After almost two years of traveling, I finally signed a new contract to work back home. I still have 5 days off for a short trip before it starts. I decide to go to Lisbon the capital of Portugal. I arrive with no specific itinerary in mind so today I will write about my spontaneous solo travel experience taking up a walking tour which leads me to the old town of Lisbon, we pass by the statue of Fernando Pessoa at the coffee place, A Brasileira, we try their local dish, Bacalao at a restaurant named Farol, discover the warship Dom Fernando II e Glória and stroll around the castle of Sao Jorge.
I book the hostel with the best ranking on hostelworld.com and off I go. I have no idea what to see there. But, there is no way that a city with the history and cultural heritage like Lisbon will bore me for 5 days. So I don’t need to think about anything but just jump into the experience. I arrive there and take a bus. As always in developed countries, you will find a public bus or train which goes to the center for a cheap price. Here it cost 1.25 Euro if you buy the viva card like I did. It cost 50 cents and then you load some money on it depending on how much you want to use. I don’t even want to know what a taxi driver will ask for a ride to the center.
At this big circle called Marquês de Pombal, the bus stops and the driver say that this is the final destination today but I don’t know the reason why. I check the map and decide to walk because it doesn’t look too far anymore. And I quickly realize why the bus did not continue. Some old timer club has a meeting and the members display their cars along the avenue so the bus could not continue.
A few minutes later I arrive at my hostel. I check out the surroundings. It’s close to Praça do Comércio which is a very touristy area. Most restaurants are expensive in Portugal but the area is at the center and it’s a walking distance to the most important places of the city.
One of the worst walking tours I ever participated, I think the guide still has a hangover from the previous night I get to know the western part of the old town. I hear about the big earthquake that took place in 1755 which changed a lot the whole Europe. Check that out it is a very interesting part of the history of whole Europe. Yes, I know I am I am interested in history that’s why I tell you this… maybe it seems boring to you. We pass many places on the west side of the center like the statue of Fernando Pessoa at the coffee place “A Brasileira”.
The elevator and this amazing viewpoint which cost 1.50 Euro and I am the only person on the walking tour that is willing to pay for this…
I have to say something about this because it seems important for many travelers:
There is a price for some unique things in the world. Some of them might be touristy some of them quite unknown but they share something. The money you pay to see them is usually not that much because they are priceless. But just to save money many travelers choose to not pay the 1.50 Euro… which stand here as a representative for many similar occasions. They actually paid the ticket to Lisbon, got up early to take part in the walking tour. Walked up the hill and then don’t pay 1.50 to see the full view. That doesn’t make sense at all! This photo I took from downstairs just to show you what all those saw that did not pay the 1.50.
Upstairs I had the panoramic view like you can see in the first photo. It’s what you want to see. Sure there is a nice view somewhere for free. But at this moment it is worth 1.50 Euro. Because for the free point of view, I might have to walk another hour or pay a bus or something. So to not pay the 1.50 is completely meaningless unless you really don’t have them. Well, if you are the guide who had seen it already ten times before and is too hungover to walk up the stairs anyway. But the question is if it is really worth to stay downstairs just to save 1.50 but to understand this obviously – as all other people in the walking tour stayed down – requires some more experience which I want to share here.
…After the tour a guy comes up with the Idea of having some codfish stew which is typical for Lisbon. It’s called “Bacalao” and tastes really delicious. We get a good address from our hostel to eat this. And head over the river where the good restaurant supposes to be. And we easily find the restaurant called “Farol” which is directly where we hop off the boat that crosses the river.
The only problem is it’s Monday which means there is no fresh fish. Because the fishermen don’t fish on Sunday. That means Monday is no fish day. At least not in a good restaurant that serves only fresh fish. Fortunately, they still have crab and clams. Typically you get the crab like this cold in Lisbon but here we could also choose to get it lukewarm. Which is just perfect. Also, the clams are absolutely delicious!
After this, we need a walk to digest the seafood. We first take a walk into the small streets there but then turn back to the docks. An old sailing ship catches the attention of my eyes. It’s the Dom Fernando II e Glória built in 1845. When I go closer I realize it’s a museum. The other guy is not really interested in it but the entry is only 4 Euro. As I’ve never seen any Warship from 1845 I go in while he follows his interests. I tell you I never compromise when traveling. That’s the reason why I travel solo. I do what I’m interested I sometimes join people but as soon as they don’t want to do what I want, I will continue alone. A solo traveler like me or the other guy knows that and we don’t feel bad about it. We love our freedom!
