Currently traveling

Europe 2018

May 2018 - August 2019
Currently traveling
  • Day87

    London Part 2

    August 24, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌬 17 °C

    Pip pip Cheerio! We started our second day in London with brunch at a nearby cafe before heading over to Hyde park. Hyde park is a huge park in central London and we walked around it for a little over an hour. London in general reminded me so much of New York. Just swap Central Park with hyde Park, taxis with double decker buses, and broadway with West London and I’m practically back in the states visiting Michael and Anna! After walking around the park we made our way over to Harrods! We had a lot of fun walking around this huge department store for the elite. It was crazy looking at the price tags of random items. We were looking at pens and I literally dropped my jaw when I saw one that cost around 5000 pounds. Am employee saw me do this and thought it was funny so he took us to another pen decorated like a panda holding bamboo that cost 38000 pounds. This blew my mind! You could send a kid to college with that money! But hey I’m sure in the long run the panda pen is more worth it... After exploring the store for a while we went to afternoon tea in the Harrods tea rooms. We went with the champagne option so we also had a glass of champagne with our tea which was nice. With our tea we were also provided and assortment of finger sandwiches, patties, and scones. All were delicious! We also each got a tea pot with a tea of our choice. This seemed like an aggressive amount of tea so I didn’t finish mine, but it was still really good. The whole experience felt British very high class which was a lot of fun. I think I’m going to look into doing afternoon tea in the states. It’s quite a delightful experience! After finishing our high tea we went to tour the Churchill war rooms. The rooms were really cool to see and they did a great job setting everything up to be the same as when they were used not world war 2. It was really interesting to see how all of these people lived and worked underground. When we were done touring the war rooms we were pretty tired after getting pretty bad sleep the night prior so we got some snacks from the market and hung out at the hostel the rest of the night. We may have had a night without activities but we didn’t “mind the gap”.Read more

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  • Day86

    London

    August 23, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Landing in England was a weird experience. It had been about 3 months since being in a primarily English speaking country so having that be the main language on all signs was weird. It actually took some adjusting to get used to, I would naturally look at subtext first on signs assuming that would be the location of an English translation. Getting through customs was thankfully easier than expected. I was worried about getting through them since Marc had issues earlier in the summer with having Russian stamps on his passport. Since I had that as well as 90 days in the Schengen region I was worried that would look sketch but luckily there was no problem! I’m sure me wearing one backpack on my back and one on my front with a lederhosen bear keychain sufficiently helped me look like a harmless tourist. After getting through customs we got our bags and went straight to the hostel since it was already late. We started the next day by going to the TKTS booth to get cheap day-of tickets. The line wasn’t long and we were able to get half off tickets to see kinky boots! We then grabbed cappuccinos at a nearby coffee shop before lunch. For lunch, we went to the top rated Indian restaurant in the city. London is apparently known for its Indian foot since there are many great Indian chefs due to colonization. Naomi and I split samosas, paneer tikka masala, chicken and rice, and a molten chocolate dessert. It was all delicious and I sadly forgot to take a picture of it. After lunch we toured the west minister abbey. The abbey was beautiful and it was cool to see the memorials and graves of so many famous British people, especially the authors who I’ve read books by such as Oscar Wilde and the Bronte sisters. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside so I only have pictures of the outside. After leaving the abbey we walked around the area to see sites such as the London eye and Big Ben. Big Ben was undergoing major construction so we could only see part of one of the clock faces. You know what they say, the next best thing to seeing Big Ben is seeing part of one of its faces! It started to rain while we were walking so we scurried on over to our preshow cake and gin reservation at Mr.Foggs gin parlor. The gin parlor was absolutely adorable! All of the staff was dressed in old timey costumes and all the decorations made it look like a British antique parlor. The cakes provided were delicious with my favorite being the fruit scones. The real show stopper was of course the gin. The parlor has in house over 200 types of gin. This is why we decided to visit since gin is Naomi’s favorite drink and London is famous for making it. The gin did not disappoint! My first drink was a sweet fruity lemonade type drink that was so good that Naomi ordered one after trying mine. My second drink was really unique with weird ingredients such as peanut butter in it! It surprisingly seeks its the gin and was also quite tasty. We had a lovely time at the parlor, and it was a perfect pre-theater activity. After enjoying our gin experiences we walked around the theater area for a bit and then went to see kinky boots. We wound up having great seats right in the middle with a perfect view of the stage. The actors were phenomenal and the show was a ton of fun! When the show was done we went back to the hostel to sleep. We were woken up at about 5 an by one of the people in our hostel loudly sleep talking. We found this a bit concerning since he was a big guy who seemed a bit unstable at the time, but everything wound up being okay. In the end we were able to get some London shut-eye!Read more

