Thursday, April 24, 2014

Iberian Roadtrip—Part 1: Lisbon, Sintra, Cabo da Roca

On the way from Porto to Madrid, I teamed up with Jura, my ex-colleague and friend from Brno and Evelyn, a friend from Hamburg and we did an epic roadtrip. How was it? You'll find out here. I'll split it in several parts, so that each post stays short and internet-friendly.

Part 1: Lisbon, Sintra, Cabo da Roca

First stop: Lisbon
The first two days we spent in Lisbon and its surroundings. That city was the biggest positive surprise from the Iberian Peninsula so far. I expected a small capital, but the opposite was true. On the other hand, it has this feeling of a "student city". Not so crowded, not too industrial nor gets one claustrophobic feelings. They say it has been built on 7 hills, just like Rome. And it's true that the views from the hills on the mouth of Tejo river are breathtaking. They got their own "Golden Gate" bridge (Ponte de 25 de Abril) and their "Jesus Statue from Rio" (Santuário Nacional de Cristo Rei). The city is famous because of its yellow trams. The ones in San Francisco were inspired by them. If I were to pick two things that you certainly must visit, then it would be: Torré de Belém, the symbol of Lisbon and the steampunk-like public elevator, Elevador de Santa Justa.

Monument to the Discoveries
(the bridge of 25th April in the background)
Lisbon view
View on the Atlantic from the Torré de Belém

National Pantheon—the tomb
of Portuguese heroes
Alfama—the medieval town

Santa Justa Elevator

Torré de Belém

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos—beautiful monastery,
where Vasca da Gama is burried
That's him, the big discoverer
Parque de Nações—The place where Expo 98 took place
Lisbon at night, Castello de São Jorge in the background
Close to Lisbon lies Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of continental Europe. Another surprise. I expected just a boring beach with a pole stuck in it, but the cliffs are high above the ocean and you can just sit on the rocks and listen to the waves breaking on the rocks. "Onde a terra acaba e o mar começa..."

And Sintra? Sintra is a fairy tale village between Cabo da Roca and Lisbon. It was one of the seats of the portuguese royal family. Too bad every time I visited it, it was already evening, so almost everything was closed. But the place is magical, even in the evening and is certainly worth a visit.

Jura, me and Evelyn, chillin "in da west"
Looking for the Statue of Liberty
Lisbon felt good. It was fresh and young and it did not feel like a stressful city. I got to return there one day.

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