A Travellerspoint blog

March 2014

Goodbye Iberia

semi-overcast 13 °C
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We finally got to Porto at 3pm. Put our bags in our hotel, whereupon I happily munched on my tarts which I'd bought on the way for 1.15 :) hehehe

Decided to have a quicker run down of what I did in Porto:


Café majestic, much too expensive for us so picture outside

São Bento train station and the gorgeous blue and white tiling. Oldest train station in Portugal!

Sé Cathedral, walked up and up

Random hobo path up rocks, strewn with litter and leading to an abandoned house. Kinda gross but interesting and fun. Looks out at the

Don Luis Bridge, second most spectacular iron works structure in the world, after the eiffel tower (and built by the same Eiffel), spanning the Douro River

Football-playing kids in the plaza outside the closed photography museum

Francesinha (awesome sandwich with cheese, beef, pork, and sausage inside, and smothered in more cheese and a fried egg on top, served with fries), a famous Porto speciality eaten at the famous Cafe Santiago


Bought groceries (12 pastries to last me a few days, some oranges for some vitamin c)

Crossed the river to book a port tasting tour, randomly picked Offley at 2.15pm

Cafe Adao for lunch, cheapest place in the area which is obviously quite touristy cos full of wineries.

Offley port wine tour of half an hour, but good 3 glasses of port after. We had the fruity white, the nutty tawny and the full bodied ruby reserve. Favourite was the tawny. Mmm. Had a good chat with a polish guy, he recommended us a Krakow visit and polish beers haha. He was a cool guy, we talked about lots of random stuff! And I really like port. Seriously, so good.

More pastries for a total of 2 more eur, but I've got an idea if what I like now so it's better. Ate some then, kept some for later/breakfast

Photography museum, it was cool but we only spent a short while there. Watched some people climb up the Colegios tower in an old video to replace the flag with a Portuguese one. Tried to find more info but a cursory Internet search reveals nothing about the incident. Obviously I was very taken by that video, totally looks climbable Hahahaha. The museum used to be a jail! Lower floors had poor crammed conditions, upper floors for more genteel law breakers. Famous prisoners included writer camilo castelo branco and his future wife Ana.

Livraria Lello! Beautiful old carved bookshop. Made me really really wish for one in my home! Tried very hard to buy a book there but the only English fiction books were expensive.

Pasties and more pastries.

Dinner at recommended Cafe Carça! And it was certainly good, and cheap, and so much food for the 6.80 menu do dia that I was bursting. Yayyy. Finally got my Portuguese cheese, it was alright I guess haha. Oh Yaaaa and it hailed while we were there! Thought it was a very heavy rain, but when we left we saw snow/hail on cars outside. Mind blown, that was amazing. Too bad we didn't go out to see.

Back to the room, watching castle while D packs for his 6am flight to London for **Singapore day!** which I will not be going for. Oh well. T went out to send him to the metro, I initially wanted to go but it's too cold outside. Need to pack tonight, my flight leaves at lunchtime tmr so not much time in the morning.

Posted by seaskimmer 16:20 Archived in Portugal Tagged food books portugal porto Comments (0)

Huff and Puff

semi-overcast 12 °C
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Yesterday was Wednesday. What did we do. Uhh we went to the Internet cafe in the morning to print our respective bus and train tickets. Grocery shopped at Chinese store, then off to the belem district for the day.

Took metro and then changed to the train. Accidentally got on the fast train which skips small stops like Belem, so we had to take a slow train back haha. But we got to go around the coast of Lisbon at least. And so worth it, because it was a absolutely beautiful day, with sun and blue sky to rival that of Ghent. The river was glittering in the sun, and yes, maybe even winking at me. Glorious.

First however, we went to Pateis de Belem, a pastry shop people on the Internet raved over. Long queue, had to scrounge for a table, had two brilliant egg tarts. The crust was much crispier than any I'd eaten before. And it was warm from the oven. Yum yum yum yum. Had some pies too, those were nice but nothing to write home about. I had a bite of T's fried bacalhau (cod) potato thing, it was good. For descriptions sake, it was kind of like a burgadil/bergadil? But with fish inside. That was lunch for me. I'd planned on spending on tons of random Portuguese pastries so yeahhh.

