Today was a big day, perhaps the only reason for our visit to Lisbon. Today was the day we visited the Oceanarium. We got ready promptly, with Moos showering first and myself second, by this point I was used to the wet towel and flipflops. Breakfast was at the ‘A Padaria Portuguesa’ by our hostel. Mille feuille and a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice all for €2.20, an offer I could not pass up, Moosa chose a brioche croissant with cheese inside, not my idea of breakfast, but a popular choice amongst locals nevertheless. After this we headed to the metro and purchase a day card, we predicted the oceanarium would take no more than a couple of hours to complete, therefore, the rest of the day would be spent travelling. The Lisbon Time Out Market was another destination we wanted to visit, and the afternoon would be the perfect opportunity to do so.
The oceanarium is a 10 minute walk from Oriente, the last stop on the red line of the metro. The metro station was the grandest we had seen so far, with a book market in the centre, with several other food stands and stores within the station. We crossed the road outside of the station and followed the guidance provided by Google Maps, passing an indoor mall and group of school children following their teacher looking like they were too in pursuit of the oceanarium, we took this as a sign we were heading in the right direction.
We reached an open promenade with views out across the water-front, cable cars stretched out across the skyline. A nice touch to the oceanarium. We still had a bit of a walk until we reached the entrance to the oceanarium, but the views were a pleasant distraction. As we neared the entrance the several fountains caught my eye, it was a hot day and I would most certainly be visiting them later on. The oceanarium holds 2 exhibitions: the permanent exhibition and an additional temporary exhibition. The difference in price between these tickets was €3, with us not being particularly interested in the temporary exhibit, we went ahead and each paid €15 for the permanent exhibit.
The oceanarium began with the classic window into the large main tank containing sharks, rays, barracudas, and groupers amongst a plethora of other fish. We took time admiring the fish from this angle and noted the woman in the tank feeding the fish. The next section of the oceanarium was by far the most unique I have had the pleasure to come across. An open area, lit by natural daylight, containing Atlantic puffins that were freely flying around the exhibit. The birds flew overhead as we admired them taking flight and landing amonst different sections of their exhibit, I was conflicted by how they didn’t just fly right out of the oceanarium!
The next room was by far one of my favourite. Penguins. For any of you who have seen the Benedict Cumberbatch sketch where he refers to these birds as ‘Penglings’, we proceeded to do the same. The enclosure was again lit by natural light and had massive cushions of ice around the enclosure to maintain a cold climate for the birds. These penguins were not camera shy to say the last, and by the end of their photo shoot I was satisfied to leave them to enjoy the attention from the other tourists snapping up pictures of the penguins.
The oceanarium now opened up into another area that featured the notoriously cheeky sea otters, who seemed to put on a performance for their observers. Making a splash as they circled the area of open water they resided in. Their quick movements and inability to stay still made photographing them a challenge. With a few photographs taken, I put the camera back around my neck and proceeded to admire the mammals without the lens. Behind me an enclosure of starfish were lapping up attention from children who pressed their hands to the glass window of the tank in awe. We took some photographs and I followed Moosa along a path that extended through an area of tropical garden.
What now remained were the underwater exhibitions. Lisbon oceanarium contains 5 million litres of sea water and is the largest indoor aquarium in Europe. The main tank central to the oceanarium was difficult to photograph due to the glare from the glass tank, therefore, we admired each section of the tank across the many windows and openings, giving the camera a well deserved rest.
We spent a further hour exploring the tanks of fish in the depths of the aquarium; salamanders, frogs, sea snakes and eels all, thankfully, in tanks amongst the flounders, octopus, and cast of Finding Nemo that were being admired behind glass walls. Then I saw what I had been eagerly anticipating. Jellyfish. The most majestic creature glowed blue in the distance, and at that point Moosa knew that nothing would avert my attention from the tank of jellyfish for at least the next 10 minutes. Finally, having spent as much time as I could surrounded by jellyfish, we finished up looking at the other exhibits and made our way to the exit of the oceanarium.
