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June 26th 2011
Published: June 26th 2011
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Start of europe

June 21st - 26th

As I was sad to say goodbye to Asia, for now (more on this to come), I did have a great start to Europe. After my eight hour flight from Delhi, India to Frankfurt, Germany, I had another flight that I bought separately from my round-the-world ticket with British Airways that would take me to Lisbon, Portugal with a layover in London. Yeah, that was a long day considering my first flight left at 2:30 in the morning. Just before the flight took off I noticed the flight attendants talking to each other and looking my way. Normally when 3 good looking British women look at me I would be happy, but with my luck at airports I got nervous. As one walked up towards me I quickly looked away only to feel a tap on my shoulder. What did I do now? Luckily, the flight attendants saw me doing some mitzvahs (good deeds) and gave me an upgrade to first class for both my flights. I couldn’t argue with that since one of the good deeds I did was give up my nice window seat so an elderly couple could sit next to each other and I was stuck with her seat in the middle of the center section. The other kind act they saw was when I carried an older lady’s bag up the stair case, which for some reason weighed more than my entire backpack which I checked, so I also carried it to her seat and helped put it in the overhead compartment. What a good way to start the next continent on my journey.

I finally landed in Lisbon, Portugal where I already had booked a hostel called Traveller’s House which is rated as one of the top 10 hostels in Europe on many lists. I should also tell everyone one of my travel flaws that I really need to get over before I can call myself a real backpacker. For some reason, after I arrive in a new city I never take the metro/subway/public bus to get to my accommodations. I am always so exhausted from traveling that I always just pay for a taxi to take me there, which is always the most expensive way, especially from airports. I don’t mind taking other transport on the way to the airport or train station, just not from it. I need to get over this quickly cause my money is going to get tight with my new travel plans. Well after 3 flights and being up for almost 3 days, today was not the day i was going to get over it. I went straight to the hostel. As you can see from the pics, the hostel itself is not bad looking, very chilled atmosphere. Its actually several stories with the common area one level up from the street. One of the best things about this hostel is the location. Its on the most popular street in Lisbon, Rua Augusta, which also happens to be a pedestrian only street so we never hear any traffic. Most of the buildings on this street are cafe’s or high-end shops but its considered the very center of Lisbon. The staff at the hostel are simply amazing and they know how to run a hostel. They have special events every night so everyone in the hostel gets to know each other right away. The staff instantly gets to know everyone, what they like, what they want to do, hooks you up with similar travelers, just the best run hostel I have ever seen. Travellers House has a 99.1% rating on Hostelbookers (the main website I use) and I find it hard to believe that anyone gave it less than a 100%.

Since I didn’t arrive till a little later in the evening and I was so tired, I took it easy the first night and just went out and explored the city by myself. I ate dinner (no not McDonalds) and walked around for a few hours before heading back and crashing. One thing you have to know about Lisbon is the nightlife doesn’t really start till 1 or 2 in the morning, so you really have to be ready to stay awake all night. The next day I walked around the city in search for new shoes since I sent my hiking shoes home from India, and the sandals i was wearing cut my feet up so bad it hurt with each step i was taking. A few hours later I found a pair, and also a new hat since my other one was smelling real bad after sweating in it so much in India. Unfortunately for all my Cleveland readers, the only hat I found was a Yankees hat, so that will have to do for now and i hope you be nice on your facebook comments. Later on I meet up with some Americans from the hostel for dinner before joining that nights hostel activity, the most popular one, the bar crawl. It started at 11 with a keg in the hostel, when thats done, they take everyone to 3 popular bars, at which you get a free shot at each. We were kinda a big group considering there are 25-30 Scottish eighteen to twenty year olds at the hostel. These were the first Scottish people I’ve meet and they loved me and my stories. After about the second bar I was getting trashed trying to keep up with them and it was already 3:30am and I can barely remember the third bar. Somehow we got back to the hostel around 5-5:30am and just chilled in the lounge for awhile before crashing. This was a real fun night and the group of Scottish and several Americans traveling solo are all here the entire time I am so this is going to be a fun, but rough week.

After getting my free breakfast, I joined two Americans that wanted to take a walking tour of the city so we asked the staff to suggest a route and we were off. One of the main sites in Lisbon is a huge castle perched on a hilltop that overlooks the entire city called the Castle of Sao Jorge. Inside they have artifacts that date back to the sixth century BC found only on this hill. For over a thousand years this heavily fortified castle prevented Lisbon from being taken over, even throughout the crusades. I took the time and got some Where’s Waldo/Wally pics while breaching the castle (I found it funny cause one of the pages of the Where’s Waldo book I remember had a medieval theme at a castle). Unlike in Asia, when I put the costume on now everyone around me knows what it is and now becomes more embarrassing and harder to get pictures without someone coming up to me. Afterward, the map that was drawn up said, “Get lost on the way down from the castle before finding a cafe that sells bifana.” Well we didn’t have to try hard to get lost since the entire hillside was designed so that intruders would get lost while trying to storm the castle. So we kept the thousand year old tradition alive and got lost within the many stunning side-streets that go up and down within minutes. Every turn we made, the streets were decorated with colorful streamers and lights with beautiful architecture or monuments everywhere. After stopping at like five or six cafes, we found one that sold bifanas but spoke no english which made orderin and payin fun. A bifana is basically a pork sandwich that is marinated for days. The last part of our tour said to get back on track, keep walking towards the water and follow the waterfront back towards the hostel. In the plaza with the Rua Augusta Arch, find a cafe that offers free wine tasting as long as you fill out a feedback form after and drink away. Unfortunately, that day was a small national holiday and several businesses were closed and the wine place was one of them. Either way, our walking tour took about five hours on a beautiful 80 & sunny day. After relaxing back at the hostel and watching a movie I bought in ‘Nam, some of us had some dinner at a sandwich place nearby before meeting up with more people at the hostel (including a fun Israeli in town for the night) and out for another night of drinking. Before you know it, its 4:00am and we headed back.

The next day I spent planning another big section of my trip but i will explain more some other time.

Finally made it to the beach, which was packed since it was the weekend and 85-90 degrees and sunny. Beautiful women in thong bikini’s, a great day. Afterward, I went to the two UNESCO sites in Lisbon, but to be honest, they were nothing special. I liked the castle and the vibe of the city better. It turns out my last night was also the last night of most of the people that have been in the hostel with me all week so once again, we all went out and finally i hit up McDonalds at 4am.

The next morning I spent at the bus station waiting for the international ticket guy to come back cause I had planned to leave tonight to Spain but hadn’t booked anything. Luckily, I got an overnight bus to Seville, which should take about 9 hours. I plan on spending 2-3 days in Seville, 1-2 nights in Toledo, 5 nights in Madrid, 3 nights in Pamplona (running of the bulls), and 2-3 nights in Barcelona. I better start touching up on my spanish. In the end, I think Lisbon was one of my favorite cities i've been to. Great people that are sincerely kind, great buildings that lend to the fun vibe of the city, and of course a great night life which isn't too out of control that really has something for everyone. Oh and the women aren't bad to look at either. I would definitely recommend Lisbon to everyone and if you come, stay at the Travellers House as they greatly contributed to my great time.

Additional photos below
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I basically lived off these, its a pork sandwich

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