Saturday, May 18, 2013

So, I Kinda Fell in Love...

Well hello there!  Did you miss me?  I missed you guys! I'm so so sorry for the ridiculous delay. There is no excuse, but my excuse is that I was too busy with life to write it down. But after constant reminders from friends (and family) that I do in fact have a blog that some people do read, I think it's time for an update on my existence.

So, what's new in my life? Hmmm, well I got a nose ring! Yep, I did it, gave my face an extra hole (a pretty one though) so, you know there's that news.  But honestly, the only big change here in my life here in Seville is the weather. It's not cold and rainy and ugly anymore! It's actually sunny and beautiful and breezy and the weather you think when someone says southern Spain.  There are so many things I could update you guys on, but I think the easiest way to play it is to go in order, so first things first, I'm gonna talk about....Lisbon, Portugal!!!

Yes, Portugal, the land of Portuguese, the most forgotten country on the European continent, and the most confusing accent I've heard thus far.  I mean really they sound like Russians speaking French, what's going on over there?  But seriously, if I have anything to say about Lisbon, it is GO! The food was delicious, the weather was nice, the views were incredible, and the people were pretty friendly as well.  There are three things you need to know about Lisbon, Portugal. Number one:  you will get lost.  Whether you bus into the city like a normal budgeting traveler or prefer to get your fancy on and fly in, you will be confused about how to get around.  Luckily, I went with a group of girls, one of which had lived in Lisbon for an extended period of time and was nearly fluent in Portuguese, so I had a living cheat sheet to help me out.  However, had I not been so lucky to have a group of people to blame for my disorientation, one thing you can count on in Lisbon are the locals.  The people were very approachable.  Many spoke English, and will speak Spanish if necessary (although they hate Spanish, and the Spaniards hate Portuguese FYI), so if you have one of those languages down you should be alright.  If the confusing twists of streets between the various old and new barrios don't get you lost, the ridiculous hills might.  If your'e like me, and see hills as a challenge instead of an adventure, a challenge of not only strength and endurance, but balance and all around uprightness, than Lisbon might prove challenging for you.  The hostel I stayed at (which I highly recommend for the free breakfast, friendly staff, and INCREDIBLE showers) was situated atop a hill that I don't feel is an exaggeration to say had about a 70 degree incline.  However, Lisbon is equipped with those old timey transportation vehicles called trams.  I recommend purchasing a day or week pass for the trams.  You can use them to get all over the city and you feel like you're in a weird world where outside it is the 21st century but you're sitting in a vehicle from the 19th century.

The second thing you need to know about Lisbon is that you will eat cod and pastries sooner or later.  I don't care if you like fish or dessert or not, it will enter your body in some fashion, and you will love it.  The Portuguese are codophiles, and they are proud of it.  They are personally propping up the Norwegian cod industry, so hey, Norway, send them a thank you note, and maybe toss a couple million Euro their way to help 'em through the recession, that's all I'm saying.  Anyway, the cod, yea, it's everywhere.  Like cream of cod soup, and codloaf, and cod with cream sauce, and cod ice cream (ok, not sure if that's real but I wouldn't be surprised).  You will eat cod.  If not cod, it will be some sort of seafood.  Like octopus, or clams, or some other sort of delicious sea creature.  And if not fish, it will be dessert.  The one dessert you must try in Lisbon are pasteis de Belém.  They are this pastry that is made with this flaky crust and filled with this pudding-like cream, and it is baked and delicious.  You can coat it with a bit of cinnamon and powdered sugar and just ignore the stares as you loudly foodgasm over the creamy flaky goodness.  So yea, you will eat, and you will eat a lot, and you won't curl up in your bed that night and wonder how you will afford the next three weeks of life because Lisbon is one of the cheapest capital cities in Europe.  So, recessions aren't always a bad thing you know?  I personally partook in a six course meal with my ladies and in total it was 10 euros per person, including drinks! Also, they have green wine!  It's wine made from young grapes, and it is really sweet and refreshing and fizzy.  So for those of you who are like me and know nothing about wine, you just like something sweet and tasty, green wine is for you.

The third and final thing you need to know about Lisbon is that it is basically San Francisco.  Now, I have not been to San Francisco (although ironically, I'm headed there for the summer!) but on one of the walking tours I took of the city, we learned a lot about Lisbon and apparently a lot of people call Lisbon and San Fran sister cities.  They are both ridiculously hilly, they both have trams/street cars everywhere, and they both have a red hanging bridge built by the same architect.  Weird right?  So, I kind of feel like I know a little about San Fran just by being in Lisbon.  Another cool fact about Lisbon, they have an identical (albeit shorter) version of the Jesus statue that looks over Rio de Janeiro.  And further factoid, the capital of Portugal was actually moved to Brazil for a short period of time when the royal family escaped during an invasion.  So yea, Lisbon, is pretty cool.

So in conclusion, Lisbon, Portugal is the most under-rated capital in Europe.  If you're looking for cheap eats on winding streets,  riding trams with pastries in hand, green wine and cod (couldn't think of a cool rhyming phrase for that one) go to Lisbon.  And if you have more than a weekend to spend in Portugal, travel a bit, go to Porto and Lagos, two famous cities that are known for their beauty.

That's it for the Portugal post, but don't despair, my next post is coming in a matter of minutes/hours so be looking out for that!

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