Conclusion

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Last post of my Portugal series

I arrived in Lisbon late in the evening to spend the night and catch my flight early next morning. I woke up before the sun and booked an Uber for the airport. Diego, the driver was warm and welcoming, and we had a little chat on our way. He asked me about my travels and whether or not if I liked the place. I enquired about him and his life. Apparently, he wasn’t very happy with his life. He had to work 2 jobs and said its a normal thing for people in Portugal. He had to drive the cab for 12-13 hours when he wasn’t working on the other job. It was not possible for him to pay rent with just one job. Like some other Portuguese, he complained about the taxes and corruption. However, he held high praise for the new prime minister but was concerned that others in the ministry won’t let him last long. According to him, Portugal is a very nice place for tourists, with beach, sun, sea, food, everything nice. But for locals, they have to pay even when they are sick. “You cannot be sick for long in Portugal, if you’re sick for long, you die..”. The wildfire in the summer could also have been controlled, but the government officials were bribed and no adequate steps were taken to prevent the fire. The officials didn’t care because none of the dead were their families.

He complained about a few more things till we arrived at the airport. I think he just needed someone to talk to and express his disappointment. The sun had already come out by this time. I thanked him, hugged him, and said goodbye and walked into the check-in to board my flight for one final time in Lisbon.


It has been an amazing one month spent in Portugal. I met a lot of fantastic people, crazy ones, experienced great things, had eventful times, seen some unreal places.

I am also thankful to the Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe for funding a part of the travel through their grant. It’s a wonderful initiative to encourage young people to travel.

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Till next time, Adeus Portugal!!

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Tête-à-Tête and Pasta

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The two Italian girls at the hostel

New years Party all night, woke up tired and hungover, had a very long bus ride from Lagos to Lisbon.
Arrived Lisbon at night, checked in the hostel

Being the 1st Jan it was a holiday and stores were closed. I was so hungry, finally found a store open and bought some instant noodles.
Walked back to the hostel straight, to the kitchen.

“Do you want some pasta, I’m cooking some”
-Umm, yeah sure!

“Where are you from?”
-India, and I live in Luxembourg

“India, wow! It’s an exotic country, isn’t it?”
-Haha! Maybe not for Indians but yeah.
And you? Where are you from?

“From Italy, so my pasta is gonna be great”
-Absolutely.
What do you do?

“I was studying Cultural Tourism and graduated early this year or last year now, we’re in 2018 now. I have been traveling for a while, and I will start to work now”
-Nice. Are you traveling alone?

“No my friend is sitting there at the table, she is a bit sick. I’ve made soup for her”
-Oh! and how was the new year party in Lisbon?

“It was great! We went to see to see the fireworks in the central square”
-Was it raining?

“It did, but only for a bit”
-Hm! Which part of Italy are you from?

“Gorizia, its a city close to Venice. It shares the border with Slovenia. You can be in Slovenia in 5 mins”
-And how is the city?

“It’s a nice city but very small….”

*A person walks into the kitchen*

“Do you want some pasta?”

Random person, a bit hesitant…Umm

“I cooked a lot…”

Okay maybe!

“I am going to my friend at the table, do you wanna join us?”
-Sure

We both walk at the table.

Me introducing myself to “The Friend”

Friend(Sick voice): “Hi I am…
Sorry, I am a bit sick. Its a combination of cold and hangover. Usually, I am more cheerful”
-Its okay, which is worse, hangover or cold?

*lame joke, dismissing chuckle*

-What do you do? Do you study cultural tourism too?
F: No, I study Philosophy

-Wow?! In Italy?
F: No, UK

-Where exactly in the UK?
F: Cambridge.

-Cambridge. How is Cambridge?
F: Full of weird people

*Me surprised*

-Why?
F: Because it is full of weird people

-And how is studying Philosophy like? Do you have to read a lot too?
F: Yes, a lot

“And she also has to think a lot XD”
-Haha! That must be hard, no?!

“Do you want some soup?”
-No, Thank you.

