Friday, May 6, 2011

Portugal -- Disfrutando de la Vida

Oh my gosh. Alright, so this is going to be 83948092384 years long I can already tell you that right now. So I'll just get right into things. As you all know, last Thursday, I left the country for the first time in 3 1/2 months! Didn't go far, stayed on the Iberian Peninsula, but I WENT TO PORTUGAL!!!!! YESSSSS! It was awesome. Now, there are some kids here I will admit who are just like FULL of cash and travel almost every weekend to different countries and cities, etc. Me, yeah not so much. I'm just happy to be here! But ANYWAY, PORTUGAL WAS GREAT.

So we took an overnight bus last Thursday night from Sevilla to Lisbon. Don't even begin to wonder who "we" is. If you have to wonder, you are not a faithful follower. ANYWAY, glad we cleared that up! :) So we considered ourselves BRILLIANT at first because taking the bus at midnight meant:

A. We didn't have to pay for a hostel overnight and
B. We could sleep the whole way there.

Well, we quickly realized we weren't so brilliant when:

A. The hostel check in time wasn't until 3pm and we arrived at 8:30am. HM. and
B. The bus was so uncomfortable none of us got much sleep.

BUT, we made it to Lisbon. So, we got there around 8am Sevilla time, but 7am Lisbon time, because they are an hour behind us! Other problem we faced: Katie forgot to print directions from the bus station to the hostel! Oooooopsie! Rookie traveller, right? Gah. But it provided for an interesting way of getting there. Luckily, Ky had her iPod, so we stood on a random street corner, found wireless to buy for the day, and used google maps to get directions. Of course, we thought we'd be all set to get there with the directions, but after a good 45 minutes of walking with all our bags and still not finding what said would be a 23 minute walk, we decided to just taxi it out. So we EVENTUALLY got to Unreal Hostel by around 8:30, and like I said, we couldn't check in until 3. So, we at least dropped all of our stuff off, and then set out to waste time for the day. So, first we found a place to get some breakfast, and then set out to get the good stuff: Starbucks clearly. (Dunks I love you, if you were in Portugal you know I'd say that about you :) But we will reunite in 36 days, don't worry. ) Anyway, so we parked it in Starbucks for a good 3-4 hours. Coffee, laptops, friends, all you really need anyway. So that was our morning. Best part also was that Starbucks was WAY cheaper in Portugal. Way to be, Spain. Pretty much got a size larger for what I'd normally pay for a small here. MEHH!! Also, realized pretty quickly how bad I am at understanding Portuguese! I thought maybe the fact that it was SIMILAR in ways to Spanish would help me out and I'd be fine...yeah nope. I could READ it fine and usually get what it was trying to say, but when it is spoken, NO way.

Anyway, so after Starbucks when we could FINALLY check into our hostel, we went back and moved all our stuff in and everything and finally relaxed! Our next problem became the rain. We couldn't really go anywhere or see anything because all of a sudden around 5 I want to say it just started DOWNPOURING! Yeah, Portugal wasn't about to give us a dream vacation that was for sure! So Adrienne and I sat inside and played cards for a while, which was TOTALLY fine by me and super fun, and Ky took a nap! When the rain eventually stopped, we set out to a mall area, walked around, checked some stores out, and eventually got dinner at a DELICIOUSLY AMAZING salad place called "VITAMINAS". Believe me, SO good.

A few important things to note from our shopping/dining excursion! First of all, we went into the Nike store, because Ky works for Nike so she's ALL about it, but we went in, and were in love with everything OBVIOUSLY, but I found this T-shirt and couldn't be more obsessed. I know you can find it in the US, but like still, it just is SO true and I loved it so much.

It's just like, everyone knows its true but no one admits it. I just die laughing thinking of seeing someone running down the street with this on. BAHA!

And other thing. This is the view from the BATHROOM window of the mall. HOW SICK IS THAT? Who needs a nice view from the bathroom? Doesn't matter, Lisbon will give it to you!

So anyway, after we got back, we ended up hanging out with our roommates from our hostel. There were 10 of us all in one room. We were just happy it was all girls. But anyway, they actually were all studying abroad in Spain too! In Granada. Yeah, been there done that! It was cool, though. So we all ended up hanging out in the room talking for a while, and eventually we all went out and got dessert together! It was a pretty fun night. Of course, the Portuguese-English thing got a little in the way when I tried to order milk to go with my cookie. First I get a cup of coffee. Nope. When I try to ask for MILK without coffee, he comes back with a hot cup of milk. Gah. Thanks Portugal. Milk is milk I guess, and I mean it did taste good with the cookie, BUT ALL I WANTED WAS A COLD GLASS OF MILK!!

Anyway, the next day, we woke up and headed to Sintra! Okay, I basically can't explain Sintra too well. Umm, pretty much cutest town ever about a half hour outside of Lisbon? Sounds good. So we took a train there. Don't think we didn't stop at Starbucks on the way, because the hostel coffee they had was basically melted cardboard. YUCK!

