It´s a lovely thing when its 8pm and its still 30 degrees. I now remember what blue skies look like.
So from my last entry in Lagos, I spent more time on the beach doing nothing… suprise suprise. I could have happily stayed there a lot longer, but alas the price you pay for traveling in europe in the height of summer is that you have to pre book your hostels in advance if you want to guarantee yourself a good bed at a good price. Something I was to find the downside to in Madrid later.
Another part of that problem was that I had to spend half a day on the internet booking all my rooms ahead, so now im booked up for the rest of the month. But despite my best efforts, I wasnt able to find a bed in Lisbon before I flew out in the morning. So when it came down to spending a rediculous ammount of money for one night, or staying in a little town 30min on the train from the city for only €15, the choice was pretty darn obvious to say the least.
However, that turned out to be a very lucky thing to happen, as I arrived to find that Sintra was one of the most beautiful towns Ive been to. And ive been to quite a few in the past year....
It turned out that it used to be the holiday retreat of the royal family. the town was built on the side of a steep hill, rownded with a big fort. There were big valleys running down the hill that were full of lush, jungle like growth. the town was full of beautiful historical buildings. and the best bit of all was that i arrived just as all the day trippers were returning to lisbon, so i had it all to myself. All the little narrow streets, stairways, parks and courtyards were mine to explore.
However, I was soon back in Lisbon and at the airport to head to Madrid.
I thought that security was tough at UK airports, boy was i wrong. I had to show my ticket just to get into the checkin area, then i had 2 security guards guide me through very stringent carry on bag checks, and when my belt set off the metal detector, i was afraid i would be immediatley dragged off for a full body search. luckyily a light frisk sufficed.
Getting on the plane, I discovered that I was flying on MTV airlines, or something like that. The airline (vueling, a spanish low cost carrier) had apparently done some deal with MTV, so my plane was all painted up on the outside, and the MTV logo was everywhere. apparently the have a live DJ on some flights, but sadly not the 945 to Madrid.
I had 3 days in Madrid, which proved to be 2 to many. Dont get me wrong, its a nice city, but theres just nothing of real interest there. I was I had known that earlier. About the only interesting thing I found was a massive park that, which in one section was full of people juggling, practicing circus tricks, playing drums non stop for 3 hours, and heaps of other funky things. I was a great place to lay in the sun for a few hours and relax, taking in the good vibes.
I think that the problem I found with Madrid, is that nearly all major cities are built on a harbour or river, or have a large central square, a ¨heart of the city¨ I dont think madrid had that. all it had was a busy interesction of 10 roads that was full of construction work.
I was catching the overnight train to Barcelona on the sunday night leaving at 10, which just gave me a chance to watch a bull fight. I cant say i really liked it. I didnt realise that they actually fully killed the bull. And the way they drag it out, playing with the bull until it can take no more, while the crowd is cheering on happily, its not really nice to watch. But I did take heaps of photos that i will post when i get a chance. Luckily I timed it well, and as the first bull carcass was cerimoniously draged out of the ring by dressed up ponies, i made my exit to get the train.
Barcelona is where its at. This city feels like it has been built by artists and that all new building have to look ¨funky¨ before they can be built.
Im totally in awe of Gaudi. The man was a master. Despite the fact that he died almost 100 years ago, his buildings still look cutting edge. His masterpiece La Sagrada Familia is simply amazing, despite the fact that it is still a construction site. Surely the spanish are the only people who could start building a church 100 years ago, and still have a estimated completion date of 2020.
Anyway, my time online is up, so i must be off. Will finish this at a later date, including eating snails, drinking in a forrest indoors and absinthe in the oldest bar in barcelona.
Off to rome now.