To leave and to travel.
February 18, 2011 § Leave a comment
Between my last day at work, my leaving party with a cake, gifts and a random but lovely group of friends, then a drinks leaving reunion that ended up with me being hit by a skateboard and not to mention having a guest staying at mine for a day, I also packed my 2 years in London in what was supposed to be 2 huge suitcases, but it was more than that to be honest.
Anyways, I left London on February, 16th. One day before my student visa expired and I’m now a countriless person up to an extent. I have no idea what to say when I’m asked: “where do you live?”. To leave London by itself deserved a post alone, but I haven’t truly left yet and maybe that’s why I didn’t cry my heart out on my leaving party. I’ll be gone for good on April, 29th. Maybe there will be tears, maybe not. I think because it was a thought through choice and one I’m excited about having made, I think I might leave knowing my time there was enough for the current purpose.
To be honest with you, it’s only a farewell to London, not a goodbye.
Meanwhile, I find myself in Portugal, because not only I left my residency country for the last 2 years, I also embarked on a 69 days backpacking (sugestive number, I know) around Europe. I can cross that from my bucket list, then!
I flew to Porto to start it all. Why you ask? Because I intend to do an U/S shape trip that ends in Oslo, so I’ll fly to Dublin, Edinbourgh and then back to good ol’ London. Also, because Ryanair has cheap flights here (£12).
Porto is quite quaint and it had a very English weather (4 season in one day basically), which resulted in me having a shit cold since day one. I saw most of the city and all the tourist sights (without actually getting inside any) in one afternoon.
I was slightly lost in the city. In fact, a bit lost in the whole of Portugal, because the amazing Europe travel guide I bought from Lonely Planet doesn’t seem to think that this country is part of the continent. Also, neither are Poland or any of the Scandinavian countries as well. A bit rude, Lonely Planet, a bit rude.
I stumbled around Porto, looking for the wifi spots that were indicated in the map. LIES. It reminds me very much of Brazil. It does make sense, since they were the ones that conquered, explored and took all our gold, diamonds and etc back here. But hey! No hard feelings. At least Brazil is included in South America travel guidebooks…
So, in Porto I also met an university friend that I hadn’t seen since graduation at the famous Piolho – which is a nasty name for a place with food if you know the translation. Porto has a lovely river area and the beautiful S. Francisco church was probably my favourite. More than 2 nights there would probably be a bore. I took the train to Lisbon the next day, which has a beautiful view, specially in the late afternoon and today I went for a full on daily touristing shit around.
Sé was a bit lame for my expectations, but it did have a beautiful cloister (I’m a sucker for cloisters). The S. Jorge Castle is boring and that comes from someone that loves castles and history. I don’t know, I just didn’t feel the thrill of it at all. The guy did charge me only for a student ticket, even though I said I wasn’t a student, so not all was lost.
Later, I made my way to Belém, where we have the Tower – which is the postcard of the city – and the Monasterio dos Jeronimos, which is basically AMAZING. It reminds me of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, because of it’s looks-like-wet-sand-castles-I-did-when-I-was-a-child.
TIP: I bought a thing called “LisboaCard”, which basically gives you free access to lots of tourist sights, free use of the public transport (including trains to Sintra) and discounts in some other sights as well. Very worth the €17 for a 24h use (which counts from the hour you used it first, for instance, from 10am today to 10am tomorrow) or the €28.30 for 48h. Remember that loads of tourist sights are free on Sunday morning. No idea why.
Portugal is very religious, with many stores selling aparatus for devotion. However, in their defense, Portuguese people are very lovely. Maybe it’s because I can speak their language, but I have found nothing but complete kindness from everyone (except the lady from the tourist information office that sold me the LisboaCard).
That’s all for now. Oh, make sure you go up the Santa Justa lift at night. I nearly died going up thoose narrow steps, but it was well worth the adrenaline.