Traveling around (days 97-99)

Day 97 – Tuesday, 25.12.2012
Feliz Natal – Merry Christmas! First I have to write about our Christmas evening last night. All the Erasmus students left in town gathered at the apartment of Latvians. When I saw their living room I’m sure that was a smart idea, because it’s much bigger than ours. They have a really nice apartment. Well Damir and I were about half an hour late, but when we arrived we were still the first ones there. Others arrived one and a half or even two hours late. It seems even Erasmus students picked up this Portuguese habit. =)
Well it didn’t matter, because when we were all there we started to eat different foods. Actually everybody brought some food with them, so that was really nice and there were so many different dishes! After that we all got a bit more relaxed and we got into that happy party mood, so we all started to dance and sing and simply enjoyed the evening. It was so much fun! Too bad we had to calm down a little, because obviously people from lower apartment couldn’t sleep… =) But it was a really nice evening and I’m really happy I spent the evening with such great and positive people. We stayed there until around 3 a.m., but then I helped Damir with some cleaning in the kitchen and he still wanted to bake one potica that he wanted to bake before but couldn’t finish it. So I went to bed at around 4 a.m. and Damir around 8 a.m.! Crazy! And we had to wake up at around 9 a.m.! Haha! =D
So yeah, we did wake up and we packed what we needed and got to the bus for Lisbon. When we arrived we decided to walk to the airport, but since we had enough time we walked through streets and observed the city through non-typical tourist eyes. Everybody goes to the center and we were walking out of it. It was interesting to see that, because that way you see more how the city life actually works. We were very disappointed on the amount of trash that was just lying around on the ground and also there were so many garbage bags next to the trash containers, not in them, even though they were empty! Why would people do that? When it comes to recycling, ecology and simply garbage disposal I’m often very disappointed here in Portugal. It’s like nobody was taught why and how to handle the garbage.
Anyway, we waited for mom of Damir at the airport. While waiting we had a lot of fun observing people. =) When we arrived, rent-a-car was waiting for us; or better, we’ve been waiting for the rent-a-car. Well we got it and we decided to use the rest of the day for some Lisbon sightseeing, since we’ve been in Lisbon anyway. We drove through the center to the coast and we found a parking space that was also free, because it was Christmas and fee for that parking is obligatory only on working days. Lucky us! =) So we just had to cross the street and already we were able to lose ourselves in those narrow streets at the oldest part of Lisbon, under the castle. It was really nice and the weather was great. Too bad only that the castle was closed for visitors because of the Christmas, but still, we enjoyed the short walk and sightseeing at that part of the city.
We arrived back in Caldas da Rainha in the evening and we were all quite tired. So we just made a short plan for the next day and went to bed, because we all needed some sleep.

Day 98, Wednesday, 26.12.2012

We started our day in the morning and our first destination was Peniche. We drove to the lighthouse on the cliffs at first and we enjoyed the view. Oh, these cliffs and the power of ocean waves impress me every time! It really is amazing sight. We made quite few stops along the cliffs and every stop had something new to offer. At one place we were surprised by some hole, through which strong wind came out every time the wave hit the cliff. It was so awesome! Something totally unexpected, but really interesting thing! =D Our last stop before leaving town was the fortress and then we left sunny Peniche.
Our next destination was Baleal that is really close and there are always surfers. On our way there we stopped at some surf shop and that was sort of an attraction as well, because I’ve never seen so many surfs at one place yet. But that’s no surprise, since surf scene is really something usual here. =) After that we drove to the Baleal beach and it’s so cool because concrete road actually goes across the beach to the other side where there are houses. We met the guys from Surfoz, surf school Damir went to. I kind of really wanted to get in the water and try to surf this day, because it was such a nice weather and it was actually really warm on the sun. I didn’t need my coat; just two long t-shirts were enough. Just around the corner we checked some more cliffs that were a bit different than the ones we’ve seen so far. That was really interesting.
From there we hit the road again and drove to Obidos. I felt a bit bad because I still wasn’t there, though it’s really close to Caldas da Rainha. Well now I’ve seen it and it really surprised me with all the ancient charm it has. It is an old city with medieval wall all around the old city and it has so many cute narrow streets. I would definitely recommend a visit to people that like old cities with some soul and charm. But it really is a huge tourist attraction and the main street was full of people. I guess part of that was because there was like a ‘Christmas Village’ that you could visit for a fee. It was interesting, but obviously it was more adapted to children. We walked up to the city wall and we walked half of it. The view from there was amazing and totally worth the walk. You can see the ocean from there, but also you have a great view of the city and the roofs of all those old buildings. When you’re looking at the city you realize how many gardens and green areas actually are there, but you can’t see them from the street level. So I’d say I fell in love with the city a little bit. =)
On our way back home we stopped at the shop and then we went directly back home, because once again, we were hungry, tired and sleepy, so we all just wanted to go to bed as soon as possible.

