Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lisbon Day 3

We went back to the hotel after breakfast, but we didn't get as lucky with the TV as we had the day before. We got a Simply Red top 10 video countdown, only in Europe. Then we got the same geezers behaving badly show. We ended up watching the news and saw how some robber had prayed with the woman he was robbing before he turned himself in. We stayed in the hotel because we were going to need to check out and didn't have any really concrete plans for the day. We left our luggage at the hotel, but they really didn't have a luggage room. We were a little nervous about leaving it just sitting under the stairwell by the check-in desk, but we couldn't very well lug it all over town. We stopped by the Internet cafe after checking out, then headed into Lisbon for our last day here.

We walked back to the main square, and there was some sort of soccer festival going on there. The main portion of the square was packed, and there were team and national tents and booths set up. One of the British teams was doing some sort of chant, and it looked like the police broke up a minor scuffle elsewhere in the plaza. We walked to see some of the public monuments, which took us through the heard of the modern business district. After we ate lunch, we found an English language bookstore. It wasn't what I had expected, but perhaps it should have been. It really catered to the students reading English language books for classes. I found two books that I bought. One was a dictionary of mythology and the other was the start of a Robbin Hobb series I hadn't picked up yet.

From there, we took a shortcut to the botanical garden and the Lisbon Basilica. After getting thoroughly lost on our first outing, taking a shortcut from the bookstore to our next destination was something of a triumph. I know a basilica is the highest designation for a Catholic church, but after some of the churches we saw this trip, this seemed modest by comparison.

We used one of our last two metro rides to get back to Intendente station. Michele had trouble with getting her ticket to be recognized as valid. We went to information, and they showed it had the two rides we thought it should have. One of the metro workers had to fiddle with her card to get it to scan. I had put my card in the back cover of one of my books, so I was able to enter and exit the metro just by setting my book atop the scanner. I almost looked like a native navigating the metro. Another metro worker had to fiddle with Michele's card again, but this time I saw how they bent the card to get it recognized.

The station turned out to have one last surprise for us. There were, we though, two ways to exit the metro, and it seemed to me like we usually picked the one further from the hotel no mater what we tried. It turned out that there was yet a third exit that we hadn't even noticed before on our trips to and from the hotel. I picked up a Lisbon shot glass and a little writing pad and pen so I could write down some notes on the trip during the flight home.

We snacked at the cafe to rest after a long day of walking around town. It had taken half an hour to take the metro back to Intendente from where we had ended up in the city. We got sweets and soup for our final meal in Portugal. We had plenty of time to kill at the bus station, but we had gotten tired of sitting in the cafe. By getting there early, we had an unusual experience at the bus station. A guy said something in Portuguese to us, and when I said English he ended up asking for money in English, which turned out to be quite good. He said he was homeless and wanted to get a sandwich. I pulled out a single 50 cent piece first, and I didn't think that was really enough money to be helpful. I reached in again and came out with a 2 euro piece. That was more than I had planned on giving him, but at that point I thought it would be rude to put it back in my pocket. He was genuinely surprised and said, "Wow! Thank you." I'd have just bought a half liter of coke with it from an airport vending machine, so it probably did him more good than me.

The overnight bus ride back to Madrid was a strange one. When we crossed the border, Spanish police boarded the bus and checked every one's documents. They pulled three people off the bus, but one got back on. Michele thought she understood enough Spanish to gather that two of the people were from Africa, but had no documents. When one of the police told one of them that he couldn't go to Madrid, he responded that he would go to Barcelona instead. The police laughed and said something like, "Madrid, Barcelona, it doesn't matter. You can't stay in Spain at all."

Then at the first stop for a meal, two girls who looked like they were Japanese tried to get back on the bus shortly after we stopped and the bus driver got really mad at them. I was a little bit afraid that the bus driver would leave people behind from the stop. They sat with us for a little while and we talked a bit in English. We couldn't figure out what they had done to make the bus driver so mad. Despite the strange events of this bus ride, we were back in Madrid that morning. Michele and I split up on the Metro. I headed to the airport and she headed back to the hotel at the Plaza Mayor.

It was a really good trip, but there are three things I would have done differently.
  • I would have paid more attention to the little warning light on the camera for blurry pictures. Seeing some of the blurry pictures next to ones that came out crystal clear made me sad.
  • I would have waited to get more cash until we were in Villanueva. We had plenty of cash for the trip and I'd still have my backpack if I'd have done that.
  • I'd have flown out of Lisbon. Flying into Barcelona would have made it difficult to meet up with Caroline, but the amount of time we spent on buses would make me plan a second trip to Europe differently.