On our last full day in Lisbon it was raining its butt off. So we only saw a couple things then went inside as we were plum soaked. What we did see was the Beer Museum. It’s 5 euros entry but includes a 2.30 beer so the entry is more like 2.70 entry.
You take your beer upstairs and read about Portugal’s history of beer. It is very dry. Like it reads like a very dull and specific textbook – because of the concerns of imported beer acting as a threat to local manufacturers, the local breweries created a league to promote Portuguese beer.
Actually it was only dry when it was making sense. Here’s an excerpt of one of the signs:
“Would the alchemy of time be ours and could we stop it in the faded away fleeting decads, as that which brought us the Moon with Neil Armstrong’s jump … It was like that. Those who in good time discovered the exceptional grace of life in the metallic bubbling drink knew that it was a waste of time and loyalty to mention other names (than Portuguese beers)”
Huh. So propagandist and flowery yet dry language.
So at least you have a beer to entertain you. If it was a real beer museum – like this is where we think beer is from, it would be interesting. But it’s just specific to Portugal so it means almost nothing to a tourist. You’re there to do touristy crap like drink local beer and eat poorly made cod cakes. So just do it.
Then we went to Carmo Church. This church was totally destroyed in the earthquake but partially rebuilt. They left it like this because it looks cool.
It was originally built between 1389 and 1423.
After the earthquake they converted it into an archaeological museum. But they don’t make it immediately clear. Half the tourist books call it Carmo Church. So it’s a huge surprise to walk inside and see Peruvian children mummies, and you know, a normal Egyptian mummy.
We walked around a little more but were totally soaked. We had a strange day the next day so we had no choice but to dry it all in the apartment.
The next day we had to check out at 11 am but our train didn’t leave until 9:30 pm. So we checked out at 10:59 and went to the station we would be leaving from. Fortunately this train station was basically connected to a mall (actually the Vasco de Gama mall). We found luggage storage and ditched our bags. We entertained ourselves in the mall for 9 hours by
a) window shopping
b) questioning which bathroom was which
c) Watching Jumanji again. Seriously. We went back to the theater and bought popcorn and just watched it again.
d) Window shopping some more.
Blissfully 9 pm arrived. We stood around waiting for the night train while scammers tried to get money out of us. It was pretty, though. One of the prettiest train stations we had ever been in.
Our night train arrived late (it’s run half by Spain and half by Portugal so it was half late).
We have never done a sleeper car and were really excited to do it. If you don’t book a private room you have to sleep with other people of the same sex so we spent the big bucks to get a private room.
It’s a closet. It has an upper and lower bunk. Above the upper bunk is a place for luggage. Under the lower bunk are seats so you can push the lower one up if you want to sit. There is a sink but the bathroom is out in the hall. We had a heater (barely worked) and a window. They also gave us amenity kits that had tooth paste and brushes, a comb and a water bottle.
We settled in really excited for the new experience but we’ll be honest, it was hell. It reeked of diesel to the point I worried we were probably going to burn alive. It screeched so loudly when it turned that you could hear it through ear plugs. Also we’ve never been on a more bumpy train. Even sitting up you would get shook back and forth. So laying down relaxed trying to sleep meant you would roll up and down and all around. We didn’t sleep at all.
And then… the snow. It started snowing somewhere on the Spanish border. So we stopped a lot for people to manually kick ice off the wheels (no joke). We had to get off at 9 am but at 8:40 it was clear we were nowhere near Madrid. The window was frozen and there was snow outside but there wasn’t more than 3 inches.
We had a train from Madrid to home to catch at 10 so we should’ve had an hour and a half of time between the two trains. But because Spain can’t handle the snow the train was almost 2 hours late into Madrid.
Because of 3 inches of snow. So we missed our connecting train.
Killing Time 2
We got off the train miserable. We hadn’t slept at all and just wanted to go home. We had killed 9 hours in the mall yesterday so hadn’t had access to a private toilet or just privacy in forever. We just wanted to be home, alone, just relaxing. A shower and a bathroom and a nice homecooked meal.
Instead we were stranded in Madrid.
We went to the ticket office. We waited for about 5 minutes. They didn’t speak any English and pretended to not understand Chris’s Spanish so they sent us to a different window. We waited 5 minutes for that window. She did the same thing and said “that’s not my domain, go to the complaints desk.” We went to the complaints desk and waited about 5 minutes again. “If if was late for snow we won’t refund you.”
So while we bought a ticket home but missed it because of their mistake (being late) they were trying to get us to buy another ticket.
We went back to the ticket office and did it again. 5 minutes waiting then the same script. “You’ll have to buy tickets” okay we have to get home so we were prepared to buy.
Somehow she finally understood what we had been telling everyone. We have tickets. Its your fault we missed the connection. Re-book us. Finally FINALLY! She got us tickets and was really nice trying to get us any seat we wanted. Good thing because I was starting to cry at the bullshit of it all the waiting and not sleeping.
“Here you go!” She said cheerily printing tickets. Oh good, tickets printed at 10:20, our train left at exactly 17:20. Holy shit we had 7 more hours to kill.
I begged Chris to just sit and stare at a wall for 7 hours. I was exhausted and so done with traveling in that moment. But we decided we’ll never come back to Madrid again (willingly) lets go see a museum. We paid to put our bags in storage again and then took a subway to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. This was a good GOOD museum. We saw art from Picasso, Kandinsky, Popova, O’Keeffe, Pollock, Dali, VanGogh, Renoir, Monet, Rembrandt, Hopper, and Degas.
We ate at the museum’s cafe and just kept museum-ing (as is our way). At 4:30 we went back to the train station. It was completely packed. Many people had arrived late or were delayed from the snow. Someone walking by speaking in English said there were no trains home at all tonight or tomorrow for her. At 5:17 we still didn’t have a platform. So our train hadn’t arrived yet or wouldn’t arrive or had been cancelled. No one knew. It was a mess. At 17:20 when our train was scheduled to leave suddenly a couple hundred people started running towards a platform. We had finally gotten a platform assignment. Turns out the vast majority of people who looked so stranded were waiting for the same train as us. We ran with them in case the train was going to leave without us.
We made it home at 9:30, exactly 24 hours after we boarded the night train in Lisbon. Also, don’t forget the 10 hours we sat around in the mall waiting for the night train.
We had a great trip, and we loved the hell out of Portugal. The people were generally the nicest we’ve probably ever met, and most of them spoke fantastic English. The only bad part of the trip was the part we spent in transit, and that was just because we had to wait so long.