It was after that that we walked along the river, getting almost blown away by the wind. For the second day in a row, I wished I'd taken my hair band. I should just leave it on my hand next time. Resorted to putting my hood up and walking backwards into the wind. But what a gorgeous day with the flung spray and the blown spume and the sea gulls crying. (Okay not quite)

On the way back we got a beer cake, which is basically a small pastry which uses wafer as its base and top, and beer in the very sweet filling. It was nice, just very sweet haha and maybe I could taste a tiny bit of beer?

After train-ing back, we went into some little streets to find a gelato place people had raved over. (okay I did all the food planning) I know I'm not in Italy but I still want ice cream!! Found it, shared pistachio and yogurt with T (D was completely sick of sweet stuff by then. Craving something salty).

After much discussion and hesitation we finally decided not to go see fado at night (local music) but to rush up to a high viewing point to catch the sunset. We jogged up some stairs, ran up some slopes, panted up all of them.
Eventually we made it after some heart attacks later. In total it was only about 1k in 30min, but it was about 77m of vertical climb, not counting the few down slopes and resulting up slopes. Crazy. Technically we made it up there by sunset, but there was a thick layer of clouds at the horizon so essentially we'd just missed it. Oh well.

Hilly Lisbon is filled with Miradouro, or viewing points. They're so serious about them that they actually have signs in brown, the same colour and style as all the tourist attraction signs!

Walked back to a small place we passed on the way. Thought it'd be cheap but in the end realised we had to pay for the bread and spreads too. Sigh. And I learnt a lesson against extreme cheapo-ness (which I learnt from E by the way) when we got charged for the spreads and I had to return some to save money. So paiseh oh my.

Went back, planned for Porto, sang along to the VH1 songs, drank the green wine (which Portugal is famous for, can't really taste much difference from blanc), htht a bit, went to sleep.

In the morning the alarm went off and I sat up to pass D's phone over (it was changing on my side of the room). Went back to sleep as per usual then heard him swear. Realised it was 9am, the time our bus for Porto left. Packed up, rushed to bus station, ended up buying a new ticket for the first bus (1030). 19 eur down the drain.

Sooo here on the bus now, saying my goodbyes to Lisbon. I think I quite like Lisbon, if only because we pretty much walked all of its streets. I loved how deep in away from the main road, the cobbled streets will just twist and turn and go up and down and wherever they want to go. I really like the few yellow painted houses, so pretty. And the Portuguese tilings can be really pretty too.

I think I like barca's gothic quarter more though! Lisbon is probably a close second to the web of dark narrow streets with small artisanal shops in the most unlikely places.

Only Porto left, that's two nights more and I'm back in Hamburg! Kind of glad, I'm tired. The guys are actually tired, and I've been on the road for almost two weeks longer haha.

Posted by seaskimmer 12:54 Archived in Portugal Tagged climb lisbon portugal eggtarts Comments (0)

Pasteis de Nata

semi-overcast 14 °C
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Random music reminds me of different people. Sometimes I hear some dance or electronica music, or whatever it's called and then I think of you climbing people! Once I heard Love Story (the old one) and I thought of my mum and her old jewellery/music box. And put your hands up, by that white rapper, that was P's song haha. And then imagine dragons, A introduced that to me.

After getting off the bus at 5pm Lisbon time (an hour before Madrid, we got a shock, thought the bus was an hour late) we dumped our bags in our hotel. It's a small hotel, not the best but totally comfy apart from being a bit cold. But the old reception guy, from Mozambique I think, is such a dear, and gave us extra blankets and towels, and when asked, showed us places to eat and the cheapest grocery store in that area (Chinese). And it's a hotel cos somehow the hostels are more expensive here. This was pretty cheap at about 10plus eur a night per person.

Went out searching for Bacalhau, the famous cod of Portugal. Apparently it's cooked in an unlimited number of ways, from grilled to cooked with cream to with egg I think. But anyway I really wanted to eat it. After walking down the whole of a famous road (rua portas de santo antao) located in the restaurades district (no points for guesses), we finally decided on a place to have dinner. Every shop on the street will have someone really aggressive (in a nice way) to come talk to you and pull you in to their restaurant. But you just have to check prices and be firm about it. We took it cos it had the cheapest bacalhau haha. Still not cheap (prices are pretty standard), we had the grilled bacalhau plus a Portuguese beef for the three of us, no drinks. It was nice, but not awesome, maybe we didn't choose the best place. Went back and had kit kat and Leftover pie for supper haha. Also went to a grocery store to get breakfast (bread and ham). The Bangladesh guy stayed

Woke up in the morning with the guys complaining that I talked in my sleep (I do that a lot haha), something about ordering a ticket. And I know cos I woke up when I said that. Some people will know of more violent events that happened overnight haha oops.

