6/8/10: Lisbon, Portugal
You didn’t think I could stop with only two masterpieces in the Homeless Kevin series, did you? Like Jason Bourne, Mission Impossible and a moderately hungry customer at an all-you-can-eat buffet, I’m back for a third and final time. Let’s cut right to the story, because like Lord of the Rings III, it’s a long one.
Sneeze. Cough. Cough. “I think I’m dying,” wheezed Zhou when she woke up this morning. “I’ll get you some cheap medicine,” I replied. I made a quick run to the nearest pharmacy, knocked out Zhou with some drowsy pills and then headed out the door, excited to have the whole day to myself.
In a bit of a rough start to the day, I immediately got lost among the hilly Lisbonian streets that put even San Francisco to shame. I was definitely somewhere on my map, but it lacked the detail necessary to help me out, so I simply pushed forward into the unknown. As it turned out, my first stop ended up being some church or nice-looking building or something.
Fortunately for me, once I found this I knew that I was very close to the flea market that I was trying to get to. (Funny how whenever Zhou’s not around I do the one thing I enjoy least: shop.)
This market was known as the Thieves’ Market, but if it were up to me I would have named it the Garage Sale of Crap, because I’m pretty sure the local merchants simply put down a blanket or table and try to sell off all the junk they don’t need anymore from home. (Of course, the Thieves’ Market could be a reference to the fact that they steal the junk from other people’s homes.)
Of course I didn’t end up buying anything here, but I did manage to take a picture of me in front of some famous Portuguese tiles.
From this market, I strolled over to a series of lookouts over the city. The first one I came to was described by our hostel as the most thigh-punishing, but worth the climb for the view. I took one look at my massive thighs and knew the climb wouldn’t be a problem. Check out the payoff:
Not too shabby, but at that point I wished there was some blue sky to brighten things up. Oh well. I then headed down to TPV’s baby cousin: non-thigh-punishing view.
I’m sure by now you’ve noticed my indigenous iPod earbuds from Hong Kong have made the journey all the way to Portugal. I didn’t want to wear them two days ago in Madrid because I knew my senses needed to be on high alert for pickpockets, but here I was able to bring them out again. (The music du jour? Matt Wertz in the morning and Michael Jackson later in the afternoon.) Anyway, my travels then took me the long way to St. George’s Castle (as seen in the background of the picture from the first lookout), allowing me to pass things such as streets decorated for the upcoming holiday,
flower pot-lined staircases,
and even red doors.
Unfortunately I forgot my student card and didn’t want to pay full price to get into the castle, so that excursion will be saved for another day. Right about this time though, my stomach began growling, so I decided to make my way back to the hostel to check on Zhou. On the way though, I popped into another large church, this one with quite intimidating dark front doors.
Zhou was still fast asleep in bed, so my adventure continued into the afternoon. But first, lunch from the same place we ate at yesterday. This cafe had a tourist menu, but I chose to go with something more local and more unknown, and I was quite relieved when I was served some sort of delicious meatballs and mashed potatoes. If only Zhou were here to share my triumph of the lunch menu…
After lunch I boarded Tram 28, a cable car that one reviewer on TripAdvisor described by saying, “if you do anything in Lisbon, take this tram ride!”
The ride itself was decent, albeit very herky-jerky, but there was one problem. I thought it would do a big loop and drop me back off where I started, but instead it finished somewhere a ways off my map. And I really didn’t want to pay to get on another tram back into the city. What to do?
After taking a minute to sum up all my inner creativity to avoid paying the extra 1.40€, I figured out a solution: follow the cable car tracks back!
These tracks eventually led me back onto the map, where I stumbled around aimlessly past a plethora of gardens, churches and interesting architecture. I passed the time climbing up spiderweb ropes on the playground,
stopping by the Palace of the National Assembly, where some important people were arriving to a symphony of trumpets and a gaggle of cops,
and enjoying the view of one of the city’s touristy funiculars. No, I did not get on this one.
Toward the end of the day I thought about throwing some Smart Cars into canals, but then thought better of it.
As my day was nearing its end, I found myself in a small mall close to our hostel. Of course one store called out to me in particular:
Surprisingly there was nothing there for me, but while sniffing the new shoes (I love that smell!) I got to thinking about this blog post. It came to me that one place had tied the last two posts together, even though they occurred half-a-world apart. It’s really the only thing that unites people from all over the world around one common goal. I quickly headed upstairs to the food court, where I knew that one had to be waiting for me. Even though it was now 4pm, this place was still quite crowded, but crowds are something you grow to love at this food haven. I waited in the back of the line, and just a few minutes later I finished a great day in the perfect way: with an M&M McFlurry.
Puzzles for Postcards
Rhyme Time! Solve all three of these European geography triple rhymes.
The soft, warm jacket one’s brother’s daughter bought outside the Parthenon
A dwelling for Travelocity’s mascot near the Colosseum
A country in the United Kingdom Fedexes small, sharp objects it bought at Home Depot
Picture of the Day: My favorite picture from my romp around the city today.