Cruise & Portugal: 6/04 – 6/10

At Sea >>> (Portugal) Lisbon
6/4 – Day 6 at Sea
6/5 –  Day 7 at Sea: Liz’s Bday!
6/6 –  Day 8 at Sea
6/7 – Day 9 at Sea
6/8 – Day 10 at Sea
6/9 – Arrive in Lisbon!
6/10 – Explore the Alfama District

6/04
Day 6 at Sea
+ We had to wake up early today to go to another lifeboat drill. Apparently when cruises go longer than a week, they’re legally required to host multiple lifeboat drills so that the process is fresh in people’s minds. Unfortunately this one took way longer and we were stuck down in the clammy room for almost an hour!
+ After we escaped, we headed back to the room and since we were both tired and not yet over our colds, we went back to sleep!
+ Corey got up a little earlier than Liz and went to lunch, read the lonely planet books, and went to the rock quiz game on the pool deck. Eventually Liz woke up and we went to go get some of the Mexican pizza we had been looking forward to for so long only to find out it was Hawaiian instead. So we just got the regular pizza and ate that.
+ Then, after getting some Pina Coladas from the bar, we sat in the lobby overlooking the atrium and elevators to do some more reading and planning. Before sunset we moved outside to watch the sky turn pink and purple across the entire landscape. As pretty as it was, we’ve yet to have a day that wasn’t obstructed by clouds, but we still have a few sunsets left.
+ Tonight’s show was called Rock Never Dies and we got there early for once and got the coveted balcony seats people pay top dollar for at theater plays. Then we sat there with our nice drinks feeling very fancy while watching the rock concert.
+ Dinner was very good once again and we continued the trend of trying as many items on the menu as we could and subsequently stuffing ourselves. We switched to a different table with our original servers from the very first day. Lindo- from Chichistentango, Guatemala;  and Sandra from Bogota, Colombia are both much more friendly than our assigned server.
+ The cruise entertainment team was hosting a Miss Monarch show after dinner so we (along with seemingly everyone on the ship) went to watch that. They had about 10 contestants at first, 9 young women and 1 older one. The guys that were judging were funny and were swooning in different ways over the women.  After doing some sexy struts around the room and introducing themselves, they narrowed the contestants down to 3- the older woman and 2 younger ones. Then they had to make different noises  and do a sexy dance. Finally, determined by a round of applause they chose the winner. And the overwhelming favorite (thanks to her over the top dancing and funny demeanor) was the old woman! So she was crowned Miss Monarch and paraded around in celebration.
+ When that was over we went out to the jogging track again and read Lonely Planet for a couple of hours in the cool ocean breeze.
+ We also celebrated the greatest day in the history of (wo)mankind: Liz’s Birthday! She turned 20ish years young and we spent the first bunch of hours watching Parks and Recreation together. We ended up staying awake until almost 7 am, after the sun had already come back up! Then we finally went to sleep (although Liz still wasn’t tired!).
6/05
Day 7 at Sea: Liz’s Bday!
+ When we went to lunch, we were expecting the same old same old that we’d had for a bunch of days but then they ended up serving hamburgers! This was the first time the whole cruise they’d had these and we considered it a birthday miracle!
+ Liz got to choose how we’d spend the afternoon and she chose to play cards at a table outside. So we played Spit, Speed, 31, Texas Hold ‘Em, Blackjack, Crazy 8’s, and any other game we could remember/make up. Then after Liz talked to some family members back home, we decided to watch something on the tablet while Liz drank her delicious Cappuccinos. We ended up staying outside until sunset and it was the best sunset we’d seen yet!
+ The dancers and singers had the night off tonight as the show was a Talent Show from passengers on the boat. Most people sang a song, like a national Venezuelan song (which made all 400 million Venezuelans on the ship really happy), but one girl did a dance, one kid performed to a Michael Jackson song, and it ended with these 2 guys (who were obviously professionals) doing an acrobatic show like you’d see at La Nouba. So overall it was pretty entertaining although not as varied as we’d hoped.
