Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Impromptu Trip to Europe: Part I - Evora and Lisbon, Portugal

My parents left at the beginning of January for a long vacation. They are spending a month in Portugal, a month in Spain, a month in South Africa, and then a few weeks in Belgium. While I was Facetime-ing with them my dad playfully said, "So, when are you coming? Just let us know when to pick you up in Faro." Later that night I told Josh and he suggested that I go visit them. Why not, right?!

I sent my parents an email to make sure it was okay and they were so I started looking at flights. I found my parents itinerary and booked my flights so that I would get to Portugal during their last week there, fly with them to Spain, and then spend their first week there with them. 

I booked my flights, bought a Portugal travel book (my dad already had one for Spain), looked up places I wanted to see, caught a little cold, and then started to pack!

On the morning of February 5th (Friday) I headed to Chicago O'Hare airport to catch my first (of three) flights to Portugal. 

I got to the airport early (Courtney Standard Time) so I went and bought some Garrett Popcorn (the best EVER)! I figured I would eat the popcorn as a snack and then I would get dinner in Newark during my two hour layover.

But then I started getting all these text messages from United. Delayed, delayed, delayed! By the time we left I was freaking out because I knew that I was cutting it really close and that I may not make my flight!

While on the flight I asked the flight attendant if there is anyway that they could let the people with International connections off the flight first so that I could try to catch my plane. They did, well, they tried! Of course when we landed everyone stood up and I couldn't get off any faster. Right when I landed I got a call from my next flight and I told them that I just landed and that I was on my way. Of course, I started getting mad because no one would get out of my way. I started running through the terminal but we had landed in Terminal B and I had to get to Terminal C, which means I had to take the tram. While I was waiting for the tram, I got another call and the guy told me they couldn't wait for me. It was then that I started crying. I was so mad that I was going to miss my flight and I was worried that because my flights were with different airlines that they wouldn't help me get on another flight. 

Ok side story, remember when I went backpacking in Europe in 2008 with my friend Syanna? Well, on our way home we got stuck in Newark (due to bad weather) so we ended up missing a flight to DC where we were supposed to catch another flight to SLC. Because we booked with two different airlines, and it wasn't technically their fault that we missed the flight (no one can control the weather), we had to pay out of pocket for a direct flight to SLC and we never got our money back from the flights that we missed. We ended up sleeping on the ground in the terminal (all the hotels were booked), waking up at 3:00 AM, and catching our flight to SLC (our bags missed the flight). They did give us a $20 gift certificate to the Newark Airport Dunkin' Dounuts, though.

So you can understand my stress! A flight to SLC from Newark was a lot cheaper then a flight to Portugal! I didn't want to have to pay for another one!

Well, since it was United's fault I missed my flight they ended up putting me on a later flight to Lisbon. Phew! 

[See the 23 minutes of Activity? Yea, that was me running through the Newark airport. Good times.]

Usually I can sleep on airplanes without any problem. And on this flight I upgraded to the Exit Row so I would have more leg room. But I couldn't sleep at all! AT ALL! And after they served "dinner" (totally disgusting pasta) I started to feel nauseated. Oh crap! I even took Dramamine! I grabbed an airsickness bag but I didn't need to use it.

Finally we landed and I headed to Customs and Immigration. And then it happened. I dropped my cary-on and threw up. It was terrible! My head was hurting so bad and I could barely see straight but I had to get my bag, get through Customs and Immigration, check in for my next flight, and find my gate!

Ugh! Well, some how I was able to do all that. I don't know how. Honestly. I threw up again on my next flight but luckily it was only 35 minutes long so I was on the ground again in no time. 

I grabbed my suitcase and went outside to find my parents. When my mom found me I was crying and holding my airsickness bag. Ugh. Such a great way to start the trip!

I hopped in the car and we started driving from Faro (on the south coast) to Evora. During the drive I threw up again but I started feeling better after that.

While we drove I was able to appreciate the beautiful country side! Portugal is so green and there are huge storks (and their nest) everywhere!

After driving for 2.5 hours we arrived in Evora. It's a classically beautiful Portuguese city!

[Love the cobble stone streets]

We parked the car and then wandered through the city. 

[Templo Romano Evora (Temple of Diana)]

We found the Cathedral of Evora and decided to hike to the top to get a good view of the city.

After exploring the Cathedral we walked to the city center where we got some pizza.

We then went looking for the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) but we couldn't find it. Instead we went into the Church of St Francis.

After exploring the city we headed west to find some Megaliths! Yeah! Archaeology and history!

We first went to the Menhir of Almendres, which is an 8 ft tall solitary stone. 

Then we drove up the road a few miles to the Cromlech of Almendres, which is a group of 95 elliptical stones. Archaeologist believe that these sites date between 4000 and 2000 BC. 

After visiting the megaliths we headed west to Lisbon. We zig zagged through narrow one-way streets until we found our cute apartment. I went to bed early because I wasn't feeling well (and the jet lag was getting to me) and I had to be ready for our next adventure!

The next morning (February 7th), we got up, walked downstairs, and headed out into Lisbon!

[Stairs to our apartment. No elevator!]

Our first stop was the Castelo de S. Jorge. 

The view from the castle is the best in Lisbon!

[Archaeology within the castle]

Since my parents had been to Lisbon before they knew where to go to catch the hop-on-hop-off bus. We left the castle and headed towards the coast to catch our bus.

We zipped around the city on the top of the double decker bus. There was so much to see and so much history to take in. After riding around for a couple of hours we got off the bus and went to find some lunch. 

While we were walking around the Pombaline Lower Town (a huge district that is full of shops and cafes and that is mostly a pedestrian walking area) looking for a place to eat lunch I saw this:

I thought they were some kind of bread and cheese concoction so my mom and I bought one. Turns out is was a fish-cake stuffed with cheese! It was delicious and very filling! After eating our fish-cakes we went and had lunch.

After lunch we jumped back on the hop-on-hop-off bus and took a different route to see more of the city.

After the bus tour was over we jumped on this little Tut Tut and went back up the hill to the castle.

After a pretty crazy ride, our Tut Tut driver dropped us off at this beautiful outlook that was close to the castle. 

From there we made our way through the city back to our apartment.

[Tiles on the outside of the buildings was very common]

I wish we could have spent more time in Lisbon but we had more exploring to do! It is such a great city with so much history!


Lacey said...

Ugh! Awful about the flights! Courtney Standard Time is totally a real thing, so I'm sure you were totally stressing. Glad you made it. I've wanted to do Portugal for a while now. Your posts gave make me realize it should be a reality sooner rather than later.

Lacey said...

Ugh! Awful about the flights! Courtney Standard Time is totally a real thing, so I'm sure you were totally stressing. Glad you made it. I've wanted to do Portugal for a while now. Your posts gave make me realize it should be a reality sooner rather than later.