Jun 27, 2011

Portugal: eat, pray, LOVE - Portugal sure is warm!

Its day 150 of my EuroTrip, inevitably I've had my share of ups and downs. Once the novelty of ready social interaction and being "elsewhere" wears off you start longing for things that are more lasting. Its great meeting new people and being in constant party mode but after a while "single serving" friends starts to feel empty. Funnily even that melancholy comes and goes because of the constant stimuli.

Theres no formula to forming that "real" bond. I've found being tranquilo in one place, developing routines with others is one way. Reconnecting with someone over several cities has been another. Then the old standard of just hanging around someone 24/7. That's not to say its not possible to form a lasting bond with someone you've been with briefly.

One of the pleasures of traveling alone has been the flexibility to experience different states of travel. Thankfully in Portugal I've made some strong bonds that have been forged with time, making hostel BFFs, roadtripping with running mates and finding a place to call home with new brothers.

Love: BFFs

lisbon, chillout, hostel, friends
lisbon, chillout hostel
bairro alto, lisbon, friends
So many great things happened in Lisboa, so naturally I hung around. Even when misdventure forced a repeat visit to the capital it was a welcome return because of the family I made there. When possible I like to stay in 2 or more hostels, I find the change in orientation and environment re-energising and helps familiarise me with the city. I happily stayed 18 days in this hostel (my second in Lisboa), 4x longer than any other I've stayed at.

Being a fixture in a place that's so transient has it ups and downs because of the fleeting relationships formed. On the other hand it allows you to ingratiate yourself into many different groups in a short amount of time. On any given day, you could be sightseeing with jovial Polish girls, spending that evening driving around with Peruvians then partying till dawn with the colorful hostel crew.


Love: Buddies

sintra, picnic, road
I roadtripped north from Lisboa for 7 days with 2 new amigos. Todd in particular was a special running mate because we were practically side by side 24/7. Hitting the town by day and urban camping by night.


Love: Brothers

I met some cool Brasilian kids in Valencia who invited me to stay with them in Porto if I ever made it down. You take these offers with a grain of salt because they rarely pan out once "holiday mood" wears off. Thankfully their offer never waivered and I met up with them two months later.

Once I joined them at their casa, met their roomates and extended family I was instantly welcomed as a brother. The warmth and festivity has been such a blessing to be a part of. It's been the perfect recipe for good times - fun loving Brasilians, studying abroad and running amok, forming a close-knit community to create a sense of home. To seamlessly join them at a time when emotions were high as their journey came to a close has been very touching. Familia Feliz!

I've been in Porto for 3+ weeks with my new family. Countless 20man dinners (Brazilian Churrasco, Carmem's Stroganoff, Lithuanian Cepelinai), club nights, sunny and moonlit beach hangs. Backyard and back-of-the-bus guitar singalongs. Got to tag along to an ERASMUS daytrip and helped host several couchsurfers. We also spent a few nights camping, trekking to the Spanish fronteira and swimming under glorious waterfalls. Enjoying good food with great company by the campfire.

One of the first things I learnt in Portugese was "eu tenho saudade". A Canadian had nominated it his favorite Portugese phrase because though it meant "I miss you", it had no literal English translation that fully captured the weight of it. Being with this group, I truly understand it now. I'm gonna miss these guys!

Update: The guys made this video for me when they reunited in Brazil. Interestingly my reality was shaken so much in Istanbul that I thought I had hallucinated this video.

Find the 'Portugal: Eat Pray, Love' collection here
Portugal: Eat - Fine Food with Friends
Portugal: Pray - Saints and Sinners
Portugal: Love - Portugal sure is warm!

What are memorable moments you've had with new friends?

Jun 23, 2011

World Press Photos 2011: Belém, Portugal

world press photo 2011, lisboa, belemWorld Press Photo 2011, Belém

Social media and the ready ability to access everyones' photos reveals an unpleasant truth about traveling: We all go to the same places and do the same things. Hyperbole aside the handful of must-see destinations coupled with the finite selction of cheap hostels means there will be an overlap in things accomplished and acquaintances made. It doesn't surprise me to find a person met in another country showing up lurking in a new friends' photo collection.

