Wednesday, 24 June 2015


I found out again that it is nearly impossible to find time to write a blog while traveling with friends because of course we want to use every moment for exploring, sight-seeing, shopping or just relaxing and watching the city express itself. So now that I am home I finally have time to write about all we saw in Lisbon. Don't be surprised, I took so many photos that there will be probably more photos than text.

In total we actually only spent two full days in the city, the other time we explored some places outside the city. So the first day in the city we first had a ride on the popular yellow tram that goes through the old city where you can have a look at the most important sights.

The tram took us over all the hills of Lisbon - there are really plenty of them. It is like you are never walking just straight along, always uphill or downhill.

At the end we got out and found ourselves in front of a big white church. It turned out that we could go on the roof of that church which we certainly did.

There we not only had a great sight over the city and the river Tejo but also inside the church.

I always like to compare churches in different countries because they always tell a lot about the culture and the history of a region. In Lisbon, the churches look a lot like those in Austria, but without all that golden decoration everywhere. In all the churches I saw there was no gallery where people can sit, just the ground floor. Also, the illuminated areas are like altars for different saints. Here you can light up candles for the saint you like the most - it remembered me a lot of Mexico. There, they also like to praise the saints and pray for them. Here in Portugal there is no praying, just lighting up candles.

Then we visited a park just across from the church - there seem to be small parks everywhere in the city. In the park we heard music, so we followed the sound and found a band playing on two in the afternoon.

The next stop was Belém, a part of the city that is a little bit outside but also has pretty much to offer. Very special was the Torre de Belém, a tower that was originally guarding the river and showing the wealth of Lisbon. But after the big earthquake of 1755 the tower was suddenly surrounded by water. I don't know whether you heard about that earthquake but it was the strongest one recorded in Europe and it even caused small tsunamis in England and France. After the earthquake, the following Tsunami and the fire caused by the earthquake that went on for 5 days, about 85 % of Lisbon was destroyed. This earthquake also triggered the portuguese people to start "researching" the causes of the catastrophe which lead to the creation of seismology.

In the whole city of Lisbon we always saw beautiful grafitty, but in the district of Belém we found the most beautiful one.

 They even hat their own palace there.

In the evening we decided to go out and ended up at a concert again. It was like people in Lisbon really like to spend their nights outside.

Since it was still quite early we first headed to the river to relax before looking for somewhere to go out.

The brightly lit up thing on the left is a small replica of Cristo Redentor on a big socket. The bridge is called bridge of the 25th of April but for some reason we always forgot the date so first we called it just "Datumsbrücke" (date bridge). In daylight it is actually red so it looks a lot like the golden gate bridge which lead us to the name "golden date bridge". There is another big important bridge in Lisbon, the porte de vasco da gama, which is the longest bridge in Europe, but we only saw it partly from the castle and once from the plane when leaving.

When heading to the bairro alto to go out we found out people mostly have fun on the streets and just get into the bars for getting something to drink. So there was one band playing just on the corner of a street and people were actually dancing to the music - not dancing like in a disco but really dancing! And the music was great, people living there opened the windows to enjoy the songs as well.

The second day in Lisbon was also the last day there, therefore we wanted to go by elevator into the upper city. The elevator was opened in 1902 and constructed by a student of Eiffel like all the other elevators in the city. It is 45 meters high and the only one going straight upward - the other ones are more like mountain railways.

On the top of the elevator there is a viewpoint with a great sight on the pedestrian areas of the city as well as all the red roofs. In Graz we have those red roofs in the inner city as well, but the buildings there are not that high.

Directly next to the elevator there was this church without a roof. It was destroyed in the big earthquake and they started rebuilding it but after the religious orders were ambolished and the church was more or less disempowered, they could not finish it. So now it is a archeological museum and when the weather is good there is absolutely nothing wrong about not having a roof.

On the street we found this two guys that were really creative.

After a successful shopping day we decided to finish the day on the castle where we had a marvellous view over the inner city of Lisbon and all the red roofs I already wrote about. In the distance you can see the golden date bridge and the cristo redentor replica and on the right side there would be the atlantic ocean if we could see that far.

