Portugal: Lisbon


Christmas day sunrise
Our family excitedly packed up on Christmas Eve and headed to the train station. We were going to Portugal! What an adventure. We would pretend to be Santa, traveling over night to bring Christmas cheer! We took the train to Málaga, where we walked to the nearby bus station. Our bus to Portugal was scheduled to leave at 9:35 pm. We waited in anticipation.

A bus rolled up at 9:30…but it was not the right one. It leaves. 9:40 comes. 9:50. Finally, at 10:00, our bus arrives. We breathe a sigh of relief and board. We choose a seat near the back, right in front of a long row of seats at the very back. After Justin reads a bedtime story to the girls, we sit back and try to sleep. The girls go right to sleep, but just when I think I may be comfortable enough to drift off, a man comes down the aisle to the long row of seats at the very back. He kicks off his shoes and lays down. Uh-oh, I think. He seems like the snoring type. He was. Even with earplugs, Señor Snores-A-Lot’s music of the night sounds like a bit from a children’s cartoon. I slept little.

Train station in Lisbon

We rolled in at 5:30 am, Portugal time. Wearily getting off, there we are at the bus/train station in Lisbon. Super early. On Christmas day. What now? We couldn’t check into our place until 11:00 am. We spend a slow morning taking a train to the neighborhood we would stay in, playing at playgrounds, and looking for a place to eat. We settled on a café that offered coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and croissants. We got to try a pastéis de nata. 

Pastel de nata. I had them about four times in Portugal; they were delightful custard-filled puff pastry.

Eventually, we walked some more to arrive to our very little basement apartment. The only light came from the door windows, so there is a lightbox built into the wall of the bedroom. The apartment is charming, although there is a faint smell of mold in the kitchen. I love to stay in new places, admire what is good about them, and think how I would do things differently if it were my own place. Do you ever do that?

The charming exterior of our apartment.
After a brief rest, we headed out once again. We walked to the start of the line of the street car system. The line was sooooo long. Justin waited in it while I took the girls to the park across the street. For the last 20-30 minutes, though, we joined him in line. It was good to finally get on and get moving. We enjoyed seeing the sights of Lisbon. Lydia fell asleep partway through. At the end of the line, we got off and walked to a beautiful park. At this point it was close to 4. The day was starting to catch up with me, and I wanted to get home, get dinner, and go to bed early.

The line to wait for a streetcar.
Riding a long awaited street car.
This was right before Lydia fell asleep...and right around the time I wished I was asleep.
We rode a taxi to close to where were staying. Since it was difficult for a car to get right near our place, he dropped us close by and told us to walk through the alleys to arrive to our apartment. Once back, the girls wound down with some videos, Justin called his family, and I started cooking. Until the power went out. The pizza was half cooked, the broccoli was done, and Evelyn was scared. We tried the breakers, but nothing happened. Justin went to find a signal so he could let the owner know. The girls and I sat on the stairs at the entrance of our apartment, under a streetlight, and ate a sad dinner. Then, around the corner, someone set off fireworks. Oh, how scared my kids were! First no power, then loud noises.

Eventually, all was righted and we went to bed relatively content. But wow. I’ve never had a Christmas like this before.

When the power went out on Christmas day. 
Stay tuned for our trip to Óbidos, coming up next. 


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