Fiona and I spent most of the night on the train talking and looking at pictures and movies I’d made on my computer, while Milly slept almost the entire time. I was envious of her ability to fall asleep on the train and so quickly as well, but also glad to stay up with Fiona and talk. We both finally fell asleep around 3 or 4 and woke at 6 to the lights coming on in the train marking the impending arrival at our station. Stepping off the train in Lisbon was such a transformative experience. I relish the first steps in a new place, imagining myself as an explorer seeing a new part of the world for the first time. I found directions on my iPod to our hostel and 10 minutes later we stepped off the metro in Lisbon’s city center and made the short walk to the hostel.
Home Hostel in Lisbon, was my new favorite hostel. The staff was great. The rooms were cheap. The laundry and breakfast were both free and every night for eight euros you could dine like a king on a three course meal in the common area. This wasn’t just Home Hostel, this was better than home. As usual, we couldn’t check in yet, no big deal since it was only 9am. We dropped our bags off and got a small breakfast of various pastries, all at half the price we’d paid in Madrid. I was loving Lisbon already. After breakfast our party of three walked the Plaza de Comercio before returning to the hostel so the ladies could shower. I sat on one of the couches in the common room reading Fiona’s Lonely Planet Portugal travel book when Kiana groggily made her way downstairs from her dorm room. At last we were reunited. We sat on the couch catching up on life and exchanging stories of our adventures, hers in Barcelona, and mine in Madrid.
The hostel offered a free walking tour leaving right from the hostel everyday at 10 and twice a day on weekends. I introduced Kiana to Milly and Fiona, who opted out of the tour, and the two of us headed out to have adventures. The walking tour divided the city in two and each day the tour alternated between which half it covered. The tour we took that day took us past Lisbon’s castle and several of its cathedrals. We learned all about the history of Lisbon, including its massive nine minute earthquake, most quakes last 30 seconds.
The quake leveled most of the city, caused one of the world’s largest tsunamis, drained the river temporarily, and set most of the town on fire. Basically Lisbon was hell on Earth for a brief period of time. I can only imagine what the townspeople were thinking while all of this was happening around them. After the quake the town rebuilt, building one of the first cities with agrid system in 1755 and significantly advancing anti-seismic technology.
After our tour, Kiana and I walked around and had lunch in the Thief’s Market, no joke thats what they call it. Post lunch we saw the castle, Roman theater, prison museum (thinking it was the roman theater) several of Lisbon’s cathedrals, and a free wine tasting in the city center. Back at the hostel, I edited pictures, napped, and caught up on this blog. Dinner was scheduled for 8:30 and, as is custom in latin countries, began 45 minutes late. The food was delicious. We had sangria, soup, roast chicken, salad, and a chocolate pudding for dessert. Dinner was such a communal experience with everyone coming together to eat and make merry. Staying at the hostel was John from Colorado; Will from Hawaii; Josh and Chris from Toronto; Amelia, Luke and Rachel from Australia; Brandy from Jacksonville; and Kiana, Fiona, Milly and I. After dinner we had a traditional Portuguese cherry liqueur, several glasses of wine and lots of beer. Needless to say, no one went out that night.