Sunday, July 7, 2013


Sao Bento Railway Station
[28/06/2013] - Lisbon - Week 44: This week was full of farewells and tears as most of us have already started leaving Portugal, finishing our first year in EMDC. This week's highlight was the visit to Oporto (better known by its Portuguese name, Porto). The trip extended from the 25th to the 27th of June.

We reached Porto - Campanha on train by the noon. We got the andante card for 3 days (72 hours), so that we can freely travel around using the buses, metro, and the funicular. We could check in by 2 pm. We reached Trindade, by metro, and started walking to Aliados, and to Sao Bento, along the yellow line of Metro, visiting all the interests on our way. It seemed like all the cultural heritages of Porto are clustered between Aliados and Sao Bento. Having the lunch at Sao Bento, we took the metro to the station Marques, and checked in at Tropical Residences. The evening trip included a visit to Jardim do Morro in the yellow line. Unlike Lisbon, the metro in Porto was sometimes sharing the roads with the traffic, as it was going on the ground at some places. This was often imposing delays in the metro journey, and slow downs, unlike the uninterrupted underground metro of Lisbon. The bright side of this was, we were able enjoy some sceneries on our way, unlike the complete darkness of Lisbon. Unlike Lisbon, and similar to Barcelona and Madrid, the metro was going from left to right, and many lines shared the same platform in many stations, making the journey a bit more complicated for the first timers.

Rio Douro
Rio Douro and Ponte Dom Luis I
The cruise on the Douro river was remarkable for the 50 minutes, for the 10 Euro paid. It also included a free tasting of a chosen port from white, rose, ruby, or tawny, in a port cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. We went towards Taylor's, which is one of the most popular ports. However, it was closed when we reached, as they close by 6 pm, except for the restaurant. We walked to the other side (Porto/Sao Bento side) of the Douro River from the Gaia side (down from Jardim Do Morro), by walking over the lower deck of the Ponte Dom Luis1 bridge. The upper deck holds the metro line, where the lower deck accommodates the pedestrians and the traffic. Though Ribeira looks beautiful by the river from Jardim do Morro, the dinner was not that extra-ordinary. We have had much better in Lisbon for the same price. Since the funicular that connects Batalha top of the hill with the river side Ribeira, had already stopped when we returned, we had to climb ourselves, which was not that easy, considering the vertical path.

Matosinhos Beach
Seagulls in the Matosinhos Beach
The second day started by travelling towards Matosinhos in the blue line. Matosinhos Sul has a beautiful beach. Water was still cold, regardless of the warm summer, preventing us from having a bath or swim. However, we didn't fail to notice that many others were already in the water! After the beach we visited Casa da Musica and Bolhao. We had some drinks at the Majestic Cafe, one of the oldest cafes in Porto. We paid a quick visit to the Dragon Stadium (Estadio do Dragao). We did some window shopping at Boa Vista, which is full of shopping centres. Many of the shops were having good discounts, and from the first look, it seems we could even buy some clothes back home. Realizing the weight limit imposed on us by the flight carriers, I decided not to buy anything but food and drinks to consume at the moment. Since we had explored the yellow line on the first day and the blue line on the second day, we decided to explore the red, orange, violet, and green lines on the third day, which is supposed to be our last day in Lisbon. We noted that orange line has nothing that induces our interest, and violet was just connecting the airport. Compared to green line, red line is longer, and was going towards Povoa de Varzim and Vila do Conde by the river Ave. But unfortunately, a quick check to the website of the Porto metro revealed us that there is a national strike of metro, train, and buses.

The funicular descending from Batalha
The third day had to start with an altered plan due to the strike. Metro was still running only in the city center with blue line and yellow line, with a lesser frequency. Having everything explored in the blue line, we decided to get back to the yellow line, checking out from the hotel before 1 p.m. This time we didn't miss the Funicular dos Guindais. It was interesting to travel up and down and very convenient. We sat by the river for a while, and got back to Sao Bento, visited Se, had lunch, and got back to Vila Nova de Gaia. The sun had already started to burn us. Since the train was not functioning for the day, we had to return using the Rede Expressos from Sao Bento to Sete Rios - Lisbon. Rede Expressos provides cheap tickets to the students. It was just 15 Euros, which was half the price of the train tickets in the second class, which costs 32 Euros. Though I hate strikes, I admired how the unions coordinated their strike in a national scale. We spent the rest of the time at the nearest Elcorte Ingles before returning to Lisbon. If we could compare our first day at Porto with the visit to Obidos, and the second day with Setubal, the third day was just like a visit to São Sebastião

Though we were enjoying the trip, we could not hide our tears, fearing the distance of a thousands of miles in the upcoming days. We have learned much more than Distributed Computing during our ten months of stay in Lisboa.

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