Secrets come out

Okay so a week ago I went to Portugal for the weekend with the AEE student group thing in Salamanca. I went with Chrissie and Emma and I have to say it was a pretty impressive weekend. We managed to fit in so much stuff in such a small amount of time.

We went from the 19th till the 21st and spent far too much time on a coach those days. We left Salamanca at 6 in the morning and we didn’t arrive in Sintra until 11. We did have a brief break at a service station but it was so cold that I kind of wish I hadn’t had to get off of the coach. However, whilst in the service station I did manage to find a few of the Famous Five books in Portuguese, that was a little weird as I didn’t realise that series was as popular abroad as it is in the UK. I should have known better really.

When we reached Sintra we had to do a 30 minute trek from where the coach had parked to the older more touristy part of the town. When we got there we were told that we could go up to the old Castle and the Palacio but we were actually allowed to go into the Castle as the insurance didn’t cover it as it was “dangerous”. I’m still not entirely sure why it was deemed dangerous but it’s always better to not doing something you aren’t insured for, just in case. To get up to the Palacio we had to take a tour bus as it was at the top of this ridiculous sized mountain. But I think the bus ride may have been more dangerous than the actual Castle that we weren’t allowed in! Because there are so many people wanting to get up there at any one time the bus is pretty crowded and the roads that it has to travel up are pretty steep and windy. I was a little scared for my life but luckily we made it up there without any problems at all.

Even though we weren’t allowed to go into the castle we found that you could walk around the outside edge in the foresty area and have a look at the outskirts of the castle, without having to pay. We saw this as some form of loophole as we weren’t technically entering the castle but we were still able to have a look at it. It was a little annoying that we couldn’t go inside as it would have been amazing to see the insides of a moorish castle, maybe one day I will get another chance to go to Sintra and have a look at the castle.

Whilst we were walking around the outside of the castle we learnt that Chrissie wanted to be the Slender Man, not entirely sure why she wanted to be that or how exactly it came about into conversation but it was said. She then later decided she wanted to be the Phantom of the Opera, I think the sun may have been getting to her a little as I don’t know why she would want to be a 40 odd year old man who was perving on a 16 year old ballet dancer. I’m starting to think it may have been Portugal as Emma was accused of being Edward Cullen for staring at people while she had her sunglasses on, so no one could see. I honestly don’t think I would have had as good a time as I did if those two weren’t as crazy as they are.

When we finally got to the Palacio we decided that we would actually go inside it so that we could get some decent pictures of the area from the top of it. Luckily, it only cost us 10€ to be able to get in and go along the terrace which included walking along all of the outside of the building but just not going inside the actual Palace area. I was amazed at how much we were actually able to do but also happy. The view from the top was amazing and you could see that Sintra was surrounded on 3 sides by water. It was incredible to see something like that.

Before we left Sintra we sat in a little courtyard enjoying an ice cream when I decided that I was going to start doing conversations for the pigeons that were flying around. There was one white one that we named Steve, he seemed a little bit too enthusiastic about everything and the other pigeons weren’t overly fond of him. Although it may seem like a weird thing to do, it was a good way to pass the time and it was slightly funny.

When we reached Lisbon we had a few hours before an optional walk around the city, which we decided to go. We were told it would only be 30 minutes but it ended up taking most of the night. Which wasn’t entirely bad but when you’ve been up all day and done too much walking you kind of just want to get to sleep as soon as possible. However, it was nice to see the city at dusk as it meant that we would have different photos from when we were to take the guided tour the next day.

We had decided to go on the tour at 11am as we thought it would give us more of the day to look around on our own but we were still on the tour up until half past 2 when we decided that we were going to go our own way as the tour guide had to get back to our hotel for the next tour at 4pm, well I say tour guide he was one of the guys on the trip with us. We did a walking tour of the place and got to see a little bit of Lisbon than on the night time walk. It was nice to see different areas but I’m not a huge fan of walking tours. I like to be able to sit down every now and again and have a small rest. We eventually left the tour when we were told we had 15 minutes to go around an entire castle. It was a little unrealistic to think that anyone would want to leave something if they haven’t had the chance to see everything so we spent a little longer there as we wanted to have a walk around the castle walls and see what it was like.

That night we went out as a huge group to this restaurant in order to celebrate the birthday of one of the group leaders. The meal and unlimited drinks cost 13€ which wasn’t too bad and I chose this dish called “Picanha” I’m not entirely sure what it means but I think it was a type of steak with rice and chips. It was really nice. However I also had a fried banana and some weird green stuff, which I thought was like spinach but tasted like a cup of tea. It was a little bizarre and didn’t really match with the rest of the food so I had a try and then left them.

The next day we were meant to leave the hotel at 11am but due to a fun-run style event the coach was held up and we had to walk from the hotel to a bus park so that the coach would actually be able to pick us up. Once we had got on the coach we headed for Belém which is a little village just outside of Lisbon. Unfortunately we were caught in traffic and a 15 minute journey ended up taking over an hour. It meant we had less time in Belém but I don’t think it was much of a shame as there was not an awful lot we could have done anyway. We spent quite a bit of time sat down and eating as we had made ourselves a picnic and then later on we bought ourselves an ice cream and sat by a fountain.

All in all, it was a really lovely experience but I just wish I hadn’t walked so much as my legs are still aching somewhat.

Hasta la fuego

Lauren x

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