-And the weather in the UK?
F: It’s like what you expect, rain!
What I don’t like is, they don’t have a proper summer

-And did you guys meet?
“We went to the same high school”

-I actually watch a show from Italy, its called Gomorra
“Ah! Gomorrah. Yes, its a very good show, isn’t it? Now everybody knows about it”

-Yes, it’s very good. But the things in the series are true and real?
“Well not exactly real. But we have had some incidents and the events in the show are inspired by true events”

-I follow the actors on Facebook XD
“Its based on a book by Roberto Saviano and I really like him. I follow him on FB and I like his views and statements. He has to live with Police protection and he wanders around. If he goes back to Naples, he might get killed too”

-How do you spell his name? I want to follow him too
“R-O-B-E-R-T-O  S-A-V-I-A-N-O
But his statements are in Italian and mostly on Italian politics”

“You sure don’t want some soup”
-Sure, I will have it. The pasta tastes great btw! Always trust the Italian with Pasta

F: When did you arrive in Portugal?
-I have been here for almost a month now. I’ve been around the country a bit. And you guys?

“We came here 4 days ago. But I will come back here again”
-The soup is delicious

“Tell me about India. Which part are you from?”
-I’m from Delhi. And it’s a crazy city. Full of people.

“I can only imagine, I would like to see that someday”
-The population of Portugal is around 10 million and in Delhi, we are 21 million inhabitants

“What?! I cannot live in a city with so many people. I like smaller cities”
-Yes, it’s a demanding city and in the summers, it’s burning.
But Italy is a beautiful place, isn’t it? I haven’t been there yet, but am planning to.

“Yes, it’s a lovely place but it’s a dying country you know”
-What do you mean?

“The population is getting old and the young people don’t want to get married and have children. So the young workforce is less. The average number of children for women in Itlay is 1-1.5”
-And how many should it be to have a consistent growth for a country

“Around 2-3”
-Oh! And is that why a lot of Italians are moving abroad?

“No, No. That’s not why Italians move abroad. The economic condition is also very bad. We were hit deeply by the depression and are still recovering. It’s not like there are no jobs. But the number of jobs are fewer than it should be. And people are also exploited at the jobs, long working hours, unpaid holidays and stuff like that”

“Also, a lot of people evade taxes. The government then raises the taxes and then more people evade”
-That sounds a bit like India

“And how is India?”
-It’s very diverse. The cities are very different from the countryside

“Is it an Indian thing to climb the Mount Everest?”
-What?! No no. XD
Also, it’s not easy to climb the Everest XD

“Yeah, I know that”
-Indian thing is IT and maybe cricket XD

“But are you IT?!”
-No. XD
I may not be the best example of an Indian I guess
But I love cricket though

“I’m going to make tea for my friend and myself. Do you want some?”
-Yeah! I’ll come and give you a hand

-You are like God sent. I walked into the kitchen tired and hungry and you offered me food. And not only me but to everybody in the hostel.

“Its an Italian thing”

-They should put your picture on the Wall of Fame here XD

F: Okay, now I will teach you an important Italian expression

Abbiocco

-Abbiocco, what does it mean?

F: Its like when you have too much food and want to sleep
-Ah! So, if you feel Abbiocco, after a meal, does that mean the food was great

F: It’s more to do with quantity than quality.

*I open my laptop. The girls notice the decal LOTR sticker*

F: I love that. Do you like LOTR too?
-Yeah! But I like Harry Potter more

F: Both of us are big fans of LOTR
Harry Potter was when we were kids

-I guess I never grew up then

-Have you been to the Oldest Bookstore in the world here in Lisbon

“No, we haven’t! Where is it?”
-It’s in Chiado
Look, I have a picture on my Instagram here

“It looks nice, we will go there tomorrow”

*Looks at my other Instagram pictures*

“What is this?”
-It’s a light bulb, like a lamp?!

“Yeah! But these strands hanging?”
-Umm, I don’t know how to explain. They are like the filaments of the bulb

“You have a good eye. Maybe I should follow you on Instagram”
-Good Eye. I wear glasses, I have 2 extra eyes.

*lame joke expressions*

We talked a bit more about things, places, life, museums, work, travel and I bid them good night and retired to bed.

