Finally hit the southern part of Europe the last week and it’s been gorgeous weather pretty much every day. After hitting Lisbon, I broke out the sandals but it took a few days for the sort spot on my right foot to stop swelling after I broke them in.
Let’s see what daily treks my feet had to endure to break in those sandals:
- April 13: Arrived in Lisbon via an early morning flight out of Paris on TAP Portugal. After checking into Home Lisbon Hostel, grabbed some lunch and then headed to a couple sites. Checked out Belem tower as well as the statue dedicated to Henry the Navigator.
- April 14: After packing up and checking out (the hostel let me leave my bags in storage), I wandered over to the Feira da Ladra (an extensive flea market, also known as “Thieve’s Market”) before climbing up the National Pantheon for a gorgeous view of the city and port (photo above). Picked up my luggage from the hostel and caught the overnight sleeper train to Madrid.
- April 15: Arrived early in the morning to Madrid and found my way to The Hat Madrid hostel. Dropped off my luggage and went exploring which included randomly finding San Miguel Market (where I ended up having breakfast), a stroll through the limited areas of the Royal Palace of Madrid (due to preparation for a royal event), a quick trip to Palacio de Cibeles (of which the view point was closed), as well as making it to the free session of the Reina Sofia that evening.
- April 16: Hit the Prado early in the morning and spent a few hours roaming the halls before finding some lunch at the world’s oldest restaurant (Botin). Wandered through some squares and plazas in the evening and called it an early night as I was catching the first train to Seville.
- April 17: Caught the train to Seville. Visited the Barber of Seville for a haircut and wandered around town a bit before finding a place for lunch before getting on the bus down to Tarifa. Eventually got to Tarifa in the early evening and after checking into the Sulok Tarifa hostel, took the advice of the hostess and tried out a local restaurant. After, took a bit of a stroll to get my bearings so I knew where I was going to catch the ferry the next morning to Morocco.
So in that flurry of 5 days, I stayed in 3 hostels and 1 sleeper train. A mad dash indeed!
Before talking about the places I stayed, with my flight to Lisbon via TAP Portugal, I checked out the small but efficient lounge they had in the terminal. Here is the review copied from my Facebook post along with some shots:
Time for another edition of “Lounging Around”. This time it’s the Salon Icare at Orly Ouest. Star Alliance doesn’t have a large presence here, but flyers on TAP at least have this small lounge to relax in before their flight. To get to it, once you are through security, head immediately left into a small passage to an elevator and stairs down. Either one will take you to a gate area where you’ll see the entrance to the lounge. It’s a comfortable, albeit small, lounge with basic snacks and drinks. A couple mini croissants and a quick coffee and I headed out to board my flight.
My first stay was at the Home Lisbon Hostel. I was duly impressed with the quality of the build of the beds, the friendliness of the staff, and the decent facilities. The best part was dinner that night prepared by “Mama”, one of the owners. For only 10 euros, you can participate in dinner with a bunch of fellow travelers. Dinner includes and appetizer, a main, a dessert, and an open bar of beer or wine. That night “Mama” made a tasty zucchini soup along with an orange pork main. I would highly recommend staying here when in Lisbon as a solo traveler. Also, if interested in breakfast, it’s 3 euros.
Next up is the overnight train from Lisbon to Madrid. I figured why not combine travel and sleep at the same time? This was my first time staying in a sleeper car so I definitely needed to try it out. The train ride was smooth and the staff were friendly. Everything was serviceable if a bit cramped.
Arriving in Madrid, my accommodations changed to The Hat Madrid hostel. It’s a “chic” boutique hostel and I was put into one of their newest rooms. The rooms lack an sound absorption (carpet or wall hangings) so sometimes it tends to be echoey. The bathroom was great, being new, and I found the rooftop patio restaurant and excellent place to socialize. Breakfast is included if you book online.
The final place I stayed at in the week was in the Sulok Tarifa. It’s a great little hostel which doesn’t really have a hang out area but the comfortable beds, serviceable showers, and friendly staff will help you go about your day exploring Tarifa. If you’re into kiteboarding, this is definitely one spot you don’t want to miss. As i was coming in on the bus, I saw dozens of kiteboarding kites in the air. At the mouth of the Mediterranean, Tarifa is a great idyllic beach town.
Challenges faced: Lisbon’s metro is decent enough that I saw the occasional wheelchair so it was accessible to a degree, but Madrid was laughable. They had accessible doors as well as loading areas on the subway platforms, but they only had stairs. When you see a door for wheelchairs and other accessibility issues followed right after by a set of stairs, it makes you wonder what people are thinking.0
I’m a bit behind on posts (this one should probably have gone up 3-4 days ago) but I’m glad I managed to get it done before leaving Morocco. Of course, the next post will be about my adventures during my first sojourn onto the African continent.
And now of course, random pictures!