Lisbon – Castles, Food, and Training

IMG_1984Yesterday I spent my day up at the Castelo de S. Jorge. It was breathtaking, and not just because of the long climb up the hill and through the Alfama neighborhood (I took the roundabout route).

In the midst of my wanderings, I came across a gorgeous cathedral and just had to pop in. I sat down for a few minutes then lit a candle before continuing on with my uphill hike.

LisbonWhen I eventually made my way up to the top  of the hill and entered the castle grounds, the view just made me have to stop and stare for quite a while.

I was planning to take the tour but I completely misread the sign. It said the English tour was at 13 which I somehow translated in my brain to 1:30 so I showed up 30 minutes too late. Yea I know, I’m a dunce.

I stopped for a snack at the café before crossing the bridge into the castle itself. This was great fun as I got to climb up and down these steep staircases, many without railings, which made the adrenaline junkie in me very content.

One of my favorite things to do is eat! So you can bet I have been making the rounds! Here are a few highlights!
IMG_1248Pork at O Pote! I had been thinking about this particular meal since my previous trip to Lisbon two years ago! I was a very happy foodie!

The potatoes were a bit different than I remembered, but it was still amazing! Good simple comfort food!


Seafood RiceSeafood Rice at Casa de India! I was able to identify shrimp, mussels, crab, octopus, barnacles, and even a couple of whole prawns! I realized after I ate this that maybe I should have tested myself for a shellfish allergy before this trip but I ended up being just fine!

Just so you know, if you are in a more traditional Portuguese dining facility, you will need to flag down your waiter for the bill. Just something to be aware of if you are used to being hovered over! The service is excellent, you are just left to enjoy your meal in peace until you have a request to make. I rather like it that way!

GelatoI stopped at a yummy looking gelato shop named Amorino and discovered that they will sculpt your gelato into the shape of a flower! You just choose your size and you can choose as many favors as you want. I saw that they had my favorite Dutch spice cookie as a flavor so I took a base of that, plus caramel, and finished it off with chocolate.

I may have to go back tomorrow…

Pastéis de nataOf course I went back to Manteigaria for more Pastéis de nata! I found that they will actually sell packages of them to go, so I may purchase some tomorrow evening and see if they last the trip home!

I also imbibed in numerous sandwiches and other bits of randomness, but I promised just the highlights!


Jiu Jitsu
Today I took a bus ride out toward Belém in order to train at the Royce Gracie Academy. The instructor there is Hélio Perdigão and I highly recommend this school to any Jiu Jitsu practitioner visiting Lisbon! I got some fun rolls in and there are good variety of sizes and experience levels levels present.

In Conclusion
There are so many things to talk about in regards to this trip. The street performers, the architecture, the culture, the fashion, etc. While I am here and not wanting to stay holed up writing and editing, I am just giving general highlights. Once I get home I will start going into more details.

Tomorrow is my last full day here in Lisbon. I have a plan. It shall hopefully prove to be most excellent!

Lisbon – Sweets and Sunsets

I meant to do an update on my adventure yesterday at the zoo, but I became distracted by sleep and crashed out before I could put two words together! So here is a two in one update!

The Zoo

Lisbon ZooIt was a bit different than the Zoo where I grew up! One thing I noticed was how much more fun it is when people don’t assume that you are going to do something stupid like hop the guardrail and go try to climb on the buffalo.

I spent probably 3 hours at the zoo, finishing up by watching the dolphin and sea lion show. One thing you must do is ride on the lift that will give you the grand tour of the place from the air. You get to go directly over the animal pens (including the Lions!) and the view you get of the city is just awesome.

MeerkatI had the meerkat group in a minor uproar as I discovered I can imitate their peeping communication noise well enough that they started trying to find me. Too cute!

I was tickled pink to find that they have a pair of White Tigers! I wasn’t able to get a good picture of them however as they were snoozing bellies to the sun behind a chain link fence. Chain link is not friendly to photographs!

One thing I will say is that I think half the zoo was shut down for the winter. I wish I could see it when it’s fully up and running!


Pastéis de Nata
Pastéis de nataPlease note: if you are ever wandering aimlessly through Lisbon and you see a small shop with a line out down the sidewalk. Join it. Even if you can’t see what people are waiting for, it will most definitely be worth it!

