Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Allright, I'll do my best to describe Lisbon for all of you who will never have the opportunity (or the desire) to see this amazing little oasis along the River Tejo. To be honest though, my words will never do it justice and I encourage all of you to see Portugal sometime in your life.

We got up sooooo early on Saturday (okay, I got up 720) to make it to the airport in time for our flight. There was a little confusion about seating because we had standby tickets but in the end, Alessio and I sat together with Stephanie and Liano sitting a few rows ahead of us. I was surprised by how well the boys handled their first ever flight and Alessio and I spent most of the flight coloring in a book all about Swiss Air that came in a gift bag provided by the flight attendants.

Our flight lasted a little more than 2 hours and Monica was waiting at the airport when we landed in Lisbon. She took us directly to our hostel to get checked in and settled before we began our exploration of Lisbon. This was my first time ever staying is a hostel and I was impressed. It was small (only a half dozen rooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, living room and patio) but it was clean and cute. Our room was about the same size as my closet back home, with two sets of bunk beds and some lockers. It was better this way though, as opposed to a traditional hotel because we once we put the boys to bed, Stephanie and I were still able to stay up reading and working on the computer.

As soon as we had dropped the bags, we were off and running again. Our first stop was a subway station to pick up some 48 hour passes and then we were off to the center of Lisbon's old town. Lisbon is GORGEOUS. It was never on my list of places to see, but I am so glad I had the opportunity to go there. It was such a mix of old and was romantic and charming and had the bustling activity of a big city, while still having a small town feel. In short, I immediately loved it and spent lots of time imagining myself living there, amongst the memorials and 30 story hotels and palm trees.

We took this crazy (scary) tram up the side of a hill and were greeted my an amazing view of Lisbon, with the River Tejo in the background. I can't even put into words how pretty it was up was totally worth the unbelievable feeling that I was about to die as we rode the rickity, shaking tram back down that steep incline. HA. From there we went over to a castle that was open to the public. Unfortunately, I don't really remember much of the history behind it, so I can't really say too much about it. We climbed all over the castle walls; up much higher than I would've prefered, but the view was nice and the kids seemed to love it. When we left the castle, we took the boys for some ice cream and then Monica left us to go to work for the evening.

It was still fairly early, so we walked down an avenue filled with various street performers and spent some time along the river. We were in an area where we were unable to actually get in the river, or even reach down and feel the water, but it was nice to be by the water and soak up some evening sun. The boys were so enthralled by all the street performers that it probably took us 2 hours to make our way back up the street. We stopped to watch one of those human statues-you know, one of those guys painted all one color and they hold really still up on a pedestal so they look like art. Then suddenly-they move! This guys sucked; he changed positions too often and he would wink and smile at people as they passed by. Alessio and Liano loved it though. Then there was a man standing on the back of a wagon playing a guitar. He had with him a Momma dog and 2 pups and he encouraged the boys to pet the puppies. I thought this was a terrible idea, but I didn't say anything and my fears were quickly realized when the mother (just a small dog-maybe a pommerainian) lunged and snapped at Alessio. He didn't get bit, but it scared him and Liano into tears and poor Liano was so startled that he latched onto the leg of a nearby stranger. In the US, this would've been a lawsuit waiting to happen, but the man just patted Alessio's head, and allowed him to hold one of the pups so Stephanie could take his picture. Suddenly, all was fine again. There was also a man on a unicycle doing some juggling, but I grew up watching Tommy Tropic, so I wasn't all that impressed.

My favorite act was definitely a group of performers in town from somewhere in Asia. They demonstrated some of their crazy ninja skills to live music and then they had one of those giant Chinese dragons they performed with. It was SO cool. I could've watched them dancing with that dragon all night.

We got back to the hostel around 730PM Lisbon time (830 Swiss) and Stephanie imediately got the boys into bed while I went back out on my own in search of some dinner. There was a small diner up the street that sold me a ham and cheese sandwich and a Coke for 3 Euro and I settled into a park bench across from our hostel to enjoy some quiet time and my sandwich while I imagined what a move to Lisbon would be like. (Seriously, I liked it there THAT much)  It was nice there, but some weirdo came by and tried to talk to me about World Cup (boooooooorrrrrriiinnnngggg) so I hightailed it back to our room, read a little and went to bed.

Sunday, ugh, I feel like we were up SO early. Really, we weren't up and moving until nearly 10AM Swiss time, but I barely slept the night before what with Alessio rolling around in the bunk above me all night and Liano slamming his head against the mattress for 20 minutes at a time. After breakfast provided by the hostel (toast with peach jelly or corn flakes, milk, coffee and/or tea) we headed off to the oceanairium with Monica in tow. I thought this was the world's largest oceanairium, but really it was the second largest...either way, it was HUGE. So many fish in every color and shape, plus an otter and-my favorite-PENGUINS!! It was really cool and incredibly interesting. I could've spent all day in there, reading the displays and studying the different animals, but the kids were not so interested, and we moved fairly quickly between displays.

The oceanairium was built in an area created especially created for the World's Expo back in 1998 and there was a bunch of really cool modern architecture to look at as we walked through the park. It was so nice, there was the river on one side and hotels, a shopping mall, etc on the other. We took a gondola ride high above the whole area to get a better view and Monica pointed out points of interest for us. (She was such a great city guide/hostess) We stopped inside the mall for some lunch (Pizza Hut--YAY!!) and then went back into town to board a city sight-seeing bus. It was pretty similar to the one I rode in Dublin (Hop On/ Hop Off...interesting facts and local information) The boys were happy to rest their tired feet and taking that bus was a great way to see lots of the city, all while sitting on our bums taking photos. My only complaint would be that the bus drove way too fast and it was difficult to take decent photos. Ahhh well. We stopped at Starbucks for some frappacino love and then took the boys over to a fountain to splash around and play while Stephanie and I people watched. There was a huge World Cup match that night between Brazil and the Ivory Coast and the Brazillians were out en masse. Crazy, loud and hilairious to watch (maybe drunk already?) I was having fun and feeding off their energy just watching them.

When we returned to the hostel, Stephanie left to find a grocery store and the boys and I sat with some other guests of the hostel as well as the hostel hostess and watched the soccer game. Boring! But the boys enjoyed it and it was cool to sit and talk with the hostess. She worked for a year in Michigan (down in Auburn Hills) and gave me a serious small world moment when she mentioned a visit to Boyne Mountain. She had never heard of Gaylord, but she knew all about Boyne, as well as Petoskey and Macinac Island. How crazy is that?!
I also found myself in a dispute with some Spanish girl because I was saying how much I adore Cristiano Ronaldo (well, past tense, more about that another day) and she told me that Americans are so lame.......we can't create anything cool on our own, so we have to steal people/things from other parts of the world. For example........MADONNA. I was like, "No, Madonna is definitely an American. She was raised in Michigan". This girl swore up and down that Madonna was British though so I decided not to argue with her. I know I'm right and someday she'll realize she was wrong and then she'll remember me and feel like an asshat. Bwahahaha....

Monday morning we stuck around the hostel, watching cartoons and packing everything up. Then we were back up in the air and back home in Schaffhausen by 530PM. It was a quick trip, and exhausting, but ever so incredible and I cannot wait to get back to Lisbon sometime down the road......


Emily said...

Madonna is most definitely from Birmingham, MI. She went to Cranbrook. I know this for a fact. She just wishes she was English.