Monday, September 20, 2010
We're not in Spain anymore.
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I heard someone say it on the way home yesterday. It was a simple thing that many of us agreed with. For some background information, I am living in Sevilla, Spain, one of the most culturally rich cities in Spain and maybe even all of Europe; an awesome place to spend 4-weeks taking Spanish classes and taking in the Andalucían culture. However, when it was said, I could not help but nod in agreement—“I never thought going back to Sevilla would be disappointing.”
A rather strong statement for an incredible place to live, but it goes to show how awesome this past weekend was in Portugal. I could writes hundreds of words about this weekend, and I might just do that…
The birthday boy and the boys
After celebrating my homestay-mate’s (Steven's) birthday Thursday night by going out for tapas and drinks I woke up around 8 am to finish packing and to make sure we were out the door by 9:15. We were successful and Steven, my friends Palmer and Karl, and myself split a taxi to the Portuguese Embassy where the buses were waiting to take us to Lagos. Less than 4 hours later I was staring at this:
I had to prove I was there by getting in one of the pictures...
This is the beach where me and over 100 Americans, mostly whom were travel abroad students, would spend the day playing beach soccer, taking in the sun, and exploring the rocks. Our first day at the beach was followed up by an incredible dinner at Nah Nah Bar in the center of Lagos. I have eaten several burgers in my 24 years, but not too many rival the pure tastiness of the burger I had at Nah Nah. Good meat, good cheese, perfect bacon, and some pineapple and special sauce makes one delicious burger. From here we went to a bar that the travel company we went with had basically rented out for us. Most of us spent the rest of the night hanging out and dancing at the oh-so-Americanly named bar Joe’s Garage.
Saturday morning was greeted with an excellent breakfast at the hotel and a short bus ride to where I got to hang out on this:
That is the sailboat that many of us hung out on for 2 hours late Saturday morning and into the early afternoon. It gave us some incredible views of the Lagos coastline. We also went for a ride on this:
Which gave us an up close view of the caves and rock formations along the coast.
After our sailboat cruise we left the docks and walked about 15-minutes to a nearby beach. From about 1:30 to 5ish I played beach soccer and volleyball, took in the sun, and swam. What did it look like? Yes, I’ve got a picture for that…
Two days and two incredibly relaxing and beautiful beaches.
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After returning from the beach many of us decided to go on an optional activity and took a 25-minute bus ride to a place called Sagres. This town is situated on the southwest corner of the country and gives some of the best sunsets around. Unfortunately, it was pretty cloudy when we arrived and the sun was taken away from us by clouds rather then the horizon, but it was an incredible area. Enjoy these photos.
We arrived back in Lagos for dinner. Me and a few others were on a mission to find a Thai restaurant (yes, I know, a Thai restaurant in Portugal is weird. However, one, people went to it the previous night and said it was incredible and two, this is a continuation of finding the best Thai restaurant while overseas in places I am visiting. This started when I was on vacation this summer with Rachel and we ate Thai food in Antigua, Guatemala and Roatan, Honduras). We finally found it but it was a 40-minute wait. So we decided to stay in the same geographical area (roughly) of the world and eat Indian food instead. Good choice, it was delicious. We ordered four plates (which I could not tell you the names of) and shared all of them. After dinner we checked out the area, got a few drinks at one of the many bars lining the main street of town and eventually made our way to the second place the travel company was hosting us at, Bar Grande. Here most of us again spent the night hanging out and having drinks while dancing the night away. An awesome time had by all.
Sunday morning came pretty early after a fun night at Bar Grande, but it was really the day I was looking forward to the most. I was going surfing. At 11 we took the bus to a beach that was about 40 minutes up the coast (about 20 minutes north of Sagres). It was a surfing beach, which was evident by the dozens of surfers dotting the water and the handful of surf shops right on the beach. Within 20 minutes our boards and wetsuits were ready and we made our way down to the beach with our surf instructor. After some opening stretching and basic lessons on how to catch a wave and the proper way to stand on the board I eagerly ventured into the water. Now, I have surfed twice before, once on the coast of Washington state with my brothers and another time in San Diego with a few friends. Both times I would have no problem catching a wave (thanks to my many years of body surfing on Lake Michigan), but would quickly get destroyed by the wave as I went head-over-heels into the water because I had no idea how to properly stand up on the board. However, this time I was a lot more successful. Instead of venturing out into the deeper waters where the waves were enormous, I stayed closer to shore, improving my ability to catch a wave and then stand up. Not to sound cocky, but I got really good at this and was getting up on almost every attempt. I eventually made my way a little further out where I began to catch waves that were a little larger and had a lot of fun actually surfing. Although many of those who didn’t go surfing took several pictures of those of us who did, no one was able to catch me in action. So, you will have to take my word for it. Here are some pictures of the group though.
It was a lot of fun and by the end of 2 hours I was exhausted. This was by far my favorite beach as well because of its mostly untouched natural setting. A pretty awesome place.
After a quick lunch and about 45 minutes of relaxing on the beach we made our way to the bus and back to the hotel in Lagos. Here, I showered and changed and before I knew it we were back on the bus heading towards Sevilla.
Overall, it was one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. From the three incredible beaches, to the food, to the activities we did, to the company of friends I was with, it was spectacular and will be hard to top in regards to future trips I take.
A quick note on the language.
I was surprised to hear that Portuguese, although in written form is very similar to Spanish, is extremely different from Spanish when spoken. I was not aware of this and was quite surprised. However, this really didn’t affect us too badly because everyone we came across during the trip (including the random people I asked about the location of the Thai restaurant) spoke English.
I also want to thank some of the other teachers for the pictures I stole from their albums on Facebook and used above. I took several pictures but some of them took better ones...