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A Weekend in Portugal June 7, 2011

Posted by Blake Christianson in Travel Log.
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Our first weekend in Cadiz quickly approached, and Drew, Marnie, Emily, and I decided to take a trip to Portugal. Classes got out early in Friday so we were able to make the 12:30 bus to Sevilla. We had booked a 3:00 bus from Sevilla to Lisbon, so we had to move quick. We ended up getting into Sevilla at 2:45 and were convinced that getting to the other bus station and on our bus to Lisbon would be impossible. However, with little hope, we hopped into a taxi, started rambling in Spanish about how fast we needed to go, and by some miracle of God we made it to the train station at 2:58. We sprinted through the station straight to our train like we were on the Amazing Race, and at 3:04 we were in our seats ready to embark. I slept almost the entire way, and we finally arrived in Lisbon at midnight. We quickly realized that none of us spoke any Portuguese, so it took three taxi drivers to finally find someone who knew which hostel we wanted to go to. With us babbling in yet again Spanish trying to speak to a man who spoke Portuguese, we were 2 for 2 for taxi drivers thinking we were absolutely insane that day.

We showed up at the hostel, and to our great surprise, it was clean, new, modern, fun, and the staff extremely helpful. We threw our bags in our rooms and went out for dinner to a small pizzeria. Delicious! The owner was from Italy, and she even gave us a few free slices. I think it was because we were the only ones buying half a pizza per person at 12:30 at night. We then went to the park in Barrio Alto and enjoyed our simple meal on a park bench. You would think that no one had ever seen an American before as Emily goes, “are we the zoo or something.” We stayed out for a little longer and then went back to finally go to sleep.

We woke up the next day around 10:30 and set out to explore the city of Lisbon. We stopped at a Starbucks to grab some breakfast and then just continued to wander. It’s amazing what you can see by simply walking. Eventually we stumbled upon a flee market where everything was sold from furniture to clothing to stamps to children’s toys. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy some cheap souvenirs so we went in and out of booths for about an hour. It was time for lunch, so we went to this nice little Portuguese restaurant, and I ordered the best salmon I think I have ever eaten. We then went into a few small cathedrals before finally making our way to El Castilo de San Jorge. With views of the entire city, it was an incredible experience.

After being in Spain for a week, we realized that it was time for our daily siesta, so we returned to the hostel to nap until dinner. At 9:00, we headed out to dinner. I was going to be adventurous and order the swordfish. To my surprise, the entire grilled fish was put on my plate, from eyes to fins. It was actually really good, but picking the bones out got annoying after the first few bites. We went to the Hard Rock cafe for dessert, and then headed back up to the Barrio Alto area to continue the night. We met this really nice Hungarian group and hung out with them for a few hours. When they left to go back to their hotel it was about 4:30, and we decided to stay up until sunrise. We went to a jazz bar for about an hour before heading out to the bay to watch a beautiful sunrise. What a gorgeous city and morning we had! After the sun rose it was time to head back to the hostel, grab our backpacks, and take a taxi to our 9:00 bus to Sevilla.

Portugal was more amazing than I could have ever imagined, and I hope that some day I can come back.

I miss you all!

-Blake

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