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Sunshine in Lisboa

One day in Lisboa, I fell in love with the city. Instantly, I fell for the sun and warmth of Lisbon. People seem to be happier too. I truly believe the sun is a huge part of people’s happiness. Even just on the way to my hostel from the train station, I already saw groups of people dancing on the streets, drinks in hand, with street performers.

The first night was tons of fun. What’s more, I knew first hand what people mean when they say Portuguese have late dinners. Yes, dinner was at 21h, if not 21h30. Hostel had its family dinner night, and it was a great way to meet people, which also prepared people for the pub crawl that followed. Party did not get started until midnight, but it sure worth staying up late for an old lady like me. By the time I got back, it was 5 in the morning. I have to admit it has been a while since I had such a wild night. I woke up extra chipper the next morning. Maybe it was the sunny weather, but I think it was the city, a city that makes you work out with its steep hills, and a city attracts you with its bright colors and unbeatable city view.

On my first day, with only a couple of hours walking around the Alfama district, the oldest part of Lisbon, I discovered the beauty of the city more and more. It was more than amazing to wander around and get lost in the part of Lisbon that survived the 1755 earthquake; however, it only got better. Every corner I turned, and every flat of stairs I climbed, I was rewarded another amazing view of the city. Each time, I wowed at the colorful houses sitting on the hills, and each time, I appreciated various plants growing on people’s balcony. 

I took a trip to Sintra with the second half of the day, which is only 40 min away by train, but turned out to be quite an adventure. Sintra is known to be a town of fairy tales with its numerous castles and palaces and gardens. The famous Pena castle is full of bright colors, red, yellow and blue, which is unusual for castles. Sitting on top of the hill, it was hard to get to when I decided to hike rather than taking the tuk tuk.  Nevertheless, it was breathtaking. Leaning on the edge of the castle, I felt the clouds moving pass me, leaving a trace of mist on my skin. Closed my eyes and let the wind mess around with my hair, I was far away from the world. I was with the clouds, floating above.

I lingered a bit longer and only left because it was getting really cold. Next stop was Cabo de Roca, which sits next to the ocean with steep cliffs. It was the spot for watching the sunset. Well, this was when the adventure started. I hopped on the bus, only to found out that it was the last bus to Cabo de Roca, which meant my plan to keep going along the coast was not possible. The bus zipped around narrow streets deep in the village, or should I say forest. So many times I thought the bus was hitting the house or pole. But never! The driver skillfully controlled the vehicle, and he seemed very relaxed, whereas I bit my lips every time he turned a tight corner. I wondered how long was the training to be able to drive in places like this. Hopping off the bus as quickly as I could, I caught the last glimpse of the sunset. The sun dyed the sky pink, contrasting the deep blue ocean. Beautiful as it was, I had to head back because it was freezing and the strong wind was of no help. Unfortunately, the next bus to Sintra did not come for almost an hour.

Along with several other travelers, I nearly froze into a popsicle. After all that adventure, I was very content to be back in my warm hostel room. All in all, Sintra was amazing and I loved every bit of it. If I can give one advice, it will go earlier in the day to have enough time to linger in the castles and gardens. 

Since a friend of mine was joining me for Lisbon, I went to explore outside of the city by myself and leave Lisbon for us to explore together. The next day we went to the south of Lisbon for its fantastic beach, Praia do Cavalo. To get there, we needed to hike first. But isn’t it worth every sweat? It was probably the most beautiful beach I have personally been to. The water is crystal blue, and crispy cold. The beach was sandy, soft and warm to play soccer. Nothing was more satisfying than dipping my feet in the cold water after soccer and drinking the fresh “green wine.” We sat on the beach and merely enjoyed watching the ocean. A puppy ran down from the hike and he was so happy to jump into the water, only to find out the water too cold. He shook it off immediately started his second favorite project — digging a hole in the sand. Every second on the beach was a second in heaven, and what more do I possibly need?

The next two days were dedicated to the city of Lisbon with now my friend joined me. We went on walking tours to downtown, and Alfama. The 1755 earthquake was destructive. However, the city was rebuilt in a way to minimize effect of earthquakes. Buildings look almost exactly the same based on the golden ratio, and the first floors were designed for the rich because it would have more nature light, whereas nowadays, we seek to be on the top floor. Another interesting fact was that there are a lot of status and monuments in Lisbon. Though it was hard to keep track of the stories behind each one, it was fascinating to listen to the tales of each man, who usually represented some virtues Portuguese valued. 

Lisbon attracts me visually with its bright colors. Though not bold, the colors very well stand out among otherwise white houses. The brightness does not only reside in the colors of the houses, but also the feel of the city. The sun shines brighter, bringing more light and happiness to the city. Numerous street performers add music and fun as people stroll along the city. Hills and secret pass-ways to avoid stairs present the city with clusters of beauty and make it more fun to explore. Lisbon is a city I want to immerse myself in. I love the food (had the best lemon blueberry pie in my life, and it completely changed the way I see pie now), I love the weather deeply (since Seattle does not get this kind of weather often), and I love the passion in people. It is a city that leaves an impression in my heart and I will find my way back to it. 

Other Visit: Belém (Monastery & Tower)

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