Lisbon aka Leeshbowa

As mentioned in our last post, we had made fast friends with Fernando, the guy in charge of the United States, Africa, and South America for Taylor Fladgate port. He knew we needed to get from Porto to Lisbon on Sunday, and it just so happened that he needed to be there for a wine and food expo, so he graciously offered to drive us down. This was awesome because we got to save some cash by not taking the train and we got to experience Portuguese driving, which means fast.

It took us around two hours to get down to Lisbon, including a stop for espresso if course. Once we rolled into town, we offered to help him set up his exhibit, which took around a half hour. Following that, he was going to drop us at the metro so we could get to our hostel. He then talked himself into driving us to our place, which turned out to be more than he bargained for. Not only was it about fifteen minutes up the road, but the GPS on his phone sucked, so it had us lost for about 45 minutes until we finally got it. We felt terrible, but it was his choice to offer. As he dropped us off, he said to be ready by 8:30pm because he was going to be taking us out to a wine bar to meet with some of his friends. We walked in to our hostle, called Home Hostle, and were met with smiles, a welcome shot, and a tour of the hostle. This hostle, although only 12€ a night, was rated one of the best hostels in the world. We also had no idea, but this hostle has the same owner as the one we stayed at in Porto, which was also amazing. We made it up to our room and got ourselves cleaned up just in time to meet Fernando. We headed to the meeting point and a few minutes later he rolls up in a cab, which means we were in for a good night of fun.


Jules thinking about getting ready

We headed into an old part of Lisbon which has now been taken over by bars, clubs, and small restaurants. The roads were so small that there were electronic blockades in the road that would only allow taxi cabs and resident’s vehicles onto the roads. We arrived at our very unsuspecting wine bar and meet by Fernando’s friend Pierre. very French name, but he’s actually from Brazil, and is a rather successful song writer and producer. We shared a few delicious small plates of meats, cheeses and paillela over a few nice wines from the Douro region of Portugal. We were then met up by another of Pierre’s friends who was a film director working on a documentary. As he claims, in January, while he was filming in a remote and dangerous part of the Sahara desert, his truck rolled over a land mine and blew up the front of the truck. He did show us pictures, however we remain a bit skeptical because he didn’t have a scratch on him. Regardless, we were having a great time chatting with our new friends.

After a bit more wine we headed about a block down to a small gin bar. I think was Julia’s favorite part of the evening because the hand crafted cocktails were more than just your gin and tonic. These were flavored with tangerine, coriander, and something else I can’t remember, but they were big and tasty and we got to do some dancing, which is always a good combo.

We were a tad worse for the ware that next day, not to mention we got our third day of rain on the trip, so it was a perfect lazy day. We did our much needed laundry, and watched a couple of movies they had on demand in the theater room… Yes, it had a movie room, with IPads for people to play on. One of the most important things to remember when doing extended travel, is that it’s okay to have down days; if you don’t you will be useless and probably sick after a few weeks.

After our day of rest, we planned a nice long day of exploring. We did a free walking tour, which if we haven’t already mentioned is a great way to see the city from a locals perspective for almost nothing. They work on tips, so 5€ for a 2+hr tour through the city is well worth it. We walked all around and climbed to the to of one of the seven main hills of Lisbon where there was a Moorish castle. But due to the insight of our guide, we did not pay to go inside as it was not original. Back in 1755 there was a terrible earthquake that desired much of the city including the castle. If that wasn’t bad enough, it was at night, so everyone was burning their candles for light, which set the city ablaze. Everyone ran down to the water’s edge to escape the flames and dust, but they were met by almost no river, what they didn’t realize was that the massive earthquake triggered a tsunami which then wiped out many of the town’s folk along with the shoreline buildings. Sad story, but this was a huge part of this city’s history, which honestly was more interesting than the castle or anything else.


Above: Reconstructed Moorish castle on the left, identical copy of the Golden Gate in the background


Above: National Archaeology Museum


Above: Julia loves her anchors, and anything with nautical theme really


Above: we found a free modern art museum, that’s an Andy Warhol behind me


Above: Julia being Julia


Above: A little slice of Rio De Janeiro

We made friends with a guy from Canada and a girl from Germany on our tour and we all went exploring for food. We found a restaurant which was not very good, but it sufficed, then we went in search for a famous pastry shop that claims to have the best Nata in the city. Nata is a delicious little egg and creme tart with a warm flaky crust. At 1€ each, they were cheap, easy to eat, and wonderfully fattening! After our tasty treat, we went back to our hostel.

If you didn’t know already know, I’m one hell of a lucky guy. I mean, the girl of my dreams agreed to marry me. Not only this, but she is one hell of a cook (I also cook, so it’s fair, she’s just better at it)! At this hostel, the mother of the owner, “Mama” as she’s known, makes dinner for the hostel six nights a week, which is again a great way to meet fellow travelers. However, we are on a strict budget and we can’t afford to spend 10€/$13.50 for every meal. So Jules hopped in the kitchen next to Mama and made us some pasta with red sauce with custom ground meat from the butcher. At about 5€ total, we find feeding ourselves to be much more cost effective. Plus going to the store and communicating with people who speak different languages than you is part of the experience of traveling. After our nice candlelight dinner we shared a bottle of Portuguese wine from the Douro region with some fellow hostelers. Through their recommendations we had a game plan for our next day; to visit some other town.