Day 99, Thursday, 27.12.2012
Today we woke up early again and we left home in the morning, because we went to Sintra. We chose not to drive on the highway, but on the local roads that allow you to enjoy the rural environment. Few times we saw some nice view or something and we just stopped and enjoyed whatever it was that convinced us into stopping. Mostly it was the ocean. =)
Sintra has quite a lot of things too see, but we knew from the start we wouldn’t be able to see them all. So we decided to go to the most famous castle up on the hill above the city. It is a palace with huge garden and we bought the tickets to see both. The palace is some mix of different architectural styles and it looks like from a fairytale. It is an amazing sight, but I kept on wandering why did people build such large residences and why? Well it definitely was worth checking out and it really impressed me. I kind of wanted to be dressed like a princess and pretend that it was mine palace, but at the same time I really couldn’t imagine living in such large palace. I wouldn’t know what to do with all those rooms.
After seeing the building we went for a walk through part of the park. Oh that was totally something of my taste! First I found a round pavilion and I just love buildings like that. To just walk around it was really something I always wanted to do and I know that might sound stupid or weird, but I just really wanted to do that. I was so happy when I did that. =D Then we kept on walking and we found like a small stone bridge over a path and that’s another thing I love; cute small stone bridges. Another part of my dreams… =) Then we continued our walk and got to some water area with small waterfalls, palm trees, ferns and ivy all around us. I just realized then, that my favorite plants are all green and they were all there in one place! It was like another part of my dreams! Small jungle! Oh it was so beautiful! =D And what I found there? Another small stone bridge! So it was like a combination of so many things I love! And not just that! I was able to see sequoia tree and that is something that I can’t see every day and it makes an amazing impression on me every time I do see it. There were also some others enormous old trees that you simply have to like and respect when you see them. =) So this park was really like a dream to me and I want to visit it again, at least one more time.
We ran out of time to visit more palaces and other interesting places in Sintra, so we drove to our next location that was on our priority list; Cabo da Roca, the westernmost part of Europe. Well the lighthouse is really nice, and there is a statue with a cross and people are taking photos… Then you look down the cliffs, you see the beauty of nature, you look to the west and your eyes just start to glow a bit because of the amazement and a bit because of the happiness. Maybe it’s just me, but the feeling that I got there was truly unique. Once people stood there and thought that they were on the edge of the world and they thought our planet is actually a flat land, like a plate! It truly is magnificent sight when you think of it like that, or even if you don’t.
We waited for the sunset there and maybe it’s a bit ‘mainstream’ and a cliché, but it’s so worth waiting for that. Well it’s just simply the sun going into the ocean, but it’s the feeling you get that makes all the experience so much more powerful. And while the sun was going down on one side, the moon got up behind our backs and it was another amazing feeling and experience. Nature is awesome! =D
I would love to post some photos now, but I’m too tired to make a selection and edit some of them. I promise I’ll post a lot of photos as soon as I’ll have some time, but at the moment my priority is to get the most out of this week and I’m simply enjoying all the sightseeing. =) So, photos coming soon. =)

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