Saturday, August 5, 2017

Days 18 & 19: The final days in Lisbon

Day 18
After nearly two weeks in Lisbon, we knew things would be wrapping up so, and since we also knew the last day would be filled with last minute chores, we figures this penultimate day would be a good day for one last big adventure.

Sarah and I both thought out first time renting a car was really successful, so that was what we initially thought would be a good idea, but when we suggested it to the kids, they balked at the idea: "We ride in cars all the time at home, but buses and trains are different." So, Sarah looked into how to head south by bus, while I moped a bit.

In the end, for what we had planned the train or bus didn't make sense, so it was Stella's turn to mope, while I reserved a car.

That morning, we hiked down to the car rental place, picked up our car and (after getting lost for a bit in Lisbon) we were on our way. We crossed the Tagus on the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge, which is supposedly a twin to the Golden Gate Bridge; and drove past the Christ the King statue, which is supposedly inspired by the Christ the Redeemer in Rio and headed due south to the beach resort town of Sesimbra. The idea was to grab lunch there, and then head to the beaches inside Arribida Natural Park.

Parking our car (illegally, apparently, as it scored us a parking ticket), we walked down to the waterfront to find food. While we found a decent lunch spot with beer and a nice view, the view proved a little problematic, because Otto couldn't understand why we wouldn't just hit the giant beach which was spread out before us. But we ended up distracting him with gelato, and headed back to our car.

Stella, also skeptical of why we wouldn't just stay on this perfectly fine beach. (They even made a "sales pitch" as to how a certain part of the beach was less crowded, and therefor perfect for us.)
Our departure from Sesimbra was only slightly delayed by the car in front of us stalling on a steep hill. This rapidly caused a huge back up of traffic, and groups of people began to gather around, presumably all shouting their thoughts and advice on how to get it running or out of the way. I climbed out to do my part shrugging and grinning like an idiot tourist. Eventually, a random guy wandered around the corner, jumped in the car, and managed to start it long enough to creep it out of the way, allowing traffic through. And we were off!

...until we managed to get lost on the fringes of the Natural Park. While following directions from Sarah, I panicked and swerved onto a side street. Rather than double back, we decided to forge ahead and see if we could find a new path... which lead us in a giant, 15-minute-long circle back to where we started.

So, back on track, we followed the actual route this time and wound our way into the park. The park itself was quite beautiful, with Cliffside roads running through scrubland with views of the ocean below. Sarah had learned in Sesimbra that the road that ran along the waterfront was one way, going in the opposite direction, so we had to drive east on a upper road before dropping down to the lower road to reach the beaches. But, this was fine, because it offered us a chance to take in the coastline from a number of viewpoints.

Me posing next to our rented Audi, overlooking the stunning Atlantic coastline.

On the lower road, we quickly saw why the road was one way, because people had basically co-oped the other lane as parking for vast lengths of the road. After having no success finding parking for the first beach, we managed to grab a spot on the road ourselves, and make our way down to the second beach, via a steep, winding dirt path.

"What's a Sesimbra?" The kids have obviously forgotten the previous beach, now that we've arrived.

This beach was quite nice, with enough people to seem busy, but not oppressively so. But, after watching the kids play there for 30 minutes or so, I began to notice people making their way through the shallow waters on the right, around a rocks ledge to some other location. My curiosity piqued, I decided to check it out, first with the kids, but then on my own, after realizing the water got too deep for Otto to easily manage.

Around the corner was a second beach. Smaller, but even less crowded. Making my way back to Sarah and the kids, I told them that it looked like Sarah and Otto could reach the new beach through a network of trails, and that I could take Stella around via the water (since it was fun), and we all quickly met up at the new beach. There we spent the rest of the afternoon playing, and I fought the urge to see what was around the next bend.

Otto overlooking the "new beach." Far fewer people and just as stunning.

Family beach time!

Finally wrapping things up, we made our way back to the car, changed out of our swim gear, and hit the road again. Sarah had read up on a lighthouse not far from Sesimbra that was near an old pilgrimage spot and known for it's windswept desolation. And, since Sarah and I are fans of some good old fashioned desolation, we headed there.

The kids were less excited, that is until we pulled into the parking lot near the lighthouse, and discovered a snack truck selling fresh-made churros. They kids had never had churros before, but they successfully sold the kids on this final sight seeing location. (They were excellent churros, it must be mentioned.)

Someone likes churros!

After our snack, we made our way around the cliffs surrounding the pilgrimage church and housing, being blasted by some of the strongest winds I've ever felt the whole time we walked. Gone was the sunny day, and lapping waves of the beach we'd just left, replaced by an unrelenting gale of wind. In the end, it did deliver on the desolation.

How windy was it? This windy. (Also, note lighthouse in the background.)

So, having filled our day, we made our way back to Lisbon, dropped off the car and headed back to our apartment, exhausted and smelling of sea air.

Day 19
Partially driven by the kids being exhausted from a day on the beach and riding around in a car, and partially driven by our need to get chores done before we headed out, our final day in Lisbon was going to stay a little more lowkey.

While Sarah and planned what we needed to do to get ready to head to the Azores, we let the kids rattle and wrestle around the apartment, playing some unending and ever evolving game of Pokémon Battle School, or something. Then, as Sarah began packing, I did another laundry run to my Most Favorite Laundromat Ever. Then it was lunch, before heading out to run a couple of errands.

Sarah wanted to hit the Post Office and a Pharmacy, but as we were walking we passed a barbershop that looked like Ernest Hemmingway had set-designed a hangout for Ponyboy and his gang from the Outsiders. It looked cool, I've been in desperate need of a haircut, and the barber was just hanging out, so we popped in to see if I could get a cut.

"Sure, but we are a gentleman's only establishment," he replied, giving me a look telling me that the non-Gentlemen in our group would have to leave. So, Sarah and the kids gratuitously stepped outside while I had my most sexist haircut experience ever. Sarah eventually ran to the Post Office to finish that errand, while I got a cut and beard trim. The kneejerk liberal part of me still isn't entirely sure how I felt about the "men's only" rule, but I will admit it was a fun haircut experience, and I couldn't argue with the free beer they gave me while I was groomed.

A photo from outside the barbershop. As Sarah noted: "At least, but not sitting inside, I didn't have to explain to the kids what a 'Playboy' was."

Stepping out with my new pompadour, I met up with Sarah and the kids and then tracked down a Pharmacy, before heading to the gelato place near our apartment for one last celebratory cone for everyone.

To keep things easy, we let the kids pick dinner, and they chose "the place with pasta," AKA La Petit Café. So, we went back there for our final dinner in Lisbon. Then home, to bed and fearing the 3:30 wake up alarm for our trip to the Azores.

One last sunset over the Alfama. Goodbye Lisbon, you will be missed.

1 comment:

Susan Hill said...

I am so jealous, I say that a lot lately.