A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about music

Lisbon

Next stop and another great city in this part of the world.

sunny 12 °C
View Semester Break, pt. 2 on kmclean's travel map.

Our next stop on our trip with Mom and Dad was Lisbon. We arrived kind of late so didn’t get to do much our first night, but we managed to at least get out for some wine and cheese. We spent the next three days touring around the city and the last night we ended up staying out way too late, but we all managed to crawl into the taxi early the next morning and make our flight to Barcelona.

We went to a little restaurant in the Alfama district where we were staying on our first night for a bite to eat. Portuguese wine and cheese must be this world’s greatest kept secret. I’ve never heard anything fantastic or special about them, but it turns out they’re the best I’ve ever tried. We didn’t have one bad wine our entire time there. The food was also delicious, but to be honest my favourite meals were all at the Spanish-style tapas bars. Eating one delicious bite of 12 different things is definitely my favourite way to eat. Besides the food, though, there are a lot of other things to see and do.

Everything we saw was really interesting, and it’s a great city. On our first day it was a little rainy, so we took the tram 28 all around the city to try to get an idea of the main sites. It runs in an around the older parts of town, going near the sé cathedral and the castle. Lisbon is a really neat city with a lot of hills, so the tram was a little easier than a walking tour, which we skipped in this city. That night we went to a little restaurant for some food before we went out to see some Fado music – something typical of Lisbon, I’m told. You’re definitely supposed to eat at the same place to listen to the music, but reviewers say that all the places with great music have bad food, and vice-versa, so we broke the rules and went to a place with great music. We ate first, though, and just had dessert and wine at the Fado club, enough to add up to the compulsory €15 per person minimum charge. The music was great, though, and really something different. You sit there with your food and every ten minutes or so someone comes out, sometimes accompanied by a guitar or two, and sings for you. It’s really loud and deep, definitely worth seeing if you’re ever in Lisbon.

We spent our second day in Belem to see the Monastery, the Maritime Museum, and the Belem tower. Usually I’m not so into military or maritime history, but there was a time when the Portuguese navy was definitely something worth noticing. The museum was great, and like the monastery, free since we went before 14:00 on Sunday. There’s also a cute restaurant out that way with excellent sea food and even better service, although we may have just been lucky and got the best waiter on his best day.

On our last day in the city we went up to one of the lookouts, the “miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara”. It’s at the top of one of the hills so you can really get some amazing views. There were also a ton of artists and artisans at the top selling their work, and we came across one photographer and one painter whose work was really excellent. Both Mom and Dad and Mike and I bought a few of their pieces. Some of my favourite souvenirs from our trips are the art works you can pick up on the street for unbelievably cheap prices. At the top of the hill near the lookout there was a really great Argentinian restaurant we tried on a whim, and ended up staying for a while on their terrace to enjoy the view. Since we had kind of a big lunch we did another tapas-style supper at a little cave restaurant right around the corner from our apartment in the Alfama district. We stumbled across it the night before and went in for a few little plates of cheese, sausage, and whatever else, and it turned out to be great. The food was perfect, not to mention the local wine right of the casque at €6 per litre… not bad. Anyway, we ended up talking way too much and staying out way too late, something I think we all regretted when our alarms went off the next morning at 5:30 to catch our flight to Barcelona. When in Rome, though, right?

Anyway, we all made it to Barcelona even if we were a little beat, and now we’re looking forward to enjoying yet another epic city. We had the best time in Lisbon, and I would definitely recommend it. You could probably see all the main sites in two days if you really rushed, but four or five days in a city like this would be great so you could really enjoy the food, the wine, and the music.

Posted by kmclean 12:32 Archived in Portugal Tagged music lisbon portugal fado Comments (0)

Madrid

Amazing city with an amazing nightlife

sunny 10 °C
View Semester Break, pt. 2 on kmclean's travel map.

Madrid lived up to everything people say about it. The people are amazing, the food is great, and the nightlife really is the best. It’s the most lively city we’ve been to, with people out on the streets and in the bars having a great time any time of the day or night.

Our first night in the city turned out to be amazing. We checked in at 5:00 and headed straight to the Mudeo del Prado, one of the biggest art collections in the world. There are some really amazing pieces there. Obviously the 3 hours we had before closing time wasn’t enough, but we at least got a chance to see a little bit of everything. You could easily spend a week there appreciating all the pieces, but I think an evening is enough to get a taste of the masterpieces it houses.

We went out for a few drinks afterward and got a small bite to eat free with every one – tapas. A guy with a guitar came in to the bar and started playing and mom, of course, made friends with the women who were singing along. They led us to a great flamenco bar and we got in at the last minute to see one of the most amazing concerts I’ve ever heard. It was in some sort of cave theater in the basement of a pub, but the music we heard was unbelievable. It was the first time the three people had ever played together, so there were no cds, but hopefully someday I’ll find a way to hear them again.

It was kind of a late night that night, but we managed to get out the next day for a walking tour of the city. It’s always great to learn little things about a city you probably wouldn’t otherwise know, and the free walking tours are the best way to get oriented in a new city. Two days is enough to see all the main things in Madrid, but it’s such a lively city you’d definitely want longer, just to get to more bars and cafés. After the Canary Islands I fell in love with the Spanish culture, language, and food, and this visit to Madrid just sealed the deal. The people are so friendly and relaxed, the food is great, not to mention the wine, and there’s always something to do. I really hope we’ll get a chance to come back here someday, and to see more of this amazing country.

Posted by kmclean 16:58 Archived in Spain Tagged spain madrid music tapas Comments (0)

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