Monday, March 7, 2016

Lisbon Oceanário, Park of Nations and Alfama

My day started bright and early with a trip to Oceanário de Lisboa, which is one of Lisbon's star attractions. I purchased my ticket online when I woke up and headed by metro to Oriente station.  From the metro it is a short walk to the aquarium which sits in Lisbon's Park of Nations, where they hosted the 1998 World Exhibition. The Oceanário opens at 10 and I arrived around 10:30, heading past the small line of people waiting to purchase tickets. Inside I went and headed for the permanent exhibit which features a large tank in the middle with sharks, rays, barracudas and about a hundred other type of fish.

I mostly learned that I am not very skilled at photographing fish but I tried in vain. I liked how the Oceanário was set up in different oceans and you walked through each one learning about the type of sea life all the while circling the much larger tank in the middle and getting different views of it. I really enjoyed this ray swimming about.

Entering the North Atlantic section, I saw some puffins and other birds.

Crossing into the Antarctic with its cute penguins. Apparently most of them are from the San Francisco Zoo.

Now for the best of all the Pacific, featuring two of the cutest otters I have ever seen Eusébio and Amália, named after the footballer and the fado singer. I am not sure which one was posing for me but I happily snapped away before dying of cute overload.

When in doubt, take selfies.

There was a really cool temporary exhibit Forests Underwater by Takashi Amano which featured tropical forests inside of an aquarium. I wasn't able to get a photo that did it justice but it was very interesting. I liked seeing the little tetras in the exhibit. I had a few growing up, may they rest in peace. After leaving the aquarium I headed to the cable car to take me across the park of nations. I have never been in a cable car and it was a little bit scary with how windy it was. I shared my little car with a friendly guy from Brazil.

Ending the ride by the Vasco da Gama Tower, with the Vasco da Gama bridge in the background. I wandered over to the Vasco da Gama shopping mall for lunch. The Portuguese love their explorers and Vasco da Gama was the first European to arrive in India by sail, in 1498 so he's a pretty big deal. Enjoying some pizza and pasta in preparation for Italy before heading back to the metro station which had a cool tile mural featuring different characters. Aquaman? Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck?

After a transfer on the metro I got off at Martim Moniz metro station and headed up this crazy long staircase into Alfama. Circling around the castle but never actually making it there, I wandered the graffiti covered streets and just let myself get lost in the winding maze that is Alfama.

Leaving Alfama behind, I strolled back to my little studio to pack my bags so I'd be ready to hustle to the airport in the morning. It's on to Rome and then to Florence. I've really enjoyed my stay in Lisbon and I will miss this city. I might try to put together a guide combining everything later. I consumed twelve pastel de nata and five gelatos. Not too shabby. I am sure that gelato count will rise quite a bit in Italy, or at least I hope it does. Anyways, adeus Lisbon. I will always have a place in my heart for you. It might be shaped like a pastel de nata.

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