Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Renovation project - Things to see and do in Lisbon, Portugal

Renovation project - Things to see and do in Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is an amazing city, there is so much to do and so many places to visit, I am not going to go into much detail as the pictures say more than a thousand words.

The one thing I would recommend though is to go on the trams, we did not work them out and just jumped on one we saw, you can pay on the tram or get a day pass (the day pass is highly recommended as this allows you to travel all day and costs approx the same as two rides when you pay on the tram).

We travelled to the end of the line and then back again, the tram ride is fascinating as at times you can touch the buildings you are passing it gets so close.




 

In the main square by the coast there is the world’s sexiest toilet, it costs a euro to go in and we thought it was going to be some sort of museum or attraction, it isn’t, it is just a public toilet but they do have the best selection of toilet rolls ever!


















Food wise there is a massive selection and we actually went to a Chinese buffet for dinner, this is not the English version of a Chinese buffet and the food was magnificent, it had the largest selection of sushi I have ever seen and I was in my element, the meal and drinks cost less than 20 euro’s for the both of us, my first plate contained more than that in sushi!

It is very easy to get lost in Lisbon and we found out later that a great tip is, if you are lost, get on the subway and go back to the main station (we wish we had found this out a few hours before we were told!)

We also visited Sintra, this is a definite must see for any visit to Lisbon it is approx 15 miles outside the city but has so many attractions, we went to Quinta da Regaleira all I can compare it too, is Alice in Wonderland, we kept expecting to see the white rabbit appear at any time.

Quinta da Ragaleira is a small palace with so many tunnels and secret gardens and attractions it is hard to describe but no visit to Lisbon is complete without it!



 














We also visited Cascais on the way back to the hotel, this is a lovely coastal town with a very cosmopolitan feel, there were bars and restaurants from so many countries with menus in many languages.











No trip to Portugal is complete without a visit to the beach, we found one which was beautiful, but beware there is a strong Atlantic breeze and no matter how hot it is without a windbreak it can definitely feel a bit chilly!



Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Renovation Project - Optimus Alive 2013, Lisbon, Portugal

Renovation Project - Optimus Alive 2013, Lisbon, Portugal

Well this is it; we are off to the main event of our trip, Optimus Alive 2013, Lisbon portugal. We have been to festivals in Europe for the past 4 years, but his is our first visit to Optimus Alive and we are not camping!!!! We have a luxury hotel for six days.

Hotel Real Oeiras is just fantastic and the staff could not be any more helpful if they tried, the room is just what we need and even has a balcony overlooking the pool. Now this is what we call festivalling in style!!!!


We try the train system from where we are staying, as we are in one of the suburbs, we ask the ticket staff if they speak any English and they reply a little bit, we think this is going to be difficult, until we realise that her idea of a little bit is an understatement, I dread to think what her idea of a lot is! She speaks excellent English and we decide to book a 10 trip ticket this will give us enough tickets to get to the festival everyday and to do some sightseeing (we did realise later in the week that it is more cost effective to buy an unlimited ticket so that you can go further afield).

We are 3 stops from the festival site and decide to go and have a look, I am already feeling so excited, we stop for a drink in a little park near the festival site and get chatting to a waiter who is also going. Apparently we have to queue for our wristband and exchange our tickets on the way in, the first band starts at 5 pm and the ticket offices open at 4 pm, this sounds like it is going to be a disaster.

It is not a disaster and the queues move so smoothly there is hardly any waiting and the main gates that you pass through have a stage high up in them, so there is a DJ playing before you even get into the festival.




The festival site is set out really well with 3 stages and plenty of food courts, we have to recommend the Joshua Shoarma, these kebabs were the best we have had, and they have 19 restaurants across Portugal (if you go, try to find one, you will not be disappointed!). we also have to try one of the Churro’s these are the most disgustingly, sickly food you will ever try, it is like a stick donut filled with melted chocolate, I dare you to eat one without making a mess!


Food aside the festival was ace, every night they gave away different merchandise, t-shirts, scarves, hats and goodness knows what else. I have also decided what I want to be when I grow up, a T shirt shooter!!! One stall would fire t-shirts in the air from a large air gun; this has got to be the best job ever!!!! We also manage to get one each, John from walking along and just reaching up and me from standing out of the way and the gun miss firing straight into my hands!!!

The food and drink were great value, but a big tip is to get what you what when a band is on as there is no queue, and you can still here the band.

For regular festival goers, this is probably one of the most important factors of a festival, the toilets, they were clean and there were enough (there was also toilet roll!!!!!!!!) unless you have been to a big festival you will not understand why this is so important, but believe me it is.

