Peacocks and Karma and Castles in Lisbon

In October, we made our first out-of-Spain trip to Lisbon, Portugal.

We arrived early Saturday morning, checked into Lisbon Chillout Hostel and began exploring the quirky city.

This was my first hostel adventure… Overall, it was good, but I didn’t particularly enjoy sharing a bathroom… and the lights to our room were in the hallway. I just couldn’t understand the logic behind that. Anddd if you like using a towel after your shower, it costs a euro. But the staff was helpful and friendly and if you’re looking to stay with the hipsters, this is the place for you!

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With a forecast that promised rain, we were pretty, pretty lucky.

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Nothing but clear skies (almost) all day.

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We wandered through the hills with no definite plan–just purely exploring and admiring the vibrant city.

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We found ourselves in the Trade Square–the Portuguese Palace called this home before the horrendous 1775 earthquake that rocked Lisbon.

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Lisbon is often compared to San Francisco, with its winding, hilly streets and slow, leisurely trollies. Maybe this bridge looks a little familiar, too? What do you think?

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We eventually found ourselves at the castle of São Jorge.

Suddenly, I didn’t care much about the history or the castle because I had just met my first real-life peacock. Let me tell you, it was love at first sight.

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THEY. WERE. EVERYWHERE. All over the gardens of the castle. The mommas and babies and the flashy, gaudy males… I just couldn’t be pried away from the beauties.

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If I ever get married, I think I want peacocks to be at my wedding. Just roaming around the ceremony–kind of like living decorations. That’s how much I love them.

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Side note: in Spanish, “peacock” is “el pavo real,” which translates to “the royal turkey.”  I think it’s a suitable translation. 

Anyway, we had a castle to see.

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The castle of São Jorge is considered a moorish castle, and its oldest parts date back to the sixth century… THE SIXTH CENTURY, PEOPLE! Europe is so old and boasts so much history. It’s really quite remarkable.

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The castle sits a top a hill and can be seen from most places in Lisbon… therefore, when you climb to the top, you have stunning views of the city.

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After conquering the castle and failing to steal a peacock, we walked along the Tagus River to the Belém Tower. This is where the weather forecast decided to hold true to its promises and scoffed at us for ditching the umbrellas back at the hostel with the hipsters.

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The Belém Tower is named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the 16th century, it served as a fortress to protect Lisbon’s harbor. It sits right in front of the “25th of April Bridge” and the impressive monument that pays tribute to Portugal’s discoveries.

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From here, in order to avoid the rain, we hitched a ride on a sight seeing tour bus with a driver that neglected to check tickets.

But then karma decided it was time for payback.

Once we reached the city center, we jumped off the tour bus and as soon as the bus pulled away, I realized I left my bag with my new souvenir mug on the seat. Spencer took off running down the street trying to catch the bus at the next stop, but it suddenly turned a corner into a plaza and joined about nine identical tour buses. He continued to run, and I started to panic… I could no longer see him, and with no way to call or text one another, I was sure we would never see each other again.

But still not wanting to lose my mug, I ran up to a bus… and what luck! it was our driver, who giggled as I panted and zealously tried to explain that I left my bag. I realized he didn’t understand a word I was saying, so I said “F#%@ it” and ran past him to grab my bag, so relieved to find it exactly where I left it.

Thankfully, I spotted Spencer just a few minutes later.

BUT karma wasn’t done yet!

We left the plaza and went straight to the metro station. As we were going down the stairs, we could hear the metro approaching. We started to run to catch it, but it was extremely crowded. Spencer made it into the car, and Erica almost got killed as the doors were closing, leaving her on the other side. As I watched my boyfriend pull away from the station, I frantically tried to communicate a meeting place with him through the glass, but he disappeared into the tunnel too quickly.

I was finally convinced this was the end. I couldn’t remember how to get back to the hostel… I had no way of contacting Spencer, it was raining… I started to wonder if the peacocks would accept me into their “muster” (that’s what you call a group of peacocks). Maybe that life wouldn’t be so bad?

And right as my mind wandered to every inch of every possibility, I spotted Spencer coming down the stairs, ready to rescue this damsel in distress. Turns out that metro was going the wrong direction anyway. We were reunited and we now have a game plan for situations like that.

We ended the day with an anniversary dinner at Duet os da sé, where the owner, Carlos, provided us with a fine dining experience. Roses and all.

 

**If you find yourself in Lisbon, I highly suggest taking a day trip to Sintra, one of the most magical cities I’ve ever seen. Stay tuned for more information!