Thursday, May 26, 2005

Only some of the many many steps of Bom Jesus
OK, I swear that’s my last pun on a city name. For this post. Anyway, I woke up Tuesday morning and checked out of the hostel. Backpack in tow, I went to Bom de Jesus at the top of a large hill overlooking Braga. My backpack has never been so heavy! There are a LOT of stairs to climb and it was sunny and 32ºC, and I was sweating so much that I ducked behind a building and changed into shorts and a light shirt.

The view of Braga from Bom Jesus
Anyway, it was a beautiful church with a great view and a little restaurant perched overlooking the town. So I stopped and had a nice ice cream and beer and sat back in the sun. This particular stop made the trip to Braga worthwhile.

Arriving in Lisbon after dark was fun
I caught the 6:30 train to Lisbon (they call it Lisboa here) but there was something wrong with the train. Thankfully, someone who saw my Canadian flag stopped to tell me what was happening in English since they only announced it in Portugese, and we switched trains in Porto for the rest of the trip. Then, off to Lisbon at a cool 220 km/h, arriving around 11. The same man, an economics professor here in Lisbon, chatted with me a little and made sure I got to where I wanted to on the metro, which wasn’t necessary, but it was definitely nice of him. The people here have all been very nice, really. It reminds me quite a bit of Greece in some ways, they love their cafes and ice cream and go out all hours of the night. Thankfully they don’t sleep during the day, though! Anyway, I got to the youth hostel finally only to find it closed down, so I took the metro to the next cheapest place which was much more conveniently located downtown and stayed there.

Cabo de Roca, the westernmost point in Europe
Wednesday, I stopped by the town’s only Laundromat. Apparently Lisbon has the highest amount of washing machines per capita, and so there are very few of them. The hours didn’t work at all for me, though, so I decided to wait until my next city. I took a train out to Sintra, a UNESCO world heritage site and a beautiful town in the mountains, and after poking around there for a spell, took a bus to Cabo de Roca, the western most point of mainland Europe. The view from the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic were beautiful.

I made it back to Lisbon earlier than expected and was having such a great day, I decided I’d go and have a nice meal. So I stumbled on this restaurant and had some wine and a special sausage appetizer (a local specialty here), lamb chops (well, they weren’t so great, but they were still good) and even had myself some dessert and a glass of Port to finish things off. Then, talking to the host, who was also very helpful, I discovered that Kristen Hersh and 50 Foot Wave were playing tonight in a club.

So I went to the store to buy some more socks (some of mine are falling apart not to mention the smell!) and the hotel to change and then I found my way to the club. My Portugese is getting better too, I should say, which I discovered when I got directions entirely in Portugese (though with hand gestures) and vaguely understood. Directions in this city are complicated because roads turn into other roads and are very rarely straight. Sometimes the same road has 90 degree bends in it which look a lot like other roads.

Anyway, it turned out it was just her solo, which I didn’t discover until after the show, but she was really great to see even if I’ve never really liked her stuff too much on record, and despite the cost, I was glad to have seen her. I met some more nice locals there and they recommended some places that I’ll probably go out to tonight.

Leaving Portugal, the main square
So that’s Lisbon. I think I may be over my initial bout of homesickness, though we’ll see when I get to Spain. Today I’m actually going to look around here a bit and also book myself for the next week or so. I’m off to Madrid tomorrow, for a couple days, then to some Spanish islands (if I haven’t left it too long) for a good few days, then Barcelona, then France. That’s the plan. I’m going to look for some trails to bike or hike in France, too, I need more exercise. Hopefully not as much as my last cycling tour, though!

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Anonymous said...

hi dean vivian and wayne dyck are in madrid spain. i found a new happy face it's called buck teeth :B lol ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. mom says you want the old mariah theres an old maiah is she nice? ok see ya later bye ok bye ok bye no i'm serious ok bye. luv y looooooooooooooooooots mariah.

Dean said...

Ooh, the buck tooth one. I didn't find out about him until I was 12!

How about this one, can you guess what it is? :)#

I never said I want the old Mariah, I just said you sound different! Although the old Mariah was pretty nice as far as I can remember. :P

Well, now there's two new ones for you to look at so I hope that's enough for you. My fingers are tired from all that typing. And lots of new pictures too. I hope you like them!

Make sure Nicole shows you the email I sent you too.