Its a bummer because it exposes the reality that we aren't "beautiful, unique snowflakes" creating original experiences. Maybe thats why I find the pictorials of the 'World Press Photo' so compelling. It reveals realities seldom seen or shamefully overlooked, it reminds me how much of the world I don't know about, have yet to or can only hope to experience. The curiosities of foreign cultures and the wonder found in the mundane lives of others.

I encourage you to look through this year's collection here or better yet find it live in a gallery near you. I experienced it this year in Belém, Portugal. Admittedly there is a sense of detachment looking through the photos, precisely because the awe stems from how far removed the images are from our daily experience.

With that in mind, the photos featured are of subjects close to home
  1. I love wrestling! Got to watch Lucha Libre action in Barcelona
  2. Everyone talks about CouchSurfing. Went roadtripping with a CSer met in a Lisbon hostel and have stayed with friends made whilst they were hosting couchsurfers
  3. Watched my first and only BullFight in Malaga
  4. GoogleMaps Street View, a handy tool for any Modern traveller

flying cholitas, bolivia, female wrestling, lucha libre, world press1. Arts and Entertainment Stories: 2nd prize
Daniele Tamagni, Italy, AP
- The Flying Cholitas, Bolivia: Lucha libre

couchsurfing, brooklyn, world press
2. Daily Life: 2nd prize singles
Malte Jäger, Germany, Laif Photos & Reportagen
- CouchSurfers in a Brooklyn loft

bullfight, gore, matador, world press3. Sports: 2nd prize singles
Gustavo Cuevas, Spain, EFE
- Matador Julio Aparicio is wounded by the bull

google maps, unfortunate events, funny, world press4. Contemporary Issues: Honorable Mention
Michael Wolf, Germany, Laif Photos & Reportagen
- 'A series of unfortunate events'

Jun 21, 2011

Portugal: eat, PRAY, love - Saints and Sinners

Places of worship are synonomous with Europe. From skull chapels to monasteries, architecturally and historically they're often the most notable part of any city or small town. That and they're usually abundant and free. Understandably spiritually is a big component of any EuroTrip.

Coming from a religious family I was strongly encouraged to attend the great religious spectacles of Europe, 'Semana Santa' (Holy Week) in Spain and 'Our Lady of Fatima' (May 13) in Portugal.

The trip to Fatima was certainly interesting. It was not a destination I would have chosen had it not been for my fathers insistence. Unbeknownst to me the cheapest hostel was way out of town in an isolated adventure hostel. The weekend of solitude amidst the great outdoors gave me a spiritual experience of a different nature (pun intended).

It began with a walk from Fatima to the hostel to bypass the outgoing traffic. As usual I was feeling my way through without a map, not being a big city this wasn't exactly advisable. 2hours later, completely lost with nightfall approaching I got a little tense. Thankfully one of the handful of taxis in the region passed. My guardian angel was watching over me. A budget busting €20/20min later I was at my new home (the 6hr return bus trip from Lisboa cost about the same). It turned out I would have had to pay that much anyway, I just exhausted 2hrs walking in an abitrary direction.

My time in Fatima and Alvados whilst not festive was refreshing and rewarding. No matter how challenging something is, we usually have an expectation of what we're signing up for. This undertaking was as genuine a "Mystery Flight" experience as I could hope for. There is definitely a quiet magic to nature that encourages one to look within. Its something I've been able to tap into a few times in Portugal which has been an unexpected treat.
PRAY: Saints...
fatima, may 13, crowd, peopleThe masses at Fatima. Domingo 13 de Maio, 2011.

