Portugal Part II

So, it was the second day. Gonzalo and Javier had gotten up very early to visit a music museum in Porto; the rest of us slept late. After a pretty good breakfast we headed out to find the other guys. Without luck though we didn’t find them.

What next? Well, the beach is next! It was a long walk,

several miles for sure as it took over over an hour downhill. Finally we arrived at … at… The ATLANTIC OCEAN!

We had a hard time finding a beach. All of us wanted to get in; it was a beautiful day, and although it was warm in the air the water would be cold. Finally we found the spot pictured above. I made sure to make the most of it – once you get out the motivation is to stay out. So, I swam and dove into the waves and did a little body surfing. It was fun. Poncho joined me shortly and then Tómas and Vanessa followed after a while.

Once a surfer got a little close. We had been alone and the surfers quite far away. Somehow he moved over towards us. After cussing us out in Portugese he went away. Seems I was in his way. (this is when I roll my eyes). We got out shortly, and for the first time in my life I understood how dangerous the water can be. Not that I was in danger, but it was difficult to swim back in and especially with cold muscles and a little tired from playing. I’ve always wondered what people were talking about – now I know.

So, on the beach, beautiful day? What to do? I took a run. It was slow going as I was still stiff from the cold, but this would help me warm up. Probably a couple kilometers there and back, but it was worth it 😀

We were well into the day when we passed an old fort. The entry was 50 Euro cents so we took a peak. It was pretty cool. Here are some shots

Vanessa on a canon; the flag of comandos, and an outside wall. Poncho, Tómas and I had a little competition to lift a canon. It was heavy, but I got it 😉

Here is a good one of my friends just before sunset.

We made it to a lighthouse right before the sun went down; so I asked the guys to stop so we could watch an Atlantic Ocean Sunset. My first of hopefully more.

In the last one you can see the waves splashing on the rocks. Sometimes they would go way over my head. There were even signs warning us to watch out because it could be dangerous.

The walk back was even longer than the walk to the beach. We had taken the Metro part of the way and then walked directly to the water. This time we followed the coast and river back into town. It was a looooong way. A couple hours if I recall correctly.

I snapped a couple photos along the river.

We were lucky and happened to pass a bus station on the way back to the hostel. So reservations were made to ride to Lisbon the next day. After dinner we all passed out. Two long days in a row really wore on us.

The pictures from day 2 are here

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The next day we waited, but not long, for the arrival of Aíleen. She had rented a car to drive into Spain and look for long lost family members. It seems her Grandfather had moved to Argentina and lost contact with his family. She was successfl and found them with only their last name and the town from 2 generations back where they had lived. It was a short meeting though as she made it back to our hostel in time for breakfast and a shower.

We made it to the bus station when one of the silliest/stupidest things that ever happened happened. Well, it was pretty dumb. At the bus station we asked the woman at the counter if she knew of a place where we could get our passport stamped. “Of course,” she said; “I can do that here”. Great we though and all pulled their’s out to have it stamped. Me first! DOH. This woman obviously wasn’t too bright because she stamped my passport with the bus company’s official stamp RENEX. 🙁

I couldn’t believe it. What did she think we wanted? Well, the others weren’t impressed with my RENEX passport stamp, in fact that wasn’t even a country. They elected to look for a stamp elsewhere… None of us ever got our passports stamped in Portugal.

Here’s our luggage at the bus station, and something even more important… CHIPS. I hadn’t seen a name brand bag of chips in quite a while. The picture was good enough though, I chose ice cream instead.

And some of us waiting for the bus.

Portugal is a beautiful place. I only snapped a few photos during the trip. I was busy looking up words in Spanish and even took a nap.

See all of the bus trip photos here

Lisbon bus/train station

We arrived in Lisbon safely. It was nearing dark when we got to a Hostel. Time for a break. We did go out that night, and there were some amazing sights, but of course my camera was in the Hostel. Darn, the Christmas lights were fantastic and we walked down to the river running through town and saw some neat sights there too. Well, I’ll just have to go back! 😀

That’s the end of day 3. Maybe I’ll get the others up soon.

