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Laundry Day, Finally – Portugal

Laundry Day, Finally
Iberian Peninsula

August 29
I woke up this morning after getting a little sleep on the overnight train from Marrakesh. Some old, one-eyed woman kept yelling at me in Arabic but she finally went to sleep. I arrived in Tangier and then got my boat to Algercias before heading to Seville. Getting a train was difficult, so it’s the first time I didn’t use my Eurail pass.

Flamenco performances are a passionate combination of clapping, singing and dancing
Flamenco performances are a passionate combination of clapping, singing and dancing
I settled into the old Jewish quarter, which has a lot of narrow streets to get lost in. I didn’t look around much today. I did go to a Flamenco performance though. It’s a combination of clapping, singing and dancing. The men usually clap and sing while both men and women dance. The theater was small and intimate so I got to read their facial expressions. I liked the woman who looked mad when she was dancing but I think she was just concentrating.

August 30
I got a better look around Seville today. It’s an attractive place to be in. It’s part Christian and part Muslim in this area called Moorish Spain. I started at the Cathedral, which I believe is the biggest in Europe. It’s also quite elaborate and includes the tomb of Christopher Columbus. The Alcazar is nearby and is more of the Muslim architecture.

I wondered around for a while and explored some of the nooks and crannies of the city. I looked at the university as well as the Gold Tower. One thing I thought was very attractive was the Plaza de Espana. There are a series of monuments located in a semi-circle, most with blue and yellow colored tiles. Every ten feet or so there is a picture relating to a specific city that tells its history. There’s also a series of bridges in the plaza and it just looks different from other plazas.

August 31
I moved to Lisbon, Portugal today again by bus because of limited train service. I really like trains more because you can spread out and just like the feeling of being on a train. However, on the bus a very nice, I’d say 40-something woman was talking to me. The bus stopped a couple of times for us to stretch our legs and she gave me some sandwiches from her backpack. I must look shabby because it looked like she felt sorry for me. She was going up north to pray, there’s a holy city up there – can’t remember the name.

I arrived at sundown and by the time I got to my hostel and started walking around it was dark. The city is dark. There are not many streetlights so the actual city is very dark. I asked the women at the hotel where I can go to watch a good Fado. She said I should go to bar, that the Fado is for old people. I told her I wanted to go anyway so she suggested a place. Lisbon is also very hilly which made a very short walk seem long.

The sculptures on the Belem Tower head off to sea
The sculptures on the Belem Tower head off to sea
I saw a Fado show. Fado is a series of deep, sad, dark songs, which are performed while the audience is eating. The woman at the hostel is right – it’s more for old people but I enjoyed it and the dark songs are a good match for the dark city of Lisbon.

September 1
I went to the most touristy part of Lisbon today which is Belem to the west of the city center. The Jeronimos Monastery is spectacular but much of it was off limits I think because of a wedding. The Belem Tower is close to the monastery and I liked it because it is built into the ocean and thus the men in the sculpture are heading into the water.

I went to another part of Lisbon, which could be called the Exposition part of the city. It is where they had the Expo 98 project and there is a lot to do here. They have a large shopping mall and parks with different types of waterfalls and water activities. They also had a huge Oceanarium. I liked the theme as they had the four corners of the world and all the fish that would be present in the specific corners. Then they had the center which showed all the fish the earth has in common.

The final area that I visited was the area around San Jorge Castle. I walked part of the way but it was too steep to go all the way up. It’s a tram/bus combination to get up there. The bus ride is good because the streets are so narrow that if you stick your hands out the bus window you can touch the houses. I got up to the castle near closing so it was an abbreviated version but there were several sculptures inside. The sunset was nice too because this is an elevated area and thus has a good overlook of the city and the ocean. Nighttime produced a very bright full moon so I stayed up by the castle for a long time.

September 2
I took a side trip to Sintra today. They have several interesting sights here. I climbed up to the Mouros Castle, which was a good walk through a forested area. At the castle is an overview of the city and other nearby buildings. I continued on to the Pena Palace, which is unique because of the colors and design. Then on to the National Sintra Palace which is also unique because of the two chimney-shaped objects coming out of the palace.

September 3

A unique feature of the National Sintra Palace is the twin chimneys
A unique feature of the National Sintra Palace is the twin chimneys
Today was a long, hellish travel day. Last night I traveled from Lisbon to Madrid. During the day it was Madrid to Barcelona and now I’m getting on a train to Nice, France. Also, I lost my crucifix that my dad gave me. I still have the necklace but the crucifix unhooked itself. I could use that in Italy next week. I hope this doesn’t mean my luck is running out.

September 4
A very busy day in the French Riviera. Arriving in Nice, I went to look for a hostel I found in my travel book. I rang the bell for the hostel and a woman with no teeth met me and took me up. It’s not the hostel from the book, she runs down and gets people to go to hers thinking it is. It’s good enough.

I then went to the laundry mat and did my laundry for the first time on the trip, over two months. I just had my coat on and was able to wash everything.

Then I fetched a train to Cannes to see where they have the International Film Festival and looked at all the yachts. Back to Nice for a quick walk on the beach before heading to Monaco. I looked at some more yachts and the castle area. I did not have enough money or nice enough clothes for the casinos. I also went to the church were Grace Kelly is buried and saw her very simple final resting-place.

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