Famished in the morning, had tons of

Walked to alfama district, got some postcards and stamps. Waited for the sandeman tours, almost thought I'd got some info wrong cos they weren't there til 11 on the dot. Met 3 other sg kids on exchange or studying in Europe! So cool.

This tour guide was a youngish Portuguese student who spoke really good English and kept hitting on some Australian girls lol. Despite that he did try very hard to make it a fun tour, with lots of pictorial aid and he even wrote a skit about the very very cool double Agent Garbo. Garbo was a Spanish spy who tricked the Germans into thinking that cologne was a diversion and that they should concentrate their troops further north. Hence without him, the allies would likely have lost the d-day battle and the tide of history would have changed forever. He also talked about this author (name forgotten, will find later) who was pretty much unknown for most of his life and only published one of his many works. When he died they went through his stuff and discovered he was a brilliant possible schizophrenic genius who wrote many works as different authors with completely different styles and personal viewpoints. Very cool.

Tour done, with even a sg photo taken (check it out on fb), we headed on our half hour walk to the national museum of ancient art, which was actually a collection of paintings by Dutch and flemish artists. I'm still not very sure why they're displaying artists from there but okay haha. It was fairly interesting, I think I learnt a bit about how artists think, like sometimes they do works just to sort of improve their skills? Like there was a period where they painted lots of winter scenes so they could investigate the complex interplay of blue and pink in the sky.

Walled to the castle of St Jorge, so named after the patron saint of England because of something the English did for Lisbon. I don't remember. But the castle itself was built as a military fortress by the moors sometime in the 11th century. The moors! Cool. Later on when they got overthrown the Portuguese changed it into a bit more of a palace than a military place, and even later it became a bit of both. This I felt was somewhat similar to Gravensteen in Belgium, since it was primarily a military fortress, but it was built with the characteristic simple elegance of the ancient Islamic empire. Unfortunately not as much info on the place so couldn't enjoy it as much. But still cool. The winds up top on the walls and the courtyard outside were crazy!! Super strong, I had to angle my body a little against the force of the wind. But somehow it wasn't cold, just be very shiok. Really nice view of the city.

Walked to a place we'd seen along the way that had a full set for 8eur person, the cheapest we'd seen so far. Considered buying 2 sets then were like whatever let's do 3 sets. We couldn't understand the main menu at all though, so we didn't know what kind of main we'd get (out of 4) And the old couple came over and set down this huge plate of beef stew with potatoes and carrots. We began to o cheer immediately and I was about to cry because IT LOOKED SO GOOD and I was hungry and that was a HUGE HUGE pile of meat. We tucked in, had the bread, had the beer, the soup, even the espresso at the end. Multiple times along the way we actually checked if we'd gotten the right things because we couldn't believe all was included in the set and we were afraid that they'd charge us more for things we hadn't ordered. But no, all inclusive. That was our budget blown for the day but it was rationalised away as a 'welcome to Lisbon' meal haha. So happy so full so good so yummy.

Walked to the Chinese grocery shop again then back to our room. The guys went out for some beer, I stayed behind in the room cos I couldn't be bothered. Had a nice long hot shower then an orange. Attempted to use the bad bad wifi then went to sleep. Had some trouble because espresso!! Haha.

Let me end off this long long post by saying WHEEEE PORTUGESE EGG TARTS aka Pasteis de Nata! I had three from segovia, ate 2 yesterday. I'll eat two today and one each day til Saturday. Limiting myself because I need to try the other portugese speciality desserts and pastries as well. One thing is that the custard us much softer this in sg which is not a bad thing. Just different. Haha.

Posted by seaskimmer 03:06 Archived in Portugal Tagged food lisbon portugal singaporean eggtarts Comments (0)

Day bus to Lisbon

semi-overcast 14 °C
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After segovia on Saturday, we ate at home again. That was lots of bee hoon, and AM's philipino macaroni!! Haven't had that in ages. Will make sure I cook it in Hamburg, it's an easy one pot meal. Crazy though, we only started eating at ten pm, and all the friends stayed til like 4am before sleeping. Apparently that happens almost every Saturday when everyone is off work. I went off to sleep first at 1 plus, I was so tired.

