Lisbon – a must if you like small laneways

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I have never been checked-in so quickly as with TAP at Newark. After a 6 hour flight, I already landed in Lisbon, Portugal. Hello Europe, long time no see!

I took the metro to Sao Sebastiao station, where mom already waited in our hotel room.

We enjoyed breakfast in one of the street cafés around our hotel and then bought a ticket for the hop on hop off tourist bus with Graylines for 18€ for 48h. We didn’t know that other companies existed too but afterwards it seemed to us that the more colorful Portugal Sightseeing buses were driving more frequently and were friendlier too.

Sometimes, we had to wait over an hour to hop back on, since there were no timetables at the stops and sometimes, there wasn’t even a clear sign. Some improvements could be done but otherwise, it was a very comfortable way to see the city. Plus, there was wifi on the bus.

First, we rode to Belem. It’s an area with pretty buildings. We took a nice walk along the river (It’s so big, we thought it was part of the sea.)

Everywhere, there are cute restaurants in the alleys and on the squares. When we looked for the restaurants where the Portuguese people ate, we always had the most delicious and really cheap food.

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When we completed the circle of the red line, I felt the jet lag kicking in and I first needed to sleep for two hours.

Afterwards, I was fit enough again, to go look for some dinner.

We found a restaurant in the center and the friendly Portuguese owners even offered us free port wine.

Good that after that big meal we had the possibility to walk the 40min back to our hotel.

The next day, after we waited an hour at the stop, we finally boarded a blue line bus. It took us to the Orient area which is impressive but not necessarily pretty.

Lunch we found in one of the cute laneways close to the main train station.

Then we continued the blue bus line and again landed on a hill from which we had an amazing view over the city.

Afterwards, we took another red bus to go back to the Docks in Belem for Happy hour. We calculated that the last bus should come by at 7.50pm. However, we missed it by a minute because I saw it drive off (although we were there early). Luckily, a bus from the other company came after that and took us with him although we didn’t have their ticket. A little luck comes in handy from time to time 🙂

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Back in the city, we had dinner in a steep alley from where we had a beautiful view on the houses and the castle that was lit up on the opposite hill.

Since the temperatures were climbing, we attempted to take bus 161 from Plaça España to Costa di Capricia for a beach day. It’s a cute beach town with the typical tourist beach shops and markets. The water was totally clear and there were nice waves. I wished I had a surf board. Even in October it was still hot. We stayed there the whole day and returned at 22.40 with bus 153. Even at that time we were wearing short clothes at 20 degrees 🙂

On our last full day we bought a 24h public transportation ticket.

We walk along the river in the city and then took tram 28 up to the castle where we found more cute laneways and more nice views.

Then, we took the tram back to the other side of the city, where we relaxed for a while in the shade of trees and palm trees. On the way back, the small tram was really crowded and unfortunately, we couldn’t sit anymore. We got off to try one of the historic looking cable cars as well. It brought us down a steep street while children were running along next to it. Once we arrived at the bottom in another small street, we had no idea where we were and the tiny printed map didn’t help us either, so we just took it back up again.

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At 7pm we were supposed to meet some Swiss friends for dinner but before that we had time to enjoy an appetizer consisting of olives, cheese and sangria in another restaurant with view on this pretty city.

Right on time, we walked to our meeting point and our friends were right behind us. We hadn’t planned to be in Lisbon at the same time. It’s funny how things sometimes work out. And it was nice to already meet some Swiss people before returning to Switzerland. Gradual acclimatization.

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Unfortunately, we let us drag in from one of the touristy restaurants. The food wasn’t as good as at the other places and had been more expensive too. It’s really worth it to look around a little. Therefore, we decided to go back to the place from our first evening for dessert, where for the second time, we enjoyed perfect food and service.

Afterwards, we said goodbye to Kurt and Ursula, they will be spending a few more days in Portugal. Mom and I took the metro back to the hotel, where I had to pack my suitcase for the last time.

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The next morning, we took the metro into the city center again to buy some of these delicious cream tarts but then returned to our breakfast café, where the waitress already knew us and knew what we wanted 🙂

Before we took the metro to the airport, we had time to go buy some Port wine in the biggest mall in Lisbon. From the outside El Corte Ingles doesn’t look big because it only has two floors above ground. Eight more floors are below ground.

At the airport, the line for check-in was pretty long but moved quickly. In the end, we arrived at our gate right when they started boarding. The last flight on this trip passed quickly and finally, I saw the Swiss mountains approach from the air and then we landed on the familiar airport surrounded by trees.

That’s how fast you’re suddenly back in your own country. I had my train ticket, I already got used to Swiss German in Honduras and Lisbon again and the weather was still nice too.

So far, everything here still seems the same. Which is very different from long empty beaches, palm trees and waves. But I guess I’ll get used to it again. At least we have really delicious sausages and yoghurt 🙂

Lisbon's Golden Gate Bridge

Lisbon’s Golden Gate Bridge

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Architecture, art, coffee, food – Melbourne.