Algarve: Sun, Sea & Shore

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My flight from Porto reached late in the evening to Faro, and it was almost midnight by the time I checked in the hostel. Faro is a city in the southern region of Algarve. The weather was definitely a lot warmer in the south compared to Porto. The region is blessed with beautiful coastline and astonishing grottos. This was to be my last destination, before heading back to Luxembourg and I wanted to make the most of my time there.

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Located an hour’s drive from Faro is a small town of Benagil. I left early for the place since the buses going there are limited. Deboarding at a town called Lagoa, some 5-8 kilometers from Benagil, I had to take a taxi there. If someone’s planning to go there, I must inform there are only 2 buses, one each in the morning and evening from Lagoa to Benagil. So an alternative option is either a taxi or by car. Since I don’t drive my mobility is challenged and had to depend on a public conveyance. On reaching the place, I booked a tour to the caves, with a dozen other people. Being an offseason the guy manning the wobbly boat showed us around and explained in depth. This was one of the highlights of my visit, the place is absolutely picturesque and one of these caves makes it to the list of the most beautiful sea caves in the world.

 

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Benagil Sea Cave, Algarve, Portugal

These caves hid small beaches inside them, most of the beaches were accessible only by waters. One in particular called, Carvalho beach is accessed only by a small tunnel. the story has it, that it was by an ex-chief of the Portuguese Navy, Captain Carvalho before the government amended the laws prohibiting people to own the beaches. Now all the beaches in Portugal are free to the public. There is a lighthouse on the rocks above the beach.

Our captain, guy rowing the boat was a funny person. He made us imagine the shapes of the rocks as pictures and figures of people, animals, and things. I also noticed these guys from the company, had tattoos of the sea and things from the sea. One of them had the sardines (the fish), some had shells, other had boats. It made me ponder how important the sea has been to them. In one way or the other, if we see, they get their livelihood from the sea. Maybe most of them had been born here and they know the sea inside out.

After one and half hour of rowing in the waters, passing through the caves, we were back on the shore. The whole area around is such that it’s all rocks high above the sea and these grottos were formed in these rocks over the time. One can go hiking along the shore on the rocks. The trail is almost 11 kilometers long and the map says might take more than 6 hours to finish. But personally, I would recommend it since while hiking you’re witnessed to some amazing views of the expansive ocean and small pretty beaches. While hiking, I was walking through all the ups and downs in the rocks, the sun was out and at times, I could just sit at the edge and hear the sound of the sea hitting the rocks with pleasant winds on my face.

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Beach with shells

I think its one of those places, where one can find peace.

After an eventful and tiring day, I returned to Faro and had a peaceful sleep.

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The next morning I check out of the hostel and had the whole day to myself as my bus to Lagos was in the evening. I utilized this time to see the city (I don’t even know, if the city is the right word to describe the place, it’s smaller). The old town is small and beautiful. The pleasant sun added to the experience. Being a bank holiday, some of the places were inaccessible.

I was particularly impressed by a small island by the name of “Ilha Deserta”, or Desert island reached by a 25-minute boat ride. In one of my previous posts, I have expressed my liking for the Portuguese word Ilha and its usage. This island a small kind of abandoned place with arid vegetation, and desert-like sand. with a small beach and a fancy restaurant. The cape of the island is the southernmost point of continental Portugal. There is a hiking trail, which sees you through the whole island pretty much. The ocean looked greenish blue and was glittering in the sun. I just sat there beside the ocean soaking the warmth of the sun for hours. It felt nice to just see the time going by and pondering over things. Once in a while, it’s nice to pause and reflect. This was one of those places where you would like to do that.

 

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Cabo de Santa Maria, southernmost point of continental Portugal

 

After spending some relaxing and lazy hours in the sun of Ilha Deserta, I boarded my bus to Lagos in the evening.

Lagos
Lagos was supposedly my last destination before spending a night at Lisbon for my flight back next morning. I had also planned to spend the New Year’s eve here in Lagos. This is not one of most preferred destinations for a New Year’s party. A small town close to the sea is summer destination, mostly for the Brits. I noticed people here spoke more English compared to other parts of Portugal. The restaurants and bars had advertisement boards at the door with quote “English Breakfast available here”. I was later informed that sometime in the past, the Britishers used the southern coast of Portugal for trade and now a lot of them have their summer houses here. In fact, my hostel owner was from Kent, UK. So, I arrived late at the hostel and went for a walk looking for dinner. It was quiet, cold and empty. Finally, I dined at an Asian restaurant and retired to bed, I was a bit tired honestly.