  • Day85

    Versailles

    August 22, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    We spent our last day in Paris by visiting Versailles. Before heading over to the palace we got a quick brunch. I had the French toast since it seemed like a fitting thing to eat in France. When we were done eating we checked out of the Airbnb and stored our bags in the nearby train station. Storing our luggage was one of the most frustrating things I experienced during my travels. We had to go through security and a 30 minute line to store our bags which was weird. Once we finally stored them we were trapped in the room for a bit because the door to get out was super confusing. It was a series of two glass sliding glass doors, the first set had to close to open the second set, and you had to push a button to open the second set but not the first. It was a truly great horrific engineering design. If I could graffiti anything in the world it would be those doors. After finally finishing storing our bags, we were a bit frantic to try and make it on time to Versailles for our skip the line entry time. Luckily, we made it in time for us to use skip the line which was super worth it. People who didn’t skip the line had to wait in line for about 4 hours! Once we got in it was really nice to tour all the rooms of the palace. The best room was of course the iconic hall of mirrors. The palace was huge and each of the rooms were very ornate. When we were done exploring the palace we walked around the gardens. Naomi studied the gardens in a class on gardens she took at Rice, so it was especially cool for her to see in person. When we were done strolling the gardens we headed back to the city to have a quick lunch with wine before retrieving our bags then heading to the airport. At the airport we realized we had to spend all our remaining euros since England used the pound, so we bought some snacks and drinks. All the shopping for small items to use up our euro caused us to discover a great perfume sale so we also each bought a perfume. Foreign currencies win again at getting us to buy things! After our airport shopping extravaganza we boarded the plane and said goodbye to the EU. It’s Brexit time baby!Read more

  • Day82

    Paris

    August 19, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Bonjour! After checking into our Airbnb in Paris we decided to walk around and see some of the major sites of the city. We first walked around the Luxembourg gardens which were really pretty. There was a central fountain area with remote control boats that kids played with. It reminded me of Easton in the summer. You just have to replace the 3 Victoria Secrets with a bunch of fancy old French buildings and it’s practically identical! Columbus and Paris are practically the same am I right?! After strolling the gardens we went to the Notre-Dame Cathedral to visit Quasimodo. The line to get into the cathedral was huge, but luckily it went fast. It was a pretty cathedral, but I was honestly left unimpressed especially when comparing it to the superior gothic duomo in Milan. Naomi and I were wondering why it’s such a household name, and I honestly think the Hunchback of Notre-Dame movie\book may be the reason. Looks like Vienna may not be the only place on people’s radar largely due to a movie! Next, we went to Shakespeare and Company which is an English bookstore. The store was frequented amongst famous ex-pat authors such as Hemingway. After walking around the store and then Paris a bit more, we went to a treat yourself meal at chez Julien. I got steak with a side of bone marrow and potatoes. Naomi and I also shared a bottle of wine, cheese, and dessert. It was all delicious and a great introduction to French cuisine! When we were done feasting we went to the Eiffel Tower since we had reservations to go up to the second floor. Even with the reservations the line to get up the tower was still about an hour long! Going up the tower was pretty cool since the elevators have to follow the curve of the towers legs. The view from the tower was nice but a little underwhelming. That was a bit to be expected though since the view can’t be too exciting while standing on the most interesting thing in the skyline. There were less lights in the city than I expected for the “city of lights”, but I guess all cities are so lit up these days that all cities deserve that title. It was still really cool to go up the tower, and the tower itself is by no means disappointing. It is lit up beautifully at night, and is a cool beacon that you can see all around the city. It even sparkles for a few minutes every hour which is dazzling to watch! When we got back down from the tower we walked back to the Airbnb and called it a night. The next day we started at the Orsay museum. The museum is an old train station turned into an art museum. It had many great pieces, especially impressionist and post impressionist works by artists like Monet and Van Gogh. This was probably my favorite museum we visited, I liked the art in the museum and thought it was a good size. There was a lot to see, but it wasn’t overwhelming. After seeing everything in the museum we got a quick lunch where I had French onion soup. For some reason I thought it would taste like fresh onion chip dip, so I was slightly disappointed, but it was still tasty! Next we went to the Rodin museum. The museum consists of many woks done by the French sculptor Rodin on display inside a building as well as a sculpture garden. I am usually not the biggest sculpture fan, but I thought the way Rodin showed movement and form was very interesting. I was impressed by his ability to evoke emotions when viewing his works. I also found the garden area very relaxing to walk around. When we were done museum hopping, we rested at the Airbnb for a bit before dinner. We went to dinner at a place where the staff did not speak English well, which made ordering a bit tricky since we didn’t understand the menu so we weren’t sure what we ordered. We also discovered after sitting down that they did not serve at alcohol which was a bummer since we wanted wine, but it felt rude to leave after sitting so we decided to stick it out through dinner. I know I know, we are incredibly brave, not all hero’s wear capes. I wound up getting a steak risotto and it was really tasty! After dinner we went to the famous Cafe de Flore so we could have a glass of wine and order dessert off a English menu. Both dessert and wine were pricey there, but we decided to really go all out in Paris since it is famous for food and we were nearing the end of our trip. Once we were done indulging in these tasty treats we went on a night cruise of the Seine. The cruise was really nice and allowed us to see many of the famous landmarks of Paris at night. Naomi and I agreed that the best part of the cruise was the people watching. Tons of people sat along the Seine hanging out and having picnics which was really fun to observe. After our cruise was done we walked back to the Airbnb and called it a night. We needed to rest to prepare ourselves for more days of delicious Parisian food. Bon appetite!Read more

