Saturday, May 5, 2012

Lisbon, Portugal

It has been a long week for Nicole because we left on Thursday and she had to prepare for a big conference in Barcelona on Monday.   Working very late nights, she got everything done and we made it! This is our first country that neither of us has been to, so we were very excited. 
Day 1: 
We had a layover in Barcelona and had more champagne and not enough food than was probably necessary to start our vacation.  We arrived in Lisbon, took a taxi to our hotel and began searching out the nearest tapas and wine bar.  My internal compass was not yet calibrated, (not to mention we had a crappy map) so it took us longer than expected to find a certain closed bar.  It started raining hard so we jumped into the first place we saw.  Think dark 50’s diner that serves beer and tapas.  We were however pleasantly surprised by the “cheese mountain” that was served to us with a Portuguese made Budweiser type of beer.  Now we are getting into our vacation rhythm!  We had a very good dinner *(1) around 9 with a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses of whiskey (to help us digest the massive amounts of steak and potatoes).  We started walking in the direction of Baixa.  After walking around for about an hour, we stumbled across what appeared to be a private party that was playing some pretty awesome club jams….so in went, time to shake it!  Turns out it wasn’t a private party just a really small club filled with locals ready for a dance party.  Great times but paid for it the next day. 
Day 2:
We started out very slow after our long night. I watched the Memphis/L.A. and Heat/Knicks games while Nicole napped and recovered.  It was very relaxing and we finally made it out of the hotel around 2.  We took the bus to Belam…about 15 minutes away to this amazing church and monastery *(2), an absolute must see for anyone going to Lisbon.  Dinner was great and unique *(3), I had Parrot fish with some kind of banana puree and Nicole had a shrimp risotto. 
Day 3:
Tried to get an earlier start to this one…very low key day.  Our feet are throbbing from walking around a city that every sidewalk and street is cobblestone.  But that is what we do, gotta stomp it out! Our first objective was a 10th century castle *(4) on top of a pretty substantial hill. This is officially the oldest castle that we have been to so far.  Really interesting and absurd to think that people were manning those walls a thousand years ago! After the castle we had a vague notion of trying to go to the aquarium but were bamboozled by the yellow bus tour driver. We waited at one stop…no bus… then decided to walk to another stop, waited for 15 minutes in the wind…we finally see the bus, stand up and walk to the stop, only to have the bus fly right past us without even slowing down.  Needless to say we didn’t go to the aquarium and stopped at a wine bar instead.  Rounded out the trip with the Boston/Atlanta basketball game (thank you league pass) and another great dinner *(5) (hopefully great, I am writing this before we actually go to dinner).  ***It was great, the restaurant was tiny and felt like we were invited to someones house for dinner!***
Another great trip and a new country to cross of the list.  Lisbon is a really interesting city with a lot more to do than we were expecting.  This city has a heartbeat and culture like nowhere I have been before.  Thank you Lisbon, maybe we will take you more seriously next time.  Then again… probably not… DANCE PARTY!! 
2) Mosteiro dos Jerónimos


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