Next morning was the 31st of December, and the city was preparing to welcome the new year. The central square was being decorated, the technicians were testing the equipment, playing music occasionally. It was bright and sunny, people were out on the streets. I went hiking around the coastline, trailing away from the city. The clouds hid the sun occasionally and the breeze from the sea grew stronger. The high uneven rocks above the sea made a good pondering place. I sat on one of these rocks for a while feeling the breeze and watching the waves smashing on the rocks. “We should all be like waves, persistent”, was the thought that came to my mind. The landscape here was a bit similar to that of Benagil, only the rocks were higher, uneven and the city or civilization was closer. It started to get a bit cold after a while and I made my way back. On the way, I saw many of these small villas or fancy houses, which looked like a summer house. The billboards also advertised the sale of many such houses. It sure looked to me that this place might be holiday homes. I had spent my whole day hiking and the sun was setting now and people were preparing for the party. My plan was to return to the hostel, have dinner, freshen up a bit and head out to the party.

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I met few other guys at the hostel after dinner we made a small preparty with lots of drinks and games. We could hear the music already, meaning the bands have started performing on the stage. “You guys gonna love it, there are a lot of girls there. A boy band is in town”, the owner of the hostel said it. We were informed that one of the bars is having a beer pong competition, the beer is cheap and the winner gets 20L of tap beer =D. Our preparty moved the bar, dingy loud and packed. We went into the competition but were eliminated more sooner than expected.

“We should all be like waves, persistent”

After the drinks, we headed to the central square, and it was already full. A boy band, called D.A.M.A were performing. The people in the crowd seemed either too young or too old. There were indeed a lot of girls but all very young. The music went on until midnight and then people headed to the coast, few meters away. When the clock hit midnight, the fireworks started from the other side of the sea. It wasn’t far, there was a yacht parking space like water body between us and the fireworks. The light show went on continuously for 10 mins and it looked really good, actually better than I expected.

 

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New Year’s

After the fireworks people rushed back to the stage, for some more music. There were many DJs taking turns to play and it more like pop music or Mundial music or global music. I fought my way through to the front, just next to the stage and danced crazy and funny for a long time =D. After few hours, they had to close the central square and we rushed back to the bars and clubs. Some of the bars there were doing the 24-hour challenge was were supposed to keep open for the whole of 24-hours. I spent the rest of my evening in a bar playing live music, it was a small and cozy kind of bar with fewer people.

Few hours before the sunrise, I returned to the hostel to catch some sleep, before leaving for Lisbon. The first day of the New Year was bright, sunny and soothing. Woke up, had shower, breakfast, checked out and headed to the bus station only to realize the next bus to Lisbon is in the afternoon. Being a public holiday, the frequency of buses is low. So I just sat on one of the benches along the sea, basking in the sun and passed the rest of my time reading and thinking about what has been one amazing trip.

Soon it was time to leave, the engine of the bus started with a rattles and it moved towards Lisbon.

 

 

Party like Porto

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I would like to start with an apology for not being able to update the blog as frequent as I should. To restart from where I last left, I flew down to Porto from the Azores.

The weather was wet and I was greeted with rain in the city. Though being the festive season, like Lisbon, it was all lit up and decorated with Christmas lights. The city is well connected with the public transport. I used an awesome map, Use-IT, to find my way through the city. It was very convenient and I strongly recommend it.

