopping…but not that much as we only have our backpacks and not a tonne of space. I tried to buy some lovely shoes, but my feet are so swollen from hiking and walking so much that it didn’t really work. I ended up buying a small change purse. I could have done some serious damage though! I then walked by a craft store where they had beads and rolls of cork. I decided I could probably make some really nice placemats out of cork as it is made into these flat pieces for sewing and making things out of, so I bought a couple of rolls (really affordable at 9 Euros each). Hopefully after being all rolled up in my backpack for a few week days, I will still be able to use them for what I have planned.
We dumped everything back off in the hostel and went to rejoin all the rest of the tourists in the centre. We saw the special gin shop called A Ginjinha do Largo de Sao Domingos. It was started by a man named Espinheira and was the first beverage of its kind – fermenting cherries in brandy and adding sugar and cinnamon. It was one of the biggest exports at the time. We walked through a few shops and looked for cork shoes (ie the Portuguese version of Birkenstocks) and some clothing stores. We then walked onto a quieter plaza and found a little place for dinner where we decided on anything but fish for a change and had some veal and fries and some sangria. You think I’d be done with sangria by now…but not yet! I didn’t drink yet when mom and I were in Spain, so I have to make up for that lost visit!
After dinner, we walked around this square too, but most things close early here (Which is super odd, I find considering it is warm out all night long and it is a big city), but around 7:30 things started to close up. Thankfully we found an amazing, original bakery from 1829 just off the main square (I think it is attached to the International hotel) and bought a couple of pastries to enjoy as dessert sitting in the sun by the fountain. I thought they were going to be expensive, but the egg tart and the coconut mille feuille thing were only 2 Euros 20 cents!! We ate them and decided to headed back to buy some croissants for breakfast tomorrow as this hostel does not include breakfast.
Our window-doors in our room open onto a little street and we can see the castle to one side and almost down to the main square on the other side. It is kind of the perfect room for the location. I am impressed.
Off to bed now, though as tomorrow is another traveling day as we head to the Azores for a few days before starting our rather long journey home!