I’ve read some stories about a captain called Hornblower who served on such old warships when I was a kid. Now I remember some parts of them. It looks pretty authentic and you can imagine how uncomfortable it must have been serving on this ship.
After this, I go back to the other side of the river and take a nap at the hostel.
As there is a pub crawl every evening I join them. They have a ticket to take part so you get a cheaper beer and it includes the entry for a club. Because first I don’t want to drink so many beers that would be worth it and second I don’t want to go to any clubs then I don’t buy it. Just want to see where all bars and stuff is. So we head off and go to the streets of “Bairro Alto”. There you find party people every night from 10 pm until 2 am. It’s really easy to make friends from all over the world there and have some beers on the streets. I figured out that I have many US visitors on the blog lately. I think you must feel so much freedom as drinking in the streets is illegal in the US. After 2 am all bars close in this area and I think you have to visit clubs if you want to continue the party. Actually, there are some dudes around that sell beer for 1 Euro after 2 am but once they are gone the area starts to feel abandoned. I’m actually too tired and anyway, I want to experience Lisbon the next day rather than get wasted now. So I decide to go for a sleep. Unfortunately, I always forget to take photos of the nightlife. I’m just talking too much and forget to do that. But hey, the best thing to do is just to go there yourself anyway.
I wake up just early enough to get breakfast. I head out alone as I don’t know anybody around and in the morning I’m often not in the mood for socializing. I walk up to the “São Jorge” Castle and enjoy the view. Obviously, it’s also a nice place to have a nap like this lady.
The castle has a huge history which goes back to the second century BC. It has been used as a fortress and a later a castle for the King and finally became a museum.
After the walk around the castle, I follow the hill back to the eastern part of the city. It’s where the legendary tram no. 29 goes along. But first I just walk and look for a place to have some lunch. There is a very nice smell coming out of some BBQ place. But I think I just want to continue my walk a bit more as my hunger is not too bad yet. The street becomes more and more touristy and the restaurants too. The area is close to the cruise port. Lisbon by the way lately won the award for the best European cruise port. It might be good for Lisbon but for me, it’s not that fun. Because the problem about cruise tourists is that if they come they won’t be alone as those ships are huge. So I just continue walking to find a less touristy corner to have my lunch but it’s not that easy to find. I’m sure you know this problem. You see nice restaurants everywhere but once you are hungry they seem to disappear suddenly. So I decide to just walk in a circle that I would end up again where I smelled that nice BBQ. Now I really feel hungry and I’m not sure how long this circle would be. As I just pass by a Filipino restaurant I choose to sit in and have some chicken. I think I am well traveled in the Philippines and I know how Filipino food supposed to be. But this chicken is dry and not really worth to call a Filipino chicken. This experience just proves one important rule: Never eat foreign food in a place you don’t know. Let me explain this with an example. There are 4 Greek restaurants around where I live. But I take a train and go to another city when I want to eat Greek food. Because I know there is a good Greek restaurant. All the other closer to my place are just not worth the name “Greek” and also not worth the money. So even if I like Filipino food I should not go in a Filipino restaurant in Lisbon if I don’t know it. But I was hungry… At least the people are friendly as most Filipino.
I continue my day walking a bit around the two big cathedrals.
After that, I finally hop on the legendary tram no. 29 of Lisbon. They are really crazy drivers and sometimes I think they almost jump out of the tracks but it never happens.
When I arrive close to my neighborhood I hop off and go to a coffee place. I thought of having a coffee but there is a Canadian couple and he has a large Beer. Which looks so cold and delicious that I cannot resist and ordered one for me as well. I start talking to them. They must be in their fifties or sixties. They tell me that they enjoy traveling together too much and I have no doubt they are! It’s what I think of traveling you either need the right partner or you rather travel alone. If one would compromise it would be wrong. But she doesn’t care if he has four beers and gets drunk. Although she is having some non-alcoholic fruit cocktails. I think I talk to them until the evening and have some really delicious mushroom dish with bread. Typically fantastic in Portugal. This time a positive example which proves the rule to always eat local food. The chance of getting something fantastic to eat is so much higher.
Just wait for the next article… I have some more things to tell you about Lisbon and Portugal. Thanks for reading Blogodiary!