Porto or Oporto
The Portuguese word is Porto but some tales say that the language requires adding a kind of an article before the name. Back in the days when the Brits came to Portugal, they couldn’t differentiate the article from the name and started using Oporto instead of Porto. Hence, the English word for the city is Oporto and the Portuguese version is Porto. Interestingly, the airport here also has the code OPO. Funnily, the auto correct in the notebook too suggests Oporto =D

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Porto and Lisbon being two big cities in the country share a friendly rivalry. I have had different opinions from people stating either one as better.
“Porto is a great place to party, you can go crazy there”
I will reserve my opinion to myself here. My love is equally divided for both, also I’m bad at lying 😀

“Porto is a great place to party, you can go crazy there”

The atmosphere in the city definitely was very lively and my hostel was full and alive. I befriended particularly two girls from Uruguay, whom I shared the dorm with. “You are Santiago, that’s your Latin name.”
We got along well and towards the end of my stay, they had given me a Latino name.

Super Bock vs Sagres
Port Wine comes from Porto, and it’s sweet and delicious. Some say its a dessert wine and can be dangerous because you can get drunk very soon without realizing (and that’s pretty much what happened to me there!). Super Bock is the beer in Porto, brewed locally, distributed globally. The other famous Portuguese beer, Sagres comes from Lisbon.
“Eu Quero tres finos, Por favor”, and we had three super bocks served on our table. Apparently, “fino” is the local word for beer as opposed to “Imperial” in Lisbon.
So, Fino=SuperBock, Imperial=Sagres!! Don’t use Imperial in Porto, if you want Sagres, specifically ask for it. Similarly, no fino in Lisbon.

“Eu Quero tres finos, Por favor”

IMG_2736Apart from the drinks, the food in Porto is delicious, Francesinha (special ham sandwich with special sauce), in particular, is the specialty of the region. It very filling and was my go-to food, especially while roaming in the city. Add SuperBock to it and you have a delightful combination. In addition, they have great Bifanas and Rissoles, a fried dumpling. One of these days, I had a very vegan meal, in an all vegan restaurant. I’d like to mention it because it was tasty, the atmosphere was nice and the place was new. People aren’t aware of its existence yet. So, if you’re in Porto and interested in some vegan delicacies. head out to Arvore do Mundo.

The geographical location of Porto allows one to travel to adjacent cities of Braga, Guimarães, Coimbra, and Aveiro for a day trip. The weather didn’t permit to visit all these places but I did go to Braga and Guimarães see an old friend. It felt good catching up after years and we shared a lot of laughter and stories. I filled him up on my travels around Portugal and narrated all my experiences, the local culture, words, slangs, accents I have picked up through the course of my travel. “Shameek, you know everything, you’re fit to be a Portuguese now”, I was so happy to hear that. My “Feeling Accomplished” Facebook moment :D. This was his reaction when I ordered beer using the word “fino”, and yes, they use it in Braga too.

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Portugal was born here

Braga is small town north of Porto, quiet and peaceful. It’s famous for its 17 flight church surrounded by gardens and greenery. “Braga is a place locals live, Porto is where they work. It’s relatively small and has everything one needs, a perfect place away from the city still close to the city”, according to my friend. After spending a few hours in Braga we drove to the historic town of Guimarães. Historical for some reason, they say “Portugal was born here”. The place has a big famous castle and old small center, with nice coffee houses and bars. Since it was an off tourist season, there weren’t as many people and it looked even better.

 

 

Lello
The Livaria Lello or the Lello bookstore is another famous one. I love this country, full of amazing bookstores. Lello is loosely called the “Harry Potter Bookstore”, and for some reasons. This place thrives on Potter. Apparently, back in the days, JK Rowling had spent some time in Porto and used to in the bookstore spending her day. There are beautiful staircases in the store, absolutely beautiful and they say these stairs inspired the Hogwarts staircases in the novels. The store has become so famous that they charge a 4€ ticket to enter it. Though if you buy a book, you get a discount of 4€ using the ticket but still. It was full of people, clicking pictures everywhere, it was impossible to buy a book there. Also, before entering the store, the tickets are sold at the adjacent shop and this shop has all the goodies from Potter. Coffee Mugs, t-shirts, notebooks, wands and everything, you name it they have it.

 

 

Apart from being modern, fashionable and stylish Porto is an old city and has a bit of history too. The Alminhas da Ponte Memorial, situated next to the river is a memorial for souls passed away in a tragic incident. The legend has it that Porto and Gaia were connected by a bridge, made of boats and tied together with ropes. Napolean’s army marched into the city and the bridge collapsed unable to handle the weight of people. Almost 4000 people drowned and it is the largest disaster in the history of Portugal.

