And so it begins… Well, actually, it began over a month ago but here’s your first blog post of the trip, from the one who didnt go too skool for english. I’m excited to publish this – spelling and grammar errors included – to see how much it annoys Dan. For those of you who don’t already know, just about everything annoys Dan. But I digress.
Having never been before, neither of us really had any expectations of Portugal other than that the weather had to be much better than the -10 and snow that we left behind in Canada. This held to be true and even in March the temperature in Lisbon was quite agreeable to us northerners. However, it wasn’t the weather or the beaches or the partying that goes on late into the night that made us fall in love with Portugal. Yes, the beaches are incredible, the southern coastline is absolutely stunning with it’s dramatic cliffs and surreal grottos. These all add to the wow-factor of the country but it’s something else that draws us back there.
It was the people.
The warmth upon arrival was felt much more from the inhabitants of the country than by the sun in the sky. We were received as guests and not just as tourists in a place that is flooded with the latter each summer. Even in the capital city, not a shred of impatience was shown at our incompetence of the Portuguese language and most servers, bartenders and even bus drivers were content to help us out after our broken attempts of the local tongue.
We spent some time in Lisbon and in Portimao and then we arrived in Lagos. Here’s a question for all of you long-term travelers out there: have you ever arrived at place, only intent on passing through and ended up extending your hostel/hotel stay again and again? This was Lagos for us.
It was quiet enough without being void of people to meet or things to do. It was small enough to be able to walk everywhere but due to the layout of the old town, we still managed to get lost after almost a week of being there. It’s a beach city without the typical over the top surfer vibe you get from most others like it in the world. It is a beautiful city, but none of the sites within it really wowed us and to be honest, we didn’t do a whole lot while we were there. Maybe that was the beauty of it, being able to do nothing but enjoy our time partaking in the simple things Lagos has to offer.
I can’t talk about Lagos and not mention Olive Hostel. Claudia and Uwe were two of the friendliest, most interesting and sincere hostel owners I have ever met. They’ve put their hearts into making Olive Hostel a home away from home for many backpackers and have succeeded more so than any I have known before.
In fact, in order to extend our stay in not only the city but at the hostel, we offered to help these two with anything that they needed done. And that’s how we became painters. For four days we painted the rooftop terrace in exchange for free accommodation on said roof.
After just over two weeks, we left Lagos. It was sad to say goodbye to a place that had become so familiar but we felt the need to move on and took a train to Faro. Portugal was the perfect starting point for the both of us. After spending so much time working such unfulfilling jobs, a reset was necessary. Portugal was a great balance of warm hospitality and new experiences.