ANYWAY, so we got to Sintra, and saw tons of cool things around the village. Our two spots we loved were Palacio de Pena, an old palace, and Castillo de los Moros, aka Moorish Castle. Not entirely sure why Moorish ruins and I have become best friends in Europe, but we'll go with it. TAKE A LOOK AT THESE GREAT PICS! They can do more speaking than I can, clearly.

So pretty much we spent the entire day there, going from castle to castle, taking pictures and having a complete blast!

Palacio de Pena
GREAT hair.


Ky and Katie.. HEY ADRIENNE!


Walking up the old castle and loving life clearly!


Clearly, our famous "We are the WORLD" picture, HAD to happen.

Just awesome.

So, after that, we took the train back to Lisbon and hit up our favorite mall/salad place again for dinner. It was so great, the lady even remembered us and knew our orders! Extra veggies for me please! :) It was great. Totally long day out, but it was SO much fun! But, the best part was, the FUN DIDN'T STOP IN LISBON.


Alright, so Lagos. Aka, the best part of Portugal EVER. So, we took the bus out around 10:30, so we ended up getting to Lagos by like 2pm! Rather than having the hassle like we had the first time, we decided to just quit while we were ahead and get a taxi to take us to our hostel, Casa Amarela. When we got there, we got the SURPRISE OF OUR LIVES! Basically here's what happened. When you book the hostel, you can request to get an apartment if one is available at the time, and you won't pay any more. So, we requested one OBVIOUSLY. But we had never heard back from them, so we figured whatevs, a hostel is a hostel, right? Wrong. The lady, Helena, was THRILLED to see us when we got there, and said "I have a surprise for you!" What was her surprise? AN APARTMENT TO OURSELVES!!!!!!! Complete with a swimming pool, kitchen, dining room-ish, bedroom, bathroom, ALL THE WORKS!

So, needless to say, we were pretty THRILLED!!!! So after a good 10 minutes of dancing around and taking pictures of our home for the next two nights, we set out to grab some lunch and explore a little bit of Lagos! We found a cute spot to eat at right in the city center, and ate outside.

Lunch was great, we all had fun and were all I think in good moods because we were just so excited about our apartment. After lunch, we bought a BUNCH of groceries because we were so thrilled to be able to cook for ourselves! The problem came, however, when we got home. This exactly what happened. So, we get home, throw down all the groceries on the kitchen table and organize it all because we wanted to take photos of it, but naturally, we needed some light for our photos. Go to turn the light on, doesn't come on. Adrienne reassured us that when Helena showed us the apartment, the lights took a little while to turn on. Oh, okay, great. Perfect. We'll just wait. After a solid ten minutes go by, and we realize nothing will turn on, we realize we have NO POWER. SWEEET. We frantically opened up some fuse boxes and tried to hit a couple buttons, but nothing worked. We found a fuse box in the hallway that we switched on, which turned the hall lights on, but things only got worse from there. All I remember was standing in the hall and the hall lights went off, and I see Ky standing by the fuse box. Adrienne yells over, "Hey Ky, can you turn the hall lights back on for a sec?" I look over to Ky, who looks at me, and starts laughing. "Uhhhh, funny story...." What did Ky do? Found a big red button on the fuse box and PRESSED IT. YOU NEVER PRESS THE BIG RED BUTTON! Gah, has she not seen EVERY MOVIE EVER? THE BIG RED BUTTON IS NEVER GOOD! So needless to say, we had zero lights. So we set out to Helena's house, which was close to our apartment, to figure out the situation.

Funny story about THAT, was that Helena wasn't home. Alright. Great. Let's call. Adrienne's phone wasn't working. As soon as I went to call her on mine, my battery died. Ky's phone is just messed. So, we had to find a bar that had WiFi to be able to call her using SKYPE from Adrienne's iPod. Seriously, it was intense.

When we finally did get ahold of her, she was on her way to Lisbon. GREAT. Perfect. So her daughter eventually called us and we figured out how to get power back, and eventually got the lights back on. But I'd say we were home for a good hour without power. But seriously, I don't think I've laughed that hard in a while. We had been SO thrilled, thought we were on top of the world with this grand apartment....and then we get coned. Sweet, thanks Lagos.

So when we finally did get power back, we made ourselves coffee and just hung out in our apartment and played cards! It was raining out, so we didn't really get to do a lot outside but that was FINE by us! So after a great afternoon of laughing, playing cards, and just enjoying each other's company, we made ourselves a nice family dinner! Nothing too exciting, just pasta, but it was great and so much fun to be able to cook our own food and have a cute dinner together! And we even set the table. Gah, it was love.

So that was pretty much our night. We just spent it laughing and hanging out after that, it was GREAT! A good old fashioned sleepover at it's best!

