On the Middle of the End / A Sense of Home

The bus journey I had to book in Spanish. The website didn’t translate to English even when there appeared to be an option. I managed it, nonetheless. When I boarded the bus it did seem that I was perhaps the only English person there, although I don’t know for sure. It was a long, slow journey through hot dry parts of the west of Spain as we edged closer to its Iberian neighbour.

Lisbon is a very attractive city with a run-down chic that it manages to pull off where other cities would fail. It is also incredibly hilly but this adds a feeling of immediacy and a sense that something interesting is around every corner. Lisbon seems to be having a period of being the ‘place to go’ and it isn’t hard to see why. With the colourful aesthetic, warm weather, and relatively cheap prices this is somewhere to see.

Lisbon can feel like it is on the sea, but it is actually a river that offers the scenic view as it flows towards the Atlantic which begins not far away. I went to Estoril along the coast where the beaches are on the sea and the view takes in the ships on the horizon, reminding me of Thessaloniki. Cascais is a popular destination down from Estoril and somewhere I may head to next time if I find myself back in Lisbon.

In between exploring Lisbon and a day trip to Estoril, I had a day trip to the incredibly popular and therefore packed picturesque village of Sintra. Located in the hills it is an exhausting hike towards the Moorish Castle and the Palace of Pena. The latter a vividly colourful Palace arrangement with a surrounding park. The rest of the village lying downhill is small and attractive but is anything but quiet with tourists being bussed in every minute and all stalls and shops selling local goods, or pastiches of local goods.

After the trio of Lisbon, Sintra, and Estoril I headed to my final destination of the tour and country 27; Ireland. Dublin is number 50 on my list of destinations and the least exotic. Indeed it feels slightly odd being in Dublin. The weather is a little chilly and wet, weather typical for autumn in the UK too of course. The buildings look familiar, the plug sockets are three pinned. Cars drive on the left. It feels like home, yet at the same time it isn’t home. Everything is familiar but not familiar enough. The streets look like streets I know, but I don’t.

The hostel is close to the river Liffey and the Ha’penny Bridge, a well known sight that is an attractive structure to head south over and visit the Temple Bar area where a lot of nightlife is located, although during the daytime too the area is still busy. Pretty cobbled streets and lovely cafes are worth seeing any time of day. The Temple Bar itself I visited on a Friday afternoon and despite it being about 3.30 it was packed and with live music being played had a Friday night atmosphere. I went for the obligatory pint of Guinness to have whilst in Ireland.

Having walked around Dublin and seen most of its sights, of which there don’t seem to be too many, I feel I have seen the city and therefore more or less finished my tour. I just have tonight to go. I have very nearly finished.

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