It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since my trip to Portugal, and I am just now finally sitting down and making this blog post like I’ve been wanting to for this entire year. Luckily, during my travels in Portugal I did keep a journal most days, so as I’m posting about my experiences a year later, I have those entries to jog my memory. Yippee. It’s actually been so fun going back and reading my thoughts about this trip, I laughed at myself quite a few times while reading this. Since it is from my personal journal I may have edited/removed a few parts here and there ;), but otherwise this is a raw unaltered account of my most candid thoughts and feelings about my solo trip and my experience working on this vegan healing-retreat in the Sierra de Estrella mountains of Portugal. Hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading! Happy travels. 🙂
Friday, May 27th 2016
Soooo, traveling alone. I’m doing it. I’m here in the breakfast room of this hostel, sitting by myself and feeling totally great about it. I have to say that the hours before my flight I was having major second thoughts…like I was so nervous I was about to tell Roei to turn the car around and just go back to bed.
There were just so many unknowns! Was it going to be easy to find the train from the airport? Was it going to be hard carrying my suitcase around while figuring shit out. I was starting to freak out about the size of my luggage and cursed myself for not using a backpack instead. Oh well. On top of it all I had no idea where I was going to sleep. I didn’t even know which city I’d end up in, let alone hotel/hostel. My flight being at 4:50 in the morning probably added to the stress, all I could think about was a comfy bed, and who knew when I would be in one next.
But, everything went smoothly. I put on my game face and sucked it up. Everything will work out, I told myself. Don’t stress. My advice to myself was solid. I slept on the plane, the guy sitting next to me gave me his fruit cup (damn most airlines for not being vegan friendly), and I arrived in Lisbon with an almost refreshed state-of-mind and ready to tackle my mission: find somewhere to sleep.
The first step was easier than anticipated, I found the metro right outside the airport. Yay, that was easy. Thanks to a little pre-flight investigating I learned that I needed to take the red line and then transfer. So that’s exactly what I did. Me with my huge purple suitcase in-tow. Thank g-d for elevators.
I found myself getting off at Marques de Pombal, where I set off to look for the Urban Garden Hostel. I surfaced from the underground metro, seeing daylight for the first time in Lisbon. It was a beautiful day, I was greeted by a sunny, blue sky and a huge statue in the middle of a roundabout. The directions on the hostels website were great, they told me to walk on the left side of the street with my back to the Giant Marques de Pombal statue. Done. ✔️
A few streets and left turns later, I found the hostel, struggled big time with my suitcase and the front door only to find out that there were no beds available. But the receptionist kindly drew out on the map for me where I could find another hostel. After some very touristy fumbling with my map and suitcase I found the place! Some blonde guy answered the door and (thankfully) carried my very heavy suitcase up the stairs. And yay!! They had one bed left. Joy!
After getting settled, I signed up for the three euro dinner and sangria, which was where and when I met Rodrigo. At least I think his name was Rodrigo. Anyways, he was a dreamy muscular Brazilian, who was wearing Jean-Paul Goutiee (mmm). He didn’t speak much english (like at all), but apparently wanted to be my friend. I found him again down by the front door, which he helped me open when I couldn’t figure it out…And then without many words, but a seemingly unspoken understanding that we were to go and explore the city together, we were off in some direction. So there we were, me and my good smelling new hunky friend from Brazil.
**Pause in the story** Can we just talk for a second about how truly freakin’ awesome hostels are??? Like what, you can be in a new country for all of about five minutes and find yourself with new friends from all different corners of the world. What an amazing thing! **OK end pause**
We walked all along Avenida de Liberdade, telling each other a little bit about ourselves along the way. It was fun. We stopped to take pictures of pretty buildings, I took a picture for him for his snapchat. And we both went with the flow. Lisbon is such a beautiful city! It’s charming and seemingly full of characters. As we walked I admired the tiled faces of the buildings, the tram cars, and the rickshaws (india style). I stopped and bought some delicious strawberries because I hadn’t eaten all day. And then we walked all the way to the water! Which I thought was the sea, until at dinner last night when my friend from Germany informed me that it was in-fact a river. Mind blown. We took pictures of the bridge that reminded us of San Francisco and the Christ that they copied from the one in Brazil (my new friend told me).
My new friend was hungry so we sat at a place by the name of The Beer Museum, right by the water. What an atmosphere it was: live music played by some street musicians, some refreshing beer, and good company. I would say it was a very good start to my trip.
We did continue on our walk a little more. We came across some religious happening where there were tons of people flooding the streets. There were priests and nuns and other religious figures everywhere. We kept walking against the crowd until we found the church where the happening was happening. My friend asked a police officer what was going on, though I’m not sure of the exact answer I believe it was something to do with the body of Christ. So there you have it.
On the way back to the hostel, we both stopped to pee in some Indian kebab restaurant. A gentleman, he gestured me to go first. Afterwards, while I waited for him, I ordered myself some Chana Masala. As I looked around the restaurant I slightly regretted my decision to order, as the Indian music and the dry looking shawarma on a skewer transported me back to India. The walk back was lovely. We went from the loud touristy section of Lisbon to a quite brick road part, where laundry could be seen hanging outside windows.
To finish the day, I ate pasta and drank sangria with the people of the hostel. I met a girl from China, a yoga teacher from Germany, and a couple from Italy. What a great experience it was staying at this hostel. Maybe on the way home I’ll come back and stay for longer. I have a train ticket for today at 1:30 to my workaway hosts! It’s a four hour train ride to Fornos de Algodres station where my host will be picking me up! I’m not sure what to expect. But we will soon find out! Off to the next adventure. 🙂