Day 21 | Porto to Paris, FranceJuly 25, 2015 in France ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C
Temp: Hi 69 / Lo 57
Pedometer: 4 miles
Surprise, surprise...we actually got up this morning and had the "free" breakfast at the hotel. That is definitely a major accomplishment for Team Overbay. Haha.
We went back to the room to get some sort of [Overbay] plan for the day, which usually never gets finalized. Haha. Anyway, we started our walk and ended up on Rua Nova do Carvalho (the Pink Street), a pedestrian street located in the neighbourhood of Cais do Sodré. For decades, it has been considered Lisbon’s Red Light District: sailors, thieves, drifters, guys looking for problems, and of course… prostitutes. Now with the efforts of the urban rehabilitation “Pink Street” project in 2011, everything has changed for good. The edginess and decadence on which Lisbon thrives still remains and is highlighted by dominant pink pavement, used on the entire street. Live music venues, burlesque clubs and tapas bars began to pop up with astonishing frequency, and soon thereafter, Cais do Sodré had upstaged Bairro Alto as Lisbon's most happening nightlife district.
We finally arrived at our place for lunch: Macado De Ribeira. The now indoor food market's roots can be traced back to the 13th century, and it was once one of the most famous fish markets in Europe. Many of its traders have been selling fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and flowers there for decades and now brings together some of the city’s most loved names in food and drink. I picked Café de São Bento: generally acknowledged to have the city’s best sirloin steak. It was delicious!
After lunch, we hopped on a train and headed down to the Belem area of Lisbon. Here we walked along the avenue and go to see the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Statue built in 1940 to mark 500 years since Henry the Navigator's death); the Belem Tower (Landmark medieval fortified tower on tiny river island with rooftop terrace offering estuary views); and Jerónimos Monastery (Late Gothic Manueline-style monastery housing an archaeology & maritime museums in its wings).
Finally...arriving at our dessert destination: Pastéis de Belém: the only true 'Pasteis de Belém' contrive, by means of a scrupulous selection of ingredients, to offer even today the flavour of the time-honored "secret recipe" Portuguese sweetmaking. The natas (Portuguese custard tart) were lip-smacking good!! Learn more: www.pasteisdebelem.pt/history_EN.pdf
PS: We're gonna weight 300 pounds when we return from this trip!!!!
Afterwards, being too full of food and dessert to walk, we took a cab up to Rossio Square: created in the Middle Ages, it is the most lively and beautiul square in Lisbon. It is adorned by the Statue of Dom Pedro IV, two monumental Baroque fountains ( In 1889) , National Theater, and Rossio Station (Lisbon's central railway built in 1887).
And did I mention the Portuguese Pavement in Lisbon!?!?! It's incredible! I can't describe the whole thing, but you should definitely read about it here:
You can see it in alot of my pictures. Just amazing...and it's EVERYWHERE!
It's been a long day...Goodnight Lisbon.
Temp: Hi 82 / Lo 68
Pedometer: 6.5 milesRead more
Well, it's travel day once again. However, this time we are making a little pit stop in one of Chris' classmates, Jesus, hometown of Toledo, Spain. So, we hopped on the train and headed from Madrid over to Toledo where we had about 4 hours to spend so Jesus, and his girlfriend Tanja, took us on a very quick tour.
Toledo is a city 44 miles south of Madrid set on a hill above the plains of Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain. The city was built in Roman times (192 BC) and is extremely well fortified, with walls and the Tagus River nearly surrounding the city. The city has a 150° panoramic view of the surrounding areas. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage and historical co-existence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures. Toledo also has a history in the production of bladed weapons. Moviemakers in Hollywood often get the swords used in movies from the artesans in Toledo. For centuries, the metal-smiths of Toledo have made swords and knives, and numerous shops in town attest to the craftsmanship. I just had to buy a sword from Toledo; however, mine is only about an 4 inches long. Haha. It is good for a souvenir though. What a very interesting and neat little town covered in so much history. 4 hours is just not enough, but might be for now considering we walked a lot of hills in almost 100 degree weather! Shew! I'm sure we'll visit again. :)
We hopped back on our train and headed on to our next destination/country: Lisbon, Portugal. We arrived late in the evening and had enough time to check into the hotel, walk around a little and find some dinner. We decided on a little restaurant outside of the Museum De Cerveja (Beer Museum) that had some nice ambiance and music compliments of the guitarists on the street. After dinner...we headed on back for some decent shut-eye.
Goodnight Lisbon. See you tomorrow.
Temp: Hi 98 / Lo 75
Pedometer: 9 milesRead more
Yes, we slept in......HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRIS!!!!
Once again, it was lunch time when we got started. Haha. We had a fun day already planned for his birthday.
First of all, we found a Taco Bell here in Madrid and decided to order some "to go" for a picnic at the Plaza de España. This park-like square dates back to the 18th century and is surrounded by two of the city's largest buildings, a large fountain, and a stone & bronze statue of Cervantes on horseback, the great figure of Spanish literature known for writing "Don Quixote".
