What port is this?

Trip Start Feb 18, 2004
Trip End Dec 05, 2005

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Monday, April 19, 2004

My dawgs are sore. Who wants to come over and rub my feet? Too much walking around with heavy packs.

Last Wednesday Karla and I split and went different directions (she only has a few weeks in Spain and is heading towards Barcelona). It was nice having somebody else to hang out with my first few days in Spain (and someone to help figure things out). I had a long day on the buses - from Tarifa to Sevilla, hopped another bus to Huelva then one more to Faro, Portugal. Faro wasn't too exciting but I was glad to be off the buses. It's sort of a seaside town, but the beach is about 6km from the town center...so really all there is is the town...and it's kinda lame. My Lonely Planet book was kind enough to provide no map of Faro so I just wandered and found a pensao. The next day I took the train to Lagos and it was much nicer. Cool little town with some nice beaches. A guy found me right after I got off the train and said he had place to stay right in the center of town so I said I'd check it out - €10 for my own room so I was glad to take it. I checked out the town and beaches my first day there...it's very touristy and there are lots of Brits. The next day was a bit cloudy and cool - I did a day trip to Salema and Sagres. There ain't much o' nothing in either of those towns but the beach so on a cool day not much to do. Salema would be a nice getaway if all you wanted to do was lay on the beach and hang out. Back in Lagos, I wandered out to some beaches with rock formations similar to the 12 Apostles in Australia (near Melbourne). In Lagos there are quite a few bars with happy hour specials - great prices so I had to visit! I also began to realize the Portuguese language isn't nearly as similar to Spanish as I thought. I don't have a clue what people are saying and am not sure if I should try to speak Spanish to them or just English. My brain usually turns off before I open my mouth, so it tends to be English.

Saturday I took the train up to Lisboa and thought I'd try a hostel this time (it's hard to meet other travelers when you're in your own room in a pensao). And remembered why I don't care for HI hostels - they're drab and devoid of character. The people all seem worn down and don't exude much life. Anyway, I went exploring a bit of Lisboa and thought I'd get a cheap-o digital camera since I called Dublin a couple days earlier and found out their tech is still out (I just found out today that he can't fix it and they have to send it to Holland...could be 3 more weeks. Would've been nice if it was sent off 2 weeks ago.). I found a cheap one at a mall...it works ok (only digital zoom, poor LCD display). There's a photo album up for this entry so you can judge for yourself. The next day I did a trip up to Sintra - there's a few sites there. I saw the National Palace and a castle built by the Moops (Bubble Boy is next to me yelling, "It's the Moors, you idiot!"). MOOPS! It was all foggy there so it was kinda cool, but at the same time meant I didn't get views of the surrounding area. I went back to Lisboa and checked out more sites there (statues, monasteries, plazas, etc...). While taking pics, I noticed a black splotch when looking through the LCD. It would go away when I'd zoom. I tried cleaning the lens but that didn't help. Putting my troubleshooting skills to work, I shook the camera and smacked it! The splotch went away. :) That evening I had to change to another hostel that was way out far...again Lonely Planet's maps and directions were very poor...I very much want to smack those writers upside the head. That hostel was kinda drab too.

Today I got the h*ll out of Lisboa and rode out to Evora (central Portugal). It's a cool little town with plenty of churches, some Roman ruins and an old aquaduct. I like the smaller towns with their narrow cobblestone streets and everything within walking distance. There's a church with human bones all over too! I found a little store with €1.50 bottle of wine. I'll try that later and see if I remember anything in the morning. Tomorrow I go up north to Marvao or a nearby city.

Roman ruins in Evora

My diet hasn't been good as of late. I tend to be traveling about during the day so just snack on whatever I have with me (cookies) and that turns out to be my lunch. I haven't deciphered the Portuguese menus for food so tend to look for something I recognize. Yesterday while wandering I was thinking a good 'ol club sandwich would be really nice (the kind they make back home, not here) and came upon a TGI Friday's and was like "sweet!"...but then I looked at the menu and they had no sandwiches. :( I found an Irish pub nearby for bar food. I picked up an apple and a banana at a store this afternoon. That'll get me some nutrients.

I finished my third book while at the beach in Salema. Now I have to see if I can find somewhere with English language books. I was hoping to find a Borders or another big bookstore in Lisboa, but only found small ones. Maybe Madrid will having something.

I keep forgetting to mention transportation here. It can be a bit tricky. The bus depots have various departure schedules listed and it's usually not too bad trying to find the one you want...but they rarely say the arrival time. Add this to none of the stops having signs and you can see why it's hard to know when to get off. I've asked the driver to tell me when we're there on a few occasions and that has yet to work (maybe they didn't understand). Trains are a bit better - the schedules almost always list arrival times for major stops and the stations usually have signs. I've noticed in Portugal and smaller towns they don't tell you which train is at each platform...always gotta ask someone. They just like to make things confusing for the tourists. There's probably a hidden camera so they can record tourists fumbling about lost and they later play it back and laugh.
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