Portuguese Paradise

Hello dear friends and followers! I apologize for the delay in getting this post up. The new year has gotten off to a hectic start and January flew by in the blink of an eye.

Last time we checked in, I had made a mad dash to the airport to catch my flight from London to Lisbon, only to find my flight constantly delayed by a series of unfortunate events. Yet, when I did finally arrive in Lisbon (Lisboa), Portugal, I found myself welcomed by rainy skies and an incredibly, direction-challenged Uber Driver.

Nevertheless, the hostel I decided to stay at (Alfama Patio Hostel) was located in the historic, windy streets of Alfama. Alfama is the oldest district in Lisbon and was one of the few places that was not destroyed by the great 1755 Lisbon earthquake.

Upon arrival at the hostel, after what was an exhausting journey, I took a much needed rest before joining my fellow hostel lodgers for a meal. The hostel provided a three-course meal with wine every night for only nine euros! It was fabulous. We had lots fresh cod (a Portuguese staple) and many wonderful, vegetable soups during my stay in Alfama. The chef of whom cooked our meals was also a Fado singer– so we had the pleasure of listening to her sing her heart out while enjoying our meal.

Lisboa was not short of wine nor company.

Over dinner, I made friends with fellow residents of the hostel. Three of which are Aleksandra from Slovenia, Milla from Finland and Erika from Canada. Together the four of us formed a group and made plans to see the city the following day.

Aleksandra previously lived in Lisbon so we had the joy of having our very own tour guide. Together we went to all the best lookout points to see the most of the colorful city.

Myself, Aleksandra and Milla

Milla and Erika on our drink break from walking

Throughout the day, the four of us explored the Baixa district, Barro Alto, and walked far too many hills and cobble-stoned streets to keep track of where we were going. The winding streets, alleyways, and twisted roads of Lisbon made it one of the more difficult cities that I have navigated. Yet, I am proud to say that I only got lost once– and only for a moment.

One of the best ways to keep track of where you were going in Lisbon was to keep track of the street art and elaborate tiling on the buildings. Art and color was not sparse in this city.

A street artist spray painting in a designated art zone

Elaborate tiles covering the exterior of a building

My personal favorite wall art in Lisboa

After an action-packed day exploring Lisbon, the girls and I decided to forgo the hostel-ran nights out and enjoy an ample amount of vinho (wine) on our hostel’s balcony. This was one of my favorite parts of my time in Portugal. The connection that I felt with these strangers was so automatic and comforting. Leaving England again was really hard for me, so I felt as though the universe was sending me exactly what I needed to recuperate: wine, good chocolate and lots of talk about love and life with kind women who had a few more years of life experience under their belts.

That is by far my favorite part of travelling. The people. It is why, although I was thrilled to see old friends in England, I was excited to be on my own again in Portugal. It was another opportunity to hear other’s stories and make more connections.

The next day, Erika and I bid the other ladies farewell as we took the train 40 minutes outside Lisbon to visit the neighboring town of Sintra. While the skies were grey and fog covered the town, we still trekked to Pena Palace to get a taste of its’ 19th century Romanticism style of architecture. Even through the midst the palace’s beauty shown through inside and out.

Grand hall

Tile work on the inside of the palace

Elaborate carvings on the exterior

Red and yellow walls that dominated the palace

From the palace, Erika and I ventured around Sintra, enjoyed some pasteis de nata and Ginjinha (a Portuguese cherry liqueur) and hopped on a bus to head to Cabo da Roca; otherwise known as the westernmost point of Europe.

Pasteis de nata– a typical egg tart pastry

It was said that “Aqui, onde a terra se acaba e o mar começa…[Here, where the land ends and the sea begins…]”

It was easy to see why people used to think that this point was the edge of the world. Erika and I thought for a moment that it would be the end of the world too as our bus ride out to the coast was a perilouis one. Even with the language barriers between passengers on the bus, there was no barrier in understanding the terror in people’s eyes as they clutched the seats in front of them.

But we made it.

From Cabo da Roca, Erika and I made our way ~slowly~ back to Alfama to rest up and prepare for our early travels the next morning. Lisbon may have had its’ trials and tribulations, but when I look back on it I only see the laughter shared with new friends. I don’t feel the exhaustion I felt with the 15 hours it took to get there, but instead only taste the sweet cherry liqueur on my tongue and feel the warm rays on my skin. That’s what becoming an avid traveler does to you. Often, many things will not work out in your favor, but when you look back all you can see is the good. All the trials become irrelevant–because you are in love with the world.

Coming up next: back to Dublin and beyond!

Cheers, (tchau)

L xxx

Elle Kehres

You’ll find me where the waves are big, the sun is bright, and the water is warm.

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