Welcome back to my travel adventures. This time I went to Lisbon and the South of Spain (to be more exact: Seville, Gibraltar and Granada). I had an amazing time! The weather was perfect, although the weekend before we arrived was raining. We got lucky!
We arrived in Lisbon in the morning of 1st of April (I know, I know, April Fool’s day). We took a taxi and off we went to our apartment. We met there with Alex’s sister and her husband and daughter. After a quick and huge breakfast we went to explore the city. And let me just tell you that I was not that impressed with it. In fairness the views and the food and drinks are amazing, nothing against that. I had so many Pastel de Nata and at the moment I am still craving another dozen of them. So, if you ever found yourself in Lisbon you have to try them!!! And if you were wondering about the price, let me just tell you that it is €1, or €1.50 in the Airport.
What I considered awkward, was the way that they are drying the clothes outside the window. You are walking on the street, and you can see somebody’s underwear lying in the sun:)). Another thing that worried me was that there were people on the street that were trying to sell you weed and cocaine. At one point I felt like I am in a market and people are trying to sell me their best product. Not cool Lisboa, not cool!! And this is from a person who does not judge drug use – being chased on the street by a person who is trying to sell drugs is not OK.
Leaving this aside, lets talk a little bit of the cultural life in Lisbon. We went to The Lisbon Cathedral or as it is locally called the Sé. I do not remember that much about the interior, this meaning that I wasn’t that impressed with it. I still have the picture in my mind of the Cathedral’s outside looks, and the noise of the trams that are passing by. São Jorge Castle was our next stop. You have lovely views over Lisbon, and over the Tagus river. You also have an museum with old objects that were discovered in the castle. This is the place where for the first time in my life I saw peacocks flying and chilling in the trees. You can take some bread with you if you want to feed the birds.
Our second day in Portugal was spent in Belém. The Jerónimos Monastery, where everybody that visits Lisbon should go to, is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, so you can imagine how beautiful it is. We visited the Church and the cloisters, and I could not stop myself from saying a loud WOW. I am not sure about the entrance fee, as we entered for free – the first Sunday of every month the entrance is free, so plan ahead if you want to save some money here. 🙂 Once you cross the street you found yourself in front of an impressive fountain. Let me give a tip, if it is sunny, you have to look for a street stand that sells cocktails. Buy the cocktail that you like, and enjoy it either near the fountain, or walk few more steps towards the Monument to the Discoveries. I had a Mojito, which was around €4, if I remember it right. Of course you have the option of fresh orange juice, if you are not an ‘alcoholic’ (joke), or are underage. Before you go home you have to visit the Tower of St Vincent, or also named as Belém Tower. Prepare yourself for a couple of stairs and narrow spaces.
Our last day was spent at the Lisbon Oceanarium. If you are visiting the city with your kids, or if you find the ocean life interesting you really have to visit this place. It’s easy to get to, as you can get a metro and stop at Oriente station. I will tell you 0 things about the Oceanarium, because I do not want to spoil your visit. If you find yourself with an empty stomach you have few restaurants in the area (also the oceanarium has 2 restaurants on site). We went to a Brazilian restaurant (I do not recall the name), and we had a buffet menu of €14. The boys had a meat feast. The neighbourhood is new, with high buildings and loads of offices. If you are more into old buildings and history, this will not be a good place to visit. We could not leave Lisbon without going to a Fado show, and we chose A Tasca do Chico. It is a very small place, but it makes it so intimate, and even if you do not understand the language, you can feel the vibes of the music. Try to go early, so you can find a place to sit down, as the place is very popular and it is getting crowded quick enough. I did not try their food, but saw few tapas on some tables, and they were not looking bad. I can say that the staff seemed rude a little bit, but I am sure that this was just a language barrier.