There are a group of narrow alleys, in one corner of the city, Rua Central do Bairro Herculano, and one might find clothes drying overhead in these alleys. In the 1900s during the Industrial Revolution, almost 35% of the population lived here, stuffed in these narrow lanes. I have developed a special liking for the Portuguese word, “Ilha”, which means islands. That’s how this area was called, (or still called?!). Ilha is also used to describe personalities and human behaviors. The Portuguese Center for Photography has a whole section dedicated to “Ilha” with captivating pictures. One other reason I was impressed with the center was that it was a prison long ago and now its turned into a photo museums kinds.

 

Porto is one of those cities, that makes you feel alive. It has been one special experience, and more special that I got my first tattoo here XD. Now I bid goodbye to Porto and head to my next destination, Faro.

 

Smell the sea at Azores

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Located in the west of Portugal mainland lies an autonomous archipelago, Azores. São Miguel island is the home to the capital city, Ponta Delgada. The island is home to some volcanic craters, lagoons, hot springs and geothermal baths. With many hiking trails, on a good day, this place looks very beautiful.

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Volcanic Craters

I landed on the island late morning and to my surprise was greeted by a pleasant weather. The airport is built next to the sea and the first view of the island is pretty breathtaking.
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The lady at the information center on the airport was polite, kind and helpful. After arriving at the hostel, I unpacked and went around to see the city. I walked into a small restaurant and asked if they are still serving lunch. Most of the eateries close for a few hours in the afternoon, something like a siesta. But fortunately, this place was open and serving. The lady at the desk didn’t speak much English but asked a colleague of hers to attend me. The guy informed me that they were serving just fish and but it’s delicious and I won’t be disappointed. He was correct in every sense, it might well have been the best fish I had with a local beer, called Especial. After the meal, the guy wished that I enjoy my stay here. It felt like the people of this place would take every step to make me feel welcome and make sure I won’t have any inconvenience here.

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A taste of local beer

During one of my evening strolls in a garden, I ran into a group of school going kids and decided to exchange some greetings. They weren’t fluent in English but were delighted to have a tourist walking up to them and having a quick chat. They were young and have not left the island yet.
One day, it’s my dream to go to the mainland and travel“.
One of these kids moved from a neighboring island, Madeira. For the ones, who aren’t aware Madeira is home to Cristiano Ronaldo.
People are very very proud of him. Its a very very small place and he came up from nothing and look where he is now.”
People in Madeira dare to dream because of Ronaldo. He has given hope.

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The island has a coastline with the black sand beach. While taking a walk along the shore to view the sunset, there were many different advertisements of the of “Whale Watching”. Apparently, during the peak tourist season, one can hire a boat and the company would take you to a place in the closeby in the Atlantic ocean to watch the whales and dolphins.

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Green Lagoon

The next few days, I traveled to the east and west coast of the island, to experience the hot springs and see the lagoons. It’s very easy to hitchhike and people are more than willing to help you with directions. A friend at the hostel recommended a very scenic hiking trail, and it was indeed very very scenic. On returning, he enquired if I liked the hike and elated on listening that I enjoyed it.

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The bus connections from the town of Ponta Delgada to the coasts are limited, hence, I had to wake up very early to get the only bus to the other end. One of these days, en route to the hot spring I deboarded at the wrong stop, a small city some 10 kilometers of the actual destination. I went to ask for help, the guy didn’t speak English and he roamed around to find someone to help me. It turned out the next bus is in the evening, but an alternative mode would be to hire a taxi. I waited at a small stop, reading “Taxi Parking”. I was informed the taxi would arrive in half an hour, 09.00 in the morning. I waited waited waited, 09.00 am, no taxi…
09.20, still no taxi…
09.30, taxi nowhere to be seen…
All this time a lady a store next door was watching me waiting all this time. She called the Taxi Driver. The car was standing in front of me within next ten minutes.

