The first portion of my 6 week backpacking trip began in Lisbon, Portugal. For this trip my friend Tricia and I decided to go solo with only a backpack full of items and no set plan. We will be doing couch surfing, hostels, and hotels. The benefit of hostels is that you get to meet travelers who are doing the same thing you are and you can find friends along your journey. Couch surfing is a website where travelers from all over the world take in different guests and host them at heir own home, in hopes that when they travel, others will do the same. Portugal was my 4th couch surfing experience.
Luis – Luis was our host when we arrived in Portugal. Most people said that my girlfriend and I should be weary of staying with a random man in Portugal…. Common sense also said that you should… So … Our experience went as follows- we had originally planned to land at the airport and go to his house at 8 am and leave our backpacks in his house after meeting him- our flight was delayed ( we met some cool people during the delay at the airport that were training with the Portugal Futbal team to be professional soccer players) —- our flight was delayed A few hours so by the time we left Detroit and arrived in Portugal, our couchsurfing host was already at work. When we got to the Airport he told us that we can go drop our bags off in his trunk in the parking garage in city center and we could meet him later in the day to go stay at his place. This seemed very shady for him to be a total stranger… What did we do? We dropped off our bags in the trunk. Throughout the day-we joked with each other about how crazy that situation was and hoped we met him again to get our bags. Turns out -we did! We went to his house and it was a very nice apartment with a great view. Throughout the trip he was a life saver! He gave us great suggestions on what to do and drove us around to places. It was awesome to have a personal contact in the city and somebody to look after us. He drove us around in his
Lexus convertible 🙂 let me just tell you he was VERY attractive- and such a gentleman!!! The next day we met up with the soccer players and hung out at their pool in the beach for the day.
Transportation – The train and metros were a great way to get around. The castles and gardens in Sintra, and the beaches in Estoril- they were all easy to navigate. We took buses taxis train and metros and it was all very easy to figure out. We went with NO plan whatsoever and it all worked out just fine! Be prepared to wear comfortable shoes.. We climbed to Cruz alto ( a high cross in the mountain) and I was wearing flip flops because I didn’t know we would be hiking) bad choice!
People- The people spoke a little English…In the smaller towns they didn’t seem to speak or understand any at all. There was a lot of pointing, hand gestures and smiling and head shaking to communicate. Language barriers make the trip very difficult. They sing fado music during meals at dinner. A the place we went to the waiters would stop and sing to the restaurant but they wouldn’t if people were talking… The only thing I didn’t like about that was that I wanted to have conversations with the people we were eating dinner with but we couldn’t because it was considered “rude” while the people were talking – otherwise the live local music was great.
Food- There were a lot of pastries and cream cakes. Lots of fish and sardines! The late night partying drunk food was sold by people on the street pulling around coolers full of chicken legs. The streets were all uphill-downhill cobblestone. The parties were in the street like Mardi gras. I would never want to live downtown in that city!
Drugs- Everybody will try to sell you drugs on the street
Port wine- I never drank wine before because I don’t like it. But I tried it at Luis home and I loved it. It is a new favorite of mine!
One of the funniest things that my host had said that didn’t translate well, was when he was telling us about his girlfriend. When he told us about why they broke up he said it’s because she made a “big shit”. This translated that she made a big deal out of nothing
One main thing that did not translate well is when I said that I rode a crotch rocket back at home. Here we refer to them in America as crotch rockets sometimes. Race bikes or street bikes. Not cruisers. When I said this the person’s eyes got really big and they didn’t understand how I rode a crotch rocket.
Some key things I learned from a poet I met there…
Sometimes you just have to trust people
-Love can finish ( to be in love can end)
-When you have everything it is hard to appreciate anything
-Once you achieve all of your desires, your dreams will be destroyed – don’t make your goal to have everything.
Did I mention that I love Portugal?! We met two Portuguese men on the train to Venice as well. Showed them our funny videos and pictures from when we visited. They were so nice. That was the first time that we had cute boys our age sit next to us on the train who actually spoke English!