Lisbon layover, a couple of days in Portugal for good measure.

IMG_6983_tonemappedWhen I was booking the flights for the tail end of my trip, I noticed that several of the more frugal flights from London to Madrid ran through places like Lisbon and had me sitting in the airport for too long to be comfortable but not long enough to see the capital. The obvious solution: Fly to Lisbon, hang out for a bit then head to Madrid. The flight from Lisbon to Madrid is a puddle jumper that’s just $40 if you time it right.

I booked the hotel I ended up staying at because all the reviews raved a bout the amazing view from their “Sky Bar” so I started by heading up there and checking it out. It did not disappoint.

photo (2)I mapped out a path that took me through some highlights but immediately noticed something odd. I’ve been relying on Google maps pretty heavily and have become pretty familiar with it’s usual distance/time calculations but these were all wrong. What should have been 10 minutes away was showing up as half an hours walk. Once I hit the road, it became pretty obvious… Lisbon has some very highly varying elevation, enough that you might find yourself walking at 45 degree angles much of the time. I just hit the road walking, as I’m known to do and found myself “pausing” at scenic spots more often than usual out of sheer exhaustion. Keep that in mind and pack some good hiking sneakers if you head here.

I headed towards Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. Like I said, the hills caught me by surprise, I knew I was headed towards a lookout point but the city I was walking through gave no evidence of such a spot to perch on. For every block that I walked uphill I’d walk two downhill, or so I thought. I finally round a corner and go up one last hill thinking “great this will be the vantage point of 3 whole stories…” I was wrong:

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Off to the left you can see Castelo de Sao Jorge:

IMG_6947_tonemappedThis was my goal for the day, get to that spot.

On the way I added a shot to my collection “whiskeys in pleasant situations”

IMG_6951_tonemapped  Then I regrouped and got back on the road for the castle. To my surprise I didn’t encounter many tourists other than at the vantage points. At the Miradouro there were just 2 people, other than myself, and here there was just a scattering of 6-10 other people, half of which were locals and quite pleasant. I marched on for another hour or so then found the service entrance to the mountain. There was a gaggle of tourists there asking the guard how to get to the actual entrance and he was taking his damn time conveying the information. I tried to listen from a distance but when the guard politely asked to see one of their maps then took, literally, 4 minutes folding it into a fashion he enjoyed the aesthetics of before even beginning his instructions, I headed out on my own. How tough could it be? It’s a mountain, go right until you find an entrance. Which is what I did. I walked through a very quiet neighborhood then I found this place:

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I was awestruck and had a walk around these ruins for a bit. Lisbon is huge on street art, but I’ll get back to that later.

Two more rights and I was bombarded with busses and fanny packs. ‘I heart Lisbon’ shirts and the tackiest of neon colors. I had found the tourists.

Why the hell didn’t that guard just point down the road and say “stay right until you run into a bunch of people that look like you”?

Whatever, either way, I got to the castle and it was stunning. Completely open to exploration and perched high on a hill above the river Tagus.  the toughest part about getting any of these shots was making it look like I was the only one there. The place was teeming with people, every single tower had at least 10 lurkers atop it.

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The next day I was on a mission to find some of the better art scattered around the city. Lisbon has embraced some of their more talented artists and has designated some parts of town as OK for spraying, the results are pretty impressive:

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IMG_6990_tonemappedI love when cities accept this as a form of art and let the artists get as creative as they like. The mix of some centuries old architecture and  Molotov paint really struck me. Many of the effects achieved are impressive.

I continued my trek across the city snapping when I happened upon something I like. The usual, fountains and such:

IMG_6976_tonemappedThen I found el Parque Eduardo VII. From the base you could tell it was massive but I couldn’t grasp it’s vastness until I hiked up the hill to it’s zenith. Once I got there I was not disappointed as it resulted in my two favorite shots from Lisbon. 

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Now I’m back in Madrid and my friend Meg sent me a link to this picture and a remark about how Madrid was calling her name:

SpaceInvadersMadrid Since I hadn’t seen this installation myself I did a little hunting and before too long managed to find it. The installation is not doing much during the day but I managed to snap this picture to send back to Meg:

photo (3) When I lowered my camera I was asked why I was taking the picture. When I answered, the dude told me that he was a student here at Media Prado and was on the team responsible for putting projects up on the screen. We talked a bit but he and his friends had to get to class so I’m meeting them later at a bar for a few and to pick their brains about these awesome programming projects they’re working on Thanks Meg!

Well, I think that’s plenty for today, I need a drink.



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