So for the last time we watched the sunset and then, like everyday so far, we went to the river to finish off our vacation with a nice vinho de porto.

Sunday, 21 June 2015


I really saw a lot of Lisbon by now, but since we are still spending one more day in Lisbon tomorrow, I decided to make a big post about it tomorrow or when I am back home. So today, we were in Sintra. Sintra is a town about 40 minutes away of Lisbon and the royal summer residence was there as well as a lot of other residences and palaces of other wealthy people. I read about it in my book "1000 places to see before you die" and that place was really worth the trip.

The first thing we visited was the castle. It was on the top of a mountain with really small streets up so the bus couldn:t take us very far, so we actually had to walk a little through the park that was all around the castle.

The castle was built in the tenth century, but they also found traces of the romans from earlier and even think that there are traces from the stone age. But the best thing about the castle was that you could nearly climb every tower and they were not so keen about security as they are in Austria. It was like a huge playground - a castle like you always imagined it to be when you were a child.

From over there we had a great view around and we could catch a glimpse of the villas and palaces on the same hill. They really were everywhere and we started dividing who wants to live in which villa and so on. But gladly I already knew where I wanted to live - when I first saw the picture I already fell in love with my future home. People who know me better know that I have a really detailled plan on how I want my dream home to be like. Today I found out I need to make some (a lot) adaptions because now I know how my dream home should look like.

The palace is known as Palacio da Pena and it is the most beautiful building I have ever seen. Not only they have these great colours everywhere, there are so many details everywhere. It was the palace of the kings and for some reason they knew how to make impressing palaces.

When walking around there were always so many eastereggs like corals on the wall or beautiful tiles on just the right places and so on.

We also went inside and the interior is just as colourful and detailled as the exterior.

Now I am absolutely sure I want to live there and I already made plans on how to use the rooms. I found out that I will probably have enough space there. And I can just recommend: If you like stunning buildings, you MUST visit Sintra!

Friday, 19 June 2015

West coast of Portugal

Like I wrote yesterday, today we wanted to see the west coast of Portugal, so we decided to go to Cascais and Guincho near to the Cabo la Roca, the most western part of Europe (which we did not visit). In the morning we had some troubles with the train ticket because we bought a single ticket to Cascais from Rossio (where we are staying) but we had to find out that there is no train to Cascais from Rossio to Cascais. So we decided to take the Metro. But for some reason the ticket only included the train so we ended up walking to a station 15 minutes away where there is a train to Cascais.

It allowed us to see something more about Lissabon, for example the actually very steep streets (because Lissabon is another city that is called "city of the seven mountains") and the huge amount of fabric or shoes shops. There is surely at least one in every street. I can only guess that portuguese people like to sew their own clothes.

The coast was really stunning. We saw this cute white villages on the hillsides as well as lots of palm trees and really beautiful villas. Since everything here is reachable from Lisbon within an hour, it really looks like the rich people decided it would be better to live there. But we did not come here for the villas but for the beach and we shortly found out that the beaches that were reachable with the train were completely crowded and did not look comfortable at all. So we went from Cascais, the final station of the train, to Guincho.

The landscape was really different there, sometimes it looked like the desert is slowly consuming the area.
But there we found a beautiful beach we could relax. Unfortunately they did not have any shadow to hide from the sun so we were not able to stay too long because we did not want to turn fully lobster.

First I was wondering why noone was swimming in the sea and I had the theory that it was just too cold. But then we decided to go swimming and I found out that it was not only really cold but also the tide was really strong. We were not even standing in the water and we got wet all over when a strong tide came. This is why normally only surfers come here. But the nature around here was so beautiful so it was totally worth it! Also, the Camino the Santiago is passing here so I am already making plans on doing my own Camino the Santiago on the Coast of Portugal. I already really like this country and I am sure I will come back (which I don't say about every country).

Everywhere they have this tiles. On the wall - inside and outside -, on the floor, and even on the street signs. This is really something special and I like it, even when I normally don't like tiles.

