We woke up at 6:15 to have plenty of time to check out of our hotel and start on our way to Lisbon, Portugal, which included staying the night in Faro, Portugal because of the many trains and buses it would take to get to Lisbon.
While still in Spain, we caught a train to Bobadilla. We had breakfast in a café in the train station. Toasted paninis and juice. We then took a train to Cordoba.
To make a long story short, we thought we were on a train to Huelva. We later learned it was not; so we had to backtrack a few cities and take an extra train, extremely fast cab ride, and an extra bus to get to Faro. We were both in pretty bad moods. But we realized that we could either be upset or make the situation fun. So we tried to recover and laugh.
We caught our final bus to Faro easily. We arrived in Faro at about 7:30. We had been traveling for over 12 hours and were very tired and glad to finally be there! At our hotel we decided not to unpack because we were so tired.
Faro is on the coast of Portugal; so we of course ate a fish stew type dish with sea bass, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and other shellfish. It was delicious! There were some fire twirlers performing in the street next to where we were sitting.
After dinner, we had ice cream in a square were a band was performing. As if we were not tired, we went back to our hotel room and watched a bullfight on television. It was neat to watch but we also got pretty grossed out by it.
Up early again to catch our train to Lisbon. The Portuguese regional trains were slightly better than Italian trains in comfort level. The train we were on was one of the older silver ones.
We arrived at the Lisbon Barriero train station were we had to take a boat to Lisbon. The quickest way to get into the city! We traveled the 12 blocks from the port to our hotel, climbed up the 5 flights of stairs (with our backpacks) only to find out that our reservation had been lost in translation.
The man in charge told us, “No rooms, go away.” It was about 2:45 and we were room-less! We tried four other places, which were all full. So as a last resort we tried the tourist office. The lady at the tourist office found us a room for about $50 a night (kinda expensive for us) and about a 15-20 minute walk away from the city center. On our way there we passed another pension, so we decided to see if they had any rooms. They did and for only $30. We had to refuse a room that smelled like fish before finally settling in!
After a nap, we headed out to explore. We decided we would treat ourselves to a movie, Shrek. It was fun; the people could read the Portuguese subtitles faster than the characters spoke. So everyone laughed before we even heard the joke.
We headed back to our hotel in search of a midnight snack. We ate at a little outdoor place in the Baixa (the heart of downtown Lisbon) and then went back to our hotel.
The next day we headed out to Sintra to see some castles! We mailed some postcards and then took a train to Sintra. We took a very nice walk, and then we stopped to eat. Brian had a hot dog with cheese and onion and French fries and Katie had Bolognese spaghetti, which tasted a lot like Cincinnati chili.
We then boarded a very crowded bus to the Castelo dos Mouros. This Moorish castle dates back the the 8th century. The Castelo dos Mouros was actually very Robin-Hood-y how the light shined in though the forest. We saw some old food storage areas, cisterns, towers, graves, and a church. We liked our “choose your own adventure” tour of the castle.
Then we walked up the hill to the fairy-tale-like Palácio Nacional da Pena. Built in the 1840s, it is a Bavarian castle decorated in a mix of styles. We took a tour of the inside of the palace. We walked around some more before they were closing.
We decided to take a bus back to the train station which was due at 7:05. Well, by 7:40 we were informed (along with about 20 other people waiting) that there were no more buses coming. So we started on the 2 mile walk down. But by the time we got to the Castelo dos Mouros we caught a bus. We were happy!
Back in the town of Sintra we had dinner. Brian had grilled salmon and Katie had cod with French fries, onions, egg and rice (all fried). After dinner we headed back to Lisbon and to our hotel.
Woke up late and set out to do some errands. We were getting pretty snippy with one another so we realized that we were probably hungry and should eat soon before we killed each other! We found a Portuguese fast food place called Sandes. Brian had a large smoked salmon sandwich and Katie had a tuny-fish sandwich.
Refreshed from lunch, we headed to the Park of Nations. The Parque das Nações was the site of the World Exposition 1998. There were a lot of cool fountains. There was a long line for the aquarium, which we decided would be much more enjoyable with some icy treats. Yeah, yummy icy treats. The Pavilhão dos Oceanos is the largest oceanarium in Europe. We saw all kinds of cool fish and there were many displays on the environment and ocean protection.
After the aquarium we took a Teleférico (gondola) ride across the park. Then we had to get more icy treats! Next we rode a tram, which we thought was going to Castelo de São Jorge, but actually going the opposite direction. We stayed on for a while though because the trams are really neat in Lisbon – all wooden and have great views.
We headed back in the direction of our hotel, because it was close to midnight and we still needed to eat. We looked at about ten different places, but they all seemed to have the same food. We finally settled on a place to eat then headed back to the hotel.
We woke up and took a metro to a laundry mat. We dropped off our clothes, which had been hand-washed for the past 6 weeks. We headed to the Rossio train station and dropped off our packs in lockers so we wouldn’t have to carry them all day. We were taking a night train to Hendaye France that night so we had to have our packs with us all day.
We walked around to find some food. But it was the same as the last night… meat, omelettes, or fish. Every single place was the same! So defeated and hungry, we ate some McDonalds. Note: all McDonalds bathrooms are not clean and nice.
Then we headed up to Castelo de São Jorge. We got a little lost but maybe it was because we had just found Frubetto icy-treats, which we had been trying to find for awhile. Yummy, as we had suspected. Once we got on the right path, it was easy to find – just follow the tourist postcard shops to the top!
Once at the castle we realized it was almost time to get our laundry. So we started heading back to get our laundry – it smelled so good and was folded so nicely. They had met our laundry challenge! We then got our packs from the train station lockers and repacked our bags in the middle of the train station.
Then we were off to board our night train to Blois, France!