So the next morning we woke up and made ourselves the most WONDERFUL omelets! (Not THE most wonderful, don't worry Dad, yours are still the BEST!) But ours were pretty GREAT!

After breakfast and coffee, we set out and walked around the town! It wasn't huge at all, so cute and small, but still definitely enough to walk around in and have a good time. We ended up going into a bunch of the little shops.

Bought a few souvenirs for a few special people, and you all know my obsession with headbands right? Obviously. So, I was PUMPED to find similar ones in Portugal, and we all bought some, and were definitely in LOVE! 3 euro, can't go wrong. And we can all match, SO CUTE RIGHT!

Anyway, so then we did some good old fashioned GROCERY SHOPPING, and bought the rest of the stuff we needed for the night and next day at our humble home! Gah, it was great and so much fun. So we went home, made lunch, had a little picnic outside on our patio, and then did some more coffee and cards! Gah, so fun. This seriously felt like a real vacation. So great.

Sadly, Adrienne started feeling a little sick after that. So, she stayed in bed for a bit, had to rest up, while Ky and I went and basically had our own beach photo shoot, which was great. We took tons of pictures and just hung out near the water as the sun set. It was seriously gorgeous and so much fun. Some hilarious moments too, like when the boats would go by and people would yell for us to "Swim!" to come to them, or when we tried about 2934 times to get someone to get a picture of us hugging a palm tree and every time the person somehow failed. Gah, gotta love life. But, we did manage to at least get a FEW good photos in! :)

Our favorite part of this excursion though, was one of the women who took our picture. Apparently, she's from Italy but lived in Barcelona for a long time. Basically she's living the Eat, Pray, Love life right now. She left everything in Barcelona -- ex-boyfriend, all her stuff, her life, etc. And is now exploring the world, I guess starting with Lagos? Interesting. Anyway, here was the advice she gave us:

"Disfruta de la vida; Life is one day." Apparently it's a pretty popular Spanish saying or something? But she was pretty serious about it and really wanted to make sure we got it. It was so funny and great at the same time. Here's this random woman in Lagos who left her life behind and is giving two 20-year-olds advice on life. I felt like I was in a movie. It was great. Kind of miss her now - hope her life's going great! But I mean, it's a great life lesson. Tomorrow never comes, and yesterday's over, so we gotta enjoy today!

I had to snap a picture of her as she walked away against the sunset. It was just too perfect to pass up.

So after that lovely time, Ky and I headed back to the apartment and cooked THE BEST DINNER IN THE WORLD!!!!!! It was great. Now, her and I are both obsessed with veggies, so we made pasta (that we totally didn't care about) AND THE BEST COOKED VEGGIES EVER! We were LOVING our lives. Everything you can imagine; broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, peppers, you name it! SO good.



So we made a delicious dinner, pasta, bread, veggies, and enjoyed it together. It was so much fun. Adrienne couldn't really taste much of it, cause she was unfortunately sick, but she loved it I'm sure! :) So that was kind of our night, and we of course followed dinner up with some ice cream we bought at the store that day too! So great. It was seriously just all so perfect. So we went to bed, and got up the next day, did some things around the house, and then headed off for our 6 hour bus ride back to Sevilla! Again, bus ride, not fun. Obviously. But I was glad to be back in Sevilla eventually! But seriously, I had SO much fun on this trip. It was a nice break from other trips we went on because it was more calm and relaxed. We weren't rushing around trying to see 29348209348 sights in 2 days, we just relaxed, went at our own pace, and most of all enjoyed each other's company! BEST EVER.

Gotta tell this one story before I close this -- alright, so I get back and I unpack, right? (Also funny story -- left a towel at the hostel. Oops!) Anyway, so I unpacked everything, and didn't realize but didn't shut my top droor. Anyway, later on in the night, my host sister's two year old, Pablo, is in my room playing with me. He sees my top droor, looks at me, points to it, "TU LO HAS HECHO MAL!" Aka, he told me I did a bad job shutting my droor. Great. I just love that a two year old is telling me how messy I am. My host mom died laughing, and so did I. Gah, love my life. Even gotta say, right now I'm looking at it, it's not shut. Shoot. When will I learnnnn?!

So, now I'm back in Sevilla and just doing a ton of homework and also enjoying La Feria, which I will get into in my next blog! Right now, a little too tired, and I'm pretty sure you have enough to read. :) So I'll leave it at that. Basically, LOVED Portugal trip (mostly Lagos), blessed to have GREAT friends, now ready to enjoy the rest of my time in SEVILLA!

35 more days. Excited but also wondering where the HECK time went. Seriously. Don't get it. Alright, too late at night to ponder the mysteries of life. I'll write more when I can! Hope you had as much fun reading this as I did when I was there! (Doubtful, though. ;) )

Hasta luego!

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