  • Day81

    San Sebastián

    August 18, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    When we got into San Sebastián we were super exhausted from not sleeping much the night before so we slept in until about 8 pm. It was nice sleeping in an Airbnb instead of being in a hostel with lots of other people. When we woke up we got dinner nearby. I had clams which were good but I only got 6 of them for my meal, so I was still hungry after eating. We then walked to the beach where there were tons of food trucks. Apparently this weekend was a big holiday celebration in San Sebastián so that’s why there were food trucks by the beach. The trucks came to save the day and I had a bubble waffle with ice cream which put an end to my hunger. Hooray! We enjoyed the view from the beach at night and then went back to the Airbnb. Before going to sleep we heard a bunch of loud noises, and looked outside our Airbnb to see a big firework show! The balcony of our place had a great view of the show and it was a lovely surprise, especially since I didn’t see any on the 4th of July. It was pretty cool how we accidentally stumbled upon this celebration! The next morning we woke up and did laundry while eating brunch. The laundry machines were pretty pricey to use, but at least we got it done and shouldn’t have to do laundry again during our trip. After finishing the laundry we went to the beach. It may have been the most crowded beach I’ve ever been on, but we were still able to find a spot with people not too ridiculously close by. The other beach goers were all respectful so it was okay having a lot of people there. The waves at the beach were incredible. They were constantly the perfect size for body boarding which was lots of fun! It was also really nice to just sit on the beach, relax, read, and do nothing. I did make one stupid mistake. I thought that since I hadn’t gotten a sunburn all summer that I could get away with just putting sunscreen on my face and shoulders and get a nice tan without getting burned. That was foolish and I of course got burned. The burn isn’t bad, but it’s still a burn. I deserve this fate, I was an Icarus who flew too close to the sun. After getting back from the beach and lotioning my burn we called Anna to get recommendations for when we visit London. When the call was done we went to get dinner. Many places were closed since it was a Sunday, or booked since it was a holiday and San Sebastián is known for its food. However, we were able to find a pintxos bar to eat at. Pintxos are the tapas of San Sebastián and are small dishes typically served on bread with sticks going through them. It was a lot of fun to try! After dinner we took the funicular to the top of one of the hills to see the views of the beach at sunset. The sun didn’t set in the direction of the beach, but it was still an amazing view! And we did get to enjoy seeing the beach during blue hour. I’m sure Dad is jealous! We finished the night by getting some ice cream by the beach. The next morning we got up to take the train to Paris. Getting to the train station was pretty stressful. The bus station for the bus to the train station was impossible to navigate with the buses located in the wrong numbered spots. We somehow eventually found the right bus, but it left a little later than the posted time which worried us. The train station was right on the border of Spain and France on the French side. The bus got stopped by police on the border for about 20 minutes while the police heavily questioned every black person on the bus. The whole ordeal was horribly racist and gave us a bad first impression of France. It also almost made us late to our train which was super frustrating being stuck on the bus when the station was so close by. Luckily, we just made the train by running to get on once we reached the station. Running to trains seems to be a theme of my trip. This was my last train so I lucked out on all of them. I guess throwing my coin in the Trevi fountain payed off after all!Read more

