The Castelo de São Jorge (Castle of Saint George) sits on the highest peak in Lisbon. It was here that Sarah and I ran off to the morning we arrived. We got a taxi from the port and then held on for dear life. The road to the castle is winding and narrow, and our taxi driver, who probably makes this trek several times a day, didn’t seem to notice us wide-eyed and reaching for our seat belts.
After arriving safely, we almost turned back when we saw the line to get in, but then realized it wasn’t the line for tickets, it was the line to actually enter and it was moving quickly. I’m glad we went in. The views were vast and worth seeing. We strolled around until we felt like we’d seen enough. At this point in our trip there had been a lot of ancient castles on hilltops. In saying that, I don’t mean “if you’ve seen one castle, you seen them all.” They are all quite fascinating and rich in history, but when you are limited to a day trip in each port of call, you have to make the most of your time.
We opted to skip the taxi and walk back down to the city center from the top of the hill, though that wasn’t much safer. The sidewalks were very narrow and with blind corners and cars traveling past at high rates of speeds, we were grabbing arms to keep each other from harm’s way. We ducked into pottery shops along the way, wishing it was easy to get these gorgeous ceramics back to California. We also saw thousands of various sized painted roosters, called The Barcelos Rooster, which is the unofficial symbol of Portugal. I did not know this.
A little side story about that rooster. My mom has had a very tiny one on her kitchen windowsill for years. I’ve never known or asked where it came from. A few weeks before this trip I was visiting and doing dishes. I looked up at the rooster and thought he looked dusty. I grabbed him and gave him a good cleaning and in the process, I peeled off most of the paint. He went from a colorful dusty rooster to a mostly gray rooster with peeling paint. I’m an awful daughter. I said, “oopsy” and stuck him back in the window. You can imagine my surprise when I saw gift shops in Lisbon full of these guys. Of course I bought her a new one and confessed about the old one.
Our ultimate destination was to find food and drink. Isn’t that the best part of traveling abroad? We walked to the city square and discovered an information booth manned by a young local man. We asked, “Where do the locals go? Tell us where you would eat around here?” He said, “I would eat at home!” So we said, “Okay! Can we eat at your home?” He laughed and directed us to a side street where he said we could find a few choices. We were very happy with our food and giant beers.
Tomorrow we dock in Oporto!