Got an extra day? Find a beach!

Monday, May 31, 2010

 Because our departure to Madrid was pushed back a night, we found ourselves with some time on our hands.  We crammed so much into the first two days that we earned ourselves a beach day!  We hopped on a train (very cheap and easy to find, by the way!) to Cascais.  This day essentially consisted of lounging on the beach, standing out because of my extreme Irish skin, swimming in the amazingly warm water, then taking a stroll along the water to the next town down, Estoril.  It was a nice relaxing day after three days of nonstop action and we topped it off with a nice self-made dinner at the hostel.

Some tips for Eurail Pass users...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

We woke up bright and early in the beautiful city of Lisbon.  We made our way to the train station to buy tickets for our night train to Madrid.  One of my friends (who shall remain nameless) did not bring the Eurail Pass cover so they would not accept her ticket.  Praying that she just left in in the hostel we had to travel back to the hostel.  Luckily it was there.  We made it back to the train station only to discover that the night train we wanted to take was booked so we had to push it back a night. We also had to book another night in Lisbon (which we were not upset about because we were enjoying it so much!)

This leads me my first Tip:  Keep all parts of your Rail pass together and be sure to book your tickets as soon as possible!

From there we hopped on another train to the town of Sintra.  If you are ever in Lisbon, Sintra is a must see.  It is a quaint little village with a huge palace (Palace Pena) on a hill that can be seen from below.  We had to take a bus up a slightly frightening winding road but it was worth it.  I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
Pena Palace
View from the palace

From there we walked to the old Moorish castle which was also fascinating.  After another bus and train ride we made it back to Lisbon where I got a meal that I can only describe as an extra salty bacon omelet (advertised as a ham omelet).  I avoided any type of ham on the rest of the trip for fear that any more salt added to my diet could kill me after that one meal.
Amazing View


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Landing in Lisbon was nerveracking.  I have never traveled without someone telling me where to go and what to do so landing in an airport with only a bus number and an address was near terrifying.  Although we had to work through a crowd of protesters to get to our hostel we found it fairly easily.  The hostel was perfect.  We were in a 10 bed room with a few different bathrooms to choose from.  There was also an amazing kitchen and breakfast provided.

As much as we would have liked to take a nap after traveling all night, that was not what this trip was for.  Our first destination was St. George Castle which was amazing and had a beautiful view of the city. We also took a ride on the much-mentioned Tram 28.  I'm sure the ride was amazing but I was unfortunately crammed in between several taller passengers that limited my view.

We strolled down Avienda de Liberdad to find the water.  After that we had our first Portuguese dinner, a hot shower, and fell promptly asleep.
Flag over St. George's Castle
Lisbon Trams
The amazing Lisboa Central Hostel

The Beginning

Friday, May 28, 2010

Before even unpacking my school things, it was time to pack again.  It was finally time for my European adventure.  I was really praying everything went smoothly.  A lot of planning went into this trip and although I wasn't always sure of what I was doing, I did try to get everything right.  It was myself and two of my friends (Alanna and Miranda) who were taking this trip.  We each had one backpack and nothing more.  We only brought what we could carry on the plane.  It was surprisingly not that hard to pack.

Luckily what I consider the hardest part, actually getting to Europe, went off without a hitch.  We flew through the night on SATA International which is a company I had never heard of before this trip but it was a great flight.  We flew from Boston to the island of Ponta Delgada where we had to disembark for the plane to refuel before continuing on to Lisbon.
Waiting outside the plane to continue our trip