Lisbon: A San Francisco Look Alike

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December 4th 2011
Published: December 4th 2011
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This weekend I went to Fatima and Lisbon with Ally, my friend from IES. Call me a pilgrim because I made a pilgrimmage to Fatima. Portugal was an interesting country to visit and I'm glad I had the opportunity to go there.

My trip started in teh usual way: I woke up at 4 A.M. and took public transportation to the Barcelona airport. From Lisbon, Ally and I took a bus to Fatima to see the religious sites. Fatima was unlike any religious place I have visited because it was absolutely massive and the entire town of Fatima revolved around the religious history of the town. The buildings in Fatima were all painted white to resemble Heaven and purity. I haven't been to the Vatican in Rome but I've seen pictures of St. Peter's Square and the Basilica in Fatima looks very similar to it. I was very impressed with the religious buildings in Fatima and I liked imagining the area filled with a crowd celebrating a mass with the Pope. I was also surprised to see a piece of the Berlin Wall in Fatima. It was funny to see that there because my parents and I joked about JFK's "I'm a Berliner" speech one week ago. Ally and I also walked the Stations of the Cross where the Fatima children saw the apirations of Mary. It was astonishing to imagine Mary appearing before people there 100 years ago. Afterwards, we left Fatima and returned to Lisbon.

Lisbon was different than all other cities I've visited so far. It felt very slow, old, and poor compared to the other cities I've visited. The buildings looked pretty run down, at least from the outside, in the downtown port area. I ate seafood rice the first night at my hostel and I really liked it. There's a lot of seafood in Lisbon because the city is located in the port. That night we went to the Barrio Alto for a pub crawl. This part of the city is known for its party life. I was amazed when I walked through the neighborhood: people were offering me drugs left and right and getting drunk in the streets. It was unlike anything I had ever seen in Europe and I almost felt like I was in a third world country.

The next day we went on a walking tour of the city. Our tour guide brought us to some cool places with good views of the city. I could see the people here enjoyed a slow pace of life. The locals seemed to take their time and move slowly here. The tour ended at a flea market in the older neighborhood of the city. This part of the city felt very much like a third world country because of the poverty at the flea market.

Later that day I went to the port to watch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. This was an odd concept for me because usually I watch the sun rise on the Atlantic and set on the Pacific. Lisbon reminded me of San Francisco because the city has a bridge almost identical to the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge here has a much lamer name though, "The 25th of April Bridge." Golden Gate sounds much better in my books. The city also had cable cars running around the city and the run-down look of the buildings reminded me of San Francisco.

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