  • Day80

    Gràcia Festival

    August 17, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    We started the day sleeping in a bit since we were out late last night. When we finally got a move on and started heading to a brunch place it started pouring outside. All the rain caused a lot of people to hang out in the metro station to stay dry. It was so crowded that it was nearly impossible to check which direction the metro line was going before swiping in. After we swiped in we realized we swiped into the wrong direction so we had to leave and instead swipe into the right direction, causing us to be down the cost of 3 trips. When we got off at the right stop and made our way to the brunch place, there was surprisingly a line of people waiting for a table outside with umbrellas. This was shocking since it was raining so hard that practically nobody was waking around, yet these people were resilient enough to wait for their pancakes in the pouring rain. On the other hand, we weren’t in the mood for soggy waffles so we went to a nearby hot pot place instead. Hot pot was a great comfort food on a cold day and it was Naomi’s first hot pot experience which was fun! The menu was only in Chinese and Spanish so we were really lucky to have Grant with us since he speaks both languages. After the meal was done, the rain had luckily cleared out. We then walked over to the Gracia neighborhood since the Gracia festival was occurring. This festival takes place every year and is celebrated in the streets of the neighborhood. During the festival, 21 different streets are in competition to make the best decorations using only recycled materials. Each street has a theme and the decorations were incredible! Each street had posted how many people were involved in the decorating, and how many hours it took. One street had only 6 people involved and they spent 2000 hours decorating! It was such a fun and unique way to bring the community together. My favorite theme was one that went through the stages of sleep. It had decorations of counting sleep, a person falling asleep, then nightmares, and then dream catchers. I found the concept of to be unique and well done! However, the best executed decorations I believe were either the Roman mythology or Greek mythology streets. We think that those streets have some sort of rivalry since they had such similar themes. Both did a great job creating art that didn’t even look like it was made from recycled materials. Other stand out exhibits were the monster themed plaza, jungle book themed street, and outer space themed street. There was also a street decorated as the Lello bookstore in Porto which was cool to see since we just visited the real thing. I’m excited to see which street actually wins! After walking around and seeing each of the 21 streets we made our way across town to the magic fountains. The magic fountains are these fountains that light up to music in a show that occurs every night from Wednesday-Sunday. We first sat high up in the nearby steps, but it was hard to hear the music so we moved closer and sat on a grassy lawn to watch. We bought wine and chips to have a small picnic while watching which was relaxing. Even though it was pretty touristy the show was incredible. It began with old pop songs, then played movie showtimes, and ended with classical music. The classical music was definitely the best paired with the fountains. After the show was done we went to a nearby tapas restaurant to celebrate an early birthday dinner for Grant before leaving. We didn’t ask the wait staff to sing happy birthday or anything because we weren’t sure if that was done in Spain, but we still had a nice celebration. After dinner we went to the club next to our hostel to finish off the birthday celebration and party for the last hour that Grant was in Spain. In line waiting to get in the club we had a really interesting people watching experience watching this guy try to skip the line and yell at the bouncer demanding to get in since he was a famous opera singer. He even belted some opera lines for everyone. He was definitely very drunk and I would be shocked if he was actually famous. It was quite an interesting tactic to try and skip the line. It didn’t wind up working out for him. He should have just waited, the line was only about 10 minutes long. We weren’t able to stay at the club long because Grant had to leave for his early morning flight. Before leaving we gave him his glass fish gift from Murano, Italy. He loved the gift and we were sad to say bye. Traveling with Grant was a ton of fun, I’m so happy he was able to join! After Grant left, Naomi and I only had time for a 2 hour nap before leaving for our early morning train to San Sebastián. But you know the famous song, No Sleep Til San Sebastián! Or is it Brooklyn? Well if it is we didn’t get the memo!Read more

