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Viaje a Lisboa

October 5, 2010

Last Thursday at midnight, Amy, Charlotte, Sarah, Tim and I headed off to Lisbon for a weekend of Portuguese fun – whatever that meant. We didn’t plan very much at all: just the hostel. Amy looked up what subway we needed to take from the bus station to our hostel and… that was about it.

On our walk to the castle.

A lot of good planning would have done. Our ETA in Lisbon was 7:30 am – early, but not an unreasonable hour. Instead, we arrived there at 5:30 am Lisbon time (we neglected to learn of the time difference). That’s an hour before the metros start running, and at least two hours before the early bird cafes open. We sat in the freezing cold subway station for an hour, and when we got to the hostel, the woman seemed perturbed that we were there so early. I had thought there was 24 hour check-in. Wrong. She let us leave our bags there, but we couldn’t come back until noon. This was bad, bad news for a bunch of sleep deprived, stiff, and cold travelers.


So we headed off to the centro in search of caffeine and pastries. We watched the sun rise over the river as we walked. Our guidebook (my now go-to Knopf Map-Guides. The Sevilla one is awesome) told us where to find the best pastries in the city, and we were miraculously close to the cafe. We waited outside for it to open, and then the requisite time to not seem like crazy, desperate American tourists, took way too long to pick out our morning treats once we got inside, and then probably made more noise than is socially acceptable.

There were cats wandering all over the castle complex. So many kitties.

But my favorite part of the entire trip was probably those delirious morning hours. We made our way from the cafe up a big hill to Castelo do Sao Jorge, this amazing, beautiful castle and spent a few more hours being obnoxious on the castle grounds. It was perfect! We were by far the youngest people there (it was still pretty early for us 20-somethings), but it was perfect and not overpopulated.

And as soon as it got to be near noon we got back to the hotel and napped napped napped.

Friday evening, I guess it was (the whole weekend is kind of a blur), we went to MUDE, Lisbon’s fashion museum. It was awesome. Even Tim thought so. Even though all but two or so of the clothing pieces for for females, they did a really great job of making the exibits gender-neutral. The first was organized by era, with these amazing dresses and ensembles next to furniture and electronics and vespas. The music in different areas of the room matched the era of the clothing and the furniture. Upstairs was all scooters and dresses. Everything was beautiful and so interesting.

At the flea market.

Previous statement retracted: my definite favorite part of the weekend was the flea market on Saturday morning. It was the most amazing collection of junk and treasures I have ever seen. Sure, some stalls were all new stuff and super awkward, but there was a man selling exclusively acordians, and lots of people with giant, messy piles of clothes and shoes and postcards! Heaven! Actually. I hope that when I die I am sent to permanently wander the Lisbon flea market.

I would have bought these in a minute if there was any hope of getting them home. So beautiful.

On Saturday we also went to Belem, which is basically a huge touristpalooza. Monuments, a giant impressive monastery, a free contemporary art museum. All very cool. We hurried back downtown afterwards to catch a train to Sintra, which is supposed to be lots of castles

At the museum.

and is a World Heritage Site, but by the time we got there it was dark. And we were delusional again (not very much sleep, at all) and hungry. We found what appeared to be a satisfactory restaurant, but it turned out that the kitchen basically consisted of four microwaves. We only learned this after we had already ordered. I had some very mediocre fish soup, but that was luckily accompanied by some decent, cheap porto so I left the restaurant contented. And we headed back to Lisbon. I bought some wine and paprika Pringles at a little grocery store and we called it a night.

Los Descubrimientos

The next morning was a stop for pastries and wandering to the bus station to go home. What a blur. I don’t think I have even really forgotten anything. It really was an awesome weekend, and I really do want to go back to Lisbon. All the time. Every weekend, if I could. I loved it.

The city just seemed to have this feel that I have been missing in Sevilla. I found cafes where I could see myself lounging for hours and be completely comfortable: I haven’t found that place here. I am not asking for the Ace, or even Pois, Cafe (where we went in Portugal. Darling, with delicious food and coffee). Just somewhere comfortable and where I can read. Maybe I could do that at Los Claves. But I am not totally sure if I could handle the noise level. And I would just miss the Beach Boys and the Portuguese jazz from Pois, Cafe.

Brazillian torte de limao. Amazing. (And Charlotte and Tim, also amazing)

That’s my goal for the weekend, though: find that place in Sevilla. Wander Calle Feria for hours, if I have to (I have a feeling this is my area: close to my house, burgeoning on hip, the locale for the Sevilla flea market that I will never be able to attend because of my teaching schedule, and reportedly a thrift store). I’ve got to start being more comfortable in this city.

In totally different news, I visited one of my future classes for the first time today! We’re just doing observations for a while, but it was so great to know that they aren’t absolutely horrible kids as far as middle schoolers go (yikes). I just have three more groups of kids to meet on Thursday, so we’ll see how it goes. But I am more excited now, and that is very good. I gobbled up my “Learning to Plan Lessons” readings. All four of them. You bet.

So all is good here. Yesterday was totally overwhelming homework-wise. Today is much better. Odd, considering today I only had one class and tomorrow I have three…

The Official Schedule:


  • Professional Teaching Development with Jorge
  • Woman Writers in 20th Century Spain with Magdelena
  • Advanced Phonetics and Phonology with Joaquin


  • Psychology of Learning a Second Language with Frank
  • Tuesday: Teaching with Belen 12:30-1:30
  • Thursday: Teaching with Isabel 11:30-2:30
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