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?

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