This line happened to be for Manteigaria, a shop that apparently does nothing but create pastéis de nata. I ordered two and an espresso and slid over to the standing counter to enjoy.

Pastéis de nata and espressoI took a cue from one of the little Portuguese grannies and decided to try one with cinnamon on it. I think my life changed a little when I bit into it. I kinda gasped and inhaled a bit of the cinnamon and was coughing randomly for the next hour.

The sweet gooey/crispy awesomeness was perfect paired with the European style espresso. I may accidentally wander in that direction again tomorrow.


The Walk
My favorite thing to do when I’m visiting a city is to just pick a direction and just head that way exploring whatever catches my eye (or more often nose!) along the way. This time I made my way through the Chiado area stopping to take pictures with my big old pink cased iPad (anyone want to get me a big girl camera?) and just enjoying myself. Here is a collection of a few of my favorite photos from that walk!








Lisbon – The Underground

Brief summary of my experience at the Europeans:
I managed to lose my first round. I was up on the scoreboard and still do not understand how my opponent received pass and mount points when I had my xguard hook in deep enough to still lift her leg. Nothing I can do about it now though but move on to the next thing! The Atlanta Open is next Saturday!

After moping around in my hotel room, I decided to quit being a baby and get out into the city! I am staying in the Chiado area and wandered into a pastry shop for some goodies that were awesome enough to chase away the gloomies for a while!


After this, I took the subway to meet up with a fellow Raijin Army member, Will. He doesn’t like being in photos so I shall refrain from putting up a photo and will instead share a picture of the meal I had during our hang out time at O Pote! I’m a very simple person. All it takes to keep me happy is good food and good company! I’m kind of like a hobbit in that regards!

The Underground:
During my last trip two years ago, I took a cab from the airport to my hotel and missed out on the subway stations of the vermelha (red) line. I decided I shall have to pick a day to just ride the subway and stop at each station in order to take pictures. Each station is designed and decorated completely differently from the others! Here are some photos I took of the Olaias stop! The colors just are breathtaking!




What’s Next?
I think I shall go to the zoo tomorrow! It’s on a subway line I haven’t visited yet so I think I shall ride there, and then walk back afterwards. It’s only 5k and will allow me to enjoy the sights above ground some – and I will likely stop at some random food place as well!
Sunday I want to visit the Aquarium, and then do some training next week. I am here until the 29th and plan to enjoy every minute of it!

The Night Before

I am currently sitting in my hotel room in Lisbon. I had a brief nap but woke up and am finding it difficult to go back to sleep. All those pre-competition thoughts and feelings are churning through my brain and body and, for the moment, I am having a difficult time relaxing.

Actually the main problem is that I left my heater running and now it’s just too bloody hot to get comfortable! So while I wait on the room to cool down, I thought I would post an update!


So yea, I definitely feel my adrenaline is up higher than my normal “just above clinically dead” levels. I went to the venue and hung out for a few hours, watched my old white belt division, and checked my weight on the test scale. My weight was about .5 kg over which is no big deal at all and I’m already down to a comfortable number.

So I’m just sitting here sorting out my brain. I’m not nervous really; just more on edge and ready to go.

I’ve worked hard for this. Over Christmas while everyone else was out, I was walking to the gym in the freezing temperatures and doing circuits and solo drills all day – yes, even on Christmas!

I will be having my three year Jiu Jitsu training anniversary on the last day of this tournament. During those three years, I have completely structured my life around streamlining my training and competition schedule.

I quit a well paying job in order to go into business on my own, so that I would have the schedule flexibility to travel to compete. I live very minimally so that the majority of my income can go into my training. I haven’t had a car in almost two years now because I decided I could just bike and walk wherever I need to go.

The point is, I have come to realize that for me Jiu Jitsu is no longer a hobby. This is my lifestyle. Is it extreme? Yes. Do my parents worry? Of course!

Why do I do this? It started out just as a way to challenge myself and push my limits. It remains as such, and even more! I have gained so much through the process of the drive, that I want to inspire others to try it for themselves! The only way I know to do that is to keep pushing. The more I push, the more I can show to others the lessons I have learned these past three years of my life!

I’m definitely not saying that everyone has to take it to the extreme in order to benefit! In fact, my life was changed before I started the real push! I just want to see people try!

The room has cooled off a bit, so I close with this: these photos are both of myself.