Archive for October 2015

A Hangover in Lisbon

October 2, 2015 - 5:32 pm No Comments

Woke up feeling a bit rough from last night’s partying and went to the kitchen to find some breakfast. Offerings were typical hostel fare: toast, cereal, slices of melon, and tea. I put together a plate and sat down to eat, cradling my pounding head between bites.

The dining room was overrun by German students on some sort of school trip. The typical high school mix: some were friends, some were loners, some were loud and obnoxious, some were quiet and shy. Easy to see who the popular ones were. After they left, an older woman with an accent I couldn’t place sat down next me and asked me if I was OK. Nice of her.

Fredy bounced into the room, grinning from ear to ear about this great Lisbon orientation walk he was going to take us on. I don’t know where he gets the energy. I collected myself, grabbed my camera bag, and headed out.

First was Bairro Alto, the historical center of the city that was first built up in the late 1400’s, right around when Columbus was discovering America. Take away the cars and power lines and tourists, and it’s easy to feel like it’s 500 years ago.

Graffiti in Bairro Alto (more…)

Lisbon at Night: Tagus and the Pink Street

October 2, 2015 - 3:53 am No Comments

Lisboa, the Portuguese name for the city, is huge. The bus zipped through the industrial outskirts of the city, crossed the enormous delta of the Tagus River, and dropped us at the bus terminal. A couple of quick subway rides, and we were at our hostel in the heart of Lisbon.

I needed some me time. We’ve been together as a group for over two weeks now, and coordinating things with everyone and constantly maintaining a friendly smile takes a toll. With a few free hours to kill, I decided to wander around for a bit on my own, soaking in the sights and sounds and smells of the neighborhood.

Lisbon, or at least this part of town where we’re staying, has a good rustic feel, with charming little streets, wrought iron railings on balconies, and streetcars. A regular pattern of white stonework, which I think is just called Portuguese pavement, covers the ground pretty much everywhere here and also in Lagos.

I used TripAdvisor to find a little taverna, and feasted on super-spicy chicken wings and a few tiny lamb ribs.

Bread & Oil (more…)

Relaxing in Lagos

October 1, 2015 - 6:03 am No Comments

Our next stop was Lagos (“LAH-gose”, also the name of Nigeria’s biggest city), a small beach town on the Atlantic coast of Portugal. I’m excited about Portugal. For me, it’s the wild card for this trip. I don’t know much about it other than it was a powerhouse during the age of exploration and that it spawned Brazil.

On the bus to Lagos, Fredy and I had a long conversation about his worst trips, his worst travelers, our aspirations, and differences between the Spanish and American way of life. He discussed how Americans value money above all else. He told me a story about a Spanish ticket collector he met at a train station who was appalled that his manager had asked him to work more hours for more money for doing his job so well. The man spent a lot of time with his family and enjoying life. He was happy. How could his manager not understand that more work and more money would take him away from the things that made him happy in life? Any American would have taken that promotion.

Something that I’m reminded of every time I travel abroad is that Americans might be the most unhappy people in the world. Fredy got my wheels turning when we talked about my own life situation, about where I want to be and what I want to be doing for work. Maybe I need a job that gives me a bit more travel or remote work flexibility. Maybe I need to work in the travel industry. Maybe I need to work for a company like G Adventures.

At the Portugal border, the police decided to stop our bus and do a passport check. They spent a few extra seconds scrutinizing Nader’s Egyptian passport.

Our hostel in Lagos is just down the road from the beach. You can see the ocean from the rooftop deck. I don’t think there’s a whole lot to do or photograph here (thank goodness). Definitely thinking that this will be the relaxing couple of days that we all needed.

Jeff Tames the Bull (more…)