+ Another delicious dinner with multiple dishes for every course and fun conversation with our waiters as they showed us how to fold napkins into different funny shapes.
+ At night we went to the Rendezvous Lounge since it was 70’s and 80’s night and we were happy to find the band playing a lot of fun 70’s music! We stayed until it was over and then they announced the party was moving into the Disco Room so we headed there.
+ It was much less crowded and only a handful of people on the dance floor now. We requested 2 songs: Lovely Day by Bill Withers, and Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel and the DJ was nice enough to play both!
The rocking of the boat, the drinks we’d had, and our care-free spirits made for some really fun dancing!
+ Eventually our friends Kyle and Sarah showed up and we hung out and danced/drank with them for a bit, still celebrating Liz’s birthday! Late at night we finally returned to the room.
6/06 
Day 8 at Sea
+ Corey wasn’t sleeping very well so he woke up and decided to finally shave off his beard he’d been growing for a few months. His electric razor was awful though and it took a long long time to get it off. Then he watched the movie “33” and afterwards woke Liz up.
+ Liz wasn’t hungry so Corey went to lunch by himself and then returned and woke Liz up again, this time for real. Then we laid in bed watching the movie McFarland USA on the cruise tv.
+ We did manage to emerge from our room before sunset and headed straight for the pizza bar. Instead of getting the free normal boring cheese slice, we opted to pay $1 for the special pizza. Everyday it changes and today’s had red and yellow peppers and pesto and it was delicious!
+ Now it was time for more reading and some internet time too so we grabbed some lawn chairs on the upper deck and laid back. Even though it was day 11, we still hadn’t gotten tired of the fresh ocean breeze and beautiful sunsets! And today didn’t disappoint as it cast orange and purple rays across the whole sky and turned all the different kinds of clouds a pink/purple mixture.
+ Tonight’s Broadway show was a brand new one for the cast and was a theater type show set to classical music and although a little weird for our tastes, it was entertaining and pretty well done.
+ We didn’t order 2 of everything for dinner tonight, only 2 appetizers. It was yummy as usual and then we moved outside to do some more reading before the entertainment game of the night began. Tonight was titled The Ideal Couple and involved 3 couples being split apart and answering questions about their relationship separately- and then comparing the answers to see if they matched. The questions ranged from mundane to risqué and everyone was laughing at the sensitive info revealed in the answers. Then they played a balloon popping game where they were put in certain “positions” to see how quickly they could pop them. That was pretty funny too but the only frustrating part was 95% of the dialogue was in Spanish with only a few phrases being repeated in English. So many times (often the funniest), we were left guessing at what was said and were frustrated no translation was provided. With so many purely English speaking guests on board, that was disappointing to experience.
+ Deck 14 and the Bar 360 was our next destination and we headed there to do some reading up on Europe for a few hours. Then we retreated to the room and watched a few Kimmy Schmidt and Parks and Recreation episodes.
+ Before we knew it, the sun was coming up so we headed out to the front deck of the ship to watch it rise and just when we thought that surely the sun was hidden behind clouds (the rest of the sky was very bright already), the sun peaked up above the horizon. Mimicking what we had done less than 11 hours earlier, we watched the sun ascend this time over the Atlantic Ocean and reflected on our time on the ship, since we now had exactly 48 hours left to go!
+ Back in the room, we somehow still weren’t tired yet so we watched more Parks and Recreation before finally convincing ourselves we needed to go to sleep to make it in time for lunch the next day.
6/07
Day 9 at Sea
+ We were successful in waking up and stumbling zombie-like to the buffet before it closed. After stuffing ourselves again beyond a normal recommended amount, we found a nice spot overlooking the lobby (Liz’s new favorite fancy hang out area) and settled into the red velvety chairs to do more reading.
+ After about 3 hours (and more cappuccinos and Pina Coladas) we took a break to watch sunset from the jogging track area. Then it was back to reading and planning up until dinner. We skipped the show tonight since it was exclusively in Spanish. It really is odd and bothers Corey a lot that there must be 100+ English speaking/non-fluent in Spanish people on board and yet no greater effort is made to translate many of the shows/games for us.