  • Day79

    La Sagrada Familia

    August 16, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    It feels great to be a cheetah girl again! The band is back together in Barcelona! We celebrated our return to the land of paella with a tasty set menu lunch. Our travels made us tired so we then rested for a bit in the hostel. Our hostel this time, Kabul party hostel, is the oldest hostel in the city and one of the most famous party hostels in the world. The hostel was nice but had some strong prison vibes. All the walls looked really old, there was a security guard at reception, all the lights and water in the bathrooms were set on timers lasting about 10 seconds requiring you to constantly turn them back on, and the pipes of the shower burn you if you touch them. However, even in prison we were able to get a good power nap! When we were recharged it was time for us to go to our schedule entrance to La Sagrada Familia. We gave ourselves plenty of time to get there based on our planned metro route, however we discovered once we got to the station that the line we needed to take was closed for repairs. Since the wait for an Uber was 12 minutes our only hope was to take another metro for a few stops and then book it by foot. I read horror stories online about people who showed up a minute after their allotted time and were denied entrance so we wound up sprinting a mile through the streets of Barcelona hoping that this would not be our fate. Luckily we made it there at the last possible minute in our time slot. They weren’t really checking ticket times anyway so we probably would have been fine without sprinting, but it was still a huge relief to make it just in time. After getting past ticketing we sat outside the church for a bit to catch our breath. It was an excellent place to rest since we were entertained by the intricacies of the nativity facade while cooling down. Once we were ready to explore the church we picked up our audio guides. The guides did a great job explaining the history of the church, as well as the meaning behind some of its design. The church was Gaudí, the architects, dream. He became so consumed in working on the church that he lived in it for the last few years of his life. They have continued following Gaudís specifications for building the church, and plan to be finished in 2026, 100 years after his death. They have quite a bit of work ahead of them since even the tallest steeple has yet to be built. I believe they can do it though because the church is dramatically more finished than when I visited it 10 years prior. The audio tour began where we were sitting, facing the nativity facade. This was my favorite facade became it was colorful with many plants and animals. My favorite part was the turtles that held up the pillars. The tour next went inside the church. Walking in the church was an unreal experience. The interior is absolutely breathtaking with huge ceilings made to look like trees. The interior is made to reflect nature and give the feeling of being in a forest. There are breathtaking stained glass mosaic windows all along the inside of the church that splash color onto all the walls and columns. Being there in the afternoon allowed us to see it all in great lighting. Pictures truly don’t do it justice. It’s crazy to think that it’s not even completed yet. The center area has more windows that light will project in from, and there are more mosaics still being finished. I think I will return to Barcelona after 2026 just to see the finished project, I know it’ll be quite a spectacle. The audio tour ended at the crucifixion facade which was harsher in appearance than the nativity facade, yet still very detailed. When we were done with our tour we went back in the church and sat in the pews enjoying the beauty until closing. Being there right before it closed allowed us to be one of the few people in the church which was a really cool experience. We also go to hear music playing which was awesome hearing how it would echo along such a massive space. When we were finally kicked out due to the church’s closing we went to a nearby cafe for sangria and nachos. We then made our way back to the hostel to join the bar crawl. The bar crawl cost 15 euro and included a drink at the hostel, 3 shots at each of the three bars, and entrance to the club. Each of the three bars before the club were small bars along the beach that were all very small and played for the most part weird mixes of popular songs from 5 years ago. The shots were also more like juice but at least they tasted good! The club we went to is called Opium and it’s one of the hottest clubs in Barcelona. Being a part of the hostel allowed us to skip the long entrance line which was really nice. The club was super fancy when we got in, it was definitely the nicest club I’ve ever been inside. We each bought beers when we entered and were shocked to find out they cost 8 euros each after ordering them. This was a big rip off since they were just Heineken. I guess it makes sense why they took us to so many bars to pregame before hand! We only stayed until about 2:30 since Naomi was getting really tired. We then ubered back to our hostel and went to sleep in our prison cells!Read more