The exit was, typically, via the gift shop, which contained hundreds of plush toys that children pleaded with their parents for, as desperate parents attempted to pry the toys from the children’s hands. Moos and I admired the contents of the shop and then headed for the fountains, as running through the fountains was too good of an opportunity to miss.
I went first. Dodging the streams of water that sporadically erupted from the ground beneath us. Moosa looked with disappointment until I set a challenge to run through the streams vertically rather than horizontally, he set of first and myself second. By the time we left we were refreshingly cooled off from the heat of the sun and a small group of children had formed following our footsteps and their parents took photos of them having fun. What can I say – we are such trendsetters.
Considering we had spent the entire morning at the oceanarium, next up on the ‘to do’ list was to find a place to eat lunch. To head to the Time out Market we needed to take the metro from Oriente to Cais do Sodré, a 20 minute journey. We headed back to Oriente and within 30 minutes we were on the outskirts of Bairro Alto. The Time out Market was situated at a 5 minute walk from the metro station, which we took leisurely. Unsure of how many stalls would be within the market place we each took our guess, Moosa guessed 8 and I was a little more hopeful with 18. Inside were 23 restaurants and 8 bars, we walked around and both decided on burgers from ‘Honorato Hamburgueres Artesanais’.
We made our orders and took a seat in the bustling Market hall. I decided to leave Moosa and look for something to drink, a juice bar nearby looked promising but with a queue the size of 15 people I decided to pass’. A self-service bar was in operation in the middle of the market and surprisingly I decided to purchase a small glass of Super Brock, from a machine that described the beers and made recommendations based on the food you were eating. For €3, I returned to the table where Moosa was sat, confused he asked me if the drink in my hand was mine, to which I smiled and nodded. He then got up to purchase a drink and I remained at the table to accept the food that arrived a few minutes after he left. Equally as confused, Moosa arrived several minutes later with a darker shade of beer in a much bigger glass in his hand. Upon seeing this we both laughed, and tucked into our meals. His beer was almost toxic it was that strong, and I laughed as I watched him try to drink it, eventually he took mine and we left his 2/3 full.
Haven eaten our hearts out we decided to walk back to where were came out of the metro as a sea-front promenade existed and I thought it a perfect place to sit and let our food digest. A young woman was singing with an accompanying guitarist, making for a perfect atmosphere as we sat a few feet away from the water’s edge. The odd ship passing by would cause tremendous waves that would see a spray of sea water to be thrown over myself and Moosa. We sat there for an hour or so admiring the views and listening to the sound of the buskers behind us, with the occasional spray of water being thrown up in the air.
Our last adventure for the day was to find the highly raved about Gelato Daverro. An ice-cream shop that was supposedly near to where we were sat, and highly praised on TripAdvisor. As we neared where the store was said to be located, a queue of people seemed to form outside a building, Found it! There were about 30 people in this queue, and since we had nowhere we had to go, we joined it, in hope this would be the best ice cream we had ever had. It certainly was queue worthy ice cream. This was the first time on this trip Moosa would be defeated in an eating competition, it can be said that I put him to shame with my ice-cream eating capabilities. The sickening sweetness of the ice-cream resonated with me for the next hour after it was finished, which put an end to my ice-cream purchases for the rest of the holiday, but I had eaten more than Moosa, and therefore, it was worth it.
What came next was nothing short of a miracle. As we left the shop we saw something we had not yet come across in Lisbon. A supermarket. Shocked, we dashed over to it to see if it were in fact real. It was. We ventured inside and Moosa brought some bottles of the chocolate milk from the advert that he had been disappointed that the newspaper stand did not sell, and I picked up some cartons of pear juice and some water bottles. We made our purchase and headed back to the metro to return to the hostel, with bellies full of ice-cream and backpacks filled with drinks.
We got back to the hostel and after a busy day, sat and watched a film. Having passed a Pizza Hut on our search to find water on the day of arrival, we decided in the spirit of all things touristy that we would go to Pizza Hut for dinner. We had done an awful lot of travelling around Lisbon we did not want to attempt to try and locate another restaurant, and the prospect of a repeat of last night furthered our decision to head to Pizza Hut. A few average pizza’s later and it was back to the hostel to sleep.