So you want to know about our trip, huh?
First off, it was amazing. Spain and Portugal are beautiful, romantic and a lot of fun. Our trip started with a 10 hour flight to Amsterdam where we had a layover before flying to Lisbon, Portugal. Because we left a couple hours late from Chicago, we missed our flight to Lisbon and got to hang out in Amsterdam for several hours. Unfortunately, we hadn't planned for this, so we didn't really know what to do. Mostly we just walked around and saw tons of sex shops and prostitutes.
Eventually though, we made it to Portugal. We had heard that Portugal was known for their pastries. They weren't kidding. The bakery's known as pastelerias are EVERYWHERE! You can imagine how amazing the town smells. At one point we were taking a bus from downtown to our hotel. It was a 15 minute drive tops and yet we counted 20 pastelerias along the way. The city has beautiful cliffs along the outskirts and small winding cobblestone streets throughout it. Not realizing there was a bus that would take us there, we took the long way up, and I do mean up, to a castle at the top of the town. We are weaklings compared to the Portuguese. We even saw old women walking up these huge hills. Granted, she was pretty slow, but she was doing itThe climb was exhausting, but worth it! The journey itself was beautiful, plus Castelo San Jorge is really cool. Being in a city with that much history was very surreal. (Surreal ended up being a word we used often on this trip). On our way back down to the center of the city, we stopped at a quaint restaurant on the cliff, overlooking the ocean. I had spent the previous 6 months learning to like seafood, so I would enjoy the food on our trip. Good call! We had some amazing sea bass that first day, of course with a glass of wine. This was just the beginning of our two week wine binge.
After some shopping (lots of great shoes in Lisbon), we went out to dinner. Well, first we got lost in the Barrio Alto. It's an area in the hills that is supposed to be known for it's partying and great bar hopping. We couldn't find it, so we asked a police officer for help. He gave us directions and then put us in a cab so we wouldn't have to walk anymore. We thought he'd explained to the driver where we wanted to go, but the next thing you know we were racing through the streets. The driver didn't speak a lick of English and kept repeating, 'Dinner?" We tried to tell him where to go, but it didn't work. This would be the beginning of the language barrier we'd have to learn to deal with.
In the end, he dropped us off in an area full of restaurants. Here, the waiters stand outside and woo you to eat at their place. Most of the menus were similar, so we just looked for a low cost menu and a waiter who wasn't too pushy. That's when we found Adrien. He was the first guy to show us the menu and then back off. We ended up having a wonderful dinner outside on the patio. He was surprised that we'd be willing to elect a black man to President (interesting).
Along with a bottle of wine, we ate a traditional Portuguese dish called, "cataplana." It can be made with chicken, pork or fish along with prawns, clams and potatoes. It's cooked and served in a copper globe and is served simmering in an amazing sauce. The only weird part about dinner was the street vendors. Several times, guys would come up trying to sell us stuff, right as we were eating. I can understand the roses, but it got ridiculous when they tried to put the tiara, glow sticks, rings and spinning light toy. These guys were also all over Spain.
Adrien was much more helpful than the cab driver. He showed us exactly how to get to the Barrio Alto. And then the real party started. The beer everyone drinks is called, "Super Bock." It's not exported and has a super high alcohol content. We bar hopped for a while and then ended up at a great bar with a cover band. The first song they played was a Lionel Richie song. Right there you knew I was sticking around.
We ended up befriending a Turkish woman and Brazilian man. Those two could put away the drinks. They kept buying us Super Bocks. Now, we can drink, but we couldn't keep up with those two. We'd only be half way through our beer before a new one was set at our table. It was crazy town!