After our picnic/birthday party...we took a long walk, taking in the sights: Puerta de Alcala (Neo-classical monument near the city center); Parque del Buen Retiro (one of the largest parks of the city); Punto de Información Turística de la Plaza de Cibeles (Offices of Tourism)....until we reached our final destination...
PLAZA DE TOROS!!! Time for a bullfight or six! Lol. The "Las Ventas" Bullfighting (Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas) is the most famous bullring of Spain and has the best matadors! It was so neat being part of such a legendary tradition. I won't go in to great detail about this event, but I will say we were shocked with the first bull and then we got used to what was happening. To sum it up, it was the most intense, bloody, gory, thrilling, courageous, passionate spectacle we have ever seen. Well, time for dinner...
...all that bull made us crave some meat! Haha. We took a train back to our square and walked around until we found a burger place called "The Good Burger" or "TGB"...guess what? IT WAS GOOD!! Best burger we've had in a long time.
Temp: Hi 93 / Lo 70
Pedometer: 8.75 milesRead more
Slept late. :Just the Tip" traveling wears you out. Haha.
Since it is pretty much lunch time when we got up, we decided to attempt to get in at the Guinness Book of World Records oldest restaurant in the world, Botin! We did. Botin was in 1725 and is a benchmark in traditional cuisine in Madrid. Its specialties are suckling pig and lamb roasted in the old Castilian way, in the original wood-fired oven dating back to 1725. The filet mignon was delicious and so was the Sangria.
After lunch we walked around town seeing all the landmarks and then ended up at the Royal Palace of Madrid - the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, but is only used for state ceremonies. Beautiful palace. The coolest part may have been the Royal Armoury. Before he died, King Phillip II ordered that the collection not be sold, which is now one of the jewels of Spanish Historical Heritage. I snuck a few pics of it...absolutely chilling.
We headed back into to the main part of town to have dinner with Christopher and Javi again. They took us to El Tinterillo De Malaga. This is a neat little seafood place where you get an auction, too. The shyster: auction and proclamation of fried fish and grilled meats. Fun! Fun!
After dinner, Christopher and Javi took us for the "best Mojitos" they've had at a cute little cafe called En Busca del Tiempo (In Search of Time) and apparently we found it there because we chatted until around 3am. Lol. Guess we'll be sleeping in again....
Temp: Hi 93 / Lo 69
Pedometer: 5 milesRead more
Time to hope on the train to another city...here we come Madrid, Spain's central capital.
We had a little grab-n-go breakfast at McDonald's (booooo) in the train station and some coffee for me! :)
Arrived safely, checked in our hostel and went to find dinner. We did...at Asador Real. Learn more:www.asadorreal.com/
Not only did we eat suckling pig and fries, we also met two of the most wonderful people in this restaurant: Christopher and Javier. They were celebrating Christopher's birthday. After dinner, we decided to hang out with them for more chat time. We headed on over to La Botilleria for some coffee and drinks.
After a few hours of good conversation, we headed back to the hostel but stopped by Chocolateria San Gines, one of the most popular places in Madrid for churros with chococlate since 1894. Learn more: chocolateriasangines.com
Temp: Hi 86 / Lo 75
Pedometer: 2 milesRead more
Good morning, Barcelona!
We are up and at 'em, heading up the mountain to Tibidabo: a mountain overlooking Barcelona. At 1679 feet, it is the tallest mountain in the Serra de Collserola with spectacular views over the city and the surrounding coastline. On top, you will find the Sagrat Cor church and adjacent Tibidabo Amusement Park (opened in 1899). The park is one of the oldest in the world that is still functioning. Most of the original rides, some of which date to the turn of the 20th century, are still in use. Prominent among these is the 1928 Red Aeroplane ride, a single car carousel giving the impression of flight above the city, a novelty at the time. Riders board a replica of the aircraft that first flew from Barcelona to Madrid.
We had our own little hot dog & Coke picnic at Tibidabo...courtesy of Oscar Meyer! So American. Haha. It felt right to eat that at an amusement park. ;) Plus, I had to have a Magnum Ice Cream out of the vending machine.
After walking around a while, we decided to head back down the mountain to visit a few more places:
#1) Park Güell: a public park system composed of gardens and architectonic elements located on Carmel Hill, in Barcelona, and is one of the major works of architect Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona. It's like Wizard of Oz meets Dr. Suess. Learn more: www.parkguell.cat/en/
#2) Sagrada Família: a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Gaudi started in 1883 and worked 43 years on the temple until 1926 (until his unexpected death). Work continues and won't be completed until 2026! Shew! This place definitely left me breathless AND speechless. Learn more: www.sagradafamilia.org/en/
After viewing these magnificent places, we decided to pick an alleyway and try and find a place to eat. We did! Cantina La Mexicana: Excellent mexican food. :D
Temp: Hi 86 / Lo 73
Pedometer: 8.5 milesRead more