+ At dinner our waiter Lindo (from Guatemala) knew what to give us right away- Liz a coke and Corey a cheese plate. Then after dessert was over, he made us some more napkin animals. He was a really nice guy and we were gonna be sad to part ways after getting to know him for 2 weeks.
+ In the Fragata Lounge they were having live music so we hung out there and met 2 nice guys from Fort Lauderdale/New Orleans that we talked with for a while. Then we moved into the Disco Room to dance and drink the rest of the night away.
+ We ended up meeting 2 other backpackers from Ukraine who had just traveled to basically all the parts of South America that we hadn’t gotten to. We talked about our travels and then hung out with Kyle and Sarah again for a bit. A couple of songs later, we called it a night and went back to the room.
6/08
Day 10 at Sea
+ Again Corey couldn’t sleep well (partly due to HIM being sick now. Liz had decided to share her cold unfortunately) so he woke up and watched about 8 episodes of Dragon Ball Super while Liz slept.
+ Then we went to lunch and ate some yummy kabobs. It was time to tackle some of the items from our to do list since it was the last full day of the cruise so we went back to the room and Liz sewed up the belt loop on Corey’s pants while he worked on Evernote.
+ We started watching the Lego Movie in Portuguese and decided we wanted one last nap on board so we feel asleep for a couple of hours. Then we got up and headed to the pool to catch some rays. We could definitely feel the difference in temperature between now being so close to Europe as opposed to the Caribbean area. Even laying directly in the sun we had goosebumps from the cold wind blowing on us.
+ We had about $25 in on board credit left to use today and so we bought a $1 coke and a $2 German beer while lounging poolside. Then we headed up to the pizza bar and bought the special Mexican pizza of the day that we had craved for so long! It was worth the wait and although we weren’t that hungry, we devoured it quickly!
+ Back down at the pool, Corey went for a swim in the cold, salty pools while Liz covered herself in towels to stay warm. After a dip in the hot tub, we went back to the room to change for the show and dinner.
+ Another brand new show was premiering tonight, with an ABBA theme. While the costumes were along Liz’s favorites, the show wasn’t that entertaining.
+ At dinner, after our last fancy meal, we said our goodbyes to Lindo and Sandra and the whole dinner crew did a farewell thing. Then we headed to the Rendezvous Lounge because there was supposed to be a farewell party but it turned out to just be dancing so after a few drinks, we headed back to the room to pack up our bags. We did manage to see a few of the new friends we’d made on the cruise and give them our Faraway Floridians contact card.
+ After the process of reorganizing all of our stuff and packing up our bags for the first time in 2 weeks, we settled into our nice big bed in our nice big private room for the last time before European dorm room extravaganza began.
+ Since we weren’t tired, we watched the rest of season 4 of Parks and Recreation and a couple episodes of Ballers. By now we’d actually reached land and were going through a narrow channel. Only a few hours left til we had to leave our room and we still hadn’t fallen asleep!
6/09
Arrive in Lisbon
+ Grumpy, sleepy, and Corey sneezey, we went up and got breakfast for only the 3rd time the entire trip and savoured our last free meal we’d have for a while. It would be back to having to choose where to eat and analyzing all the menu choices and prices incessantly again. Ugh.
+ From where we were docked you could see a cool area of Lisbon with some churches and cool red tile roofed houses on the hills, as well as the famous bridge that looks like the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge. Lisbon is known for having things that resemble 4 different cities and this was one of them.
+ With nothing to do except wait to disembark, we grabbed a coke and coffee and found a comfy area of the ship to relax in. We decided to fill the time by watching more episodes of Ballers and ended up finishing season 1 by the time we were called to disembark.