The devoted, Phew!

fatima, old ladiesI must deliberately and carefully lay down my life for Him.

fatima, cross, stationsTo the station with a cross

PRAY: ...and Sinners
alvados, nudeThe naked truth

Being around travelers and students, money is scarce and mischief abounds. A lot of creativity is involved to stretch the dollar which doesn't always mean the most moral of paths. You don't need a religious upbringing to feel shame or guilt, karma has definitely been a recurring conversation amongst peers and something I've had to wrestle with. More pertinant now as I've been on the bad end of it in recent weeks (items stolen including wallet and passport). It's possible to rationalise oneself out of guilt and there were times in Fatima worth asking forgiveness for. Definitely a work in progress but it's made easier when you surround yourself with good people.

Find the 'Portugal: Eat Pray, Love' collection here
Portugal: Eat - Fine Food with Friends
Portugal: Pray - Saints and Sinners
Portugal: Love - Portugal sure is warm!

Have you ever done anything you were guilty of on the road?

Road Reading: David Brooks on the 'Social Animal' - Change your behaviour and you change your mind

Its been a delight to access poignant media whilst travelling. I stumbled on an old Charlie Rose interview with NY Times columnist David Brooks on Portugese cable. Brooks was promoting his new book 'Social Animal' which speaks to the profound influence our social environment has on the way we act and operate.

Being constantly around travellers and students living abroad, there is a recurring theme in our conversations. How "things have dramatically changed in our mindstates" through our time away from home.

Below is a sample of Brooks' findings on Social behaviour. I highly recommend viewing the Charlie Rose interview if possible, it's more engaging and dynamic due to its conversational format.

David Brooks' new book can be found here - The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement

VIDEO: Book event with David Brooks on "The Social Animal"

(33min) DAVID BROOKS: We don't have the power consciously to change our minds, cause there's too much going on down there. Thats why New Year's resolutions fail. But we do have the power to a) change our context - what organisations you belong to and what institutions do you join? If you join the marine corps it will have a pervasive affect on your mind that you will never understand but will have pervasive effects. So you have the power to change your environment.

The second thing you have the power to do is to change your behaviour. One of the themes is, change your behaviour first and your mind will come later. Or as the folks at Alcoholics Anonymous put it "Fake it till you make it". If you behave well in small ways... you lay grooves in your head for when the big temptations come your way..."
More posts featuring David Brooks
- The "Haimish Line": Pixar and TroubleMaker Studios
- "Limerence": Snowboarding, Skating, Surfing, Christmas and Love
- The 'Social Animal' - Change your behaviour and you change your mind

Jun 17, 2011

Trigger: The impressions of Porto

These images are esoteric for now but they are the unforgettable impressions of my time in Porto with my Familia Feliz.

Soundtrack for Porto
'Bad Boys for life' by P. Diddy

Day 128 - Watch
gremio, brasil, football
Day 130 - Warble
play guitar
Day 132 - Wolf + Wolves
lithuania, france, flag
Day 133 - Wasted
ressaca, hangover 2, zach g
Day 134 - Woah + Woot
moon, ocean, night
beach, night, party
Day 135 - With
erasmus logo, erasmus national meeting, exchangeDay 137 - Weave + Water
guinazu, haircut, mohawk, inter
caipirinha, vodka, drink
Day 139 - Waterfall
waterfall, portugal, geres
Day 140 - Wet
singing in the rain
More impressions of Porto
- Trigger: "Qualidade de Vida" in Casa dos Gauchos, Porto
- On top of: Ribeira jump
- Art imitating life: The power of Horizons
- Portugal: eat, pray, LOVE - Portugal sure is warm!

Other impressions
- Trigger Impressions: Porto
- Trigger Impressions: Köln

Jun 14, 2011

Road Music: Songs to be happy to (in Portugese)

I've been very happy in Portugal so I figured it was time to offer these happy songs to compliment the Spanish ones.

VIDEO: 'Danza Kuduro' by Don Omar & Lucenzo

VIDEO: 'Anna Julia' by Los Hermanos

More songs in Portugese, this time 'Live'. Its hard to escape the fact that most of these anthems will be Brasilian.