The only downside to the festival was that some bands were on the small stage and they really needed to be on the big stage, one such band was of monsters and men, love them or loathe them (and I love them) were on the small stage and you could not get near it.

The line up was really good and Depeche Mode were absolutely mind-blowing, we managed to dance like idiots all night long.



Leaving the festival was easy, and there were plenty of trains going to all the stops along the line. Once at our stop we just grabbed a taxi to the hotel, during the day this was a nice walk but knackered after a night, the taxi is the best idea.

Each night we met up with the nice Geordies at the taxi stop, though the first night they didn’t realise there was actually a taxi rank until we pointed it out, we managed to do a good deed. But the next night they got there before us, last good deed we do as we had to wait a whole extra minute for the next taxi!


A few mornings we end up having coffee after breakfast with the nice Geordies, so sorry I haven’t got your names but was great to meet you and hope you got home safely, and yes I have added you in the blog as promised, just sorry I have to call you the nice Geordies rather than your actually names, but if you read this you can let me know your names and I will change it, and the offer still stands to come over to France for a visit.


Monday, 29 July 2013

Renovation Project - Evora and the chapel of bones!

Renovation Project - Evora and the chapel of bones!

The journey continues to Evora, we have only booked one night here and it is at an Ibis hotel, we find out there are 2 Ibis hotels and luckily we pick the right one on the sat nav.

We find this out by John pulling up and me asking at reception in what can only be described as a mixture of French, Spanish and English, visiting a few countries introduces you to a whole new language where at least one in every 4 words is almost correct!

The receptionist is fantastic and speaks excellent English, this is something we find in Portugal over and over again, most people have a really good grasp of English, it really does make us feel more than a little bit ignorant!

We have come to Evora to visit the chapel of bones and to see the well with all the steps to the bottom, we have no idea what else to expect and the receptionist at the hotel gives us a map with all of the main attractions, which are in a small area.

We expect the chapel of bones to be really eerie and creepy but it isn’t, it is so peaceful, it really is a strange experience though, as every wall is covered in bones and skulls, these are apparently from all of the townsfolk from a particular era.

We spend some time wandering around and reading the poems around the room, there is a magnificent altar and the whole experience leaves you feeling calm, it is the total opposite of what you would expect.

Evora portugal

Evora portugal

Evora portugal

Evora portugal

Evora portugal

Evora portugal

Evora portugal

Evora portugal

The town itself is surrounded by the old walls and it is almost like a living museum piece, we visit the old roman ruins (which date back to the first century).

Evora portugal

Evora portugal

Evora portugal

We walk around the town seeing the old walls, the cobbled streets; the church’s and the cathedral, everywhere you look you see some sort of historical building or monument. The place is truly unspoilt and steeped in so much history from so many different centuries.

We go to the main square for some dinner and the food is amazing I have dry salt cod stew, there is enough for both me and John, the portions are certainly not on the dainty side!

The staff are extremely friendly and we get talking about the festival we are going to tomorrow in Lisbon and the waitress explains that there is a bar that will have live music on later tonight. We head over to the Roman ruins, to watch the sunset before going to find the bar.

Evora portugal

When we arrive at the bar there is a doorman on duty and he gives us a credit card before we enter, we have no idea what this is for, we order our drinks and the bar man takes down the number of the card. I have a gin fizz, I have never had a gin fizz like this, I am given the option of ginger or coriander!!! I choose coriander and it is soooo nice, it is one of the most refreshing drinks I have ever had and if it hadn’t had a hell of a lot of gin in it, I may have drank it all night!

Evora portugal

We do notice that a lot of people talk to the door man and then change their mind about coming in, a little bit of panic sets in and we begin to think maybe we should’ve asked what the cards were for (have we entered the twilight zone? is it a swingers bar?) we ask what time the band is going to start and we’re told not till midnight, it is only 10.30pm so we decide not to bother waiting as we have a long day tomorrow, we go to pay for the drinks and the bill is almost Euro’s 20 for 2 drinks!!!! Now we know what the card is for! You have the card to pay for the entertainment, we explain that we are not staying for the entertainment and after a short discussion we are just charged for our drinks. So big piece of advice you if don’t understand something ask about it!!!!!!!

It is now dark and we realise we have absolutely no idea which way our hotel is; we have the little map and still can’t find our way! We do however see a police officer who kindly points us in the right direction.

We never did find the well with all of the steps, but you can’t see everything in a day (we find out later in the week that we would’ve never found the well as it is in Sintra and not Evora!).