Jun 18, 2011

Days 9 & 10: Lisbon

We had a great ride into Lisbon and were so excited to be in the city. Our hotel was in a great spot, and we were ready to start exploring! But first things first - we needed to do some laundry. The hotel was going to charge 2 euro for a pair of socks, so we wanted to do it on our own. Free internet made a google search very easy to discover that Lisbon does not have laundromats! We looked at TripAdvisor to get recommendations on how to do laundry in Lisbon, and we found a "laundromat" around the corner. What we ended up finding was a dry cleaner that was going to charge the same amount as the hotel. Darn! Next stop - the closest hostel. The first one we tried had a washer and drier, so we spent a few hours doing laundry there. While we waited, we enjoyed drinks at the Sheraton Sky Lounge and took in the views of the city!

This cracked us up - on our way back to our hotel from the hostel, a couple on a GS1200 Adventure (like our motorcycle) pulled up next to us and asked us for directions. They reminded us of a Spanish version of ourselves - the husband couldn't remember the name of the hotel where they were staying (the wife and I just looked at each other and smiled) and they had riden through all of the same areas in Portugal that we had gone through. We met the Spanish BK!

After laundry, we were ready for some food. We found a great recommendation on TripAdvisor, so we made our way to that restaurant.

Beautiful streets of Lisbon

When we arrived and checked the menu, we saw the "restaurant" was actually a wine bar that only sold cheese and dry meats. That was not going to satisfy our extreme hunger, so we started to walk around the area to see what else we could find. We lucked out big time and found a really cool, eclectic restaurant that had all of these levels, and we got a great table with a gorgeous view of the city. And then the food....wow. Delicious wine, perfectly grilled steak with cheese sauce, quiche, and veggies. And the dessert was a fabulous conclusion - creme brule that tasted like a combination of regular creme and keylime pie.

The next day was tour Lisbon day! And we had perfect weather - woohoo! We started off with some delicious pastries and then found a camera shop to get a new SD card for our camera. I hated feeling restricted in how many pictures I could take! It's amazing how digital cameras have spoiled me like that.

Anyway, once our camera was ready, we headed to the tour office to buy day passes on the standard city tour double-decker buses. They aren't Brian's favorite, but he was so sweet to go along with it for me. I really wanted to see the whole city, but we only had one day, so the bus was the way to go. And, I was really excited because the passes also covered trolley rides as well!

Before we jumped on our first bus, we had some business to take care of - snacks :) There was a candy shop close by, so Brian bought some Jordan Almonds, and I got some dark chocolate covered ones.

Then we were ready! Our first few attempts at getting on a trolley or bus failed because they were all full! Apparently a few cruise ships were in town for the day, so there were tons of tourists everywhere. Brian came up with a great idea - we'd walk to a place where people would want to get off the trolley so that we could take their seats. He's so smart!

We walked to one of the main churches and hopped right on a trolley! Let the sight-seeing begin. We loved learning all about the city's history and seeing its cool architecture.

Bullfighting arena

We ended our tour at a patio that overlooked the city and the river. We grabbed a couple of beers at a little grocery store and sat outside to enjoy the view.

Then we walked to Saint George's Castle. It was huge and had some great views of the city.

Oh yeah, we got Brian an ice cream before going to the castle :)

The courtyard area was so spacious and green.

What an artsy shot captured by Brian - haha

After our castle fun, we went to a fun area we had seen while we were on our bus tour. It was a marina with lots of different restaurants and bars. We had happy hour outside at an Irish pub and soaked in the last bit of sun.

Then we found this great seafood place for dinner. We got to pick out our fish and sit by the window to watch the sunset. We both had the Portuguese King fish, great grilled veggies, potatoes, and ridiculous chocolate cake with Port wine. I am currently salivating just thinking about it :)
Our dinner spot

The red fish is the Portuguese King fish

Our spot by the window

The oh-so-amazing chocolate cake and wine

And that concluded our time in Lisbon! We would love to go back and visit sometime - it was a great city!

Jun 11, 2011

Days 8 & 9 - More Portuguese Fun!

Intro to the tour
Days 1 & 2 - Traveling to Bordeaux
Day 3 - St. Emilion
Day 4 - Rioja
Days 5 & 6 - Western Spain and Portugal
Day 6 - Porto
Day 7 - Anniversary

Day 8's drive started out a little lame, but then we started to see some fun terrain! We drove along this TINY road through a river valley. I almost expected the road to turn into a hiking trail at anytime, and I think we had to duck at least 3 times to avoid tree branches!

After the valley, we continued with some great views!

We enjoyed a super cheap lunch in a teeny town's pastry shop - pizzas and huge pigs in blankets. Yum. Then we hit some rain, but we found shelter under some trees on our way up a mountain! It was funny because we had no idea how huge this mountain really was, though. We just kept riding up and up. We went above the clouds - there was snow on the ground and it was super cold! Then we hit the highlight that cracked me up - there was a Portuguese ski resort at the very top! It had to have been the worst ski resort in the world. There were rocky patches everywhere, and it was raining! Most of the skiers were in panchos. Hilarious. Wondering why I don't have any pictures of this? Because apparently I had taken too many videos and our SD card ran out of space! I was very unhappy!

We made it down the mountain and to our hotel for the night in a small town called Castelo Branco. Brian spent some time going through the camera and making some more space for our next day of riding - he's the best!

Day 9 was another rough start! Coffee that tasted like metal (we're huge coffee people, so that almost ruined the morning!), not the best night sleep on a hard bed, and highway driving with super strong winds. We spent the highway time making great Bed and Breakfast plans as a potential option for our future - putting our thinking helmets to good use!

Then, as we arrived at the coast, we found a really popular, fun road. Tons of motorcycles, convertibles, and road bikes! So as we started that drive, I had a feeling it was going to be beautiful.

It looked a lot like the California coast - so gorgeous!

We stopped for lunch at a pastry shop with a view. Cool cliffs!

Then it was on to Lisbon! We drove by lots of places that look like this (again, caught it just in time for the palm tree to be centered in the picture - haha).

And I was really surprised to see tons of people surfing! I bet that water was freezing.

The scenery on our drive to Lisbon was awesome! I'll save our Lisbonian...Lisbonym...Lisbonite adventures for another post, though!