Mediterranean Cruise

May 2006
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Monday, May 15, 2006, Lisbon Portugal

Most museums in Lisbon are closed on Monday's, so we decided to go up to Doca dos Olivais on the north coast and visit the Oceanário de Lisboa located in the Parque das Nações. This was the first time we were able to successfully take the Metro (since it was closed last night.) It turned out that the pass we bought was only good on busses, so we had to buy a new pass.

The Metro in Lisbon is inexpensive and very clean. The stations are very bright and open and have interesting art and architecture. Our trip took us the entire length of the Vermelhe line (red line) from the Alamedia station to the Oriente station. One point to remember is that your ticket is required to both enter and exit the Metro.

From the station we walked over to the Oceanarium and walked a little past it looking for a waterfall I had seen in a picture. Unfortunately we weren't able to find it and we didn't want to waste too much time hunting for it. (It turns out the waterfall was in a park we had walked past, but I don't think it was running since we had listened for the waterfall in that area, but didn't hear it.)

The Oceanarium was very neat. It consists of two floors in a cube-like structure. Although it's not very big, it more than makes up for it in quality. The first thing you see when you enter the Oceanarium is the very impressive giant main tank. It's two stories tall and contains a wide variety of species including some I've never seen before in person such as a blue-fin tuna, manta rays, barracuda, and most impressively a mola mola or ocean sunfish.

On our way back to the Metro station we decided to walk along the boardwalk. We had thought about taking a cable car, but we didn't know exactly where it went and we didn't have much time to get to the ship, so we decided not to risk it. Along the way I took photos of other buildings in the Parque das Nações. This area of Lisbon is very interesting. It was all built for Expo'98, a world exposition that included the revitalization of an urban area covering nearly 340 hectares of riverfront real estate and the construction of the immense Vasco da Gama cable-stayed bridge, the longest bridge in Europe with a total length of 56,381 feet. (10.7 miles)

After retrieving our luggage from the hotel we caught a cab to the ship only for Aaron to realize he had left his glasses in the restroom and we had to turn around and go back. The cab driver, who only spoke portuguese, had good humor about the situation and was even more delighted when we gave him a good tip for his trouble.

When we arrived at the ship the line was much longer than we expected. It took us well over an hour to check in. When we boarded the ship they were already doing the mandatory muster drill, so they made us grab our life vests and run to our muster station. I managed to get my life vest on very quickly like the seasoned pro I am. Aaron on the other hand needed a little help from one of the cute crew women, although I think he might have done that on purpose. Due to the unexpectedly long check-in, the ship left over an hour late which made us late to arrive at our next destination, Gibraltar. As the ship left, our group got together for a small welcome party. It was nice to reunite with old friends and make new ones.

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