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On Saturday morning, I still had all my things in the storage room but for now I put my worries about that aside to go hunting for a new laptop cable (I’ve already been without a laptop for a week…I usually do EVERYTHING on my laptop…involuntary rehabilitation. Hasn’t been agreeable.) But I had a good feeling about Melbourne and so even after the third computer store on Elizabeth St had told me that I most likely wouldn’t find this certain plug because it was a special one, I still walked into the fourth one, where he had exactly one of the ones I needed left and he sold it to me for 50$ 🙂 Finally, I was able to charge my laptop and I even have an Australian plug, which I will be able to switch back to my Swiss one.

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Then, it was time to look for lunch and I found a real gem in the Causeway Lane off Burke St. Sushi Monger was packed with people. No wonder, the sushi there was one of the bests I ever had and they offer a lunch deal (2 rolls and a miso soup for 5$).

Afterwards, I took the free circle tram up to the library to do the free walking tour. Again, the tour guide was extremely funny and had loads of stories to tell. I’ve only ever had great experiences on free walking tours! And they just give you a good overview of the city!

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Back at the hostel, I felt the heavy load of my things again. I really had to sell them tonight, because I couldn’t keep carrying them around. A guy had written me, that he’d pick everything up at 10pm. So I just had to have faith that he’d really show up. And he did and bought all the camping gear and the surfboard for 250$. So, all in all, I now spent about 1450$ on my car (which unfortunately only lasted 1,5months but it was still cheaper than just booking tours or renting).

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Michèle and the German girls wanted to leave Melbourne on Monday already. That was way too early for me, since there was so much more to see! So, I tried to find someone on couchsurfing and this time, I really lucked out. Ben lived in a beautiful place in St. Kilda (I will make a special post about that) and he offered me to stay a whole week, which I would have if I hadn’t found a great opportunity to go to Sydney on Thursday. However, I said I’d come back to Melbourne before I fly. Such a great city. But so, what is there about this Melbourne?

First of all, there is a lot of amazing architecture. There is not one street without a special house or bridge on it. Then, there are all the graffitis or the street art on the walls in sometimes very narrow laneways. I think, the city is best visited on foot or by bicycle, because that’s the only way to find the interesting things in the small laneways.

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In case it’s raining, visit the museums! I was lucky to have a week with sunshine, so it was almost a pity to be inside but they were really worth it. I was surprised to find that the Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist is so popular here. Both the Art Gallery (cool fountain along the building!) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (great, cheap coffee cart at the entrance!) were free. So even if you aren’t usually interested in art, just give it a try:)

Melman!

Melman!

Then, I also went to the ACMI film museum. At the moment, there was a fun looking exhibition about animation movies. But I didn’t have the time to visit that too, so I just walked past the looooong waiting line of people and went directly to the free part of the museum. That was one of my favorite exhibitions ever! I went there twice so that I wouldn’t get tired of looking at the things, read, listen and interact. There were old projectors, history of movies, actors, producing, special effects and so much more. There even was a section with old video games (that’s where you could find all the dads and sons :)). Definitely worth a visit! And it’s on Federation Square, which is a nice place to look at anyways. Since the comedy festival was going on, the place was always bustling with street performances too.
If you’re tired of walking, hop on the free old fashioned city circle tram, which drives around the city center (to all my Swiss readers, did you know that in German “das Tram” is called “DIE Tram” because of DIE Strassenbahn. Sounds so wrong.) A tape informs you about all the touristy places.

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When you don’t want to lose too much time or need to go further, rent a blue bike. It’s only 2.80$ a day or 8$ a week and I found them perfect to ride to and from St. Kilda (go along the lake in Albert Park!) or to ride along the water in Docklands or to the other suburbs. In the CBD, I preferred walking because it’s up and down and there are too many people and cars. You have to wear a helmet but luckily, there were free helmets on most bikes. There probably used to be on every bike but people must have taken them…
I loved Victoria Market. Finally, I found cheap vegetables and also the cheapest souvenirs, in case you have space in your luggage.
In Melbourne, I had at least one coffee at a different place every day. There are a lot of cute cafés, that offer cheap (3.50$ to 5.50$ for a mocha or iced coffee), delicious and beautifully crafted coffees, so it would almost be a shame to go to Starbucks (this is the first city I’ve really noticed Starbucks in Australia and it’s cheaper than in Switzerland :)). But like I said, I haven’t gone there yet. Plus, they just opened the first H&M of Australia here in Melbourne. A continent without H&M, I didn’t know that still existed..

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Degraves Ln and Center Place were the most central places for coffee but I really liked the cute places along South Wharf and my favorite so far was Phamish in St. Kilda.

In case you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I like to go to movie theaters in different countries. It took me two months to finally find the time for it here:) On Monday, Carlton Cinema in Melbourne offers a 6$ deal if you go before 6pm. Afterwards, it’s 9$.I took the opportunity to go watch “Tracks”. I saw the preview in Switzerland and thought that it would be really cool to see it in Australia, since it’s about a female who walked from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean alone. (But I had forgotten the title and was a bit confused, since everybody I met always talked about Wolf Creek, which is a horror story about people getting lost in the outback. Now I know that there are two different movies:)). Tracks is pretty good, especially if you’ve ever travelled alone.

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For now, I have to leave Melbourne because my new travel mate only has time to travel over Easter but I’ll definitely come back before I leave Australia.