Another interesting aspect was some kind of "social study" we did on our way back to the train station. Directly in front of a hotel there was a roundabout and for some reason there was a car parking at a place which made it impossible for the bus to pass. Therefore the bus got stuck in the roundabout and had to wait until the car driver showed up and parked the car somewhere else (which happened pretty quick - after about 10 minutes). When I think of Austria, I am pretty sure all the cars coming behind the bus would have stayed behind and the drivers would have gotten pretty mad and would have complained a lot. Not so in Portugal. When the first car behind the bus realised that the bus could not move, he just took the other way around the roundabout and drove away. Same happened for nearly all the other cars coming along behind the bus.

But then some car from the driving school approached and of course there was a pupil in there learning how to drive. The driving teacher was really unsure what to do and after some time waiting got out of the car and asked the bus driver what was wrong. The bus driver told her to just go around at the other side of the roundabout, which was something a driving teacher can't tell her pupil. So in the end they changed places so the driving teacher would drive the car to go around. It was really amusing for us to watch the scene. And just in the moment they changed the places, the car that was blocking the bus moved and we could go on. We just caught a glimpse of the driving school car when both of the drivers got out again and the pupil could drive again. Really amusing.

I thing, that is the reason why people in the south are just happier people. Because if there is a problem they think of the easiest solution to solve it without complaining all the time and acting strictly according to the rules. And I also think that life would be a lot easier in Austria, if we wouldn't take our rules so seriously. I know, we are better than the Germans but we still have this state of mind where we just don't think of easy solutions because we just want to complain and make politics to make better rules so we would be satisfied.

Everytime I am in a country like this, I realise our madness about rules and complaining and I always start to question why we have this situation - It is like nobody wants to take responsibility and think on his own but wants to be leaded by the rules or at least make others be leaded by rules. But maybe, just maybe, sometimes it would be better to give back responsibility for everyones actions and make people decide on their own which would be best in this situation and how to save the situation. It actually makes me kind of sad of our country because we don't realise how strange it is to complain without intending to change something on your own. Truth is, the only thing you can really change is yourself.

And that was what the portuguese people were doing. They surely weren't happy about the situation being stuck behind a bus. But they saw that there is another side of the roundabout going back to the same street they were heading so they had a look if there was traffic coming from the other side. When they saw there was no traffic, they just took the other way, the problem was solved and there was no need to complain. Surely, you can tell the driver of the car blocking the roundabout that it was bad and make him pay a fine but it will probably happen again - not because some car drivers want to harm you but maybe they are just desperate because there is no parking space and you can't just dump all the responsibility for bad situations on someone. Maybe it is your own responsibility to do something about it so it won't be a bad situation at all. And that is what is really missing in our culture. And that is why I already feel really comfortable in Portugal.

And this is the sight out of our room in the hostel - we are really central. :)

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Traveling to Lisbon

Today I went to Lisbon with two friends as a holiday. We thought, since our flight was going from Vienna, we already sleep in Vienna the night before so we don't have to get up early and hurry and reduce unexpected delays and so on. So we were really good in time, actually we were ready an hour before we had to leave. But like always, that was exactly the moment, when the unexpected stroke. I was just cleaning my glasses, when one temple broke. It was exactly 30 minutes before we had to leave to the airport. The most frustrating part was that I couldn't even see what was broken because my glasses were broken.

Gladly, we were somewhere in Vienna, so I hurried to the next Hartlauer. Unfortunately, the staff there was really unfriendly and didn't want to help me because they had other customers, so I found an optician very close who told me that this temple can't be fixed. But he offered me to put the glasses into another fitting and if he does not have any customers, he probably will be ready in 30 minutes. So I could just wait and see if I would have working glasses in Lisbon. I was lucky - the glasses were ready and now I have new glasses. I don't know why but stuff like this always happens directly before going on vacation.

So in the evening we arrived at Lisbon and we were really impressed. At the river it smells like sea and it is so warm and the whole city is loaded with beautiful old buildings like castles and palaces and so on. You can sit beside the river and buy a beer at a boat that is now a bar. There is this impressing elevator connecting the upper part of the inner city with the lower part. Everywhere there are mountains and on each mountain there is something great. People seem to be very happy. It is a little like Barcelona (big city at the sea) but better.

We will have a look at all the great places in Lisbon the next days, so today just some impressions for you. Tomorrow we will go to the west coast of Portugal and see what it has to offer, but I already love Portugal.