+ We definitely weren’t tired of being on the cruise ship yet so leaving was surprisingly hard. We had gotten very accustomed to (and thoroughly enjoyed) the cruise lifestyle and lack of stress, the constant free food and drinks, the relaxing in 1 place without constantly moving and switching beds, and just getting to spend uninterrupted alone time with one another. We got so used to it we were kind of dreading heading back into the unfamiliar in a new country that speaks a new language and having to go back to dorm rooms too. But we knew that we’d eventually enjoy the exploring lifestyle of backpackers again just as we’d done in Central/South America, that we only needed to get our feet wet once again and that familiar rush would undoubtedly return.
+ So with reluctance we dragged ourselves off the ship and after making it through the seemingly pointless line to nowhere, we were suddenly standing on the streets of Portugal trying to decide what to do next. After a helpful luggage handler offered assistance we opted to walk to the metro station as the locals would do in lieu of an overpriced taxi. After some confusion and a trip to the ATM to get some Euros, we made it on board our first European metro rail!
+ One train switch and a few stops later, we exited and walked the remaining few blocks to our hostel. After checking in we used the Internet we’d missed for so long to catch up and contact people back home. Before long our lack of sleep was too overwhelming and we both passed out in bed for an absolutely wonderful 3.5 hour nap!
+ We only got up so that we’d have the sleepiness to pass out again at a normal time  tonight, and to take care of this very odd and not recently familiar feeling of hunger in our stomachs! It had literally been 2 weeks since we’d felt this odd sensation and we immediately missed having the ability to go eat at a buffet or order multiple courses at our fancy dinner.
+ But again, travel and exploring is what it’s all about and we had to remind ourselves that this wasn’t some sort of punishment, but that we were blessed with the opportunity to eat at a brand new restaurant in Lisbon and enjoy food from another part of the world!
+ Liz ended up finding a great place online near us and we walked over. It was a brewery of all places so we got some food and a couple of new beers to try while waiting. The food was delicious and after remembering that Spanish is definitely NOT the same as Portuguese, we got through the conversation with our waiter and paid the check (but forgot to tip! Since we’d gotten out of habit in South America and the cruise) and headed back to the hostel.
+ The rest of the night was spent on the Internet again and tackling some of the many items that had accumulated on our to do list. We would need a whole extra day or two just to take care of this never ending list!
6/10
Explore the Alfama District 
+ Slept in really late to make up for the previous night of no sleep.
+ Had a free sandwich at the hostel while doing work online and checking email.
+ Talked to family and friends back home for a little bit before we decided to go out and explore the city.
+ We headed out on our walk towards the river and Alfama district and ran into a wine/beer/cheese/sausage festival that was going on. We wandered around for a bit trying all sorts of yummy sausages and even tried cheeses from 3 different animals: goat, sheep, and cow! We also tried one of the national Portugal beers from one of the many different vendors.
+ While walking by the various old buildings (Lisbon is actually one of the oldest cities on earth!), we decided to stop at about the 7th Turkish restaurant we’d seen to try a “kebab”. (Even though it was more like a gyro than the kebabs that we know) It was cheap, filling, and delicious!
+ On our way into the labyrinth of little streets throughout the Alfama neighborhoods, we grabbed a churro from a roadside stand and it was probably the best one we’d ever had! They definitely put the ones you’d get at a fair in the U.S. to shame! Even better than disney!
+ Today was officially Portugal Day, where they honored Saint Antonio and celebrated with lots of live concerts and parties everywhere. So while wandering through the maze we got to listen to a lot of different types of music and see all of the festive decorations they had up everywhere among the very pretty and historic buildings. Eventually we got another beer and another churro to fit in with the crowd.
+ Before leaving the area, we watched the big main concert that was going on at the square overlooking the river and even saw some fireworks. Then we started heading back to the hostel but on the way stumbled upon a McDonald’s! Still a little hungry we decided to grab some fries and got to see what a European McDonald’s looked like. Besides having McRoyals (which we’d heard about) you could actually order and pay on these big giant screens that showed you all the menu options and prices. Pretty cool!
+ Another 20 minutes later we finished walking and went up 4 stories to our hostel. Then we spent the next few hours being productive online, but again staying up way too late. Still, a good first full day in Portugal seeing some sights and starting to get back in the backpacking groove.
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