Until then I’ll be in Italy. Have a nice weekend.

First Chicken Soup of the Year

Yep, skipped the second half of my nap today and headed to the store.  Picked up some carrots, celery, a chicken and all that required to make soup.

This morning there was frost on the ground, also the first for the year.  It’s a little later than normal, I hear, because this has been the warmest Autumn for Europe in recorded history: a good thing for me.

So, just pulled the chicken off the bone and put in the vegetables.  Dinner tonight will be awesome 😀

First Day in Portugal

Well, it was almost a week and terribly fun. Early Tuesday morning I arose to pack and eat some breakfast. I was a little sick and had a sore throat, but that wouldn’t stop a trip to Portugal! I’d have had to be involuntarily admitted to a hospital for that.

So, after getting everything ready we met out back behind the apartments here and headed off. It was me, 4 Chilean guys, and two beautiful Argentinian girls: both with boyfriends. We were going to have a great time.

So, off to the airport, wait for the plan which was late. Turns out these discount airlines often run late, but what do you expect when you fly to Portugal AND back for less than 50 bucks!

Here are some of the guys waiting at the AP

The flight was about 3 hours, a distance just a little shorter than Houston to New York. Trains would have been nearly 2 days and 4x as expensive. Man, travel in Europe is great. Most of the flight was cloudy, but before we landed in Porto (the second largest city in Portugal) it cleared and I snapped a few shots. Still green!

My first impressions of Porto were awe. The city is built on a river that immediately flows into the ocean. It is quite a pretty location for a town, and with the huge hills surrounding the river I cannot compare it to any city in the US. Of course those hills made it a little tiresome to walk around, but we’re young and enjoy seeing the sights.

Upon finding our hostel, which was right in the middle of the old town center, we unpacked and went for an excursion. It was past lunch time, and we wanted to see the city.

There are so many pictures of town that I can’t share them all, so, flip through if you like; I’ll just post the ones I like most.

The streets were decorated for Christmas, you can kind of see in the last one. Later that night they would turn the lights on!

One thing I noticed was that all of the sidewalks were paved with stones. This gave the city a very antiquated feel and a lot of charm. Of course the older the street the less even the stones and more difficult to walk, but it was quite a neat feeling. In the deepest part of old town even the streets were paved with cobblestone. There was quite a contrast though. Some of the city felt very modern. The air port and metro for example looks as if they were built in the last year. I mean perfectly clean and shiny, and even nicer than here in Germany.

After eating we started walking the easiest way possible: down. It was a very steep walk down to the river, but we all wanted to see it. Boy was it a sight: boats everywhere, amazing bridges, and the view!

You can see in the last photo the castle that overlooks town and the river. Quite a sight.

This was one of the better shots I took during the week. We had walked all the way down to the water front, usually blocked by a sort of sea wall, and took in some sun.

Here’s one looking the other way. I caught one main bridge, the castle and the moon.

The sunset was quite nice from up on that bridge. That and were were only a couple kilometers from the beach – our destination for the next day!

We were out walking late looking for a supermarket and some booze. Hey, what else are you going to do? On the way back I caught some nice sights of from that bridge again.

And we walked back to the hostel. The Christmas lights were lit up this time and were something to see.

We didn’t stay in all night though. After a nap we headed down to the river again to find some music and beer. It was a little colder then and more foggy, but we found our way with no problems. On the river were several clubs, but only one had music. It was a local group of guys with a few guitars and a base. They were taking requests, and although they spoke Portugese knew some Spanish songs to please my friends 😉

Just a couple more shots of the bridge and the fog. It made for a nice photo opp.

The next day would promise to be just as exciting. I’ll have to wait to share that though. So, I hope you enjoyed day one of Porto, Portugal! It only gets better 😀