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Hot springs

 

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Geothermal bath

I have already described in brief about the love for books and reading being one of the favorite pastimes Portugal. The central square, a little square in the middle of the city has a little, Microlibrary. It’s like an old telephone booth with books neatly arranged inside. How it works is one can borrow a book and keep one inside. If the book you’re looking for is missing, you can put the details on the notebook kept inside.

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Microlibrary

The Azorean experience has been absolutely wonderful and in my opinion, this is one of the most underrated travel destination. I wished I had more time to spend here, people are welcoming, the sea, the sand, the hills, the hike, the mountains, the springs, the volcanoes, the lagoons, this little island has a lot to offer.

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Now, I fly to my next destination, the city of Porto.

Life like Lisbon

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I have spent just over a week here in Lisbon and it has been an enriching experience. During this time, I had the chance to meet a lot of people, very warm, welcoming and polite.

The weather at this of the year is a tad colder than expected. I was told that the city has been hit by a small storm. It rained and rained for few mins, then the sun would come out, rain again, sun again. “Umbrella at all times”, I was advised.

Oi, Tudo bem?”
“Tudo Bem!”
…and they walking their way. It was the usual greeting, seemed like an inclusive hello if the people are acquainted with each other.

One of these evenings, I accompanied a stranger turned friend, to one of the restaurants, to experience Fado, a traditional Portuguese music. Over a beer, Sagres (local booze), we talked about Portugal. The summer this year, wasn’t the best, there was a wildfire causing a lot of destruction. Some small places burned down almost completely. According to him, the situation could have been better handled. The people had managed a lot on their own by volunteering and donations. The population of the country is scattered in small amounts throughout the country. Hence, it was difficult to send help to some parts in time.

“Excuse me! Do you speak English?!”
“Yes, Do you need help”
“Can you please tell me where the nearest post office is?”
“Ah! Its the red building at end of the road on the right-hand side. It says CTT”

But there’s some good news this year too. Portugal has been voted as Europe’s leading travel destination 2017. People, here, were happy and a little proud of the accomplishment.

“We, Portuguese people love to eat. Food is great here in Portugal”

The food in Portugal in general and Lisbon, in particular, has been delicious. There are a lot of bakeries and so many things to try. The cuisine is diverse and varies in the countryside and the coasts. Pastel de Nata is one thing nobody would like to miss in Lisbon. Codfish or bacalhau is one staple food in Lisbon. There are a lot of desserts (sericaia, my personal favorite) to pick from, I never want to leave this place. Next to station named Cais do Sodre, there’s a closed market called Time Square Market. It’s a good place to try the food since multiple cuisines are at one place. Though it looks a commercial place and the prices might be a bit higher. “We, Portuguese people love to eat. Food is great here in Portugal”, my friend said while walking next to the river after our meal.

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TimeOut Market

After Athens, Lisbon is the oldest capital city in Europe and is home to the oldest bookstore in the world, Bertrand. The establishment of store dates back to as long as 1732. It’s well visited and seems like Lisboners have a good taste in literature and are fond of books. I could notice even in the public transport, buses, metros, and trains, many of them read during their commute.

 

“Visit us in Summer, people are happier”

 

 

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Lisbon had been an amazing experience so far. I love this place, people are nice, food is good, life is laid back, not too hectic. I’ve only had good vibes here and absolutely love the city.

Next, I’m flying to Ponta Delgada in São Miguel Island, where my next adventure awaits. I will keep posting about my expedition.

Solitude by the Sea

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Solitude by the sea

Its almost Christmas, the city is decorated with festive lights. People are merry, singing dancing, drinking, celebrating.

Does Christmas bring joy when celebrated alone?

I think as you grow older, your Christmas list gets shorter as the things you want can’t be bought

Years have passed since she left. The sea and the shore remind him of her. This is the only place he feels closer to her. She loved surfing, these waves took good care of her, brought her back to the shore everytime, with a smile, except for that one time.

Now he comes back every now and then to listen to the sound of the waves hitting the rocks, feel the empty expansive silence of this sea. This is only place he finds himself closer to her. This is his Christmas abode.

He wishes one day, the sea will play the Santa and gift him the only present he wants.

“I think as you grow older, your Christmas list gets shorter as the things you want can’t be bought”, he keeps telling himself.