Leaving Budapest, we went to the airport instead of the train station and, following a good deal of waiting,1 hopped aboard a plane for Portugal. We landed in Lisbon, figured out a bit of how the public transit network works, and then headed to our hotel to sleep off the jet-lag. I’m calling that ‘day zero.’
The first day,2 we had breakfast at a little cafe with sitting in the street – nice and warm in the sun. As it turned out, it was perfectly placed for what we wanted to do – we asked our waitress for directions to the castle we’d been seeing from our hotel, and she pointed at a building up the street and said “go in there, elevator to the top, walk out onto that street, turn left, first right, elevator again, then follow the signs.”
We did, and the elevator rides – or walks, for those poor tourists we heard talking, who hadn’t been told about the elevators – were so worth the effort. The castle has a beautiful view over the city.
It’s open to the public – you have to pay a ticket price, of course, but everywhere we’ve been so far has had a student discount, and everyone is accepting my student ID from back home.3
To be honest, though, I think that even better than the view from the castle is what they’ve done with the grounds.
It’s all been transformed into one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen – and let me tell you, spending four months in Europe? You’ll see a lot of beautiful gardens. It’s a whole thing over here.4
Again, the view is beautiful from up there, so I’m going to make you look at a few more of those pictures first.
And, being me, I quite appreciate the nature of the walls – a solid drop before the next thing built below, in order to prevent people from climbing the walls easily. For me, that drop means “things I can lean precariously off of to take cool faux-aerial photos!”
There’s a lovely open pavilion right past the ticket gate – which makes sense, because it’s the best place to cut it off, and it’s the best place for people to take Touristy Photos off of, so they can get some extra revenue from people who just want the one picture and don’t actually care about the castle itself.
And, y’know, in their defense, you can get some great photos from that pavilion.
But the castle is also really cool – you can go up on the outer and inner walls, and they’ve got cool little places like this tucked away all over the place.
And man, who hasn’t wanted to walk around on the walls of a castle at some point in their life?
But what I loved the most about the place was the garden that was spread out around the castle. It had little places to sit scattered around…
… old bits of the castle grounds that were still standing had the greenery interwoven with them beautifully.
Basically the whole place was the definition of Garden Goals.5
It’s the kind of place that makes you want to have a picnic there, really.6
That night, we decided we had to go out and wander around a bit to get some pictures. Lisbon, as it turns out, knows how Christmas decoration is done.
There’s the traditional statues and obelisks and whatnot, those come with being a European city.
But there’s also quite a lot of Christmas cheer all over the place.
Every street has something different.
As it turns out, our hotel was right in the middle of the Historic Old Town-type area of Lisbon, so we had quite a lot of nice decoration around the place.
The driving style in Portugal is… interesting, so pausing in a crosswalk to take a picture can be a bit unnerving.
The pedestrian-only streets are nicer, though.
And they’ve got all sorts of fanciness on them.
We eventually wound up in the higher areas of town, behind where our hotel was, and we had to walk down a bit of a hill. I say “had,” but we had the option of riding this lovely little contraption.
But hey, the view from up there was pretty nice.
Our second day in Lisbon was also largely travel-focused – we only had the one full day, and on the second evening we had to head out for Madrid.
But that morning, we had some time to see a few things around our hotel – though, I should note, not enough to stand in the line to go up this elevator.
And we stopped in at this church – it dates back to 1200 CE or so, and it’s certainly the oldest-looking church I’ve been in thus far; though not, I should note, the actual oldest church I’ve been in.
After breakfast and our little bit of wandering in the area, we checked out of our hotel and headed towards the train station we’d be leaving from later. We dropped our bags off in a locker there, and then started walking around.
Eventually we found the Lisbon Oceanarium – pretty cool-looking building, no?
Even close up, it’s a very nice look.
And that bridge? Open to the air, but protected enough that even in the rain it wouldn’t be terrible. I quite liked it.
The oceanarium has a temporary exhibit, at the moment – an underwater Japanese garden sort of concept. Very relaxing.
The oceanarium proper had two floors. The lower level was a fairly normal aquarium, though not as cool as the one in Vienna.
Fun fact: there are two fish in this picture. They have varying levels of talent for camouflage.
This fish looks so grumpy, cheer up little dude
Now, the cool thing about the place was that it had a single large central tank that linked the other main ones, so the fish could swim in and out of the other areas of the aquarium.
What was more interesting was the second floor – that’s what made it an oceanarium, rather than an aquarium, I suspect.
Four open-air sections, made up to mimic various oceans around the world.
All of them had a lot of work done to make them look natural, it was pretty cool.
This one, the Arctic Ocean, had a few penguins and arctic seabirds flying around.7
There were a couple otters in another area – I only saw the one, though.
By the time we left the oceanarium, the sun was setting, and it was about time for us to head back to the train station. We were off to Madrid.8
- I’m so used to getting to the airport, looking up what gate I’m going to, and just waiting there; the Budapest airport (branded as “bud” because their FAA (or whatever) code is “BUD”) does not work like that. There’s a single central waiting area, and they’ll tell you what gate you’re going to ten minutes before boarding starts. ↩
- Well, the first full da- oh, whatever, you know what I mean. ↩
- I’d comment on the fact that I didn’t bother getting one of those “International Student Identification Card” things but I don’t want to jinx myself. ↩
- I think it’s one of the side-effects of royalty? ↩
- Is that a hashtag? Someone make that a hashtag. ↩
- It also really intensely reminded me of a scene in “The Will of the Empress” by Tamora Pierce, in which the characters visit one of the titular Empress’ gardens. The place is described so well in the book, I always wanted to see something like it – and now I’m wondering if the garden in the book was based off the one in Lisbon. ↩
- Presumably all their chirping was bird for “lol look at this penguins, they can’t even fly! Losers!” ↩
- The post will happen eventually, but it’s hard to take time to write these things up while they’re still happening. At the rate I’m going, I’ll have been home for a couple weeks before I’m done posting everything. ↩