VIDEO: 'País Tropical' (Live Rock in Rio 2010) by Ivete Sangalo

VIDEO: 'Garota de Ipanema' by Joao Gilberto e Caetano Veloso

- Find the entire 'Road Music' Track listings here

Jun 11, 2011

Portugal: EAT, pray, love - Fine Food with Friends

Boa Sorte to kick off my time in Portugal but lately muito azar. Misadventure aside, amazing hospitality has been shown to me by way of food and friends. Hostel buddies have graciously treated me to gourmet burgers and I've been welcomed into homes by small town locals. Portugal has blessed me with fine dining and great friends.

EAT: Fine Food with Friends in Portugal

coimbra, sandwich, park
Our Cook's Kitchen stash at Coimbra
obidos, night, sandwich
Night Cooking by the Castle walls
Roadtripping with a seasoned traveller and handy cook. I had the pleasure of eating hearty meals from Sandwiches to Stew, cutely prepared on some spectacular places and overlooks.


sintra, baptism, lunch
Garden Buffet
sintra, baptism, lunch, garden
Impromptu Baptism Lunch invite 
I returned to visit the friendly caretaker of a tranquil hostel in Sintra, I had stayed a night there the fortnight previous. He wasn't present but inexplicably his colleague invited us to join the baptism lunch taking place in the Garden. He said we could help ourselves to some roasted pig, cerveja and dessert. Strangers are friends in Portugal.


obidos, restaurant, hospitality
Chats outside the Obidos restaurant
obidos, 200, port, open
Opening a 200 year old Bottle of Port
We hung with kids at their restaurant on a quiet Sunday night in Obidos. Whilst at the Post Office steps hours later using wi-fi to stream the NBA playoffs, they invited us to join them for a drink. The bars were closed (2am), so we were welcomed into their casa. We were treated to Ginginha and Wine, humbly the occasion also inspired our host to pop open his 200yr old Bottle of Port. Portugese hospitality.


jardim, hush, lisboa, jantar
Photos courtesy of Hush - Hush Garden

After reading about 'Supper Clubs (Underground Restaurants)' in local street press then finding a roommate who had recently enjoyed it. I resolved to cap off my time in Lisboa in such fashion. Unfortunately timing was not on my side but the mantra of 'o mundo gira' (the world spins) reliably delivered and upon my unscheduled return to Lisboa I had the chance to experience it for myself second time around. Stunning garden ambiente, memorable cuisine, company and conversation. A fitting end to my time in one of the great cities of the world.

- My Hush Hush experience featured in the media here

Find the 'Portugal: Eat Pray, Love' collection here
Portugal: Eat - Fine Food with Friends
Portugal: Pray - Saints and Sinners
Portugal: Love - Portugal sure is warm!

Have you ever been to a Supper Club? Have you ever been treated to wonderful food and hospitality from strangers?

Jun 8, 2011

Poetry in motion: 'Lost in...'

lost in, lisboa, portugal
I seem to only write poems when I lose stuff. So fittingly...

'Lost in...' by LozInTransit
I've lost some stuff but I haven't lost my shit.
Once I lose my cool then I've I've really lost it
When I lost my camera, I was told the camera was in my mind
But what happens when I lose my mind?
I've replaced it since and still carry it with me,
but what's troubling is that I'm losing focus.

Misadventures can be overcome,
In losing money, you gain creativity
In losing a passport, you gain direction
In losing things, you gain freedom
In losing ID, you gain your identity

Time, the one thing in life always in deficit
is strangely abundant when its well spent.
For each instant lost, experience is forever gained.
We mustn't lose sight of that.

The one thing I've found
is I'm happiest when lost in the moment.
Lost in transit.

Jun 6, 2011

Spotted: Bus stop Barber shop

Spotted in Obidos, Portugal. 12:30pm, Domingo. 22 Maio, 2011.
Crazy person shaving their head and shampooing in an abandoned kitchen behind the town's main Bus Stop