Friday, October 29, 2004

Evora, Portugal—Day 272

Oh beautiful Portugal.

Today I headed to Evora, Portugal, which is two hours from Lisbon via bus or train. My attempt to take the train to Evora failed after I missed it by just 3 minutes. Since the next train wasn’t for a good 4 hours or so I decided to seek out a bus and so I went to the tourist office in the main square area to seek help. I was directed back to another metro/bus station and was told to get the 11:45am bus.

Having almost two hours to spare, I headed back to the gigantic mall to find a book to read after finishing my book last night over dinner. I went to the FNAC store and bought a new book to read (“The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen if you are interested—Elizabeth’s suggestion!) and went back to the bus station.

It was 11am when I showed up which gave me plenty of time to buy my ticket and wait for my bus. It finally showed up and I was soon on my way to Evora and for the life of me couldn’t keep my eyes open. I kept falling asleep and then waking up thinking I had missed my stop. Luckily I hadn’t and the girl next to me told me when I did need to get off which was nice.

I got off and took a taxi to the middle of town since I didn’t have a map and had no idea where the center of town was. I was dropped off (it was so close that the meter charge didn’t even increase the whole time I was in the taxi!) and found the tourist office where I was outfitted with a map.

I spent the afternoon avoiding the on and off rain while visiting the beautiful 12th century cathedral and its cloisters, the ruins of the Templo Romano, the Igreja Real de Sao Francisco and the main Evora attraction, the Capela dos Ossos, otherwise known as the Chapel of Bones. Bones! As in HUMAN BONES. This chapel, believe it or not, was built using the bones of 5000 (FIVE THOUSAND) skeletons. AHHH! It was too horrifying to be true, but I witnessed it with my own eyes. The whole thing is made up of bones bones bones—skulls and all. There is even a full skeleton hanging from the wall as some sort of trophy (well, what it was once full since it is now like totally decayed). Some crazy Franciscan monks decided hey, this sounds like a good idea, let’s build a chapel from human bones! That’s just the thing this town needs. It was truly fascinating yet totally horrific at the same time.

I mean, what do you say when looking at it, “My, I just LOVE what they’ve done with those skulls!” or “How creative! Using femurs to build a wall—I should try that.”

Or not.

All these bones were too much for me and I needed a break from both the rain and from thinking about dead people. So I walked around and happened upon a coffee shop where I ordered a nice big piece of carrot and orange cake and a CafĂ© Latte which, unlike in Italy, is not just milk but coffee as well. Perhaps I should mention (and perhaps Elizabeth will only appreciate this) is that I haven’t really had caffeine this entire trip (give or take the occasional Coke) and drinking coffee for me is like too much caffeine at once now. Its pathetic and Elizabeth witnessed me in Spain after we ordered a spare cappuccino once which I felt obliged to drink. I was jittery all afternoon!
Anyways, I ordered a coffee, drank barely half of it, and now even as I am writing this (it is 11:30pm) I don’t feel the least bit tired.

Considering I am writing this you can bet that I made it back to Lisbon just fine. I walked down to the bus station again (now that I had my map I knew where it was!) and caught the last bus back to Lisbon. Two hours later I was back on the metro whizzing down to the main touristy area for dinner (my legs weren’t up for wandering to find something really good to eat tonight so I settled for just something I knew was there unfortunately—it still was a tasty meal though) and am now back at the hotel.

Tomorrow I am off to Lagos where I will spend the weekend and then will head to Seville, Spain for the last zoos in Spain. According to my guidebook, Lagos is “a black hole—come for two days and you’ll stay for two months.” Hmm. I’ll keep you updated on that.

On another note, this weekend is my birthday. Halloween in fact. I will be turning the ripe old age of 24 and will hopefully be celebrating in style although I have to say that I don’t have a costume (yet) and nothing will compare with last year’s adventures at First Ave. Most notably because there will be no butterfly man this year (ahem…) but more importantly because it will significantly lack the company of my truly amazing friends and family to which I have had the privilege of celebrating 23 wonderful birthdays and to whom not even the world could ever replace.

Happy Halloween.