Monday, 25 November 2013

Lisboa, Portugal: Portugal Take 2

After a Bla Bla Car from Mérida with Portuguese and Brazilian guys that drove from Madrid and picked me up along the way I was in Lisboa. I arrived at 1am Portuguese time (2am in Spain), incredibly tired and with no accommodation. I found the address of a hostel and walked in at 1:30am, I grabbed a bed for 2 nights.

Why do I always show up in cities and walk into hostels without booking online? Many reasons!
1. It keeps my plans fully flexible; you never know who you will meet on your journey there.
2. I will usually have a forum post on CS so people can contact me last minute to offer accommodation and their time.
3. It can be exciting not knowing if you have a place to sleep that night.
4. I get looked after by the staff. If you book a certain dorm online for a certain price they would have already arranged the bed you will be sleeping in before you arrived. It will usually be exactly what you booked. When I walk in and start up a conversation so many times I will pay the lowest price for the highest priced dorm (e.g. I will pay a 10 bed dorm price and get a 4 bed dorm and on rare occasions a private room).

I will apologise now because I didn't carry my camera around much in Lisbon. It truly is a beautiful city but I can't show it.

On this occasion I didn't get offered a couch before I walked into the hostel but I had messages from 3 people offering a tour/meet up. After a good sleep I decided to get lost in city without a map to discover the hidden parts.

That night I met up a Turkish girl volunteering in Lisbon, Merve. We tried some Portuguese cherry wine from a street stand. We received a chocolate cup about the size of a shot glass, they fill it up twice with the cup being eaten after the 2nd time. This was followed by a big tour around Lisbon then a visit to a bar for a shot (of something?) in a glass made of ice.

The next day the hostel was fully booked out for the weekend. I decided to store my luggage and meet up with a German girl for lunch hoping my accommodation problem would sort itself out... it did! After a ridiculously huge, cheap and tasty lunch I was off to my new hosts' place, a Portuguese/Brazilian family. It was mum, dad, grandma and 4 kids, plus another Couchsurfer from Korea. We ate like kings in this house.

The Korean guy and I were off to explore the town of Sintra the following day. It is a very old little town to the north of Lisbon, famous for a castle of the Moors and many other ancient monuments. It is very nice but packed with tourists. We decided to go on a massive hike outside of town.

The following morning I was off again but not quite as planned. When I searched Bla Bla Car for a ride south I saw a ride north for 27 Euro... back to Vigo. So I was heading 500km in the opposite direction to visit a friend. Except after I made my decision it turned out the Bla Bla Car was full so instead of 27 Euro 5 hour point to point it was 2 metro rides in Lisbon followed by a highspeed train to Porto, a metro ride in Porto followed by a 3 hour bus ride and finishing with a city bus ride in Vigo. So 47 Euro and 11 hours later I was once again at Olalla's home, 1000km away from where I expected to end the day.

Lessons Learnt:
Keep your plans completely flexible and do what you want.
I love Spanish culture.
If a city doesn't quite life you the experience you want then leaving early isn't a bad thing.

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