Long time no write, my friends! This doesn’t mean no travel as well, absolutely not. Lots of travel stories are still to come from me. . . At a snail pace, but they will, trust me!
Now this trip to the capital of Portugal has been the most exciting yet, in terms of company. I had the chance to share it with two classmates of my Master’s Degree in Barcelona, two wonderful gentlemen originating one from Mexico and the other from Brazil, named Josafat and Rodrigo respectively! Nah, they are just two crazy vagabonds and I hope to reach their level of don’t-give-a-damn-ness soon enough!
Upon our arrival to Lisboa, we went straight to Rodrigo’s friend Cacilda, who was going to host us at her house in the suburbs of the city. We just wanted to get rid off our luggage and start wandering around the historic center! It was a warm night of April and we needed a nice dinner and wine, accompanied by fados, the traditional Portuguese melancholic songs, many of which refer to Lisboa. So which better way to start than from Bairro Alto! The area was so filled with energy, locals and tourists mixed together, talking loud and laughing, music surrounding us at the streets, as well as the scent of alcohol and marijuana.
Carried away by the sounds of fados, we entered a place. It was owned by a family, with the father and son playing the mandolin and guitar respectively, while the daughter was singing in a black dress that covered her whole body. All over the walls, paintings of people singing fados, traditional musical instruments, patterned blue and white tiles and at a corner, there was a huge bull effigy, wounded by banderillas (long barbed sticks) and wearing sunglasses (!).
For next day we had picked the area of Belém, in order to combine a walk along River Tagus and sightseeing at the Jerónimos Monastery. The monastery is an outstanding building of Gothic architecture that impressed me, nevertheless I craved to see the legendary river, so we rushed to get a “belém” sweet to regain forces, then straight to the riverside and… wow, to my surprise, there was a huge concrete monument at the river bank! Rodrigo pointed right there and told me it was built to celebrate the trips the Portuguese made to the oriental countries on the 15-16th century, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries). A huge cross decorated the back side and the figures of the most well-known explorers were sculpted over its eastern and western profile. Stunning work of art!
For the 3rd day, Rodrigo had a splendid idea for a little excursion; the castle of Sintra (Pena National Palace) would be our destination! This place is simply like being taken out from a fairytale, there is nothing closer to what I can imagine would be Aladdin’s Castle! Colorful crenelations everywhere, gardens full of palm trees, doors and windows encrusted with sculptured flowers, buildings of varied geometric shapes… did not know where to look and shoot first! The castle is built at the top of a hill and overlooks the town of Sintra.
Our trip in Lisboa ended with a visit at the Café A Brasileira for a hot chocolate, the place where writer Fernando Pessoa used to spend his free time. He actually still sits on his favorite table outside, only in a bronze form… When you enter the place, it feels like travelling in a time machine, the walls are dressed in wood, mirrors are surrounding you and the large wooden clock at the end of the room is a collector´s candy! Prezado Lisboa, até a próxima!