We rented a car from Lisbon and off we went to Seville, and let me just tell you that I felt in love with this town from the moment we arrived. We had an amazing apartment, very close to the old city, approx 20 min walk, and close to a supermarket, 5 min walk. We arrived on Tuesday evening, so we could not do much, we just prepared a quick dinner and went to sleep. The next day we went to the old part of the city, which is full of restaurants and small souvenir shops. We had a tapas feast at Bar La Catedral. The interior was decorated with the heads of the bulls that were killed in the corrida fights. Be careful when ordering tapas, because the portions in Spain are huge. On the way to Gibraltar we stopped in a restaurant, that seemed more like a family business, Ventra El Pedroso. The food was average though, I was not impressed. When we went to Granada we stopped for a 5 star lunch at Cunini Restaurante & Marisqueria. The food was delicious, but I was not impressed of the lay out of the restaurant or the bar, and the menu was expensive enough.
On our last day we went to a tapas bar 5 min walk from our apartment, at Casa Paco. The price are very good, average €3,50 per tapas. We could barely walk after the huge lunch that we had there. The food was delicious, and if you ever found yourself in that place, you have to try Salmorejo with boiled egg and ham.
Passing on to the cultural part of our trip in Seville and south of Spain, allow me to point out what we visited: The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, The Rock in Gibraltar, and The Alhambra Palace in Granada. If you are visiting Seville, The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See is one of the main attractions. The building is massive, and you will have to reserve at least 2 hours to take in everything that the cathedral is offering you. Through the all the art objects that are inside the Cathedral you can also find Christopher Columbus’ grave, an orange tree garden and a tower that offers you great views over Seville. When visiting this type of buildings, I wished that I had lived in those times, or at least to go back in time and see how was the vibe. Do you ever have think of this?
The highlight of this trip were the monkeys from Gibraltar. OMG!! Even now I cannot realize that I was able to stay so close to a monkey, and even pet one if you are brave enough, which I was not. However, my fiancé was the hero in our group, he played with the monkeys – because of that one of the monkeys started searching for louse and when it got bored (or too excited?!) it peed on his back. We laughed for the all trip afterwards. We choose to do a small hike, and not to take the ‘Rock Tour’ taxi service or the ‘Cable Car’ which is £15 round trip. It is not a long hike and considering that we were with a small child, who walked by herself most of the way, you can do it as well. I did not cross over Windsor Bridge, because I am scared of bridges that are not steady. I just went around it, and thinking about how will I react if a monkey will appear in front of me. We got to Ape’s Den and from there we went up the stairs, until we had a monkey family sleeping in our way. After 10 minutes of intense negotiation with them (during this time they were looking at us like they were bored and even farted a couple of time) we decided that it is time to retreat :)). So we went down the stairs and used the road. The view from the top of The Rock it is insane, you can see Africa, you have a beautiful view of the ocean and the sea. I do not think that you can ask for more. 🙂 Gibraltar is certainly on my list of places to come back to.
And now, last but not least: Alhambra Palace, which did not impress me that much. It is a huge domain, and has lovely views over Granada city. I was not really impressed about the Court of Lions, and this is mainly because they did not try to highlight it (the large number of tourists also contributed…), if you know what I mean. Secondly, if you are going to visit the Palace, do not take a backpack, as they will ask you to wear it in front, apparently to avoid the walls to be ruined. May I give you a tip: if you plan a visit there, take your basket and have a picnic in the gardens (you will see life with a different eye after it)
And you can’t say that you’ve been to the South of Spain without going to a Flamenco show. I highly recommend La Casa Del Flamenco. It is a small opened garden in the old city of Seville. The tickets are €17 and a show is about one hour long. You are seated very close to the stage, and I think this helps with making the experience more intense and unique. You are not allowed to take pictures or record while they are performing, which in my opinion, provides everybody there with the opportunity to pay attention to the show and not to the “likes” on Facebook. However, the artists will allow you take pictures or record their last dance. And you can imagine that at that point everybody went mad and started looking through their phones or lens, and I was one of them…I cannot lie.
That’s it, I don’t want to annoy you more than I did already. I am just curious to see how many of you actually read the post until the very end :d I will leave you now to see few pictures from the trip.