Thursday the 28th of September begun with me being woken up at 4:15 in the morning to get up and sit night guard duty.
As one is when one is woken up at 4:15 in the morning, I was a bit drowsy but after a few minutes I managed to get up and jump into my clothes, drink a very quick cup of coffee and make my way to the gangplank which we sit by while on guard duty. I sat there until 7, talking to the friend I shared this time with, going the rounds, folding laundry and doing everything else you do while on night guard duty. Just before I got my relief (that is, when the next person came to take my job) I went down into the students' part of the ship accomodation and, along with a few others, woke up our friend Viggo who had his birthday this day. We gave him a Portuguese custard pastry purchased the day before with two unlit birthday candles in it.
So, we then went up to get breakfast which for me usually consists of a bowl of corn flakes or porridge with raisins and apple sauce along with a sandwich with cheese and tomato sprinkled with salt and pepper. We talked about Viggo's birthday wishes, which were very modest – he wanted to go out and eat in the evening, and that was it. Well, good thing then that we had mandatory plans and didn't need to plan out the entire day. After breakfast and our 8 o'clock gathering we walked to the train station and hopped on a grey, New York-esque train which was to take us to Sintra, a small village 40 minutes west of central Lisbon. From Sintra we caught a bus up through the woods and up on a steep hill. We first got of at something called the Moorish Castle, which was a fort first built in the 10th century, and used through many different times by both Muslims and different Portuguese dynasties. The stairs up to the castle's keep were many and quite steep, which made me think about whether the king in the olden days might have had servants to carry him around? If he was as pudgy as kings from those times often seem to have been when talked about, I mean.
The September heat continued to sear and sizzle in our forehead sweat, and as you can understand we were less than thrilled when we realized we had to walk from the Moorish Castle to something called the Palacio Pena about a 1000 steep metres away. Oh well, being Gunilla students we knew there was no use in complaining. So we walked, got an ice cream on the way and slowly walked through the gardens of the palace, a once-monastery turned summer residence by the Portuguese king in the 19th century, and then haphazardly abandoned in 1912 when the monarchy was abolished in a coup d'etat. Unfortunately, several of us failed to understand where the entrance was, and only got to see the outside of the palace. However, the outside was beatiful enough along with the pressing heat which certainly pressed down our need to explore to satisfy us. We got the bus from there and made our way to Lisbon.
Upon return, a few of us went down to the ocean and sat on a big pier, talking and watching the people and the sea and the sunset and the 25th of April Bridge, so beautiful like a European Golden Gate. We then met up a few others, who had been to Sintra the previous day, and found a nice restaurant on a nice square, perfect for a nice birthday dinner with this nice company ending this nice day. We were a bit pressed on time, seeing as Gunilla lay about an hour away (on the end of a huge pier with the bridge that shortens this time by at least half an hour closed since 7 pm) and after ordering we were a little bit stressed. I ordered something called secret pork, which was very good but upon my asking what it was my waiter only made a joke about it so I guess I'll never know what it is. We munched down our dinners and waited for the tab, but suddenly one of us noticed a man walking by who was making a weird motion. She asked the friend beside her if she had her bag, which she hadn't! We jumped up from our chairs and yelled at him. Luckily, right when he heard us yelling he dropped the bag which still had everything in it.
Then we went home to Gunilla and participated in a Mario Kart tournament beginning at 10 pm. It was very fun, but while I expected to at least be in the top four, I got beat in my first match – making me very disappointed. Oh well, what is it that they say about luck in games and in love?
Fabian Harling, starboard