Monday, February 3, 2014


Okay, so on Thursday night, Karin, Stephanie, and I boarded a bus at 11 p.m. to travel to Lisbon, Portugal. the trip started out pretty interesting. We met a lot of U.S. Americans that were also traveling to Lisbon for the weekend. Also, a woman stole my seat on the bus. I really don't know why, but it turned out for the best for me because I had an empty seat next to me, which made for better sleeping on the bus. The ride was eight hours long. I tried to sleep for the majority, but it was slightly hard for a little bit with talking U.S. Americans and a crying baby., but honestly, I got more sleep than I thought I would so that's good.

Ponte 24 de Abril--looks like Golden Gate bridge,
but it's actually based off of the
San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge
Once in Lisbon, it took awhile to find the bus that we needed to get on to go to our hosts house. We asked a man at the metro stop and he gave us directions and while we were waiting for the metro he came back and told us better directions. We (I) was really surprised with how kind and helpful the people were as soon as we got there. Once off the bus, again we had a tough time finding our hosts apartment. Luckily, there was a police station right there, so the officer personally walked us to the street and apartment number that we needed. Check. We were one step closer to getting to our hosts place. Unfortunately, we had no idea what apartment number he was. We were supposed to call him once we got off the bus, but none of our phones were working for some reason. :/ So what did we do? We guessed. Luckily, there were only eight apartments to choose from. We buzzed the first one and no one answered, then the second one..and we got buzzed in! But we still had no idea if it was him, because he said nothing, but when we got to the door, it was him! Lucky us. We got settled in and relaxed for a little bit and then he drove us to work with him. We got breakfast together and talked for a little bit and then we went our separate way. Pastries are a really big thing in Portugal apparently so we definitely got our share of pastries for the weekend.

We left to meet up with a free Sandeman walking tour and that's what we did for the morning/afternoon. We started with a huge history lesson of Portugal and Lisbon. I am not going to bore you with all of the history, because honestly, I don't even remember half of it, but I will tell you that Lisbon is the oldest city in Europe...did you know that? I had no idea. It was founded in 1000 B.C. by Phoenicians. And then there was a long history of the Visigoths coming and then the Moors, then Napoleon at some point, etc. Lisbon has a long history because it is such an old city and I couldn't even keep up with everything. I personally didn't like the tour as much as other ones so in between the information I give you, I'm going to sprinkle some random pictures for your entertainment. :)
The next stop on the tour was to talk about a guy named Joan Pujol Garcia, also known as Garbo. Garbo became a double agent during WWII and spent a lot of his time in Lisbon. He is known as the only person to receive medals from opposing sides. He received an Iron Cross from the Germans and a Most Excellent Order of the British Empire medal from the British. He originally wanted to become a spy for the Allies, but he was denied a spot there so he became a "spy" for the Axis and spent a lot of time in Lisbon creating false reports to give to the Germans. The British saw his work and then finally hired him as an Ally spy. He played a key role in Operation Fortitude, which was the "operation that misled the Germans about the timing and location of the invasion of Normandy" (Wikipedia) Apparently Lisbon was a big spy city during WWII, known as "The Capital of Espionage." Also, Portugal was helping both sides so they pretty much stayed neutral during the war. They were shipping tungsten to the Axis powers and allowing the Allies to sail on their waters. Speaking of the waters, while I'm thinking of it, Portugal is (or is soon-to-be) one of biggest countries in the world because it will be gaining a huge part of the Atlantic Ocean and that land counts in the area for countries. Also, the borders of Portugal (I think on land) supposedly haven't changed since the 14th century.
Lisbon and the Castle of São Jorge
Church of Sao Roque
A Jesuit church that has a lot of gold inside
After all that info, we talked about the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, which destroyed 85% of the city. The earthquake was a 9.0 on the Richter scale and it reached Finland. An estimated 30,000-40,000 people were killed and even more people were killed because of the aftermath of the earthquakes. Lots of fires burned in Lisbon and tsunamis caused even more causalities and destruction. Many people think that the earthquake led many people to start thinking in the sense of the Enlightenment because they wondered why God would do something like that and that there must be something with reason that caused the earthquake. On the other side, some people thought that the earthquake was a form of judgment because Lisbon was such a sinful city, but that didn't make sense to others because Alfama, the most sinful neighborhood in Lisbon, survived the earthquake. Marquis of Pombal, a Portuguese statesman, was known for his leadership after the earthquake. He played a huge role in rebuilding the city and it was rebuilt in less than a year.
Carmo Convent--roof collapsed during the earthquake, but
the entrance and archways inside are still standing
We also learned about Fado, which is a music genre in Portugal, which is kind of sad, but I don't think it's really meant to be. The music usually has a feeling of fatefulness, melancholia, and longing, but it's supposed to be happy because it also is a music that gives people hope. Hope for tomorrow, hope for the future. Here is an example of what fado is:
On the tour, we also learned about the Carnation Revolution, which took place on April 25, 1974. This was a military coup which overthrew Estado Novo, which was a corporatist authoritarian regime in Portugal (look it up, I'm not going there). Anyway, the coup was successful and it happened with absolutely no shots fired. After all that, we got a typical Portuguese drink called Ginginha. It's a cherry liqueur and the best part is that it comes in a chocolate glass, yum!
There was still quite a bit of tour left, but I'm gonna go ahead and kinda finish the tour up here and just post pictures with some captions. Enjoy.
Praca Dom Pedro IV
Statue of Pedro IV or Maximilian from Mexico
Pedro IV was the King of Portugal and founder and first Emperor of Brazil, he was a pretty important guy in both countries and the only reason that I am bringing this up is that apparently the above statue is supposed to be Pedro IV, but it is also rumored to be Maximilian from Mexico. The story is that apparently the statue was on a ship about to leave to go to Mexico, but then Lisbon got word that Maximilian had died so they decided to keep the statue and put it up as Pedro IV. I have no clue if that's really true, but it's an interesting rumor.

