I am in the midst of writing my second long paper and studying for one of my finals tomorrow. So will, alas, make this relatively brief. Well, brief for me.
First, I want to mention a few continual experiences that me and my friend Emily had encountered while in Lisbon.
We are both vegetarian and aspire to become vegan when we land stateside. This as a general rule has not been difficult to receive good vegetarian fare for Europeans generally understand that vegetarian means no meat: red meat, poultry, fish, essentially flesh. In Lisbon, however, we were told several times that vegetarians eat fish/seafood. Or rather “Oh, I’m vegetarian, but I also eat fish.” It’s amusing and understandable as there is plenty of seafood around. Although, what most people I know understand to be vegan (no animal products) seems to not exist to the Portugese, because vegan to them is what we call vegetarian. A little confusion, but it all worked out!
Another thing is that we were constantly asked if we wanted to by hashish. What? Do we really look like the type of people who want hashish? Well, we did look like tourists. But I would think that is about it. Anyway, it wasn’t too sketchy, as we were always asked in very public areas. (Don’t be worried Mom!)
Finally, the hostel we stayed at goodnighthostel was FANTASTIC. Crepes, soup, great employees… seriously. They have been one of the top ten hostels in the world for the last 10 years or so. Check them out if you go to Lisbon!
Now to our actual trip.
We spent 3.5 days in Portugal and stayed in Lisbon. We wandered the city, ate vegetarian food, took a walking tour, visited castles, had dinner with our hostel, visited the neighborhood of Alfama, went to Belem and at the pastry of the city. This is a big deal as only three people know part of the recipe. So if one dies… I don’t know what will happen! They sell over 45,000 of these pastries a day though. Talk about good business! It was a little pastry pie with some custard in it. Pretty good stuff. We visited a gorgeous monastery in Belem as well as the tower of Belem — a cool looking castle right off the beach.
Later that day we visited Sintra and an estate where tunnels were created by the Templars. We got a little lost, but the over all estate was breath taking! There was also an incredible mansion that had been on the estate for a few hundred years; gothic exterior with a sort of art deco interior. There were also a few cute cats hanging outside of it.
Our final day we took the train to Cascais, a beach town, then took a bus to Cabo da Roca; the most western point of continental Europe. Breath taking, really. It was strange to think that for so many years Europeans thought that was the end of the West. We then took the bus back to Cascais and from there went to Estrobil where we spent close to 4 hours hanging out on the beach. It was a balmy 76 degrees. 🙂
We had purchased sunscreen, however, we were only able to get SPF 20. We got a little sunburned, but not too badly!
We had an early flight the next morning, so went to bed packed and prepared.
After coming back to Amsterdam (Schipol airport to Centraal Station), I decided to visit the Game of Thrones exhibition that was going on at Haarlemerstraat in a church. (They use most of their churches in the Netherlands for exhibitions nowadays.) I went straight there because it was close to the train station and did not want to have to bike back later, as the weather was an overcast 55 degrees. I was alone, but I met a nice new Dutch friend! I’ll likely never talk to him again, but it was an interesting experience. We were each others photograph buddies. His name was Sam and he is 18 years old. He lives in Haarlem, but has an internship in the city for engineering. He lived in Houston for two years growing up as his father (also an engineer) was called out to Texas. He has only watched the HBO series a little bit, but is very faithful to the books. I have yet to read the books, only watch the series, so it was a good time discussing the differences. After the exhibition, we got a coffee.
We saw the real costumes and props they use on the show, including the iron throne! (SPOILER: it’s made of plastic.) I will say that even up close I thought it was made of metal until I sat down in the the thing. We saw the (young) dragons, cool costumes, Jaime’s prosthetic arm (likely one of many used) and other memorabilia from the show. I went on the second and last weekend of the exhibition. I would have gone the first when Arya and Joffrey (the actors) were there, but didn’t want to deal with the crowd. I guess the first weekend the line to sit on the throne took around 3 hours. For me and Sam it was 3 minutes.
Well, I have my last week here in Amsterdam, going to last minute places, visiting a couple more museums and finishing classes of course. Then I’m off on my week long adventure to Iceland, England, and Spain before flying back to the U.S. of A.
This is likely to be my last post as, let’s be honest, life tends to get a bit busy when one is not longer jet setting around the world. If I do, awesome. If not, “Proost!” to Amsterdam.
Thank you for going on this journey with me.