  • Day76

    Porto

    August 13, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    When we got into Porto we first grabbed a delicious meal of fried oysters and steak covered in port wine sauce at Vitória before exploring the city. Next we got tickets to go up the Clérigos tower at night since the ticket line is long and you need to get tickets in advance. We then went to the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal. Upon arrival we were greeted by a bunch of peacocks and peahens! After watching the birds for a while we explored the rest of the park, enjoying the beautiful gardens and the views of the city. We then went to the hostel for dinner. We stayed at the same chain as we did in Lisbon where they serve a 4 course meal with unlimited drinks for 10 euro. The food was also really good, but I thought the meal was slightly better in Lisbon. We had to leave before the dessert was served to make our tower reservation in time, which was a shame but the views from the tower made it worth it. The top of Clérigos tower had great views of the city and it wasn’t overly crowded which made it a very peaceful experience. At the top it listed other famous towers heights such as the Empire state building in comparison to the Clérigos tower, and the Clérigos tower was about 1/4th the height of the other ones listed. We all thought it was really funny and self aware that they did this. When we were done with the tower we decided to get McFlurrys since we missed out on dessert. My friend Luis told me that Porto was his favorite city he’s ever visited and when I asked what he liked there he said that the McDonald’s was insane. I never had someone recommend a McDonald’s to me before so I knew we had to try it out! It was definitely the fanciest McDonald’s I’ve ever been in! It’s called “Imperial Mcdonalds” and there were chandeliers hanging from the ceilings with classy art all along the walls. Very boujee. I’ve probably now been to more McDonalds while in Europe than in the last 10 years of my life total. I guess I have to keep connected to my American roots somehow! We then went back to the hostel to watch an episode of the twilight zone since Grant had never seen one before. I crashed before the episode even begun. I was pretty tuckered out so I was okay with missing the show. The next morning we started our day at a nearby cafe for brunch with a tasty assortment of cakes for dessert afterwards. Yum! We then went on a Port wine tour which took us to 3 different cellars where we got to try 7 different wines. The first stop was also a bit of a museum where we had a guide give us a 30 minute tour explaining how Port wine is made, and the difference between a white, red, rosé, and tawny port wine. They had many helpful visuals to allow us to see things such as the difference in colors of the different types of wine. At the end of the tour we tried a white and tawny. The tawny here was my favorite of the wines we tried. Next we went to another smaller cellar and had an additional tawny. We ended our tour at our favorite place, Porto Cruz. This place had the goal of making wine more accessible to younger people, and it had cool decorations a beautiful rooftop view. Here we had 4 wines, a white, rosé, tawny, and reserve red. By the end of this we were all happy and buzzed since port wine is more alcoholic than normal wine since it includes brandy! For comparison, Port wine typically has 18-20% alcohol content. My kind of wine! When the tour was over we made our way to the famous Lello bookstore. Lello is famous for being one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. It’s true claim to fame is that JK Rowling’s spent a lot of time writing Harry Potter in this store, and it’s where she drew inspiration from for the Hogwarts library. This is definitely the biggest tourist trap in Porto with lines usually taking around 30 minutes. Luckily we only had to wait around 15 minutes to get in since it was right before closing time. We purchased our tickets earlier in the day to break up our time waiting in line. You have to pay 5 euros to go inside this small bookstore which seems pretty crazy, but you can use this 5 euro towards a book purchase in store which is nice. I wound up buying a book of short stories by Fitzgerald so the 5 euro went to good use! The bookstore was very small yet beautiful. It felt very touristy with tons of people taking pictures on the staircase, but I’ve come to expect that at these kinds of places. Next we went to get Porto’s famous sandwich, Francesinha , for dinner. Usually, a francesinha is made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça (a portuguese sausage), steak or roast beef, everything covered with melted cheese and a special tomato and beer sauce. Mine also had a fried egg on top. It was absolutely amazing!! For sure one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had! The whole thing was huge and was practically a heart attack served on a platter, but it was worth every bite! When we were done with our glutton fest we called it an early night to prepare for an early morning on canyoning the next day!Read more

  • Day75

    Sintra

    August 12, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    We slept in until around noon since we were so tired after a bad night of sleep on the overnight train followed by a night of partying until 4 am. When we finally woke up we went to the Time Out market which is a food market owned by Time Out magazine which is supposed to showcase some of the best chefs in Lisbon. The area was really cool with lots of delicious food options. We chose to get food from the only woman chef at the market, and she made an amazing duck rice! After lunch we took the train to the nearby city of Sintra. Sintra is a city very popular among tourists for its beautiful castles and palaces. We got in around 4 pm so we did not have much time to explore. We started our trip by visiting São Martinho palace in the old city area. The palace was really cool with two large cone shaped chimneys. My favorite room was the kitchen because it was really interesting to look up into the chimneys. The palace also had nice well groomed gardens. Next, we made our way over to Castelo dos Mouros which is a castle built by the Moors in the 10th century. The castle was crazy with stone walls that you could walk around. The whole place felt like the set of a medieval movie. It was really cool to walk around and made you feel like you were in a fantasy land! We all viewed this to be one of the highlights of our trip so far. It was really foggy during our visit, which prevented us from seeing the views from the walls of the castle, but it also made things seem mysterious. It made us feel like we had to protect the castle grounds from an impending invasion! We then made our way to the nearby palace. Sadly we could not walk the palace grounds because it was closed by the time we got there. This was a shame since this is supposed to be the highlight of Sintra. I definitely plan on making sure to go if I’m ever back in Portugal! We then made our way back to Lisbon, had dinner, and called it a day! The next morning we woke up early to explore LX factory, the hipster area of Lisbon. We had breakfast in a cafe there and then walked around, stopping in a few cute shops. The area was really fun with lots of bright and colorful graffiti. My favorite art piece was a bald eagle dressed in a business suite. On the way back to get our bags at the hostel we stopped to have one last pastel de nata before heading out to Portugal’s second city, Porto!Read more