Praca do Comércio
After the tour, Karin, Stephanie, and I took a train to a little area outside of the city center called Belém. There are two, really three, important sites there to see. The first is the Torre de Belém. The Torre de Belém is a fortified tower "built to commemorate Vasco da Gama's expedition [to the Indian Ocean], is a reminder of the great maritime discoveries that laid the foundations of the modern world" (UNESCO).
Tagus River
Torre de Belém
The second place is the Jéronimos Monastery. I would have loved to go inside, but we didn't, but anyway "construction began in 1502 and it exemplifies Portuguese art at its best" (UNESCO). And here's a picture.
Jéronimos Monastery
The third and final place to go in Belém was the Pastéis de Belém. It's a pastry shop and we were told to have the pastel de nata by about five different people before we even left Madrid. So that's what we did. After getting a kabob for lunch, we tried the pastel de nata from the best place in Lisbon. And it was delicious. I was tempted to get two, but I didn't. Now I wish I would have gotten a whole box. Ha.
After the pastry, we made our way back to the Parque das Nações to meet Paulo, our host. We picked up his friend, Bruno, and went back to his place briefly and then went to dinner at Taberna Maria do Correio. If you're going to Lisbon, go to that restaurant. It was delicious! Luckily, we were with Paulo and Bruno, so they ordered everything and told us what everything was. We got a whole spread of food as appetizers that came with the meal. On the list of appetizers was wild mushrooms salad (salada de cogumelos selvagens), cheese with honey and almonds (queijo com mel e amêndoas), chorizo (chouriço), and blood sausage with fig (morcela com doce de figo). Then, the main course came beef--it was pretty much steak (postinhas mirandesas) and sausage with cabbage (Alheira) and both plates came with delicious roasted potatoes. All the food was so good and I highly recommend the place. We also heard an interesting story about the sausage. It was chicken sausage instead of pork sausage and the origin is from when Jews were banned from the country. Jews had to move, convert, or hide and the ones that hid started making chicken sausage to make the rulers think they were eating pork when really they were not. Then, for dessert I had sweet rice 
(arroz doce) and that too was good.
Chicken sausage with cabbage
Sweet rice
After dinner, we went to a rooftop bar called PARK, which I would also recommend, but us girls were wiped out after the full day of walking and we asked to go home and we passed out once home. We had a great day and we were thankful for the good company of our host and his friends. :)

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