That next day we hopped on a regional train which took us about an hour outside of Lisbon to Sinatra. This was a beautiful little city near the ocean which has a Moorish castle, national palace, and a couple other castles and sites we didn’t have time to see. The Moorish castle was occupied around the mid 800’s ad, however there are artifacts showing this area to have been inhabited since around 5000bc.


Above: View of the castle from the town below

We took the local bus up a very windy and narrow road to the top of the mini mountain to the Moorish castle. The area was beautifully lush, so we decided to do a bit of hiking around. We would have hurried to see everything but each of the different sites charges around 10€/$12.60 to get in. Needless to say, we were happy just to explore things from the outside. All in all, it was an enjoyable day trip which we would recommend. Just know that it’s a bit costly.


Above: Moorish castle



Above: National Palace


Above: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and we–we took the one that led back to the bus stop, and that has made all the difference.


Beautiful day with a beautiful girl

Once back in town, we threw together a quick dinner and sat around talking with people about the day’s events. We all decided it would be a good night to go out. On this evening, we went out with the following nationalities: Canadian, Germain, Brazilian, Finnish, Australian, and Spanish. We love doing this, until you have spent a night of fun with a multinational group of peers, you haven’t learned new ways to party! Great way to end your stay in a city, right? Unfortunately, this was not the ending.

Our German roommate, Julia and myself all got back around 3:00am, got changed, and hopped into bed. When we left our four-person room earlier around 10:30pm, we did not have a fourth roommate, so when someone came barging in at 5:45am, it startled us. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, some drunk guy coming in late/early makes a bit of noise, than passes out. However, this was not the case as he was not alone. This splendid young fellow brought some classy young gal back to the room. Julia, with ear plugs and sleeping mask in use, did not wake up. They were quiet for a while so the German guy fell back to sleep, but not I. We were in bunks which were adjoined on the wall, and these two and myself were on the top bunks, with no partition. So make a long story short, they went at it for way too long, shaking all four beds. Don’t ask me how, but Julia remained asleep, and for that reason, I kept my mouth shut. I even made noise, got out of bed, went to the bathroom and came back, but they didn’t even as much as slow down. I was furious, but too embarrassed to say anything, which I’m mad at myself for. After a brief intermission, the second act began, and I had had enough. Obviously they didn’t care about fellow roommates, so I had the man running the place barge in and threaten to kick them out if they didn’t stop immediately.

By this time it was about 7:30am, so I went down for breakfast as I knew I could not go back to sleep. I headed to the train station so I could buy out train tickets on the night train over to Madrid. I think I annoyed the lady by being there early and waiting outside the door. So I’m pretty sure she decided to screw me/us over. On a night train you have a few options. A regular seat, bunk beds, or a private room. We wanted the bunk bed option, so I asked, confirmed twice, paid the fee and went on my way. Later that evening when we get to the train, I asked the attendant with locating our spots, who then directed us to regular seats. I told him that they were supposed to be in beds, and he told me that we had only paid for the seats and because it was late notice the bunks would be 50€ each. Needless to say we took our seats, right behind a loud Portuguese man. Which was followed by a bumpy, long 10 hour overnight ride to Madrid.

I’ve enjoyed the night life of Madrid before, so I was looking forward to sharing some tapas and sangria with my love.


The Beginning

Savoring what would probably be my last Sierra Nevada pale ale, Trevor, his last Lagunitas IPA for a while, we sat with Trevor’s parents and watched the disappointing first half of the Superbowl, all eager to board our flight and get this show on the road!

After a long red-eye direct from San Francisco we arrived in the London Heathrow airport. It’s worth noting that not only were the airplane’s seats comfort-challenged, the tiny airplane meals were mediocre and we were surrounded on all sides by three of the most adorable [crying] babies you’ve ever [heard] seen. Needless to say, the beverage service and sound-canceling headphones came through. Step up your hospitality Virgin Atlantic!

Now it was time for our first train ride of the trip. The high-speed train took us under the English channel, straight into charming Paris. Traveling at about 186 mph, London flew by. I was happy it went so quickly because not only was it packed since it was now Monday morning rush hour, not everyone on the train used deodorant.

When we arrived in Paris, and went directly to the metro station to catch a series of trains that would take us to our Hotel Girard. This sweet little hotel is one that Trevor has stayed at many times and it was a short walking distance from our last stop on the metro. Here, almost everyone uses the metro as their main form of transportation, it’s pretty awesome/efficient.

And I have to say, the city of Paris is astonishing. Everything is super old and ornate. It reminded me a lot of San Francisco, but older, cleaner and more elegant.


We checked in to the Hotel Girard and got on the tiniest little elevator ever. It’s basically a three person maximum and even then everyone’s crammed. Pretty hilarious when you’re trying to get two people, two huge duffels, and two small backpacks up to the third floor. We took the stairs too, but that elevator was just too funny not to use.

In our room we decided to open the tiny balcony shutters to let in some cool, fresh air. Trevor suggested I look out the window to the left and my jaw dropped; we had a view of the Eiffel Tower–so freaking cool.


That night we got into some warmer clothes, grabbed our bottle of Baron De Rothschild champagne (our favorite) and headed out to Tracadero Street for what some say is the best view of the Eiffel Tower in the city. Those people were right. I couldn’t believe just how  beautiful it was. It felt surreal enough being in Paris, but being there with my amazing boyfriend, his wonderful parents, AND drinking a $100 bottle of kick-ass champagne while gazing at that tower was a pretty special feeling.



So in love with this city and it was only the first night.