After a better nights sleep and the memories of the lovely day before still in my mind I felt more recharged and ready to travel onward to see my brother.
I showered, had some toast with cheese slices (since they were included in the hostels fee), then signed out and set forth into the city without somewhere to fall back on if I needed too.
Food wise my trip had been lacking so I walked down toward Praca Do Comercio as it was now familiar and surrounded by several streets of food places, to hunt out either a cafe or delicatessen.
There were already tables out in the pedestrianised roads and people sat drinking but no one was really eating much, it was still morning and I wasn't ready for anything heavy anyway. I took some time being indecisive about where to try before forcing my feet into a small busy looking delicatessen, people stood all around the counter drinking their espressos and ordering little pastries. Behind the glass counter were amazing looking snacks, an array of gifts for an empty stomach. Slabs of lightly charred pastry, most clearly sweet but some obviously savoury with hunks of dark tasty looking pork strips hanging from the little puffy delights looked back at me. I don't really eat pork but in Portugal it seemed dumb/hard not too.
I ordered what looked like dough wrapped around a strip of pork. The meat was so lovely and salty the fat having soaked into the bread , basically it was a really nice bacon sandwich that didn't want or need HP sauce. It was pretty perfect.
After this little wholesome 1 euro snack I decided to go to another bakery to get some of the famous little Pastel de nata's, if you know any Portuguese they will know somewhere you must go to get these little custard delights.
The next bakery I chose was huge and the selection overwhelming , I wouldn't mind returning to Lisbon just to try as many of their patries as possible, but that will happen at a later date, I had to focus for at that point it was time of and for the Pastel de nata.
Again at a nicely priced 1 euro each I decided to purchase 2 and ate them without guilt as I wandered down the beautifully tiled streets. They were good, basically nice custard tarts but with a really crispy base. Size wise they felt right at around two small bites worth. The two I had purchased were quite sweet, I wasn't a major fan of them being that sweet but I was going to have better later on, I think the biggest problem with them was the lack of a kick-ass espresso to counteract their sweetness.
After walking around a bit more I decided to catch the tube to the bus station , grab a coach and get going. The bus goes to Evora (the town right by my brothers residence) every hour, the train four times a day with a 5 hour wait (for me) at that time until the next one, I fancied moving on to be honest although there was so much more of the city I could have explored.
I caught the metro to the Jardim zoologico stop and following the signs outside to a ropey looking area , coaches were parked up nearby and the roads were lined with bus stops with no obvious ticket kiosk or actual timetables on display to show which coach I had to grab - I certainly didn't want to hop onto the wrong coach. I circled the place a few times and found myself getting more and more f*cked off with this seemingly daft bus station.
After a few phone calls to my brother who had used the coach before I managed to vent some of my frustrations and realise I was definitely in the wrong place as he mentioned using some escalators en route to the bus station from the metro, my journey so far did not include use of one such magical device.
I had exited the metro station at the wrong side! I corrected this feeling a bit of a berk.
The bus station was actually a little tricky to find but once you do you won't forget it with its large red entrance. I did have to ask directions from a cheerful information-desk clerk after I got a static shock off the metal counter of said desk.
I got my ticket at the bus station having to ask in Portuguese for an English translation from a disgruntled ticket attendant, had a cigarette which I regretted, a common theme when I smoke these days, then waited a brief time before getting on the lovely modern air conditioned coach with only around 8 other people.
The journey was great especially due to the view. We left the city by the mysterious bridge I kept seeing the day before snaking into the distance. I watched as areas I had previously visited appeared effortlessly in an impressive view of the city including the memorable Belem, a place I will return too hopefully with the same person I met there.
Near the end of the bridge I rushed to the left side of the coach as a large statue of Jesus Christ stood in all its glory overlooking the city, I frantically took shots on my iphone through the coach windows as I thought it looked cool. Most of the pictures were naff but I think one of my shots was OK considering I was inside a moving vehicle.
After the impressive statue of Jesus we continued to drive along past around an hours worth of trees, well-spaced clearly-farmed trees. I asked about this later and found out they were most likely growing cork. Oh and of course there were loads of palm trees.
I arrived at Evora coach station, a pleasant place, large, white blocky and just generally relaxed then texted my brother.
We walked from the train station back to his flat to drop off my things, the flat was lovely, nice spacious , marble and tiling everywhere keeping them lovely and cool in the oppressive heat with the only downside that they are f*cking cold in winter espeically as that specific building lacked central heating.
The flat was in what is said to be the poorest neighbourhood in Alentejo. This doesn't mean burnt-out cars or gangs but it did mean slightly ropey roads and pavements. People's houses were all so clean and their gardens immaculate.
We walked into Evora through the city walls, up a slight hill and over to the theatre area where a huge banner of a sad clown advertised their next performance. Buildings were interesting and to be honest I didn't really take everything in so well because there had already been so much to absorb. It was effortlessly beautiful there.
One thing to note in Evora was there attitude to traffic, inside the city cars would stop for you to cross even if there was no crossing, they would not even look vexed at having to do so!
After getting a few postcards sent including the all important birthday card to my Mum we went to one of the local bars with outdoor seating (of course!!) and ordered 2 'cerveja por va vour'. Two relatively small bottles of beer arrived which my brother said was larger than you would normally expect, apparernly the default size comes in small plastic cups, so we had been given the next size up , an 'imperial'. Maybe the waiter figured as Englishmen we would want something larger than the norm.
We sat, chatting, got approached by several beggars who were very unfriendly considering they were asking for money but when I went to give one young lad change the waiter immediately stopped me then chased the guy away aggresively. It turned out the beggars were roma gypsies and the locals are really not fond of them.
My brothers girlfriend joined us after she had finished work and we chatted more over more tasty imperials, 9 in total, paid the huge bill of 9 euros (9!), then walked back to their flat stopping off at a supermarket along the way to stock up on supplies.
Obviously there were going to be some noticeable differences between an english supermarket and a Portuguese one. The first , the group of police stationed at the front entrance looking inward. Past that it was all about the freshness of the produce. I didn't see many processed meals, in fact I think I saw none but crisps were all the same just the flavours were translated to Portugese so if you really wanted pringles you wouldn't struggle.
There was pic n mix style freezers full of large fresh looking chilled prawns, the stuff our trawlers probably sell abroad. The particular shops cheese selection was large but not too varied or colourful looking. Interestingly the buying choice is influenced by the animal combination you prefer such as cow or cow and sheep or sheep and ewe, etc, then you check the cheese by touch as it is not uniform softness, which is rather cool.
We got some wine and I bought a 6 pack of a really nice black lager then we went home to eat some Portuguese food.
They really laid it on nice with a selection of some of the cheese (a soft cow cheese and a harder goat cheese), some sausage sizzling over a dish of burning alcohol, bread , olives and a bowl of salted beans. The beans are really addictive but need a bit of practise. You have to split the skin (there will already been a small noticeable hole) then squeeze the blighter so it pops into your mouth. On my first attempt I squeezed too hard and the bastard shot into my mouth like a bullet. It was funny atleast.
The food had been lovely, the beer decent , we retired to their living room and listened to some music while I occasionaly nipped onto the balcony for a smoke, wincing as I had to use the squeakiest sliding door ever. We sat up chatting having a nice time then all hit the hay for another day in Evora when my brother intended to show me around the area.
That night I slept in a cool room with barely no sounds external to the ones in my head.....telling me to move to Portugal.
Like the somethingdoing blog?
Then check out more of my writing on amazon....go on, you might just like it