  • Day74

    Lisbon

    August 11, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We got into Lisbon super tired after the overnight train from Madrid. Second class of the train wasn’t the best for getting a good night sleep. We didn’t have beds so instead had to sit up right, and they didn’t turn the lights off in the cabin until a few hours into the ride. I was worried that they would leave the lights on the entire time so I attempted to construct a sleeping mask out of a pad. It did a pretty bad job of being a sleeping mask so I was very relieved when the lights were finally turned off. When we got into Lisbon we dropped off our bags at our hostel and then lounged in the common room of the hostel until the provided free walking tour. The walking tour was an interesting experience. At first we weren’t a fan of the guide because he was the hostel worker that got irritated whenever we would ask for the key to the luggage room. However, by the end of the tour it seemed almost like there was a contest between other people on the tour to see who could be the most annoying person on the tour. This caused us to feel bad for the guide, and we did learn a lot about Portugal during the tour so at the end we did not have any problems with the guide. During the tour we learned how the entire city was destroyed in a fire then tsunami in the same day so that is why all the buildings are so new. Lisbon looks like San Francisco with its trolley cars and red bridge, mixed with Rio De Janeiro with its Christ the Savior statue, mixed with Spanish terra cotta roofs. It’s absolutely beautiful and you have great views at the top of each of its 7 hills. Our tour ended at a flee market that happens every Saturday called the market of thieves. It was cool to see and Grant especially had a great time being the scavenger he is. When we were done at the market we went back to the hostel to finish the laundry that we started before the tour. However many people were wanting to do laundry at this point with a line of people waiting to use the hostels single washer and dryer. Since we had wet clothes that needed dry pronto, I walked to a nearby laundromat to do the laundry. Upon arrival this place was closed even though it was listed as open online. I then found another laundromat close to the one I was at and trekked their with all our clothes. By this point I was pretty frustrated with this whole ordeal and with the machines being difficult to use so I wound up getting into a little spat with a guy at the laundromat over a dryer. Both of us were in the wrong when arguing over who gets the dryer. I wound up letting him use it and he chose a fast cycle which was nice so all was good in the end! When the laundry was finally done we decided to walk around and see some iconic spots in the city such as Praça do Comércio, Rossio square, and Miradouro de Santa Catarina. In Praça do Comércio there was a restroom advertised as the “sexiest wc in the world”. We were super curious what this meant so we went in and the restroom was very fancy with tons of colored toilet paper and fancy sinks. It did not disappoint! In Rossio square there was a shop called Sardinha Portuguesa which was a huge extravagant sardines store which sold sardines from each year starting as far back as the 1950s! Portugal is very proud of its sardines which was a cute novelty but I had no desire to try 60+ year old sardines. We then had a pre dinner snack of, pastel de nata, which is a very famous Lisbon egg tart. They were so tasty that we had them many other times during our visit to Portugal! We then had the hostel dinner which was a 4 course meal with unlimited drinks for 10 euro. It was actually very tasty for a hostel dinner and well worth the 10 euro! After dinner Naomi decided to go to bed and Grant and I went on the hostels pub crawl. The crawl cost 12 euro and had unlimited drinks at the first bar, a free shot and the second, and then ended at a club with a big window lookout over the water. We had a lot of fun and stayed out partying until about 4. When getting back to the hostel, two friends we made during the crawl, Angel and Sarah, and us were craving food. We found out that we had 10 minutes until the nearby McDonalds closed so we literally sprinted there to get late night fries. Sprinting to a McDonald’s before it closed is probably the most American thing I’ve ever done and I didn’t even do it in America! The scenery must have just made me confused into thinking I was in San Francisco instead of Lisbon :)Read more