Upon exiting the plane, we were immediately thrown forward 8 hours into a world without any English signs. It was 30 degrees at 9am and the sun was blazing at full force (no complaints here). After a necessary change into shorts and sandals before exiting the airport, we were set to tackle the day — luggage in hand. Thankfully there were luggage lockers at the metro station because we couldn’t check into our Airbnb until 3pm and there was no way we were dragging 40 pounds of suitcases along with us. I hadn’t really thought about this before booking an Airbnb – a hotel will always hold your bags but we would have been screwed without the lockers.
First stop of the day was a cute little cafe to try the infamous Pasteis de Nata. I can see why people say you should buy more than one – they are very delicious and make a good snack (albeit high calorie – but that’s what all the walking is for, right??). Fueled by coffee and pastries, we set off to the Castle St Jorge which sits at the top of the hill overlooking all of Lisbon.
After walking up several very steep streets and what felt like a million stairs in the 32-degree heat, we finally made it to the top. Did I mention I was in flips flops? Nobody told me flip flops would be hazardous here. The streets were like a cobblestone slip and slide, and I nearly fell on several occasions. This will be the first – and last – time these shoes make an appearance in Lisbon! Good thing I packed two pairs 😉
Reaching the top was a relief for both of us. John hadn’t napped on the plane and started fading quickly as we were walking.
Upon approaching the lookout point we were blessed with an amazing view that was well worth the effort to get here. Ocean as far as you could see in one direction and a sea of terra-cotta roofs in the other. There was also a plaza with lots of shade (which we needed to cool down after the hike), beautiful trees with purple flowers, and a family of peacocks (yes, babies too). We had some water and rested in the shade while we took in our surroundings,
After John bounced back, we started about touring the Castle. Stairs, stairs and more stairs! I think the people that built the castle must have been giants because the stairs were way higher than I was used to, which ended up being a lot of effort I wasn’t expecting. So much for the plane nap – I needed to sleep for more than the two hours I had. After finishing our extensive tour, we started our descent down the hill to our apartment for the next five nights.
All I wanted was to get these death traps off my feet and we ended up taking a two-hour detour (read: got lost) on the way back to our place. We saw most of the hilly Alfama district, and some spectacular scenery on the way.
When we finally got to our place, we both collapsed on the bed and slept for a few hours. We didn’t want to sleep too long because it would make it more difficult to sleep tonight, so we limited ourselves to three hours. When we begrudgingly woke up, we went to the main strip of touristy restaurants and had a quick bite to eat. After dinner it was back to our flat for an early night. Day one over already.
Steps taken: 28,364 steps
Distance walked: 21.31 km
Total Pasteis de Nata eaten: 4