Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lisboa, Portugal [Part 2]

DAY 3 (SUNDAY): destination: Belem. 

(Forgot to include a map in the last post...)

I also forgot to write...

...on Saturday night, while eating dinner at the hostel, we met these two great American guys who are currently living in Europe.  B lives in Norway (or at least was residing in Norway when we met him) working as a personal trainer, and D lives in Germany playing on a professional men's volleyball team for, well, a German team.  Need I mention that they are REALLY tall? The average height between them is 6'6". o_o

Anyways, apparently they are college buds, and decided to meet up in Barcelona and go on a little trip for a week, and Lisbon happened to be their last stop.  After dinner, my friends and I sat around chatting with them, and after a little while, my friends and I got up to go for a little walk around the city. B and D offered to join.

So the six of us were walking around, and ended up in Barrio Alto, or Lisbon's nightlife scene.  And boy, was I glad that B and D were with us! Haha. Barrio Alto is basically a large area with lots of bars and clubs (I would assume), but the interesting things is most everyone grabs a drink and just stands outside in the small narrow streets.  My friends and I probably would have started to head back as soon as we hit the crowded streets.  The crowd was particularly rowdy because it was St. Patrick's Day weekend (who would have thought the Portuguese celebrated it?? Well, to be fair, it's probably for the sake of the tourists that they celebrate it...), and therefore, we were all the more glad to have these two giant people walking with us. Haha.

Anyways, the moral of the story is, B and D were so awesome, and really just wanted to look out for these four American girls, and didn't mind being goofy body guards for the night. :)

AND NOW, day 3.  Sunday morning, we got on a tram to go to Belém, a small tourist town 20 minutes away from the city center.  The tram was overflowing with people, and having heard that this was pick pocketing central, we stood in a little circle and watched out for each others' purses. (Remember when I said there would be a life application to the pick pocket warning?)  So far so good.  We didn't get off with the rest of the tourists, and waited a couple of more stops before getting off, and the tram was significantly more empty.

When we finally get off the tram, we are standing around, trying to decide where to visit first, when Lucy* looks down and finds that her purse is open.  She looks inside and realizes, HER WALLET IS GONE.  All four of us were shocked, and hurriedly tried to figure what to do.  Our first reaction was to go in the direction where a large group of people had walked, thinking the thief might have walked away in that group of people.  We were hoping that along the way we would find at least her empty wallet tossed somewhere so that she could retrieve non-money related things from her wallet.

Alas, we had no luck.  So our next step was her to get in contact with her parents who are currently in Hong Kong to cancel her credit cards.  We looked for Wifi so we could use Skype, but no luck.  We came across pay phones, so we decided to call Hong Kong from these pay phones.  #1, it's been FOREVER since I've last used a pay phone (maybe 7~10 years??), and #2, none of us quite realized how expensive the call would be. Me, Wendy*, and Lena* kept on feeding the machine while Lucy* was talking to her parents, and even though the call lasted at most 3 minutes, the three of us had fed the machine over 7€!!

What an eventful start to the day....

We met Vasco de Gama here! 

Jeróminos Monestario. 

Isn't this the cutest, yet saddest picture ever? This 
man had this dog hold a little bucket in its mouth to
collect money. People didn't give money for the 
accordion, but rather for the dog, probably. 

Parados dos Descobrimentos.  I think if I remember
correctly, Belém is where world famous sailors left on 
their expeditions to the New World, trying to find
ways to India by sea. This monument is to 
commemorate this. 

Tower of Belém

The famous pastry of Belém. EVERYONE raves 
about these, and so we naturally bought some. 
And it did not disppoint. :) This bakery is probably
the most famous of them all, but their fame has been
developed over the years mainly due to their location.

And the pastry itself, sprinkled with cinnamon. :) 

Interesting story. Lena*, Wendy* and I were ceaselessly talking about these pastries in the beginning of the trip, and how badly we wanted them... Lucy* wasn't sure what pastry we were talking about. And then we show her the pastry, and she exclaims,"Oh this??? I've had them all the time while growing up! They're all over the Southern region of China!"

So what had happened is Macao was a Portuguese colony and so whether the Portuguese brought the tart to China, or the Portuguese took the tart from China, it's a very common pastry in China. AKA not unique to Lisbon. 

And so there you have.  A rough summary of my trip to Lisboa, Portugal. 

If anyone is planning on going there, I really, really, highly recommend going to Sintra. And give yourself lots of time. Another reason why we couldn't go to both the Castle and the Palace is that they close at 6.  Not knowing this, we got there at 4. (heh, heh, we ate lunch for a really long time.)

The city itself is beautiful and full of character, and I really would love to go back some day! :) 

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