In the morning we woke up to go to El Rastro. Except that it wasn't, so I was pretty disappointed. We went to the nearby one that was also huge, but it wasn't the famous one at la latina. Sigh should have done my research properly. Oh well, I bought two long sleeves and a bag. I was counting on the flea market to make some purchases cos all the zara and pull and bear and mango were much too expensive for me. More shopping at the second hand store in Hamburg :D hehe.

Went to AM's church after that, the guys went to Bernabeu to try to get tickets, and to do some shopping. Everyone was really nice! But predictably (oops) I fell asleep during sermon. In my defense I was truly very tired, and it was also half in tagalog so I couldn't really understand anything. Haha. After that they had weekly lunch banquet thing, I finally got to eat adobo (black sauce thing with meat and vinegar) and rice again. Rice! <3 oh how I've missed you.

Walked around sol and gran via a while, lamented at my lack of buying power, went back to chill and shower. After that was Bernabeu, which I've already recounted.

This Monday morning we awoke early at 7 to pack and eat. Sweet AM got up to make tuna sandwiches for us. Ate, metro to estacion bus del sur, am on the 7 hour bus to lisboa now.

Before I say anything else, just let me say how appreciative I am of AM and her friends. They've cooked dinner for us and given us their food and beds. They've been just so nice and welcoming. Obviously we've tried very hard to repay them, but a lot of our efforts have been rebuffed. Oh well. Haha.

Okay, and I really wanted to do a on the way trip stop at caceres or something. Don't want to just do big cities. But late planning resulted in limited travel options. We could totally have taken the night train to Lisbon! Haha that would have been awesome. And then a day at caceres. But it was not to be. We missed booking that train by a day or so, and that's why we're on the earliest (10am) bus direct to Lisbon.

Also, update on the travel partners thing, it's getting better. I think I've learnt to chill and see good sides. It's getting more fun now!

More later, ciao!

Posted by seaskimmer 16:15 Archived in Spain Tagged church spain madrid lisbon portugal Comments (0)

El Clasico

semi-overcast 10 °C
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We found out on Friday night about the El Clasico match between Real Madrid and Barcelona, in Bernabeu itself while we are in Madrid! The stadium is only like ten minutes away on foot?

So on Sunday (today) afternoon, the guys went down to attempt to get tickets, with a 200 eur budget. They returned with sad countenances just as I finished showering. But we rushed off to the stadium to try and catch the players as they arrived. After pushing our way through to the front, getting a few dirty looks, and waiting for what felt like a century, people up the road began to cheer and cameras popped out (like daisies! Reference anyone?). Some police cars and two darkly tinted buses drove by. There was a stunned silence and then everyone started to ask the security guy if that was it. And that was it. Everyone was extremely disappointed but stayed in the crush for another five minutes before hopes dissipated and the crowd dispersed.

We slowly made our way back home, booked our bus tickets to Lisboa, ate some leftover macaroni, and went off to find a bar.

We ended up in this cute little bar with lots of iberian hams hanging on the sides. So something between a butchery and a bar maybe? The guys wanted a better view of the big TV so they went to the back to stand. On the other hand, I dragged a chair right up almost underneath the TV to look up at it. I'd rather sit for 90min and have a weirdly angled neck. After all, can't be worse than belaying someone on a project (sorry J hahahaha that was a long one).

There was a mix of barca and madrid fans, so excitement at every turn. I sat there looking up, laughing at the animations of the people around me. Like seriously, I think it's hilarious when people scream at the TV, and especially so when there's a goal!

And a wealth of goals there was indeed. What an amazing match, as each side almost took turns to score. Not only were there tons of goals, but there was also a lot of drama with the penalties and that red card! Oh my. And I can't believe Madrid lost, what a pity (even though I'm neutral). The barca fans were screaming away happily while everyone else grunted grumpily or had head in hands.

What a stroke of luck. A fantastic match up nearing the end of the la liga season. A decisive match. And a home game as well! In a small local bar :) what a night.

Summary of the rest of today's events will probably come in about 24 hours haha.

Posted by seaskimmer 16:03 Archived in Spain Tagged football barcelona spain madrid Comments (0)

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