Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day 14 - Madrid - Our Last Day!

After a three hour flight delay heading back to Madrid for our last night and day. We started off the day by going to the Prado. I remember it being much more impressive when we were there in high school. After our morning the museum we went to the Parque Maria Luisa and walked around for awhile before heading back to the hotel to relax before our long day of traveling home.

Monument to Alfonso XII.

Inside the Palacio de Cristal was a crazy art installation.  It was a tower made out of all plastic (mostly white) household products.  If you look closely you can see laundry baskets, trash cans, Tupperware, baby bathtubs and lawn chairs.

We then walked through the beautiful rose garden.

Bye bye Europe! What a great trip! Can't wait to go back!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 13 - Lisbon - Castillo San Jorge and the Se

Our second day in Lisbon was far more relaxed than the first, especially after a really good night's sleep!  We started the morning by taking the Elevador Santa Justa. Aside from being a tourist attraction it is used to connect the city center with the area above the city on the cliffs that overlook the city.

From the top you could see down to the city center below.

And the Castillo San Jorge which we visited later in the day.

And the river or the ocean or whatever technical body of water that is considered.

From there we went up to the Castillo San Jorge. It looked really neat from the outside but the inside was somewhat of a disappointment but the views were good.

Just down the hill from the Castillo was the Se, one of the main churches in Lisbon.  The Se was founded in 1150.

From the pictures you can see that Lisbon had very large elevation changes in a very short period of time.  They use funiculars to get up those hills quickly.  We took both the Elevador de Bica and the Elevador de Gloria during the day.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 12 - Lisbon - Torre del Belem

From the Monastery we went to the Padrao Dos Descobrimentos, which is a monument dedicated to Portuguese who took park of the Age of Discovery or the Age of Exploration. 

The monument is very near the Torre del Belum.  The tower was built in the 1500's and was used at first as a fortress and then as a political prison.

Excuse the odd picture of me, it was incredibly windy out there!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 12 - Lisbon - Jardims and the Mosteiro

On one of our bus tours, we went out to Belem, an area just west of Lisbon. After a late lunch we set out to explore with our first stop being at the Jardim do Ultramar. These gardens were supposed to be beautiful but between the buildings that were supposed to have exhibits being completely empty and the park preparing for a festival, it was quite a disappointment. We did see a few peacocks and a few swans!

From there we went to the Mosteiro Dos Jeronimos.  The Monastery is one of Lisbon's most famous landmarks that dates back to 1550 and survived the earthquake that leveled most of the city. 

The cloister inside the monastery. 

The Church of Santa Maria also inside the Monastery.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 12 - Lisbon - City Tours

From Seville we looked into travel options as I mentioned awhile ago and an overnight bus seems like the cheapest and most efficient way of travel. Wow were we wrong. We arrived in Lisbon at 6am as opposed to 8:30am like the bus schedule told us so we were both running on less than 3 hours of sleep.  I didn't think we'd be getting to the hotel at 7am so I didn't think it would be a big deal to check in early if there was a room available.  Well there were plenty of rooms available but they said if you checked into before the check in time, they would charge you something like 50 Euros for the use of the room for the day.  I was taken aback by this since we only paid $60 or like 45 Euros plus some points for the room to begin with!

After ample the guy said he could not waive the fee but he said he would let us use the showers in the spa to get cleaned up.  Looking back I think I preferred what happened because that shower with its 6 body jets was one of the nicest showers I've taken! And then we were tempted to spend the morning napping and got on with our sightseeing and if I would have seen a bed, I'm not sure I could have resisted the temptation of climbing into it!

Lisbon reminded me a lot of San Francisco with its hills, being on the bay and it's bridge.  I love this picture of part of the bridge with the seagull flying into it!

The main plaza in Lisbon, the Plaza Comercio.

One thing I had read a lot about Lisbon was the tram cars and the tram tours you could take.  This is the tourist office but is the same as the tram cars they use here.  They cannot be any longer or they would not be able to go around the curves on some of the streets without hitting the walls!

The curvy and hilly streets of Lisbon.

We then hopped on the bus which takes you outside the city center.  Here is Lisbon's bullring.  Portuguese bullfighting greatly differs from Spanish bullfighting because they do not kill the bull at the end.

The Roman aquaducts that remain.

Lisbon has its own "Golden Gate Bridge" called the 25 April Bridge.  It was actually designed by the same architects as the Golden Gate Bridge and built in the same year and is pretty much the same length.

The city had this neat fountain that had these cone shaped fountains every hundred feet or so in this park and every once in awhile one would erupt like a volcano and water would rush into this small canal and make a huge wave going up and down through this park.  Really cool art!

The Vasco de Gama  tower.

This is the bus station we came into about 12 hours earlier.  We didn't realize how neat looking it was while we were there.  The sun had not come up yet and we were both very tired!

A panoramic view we saw multiple times during the same but it was most beautiful as the sun was setting!