December 21, 2008 § Leave a comment
It’s a brand new day. I think I’ve died and gone to couchsurfing heaven. All that effort on Friday was really worth it.
Of course many of you are aware that my European odyssey has almost entirely been supported by couchsurfing. So far within the confines of 16 cities I have slept on a variety of different surfaces which have included bunk beds, day beds, normal single beds, queen beds with silk sheets, the floor with a dog, a small sofa, sleeping bags with a cat, actual fold-out couches and yes, I have even shared beds. There have been times when I have woken up and not have a clue where I was.
Anyway there is a point to this story. I am in Porto and it is fucking paradise. In a four-storey house with 3 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms and a movie room, I am kicking back in a private room on the king-sized bed getting reacquainted with Harry Potter. After a hot shower in the 5-star marble clad ensuite I dry myself off with the fluffy white ‘hotel’ towel. It has been nicely warmed up on the heated towel rail. One does get quite tired after zipping around all night in Pedro’s red BMW so I press the magic button and the external shutters whirr down to a close. I almost expect a butler to appear out of nowhere to put a chocolate mint next to my pillow.
Oh yeah. I am having a couchsurfing orgasm. It’s so good but you know it will end all too quickly…
December 20, 2008 § Leave a comment
I have been writing part of this from the red and white cushy lounges of Pestano Porto Hotel, munching on some expensive as hell sandwich and fries, and catching up on some world news on the wall-mounted plasma TV. It’s been two whole hours since I’ve been lost on the streets of Porto, and I thought that I damn well deserved some posh grub.
Let me provide a small flashback. Back in Lisbon internet access had been rather tricky and I thought I would be able to memorize the Googlemap image of the meeting location Pedro had sent to me within my 15 minute log-in at one of the Indian run internet cafes. I put full confidence into my amazing mental prowess and I happily set off to catch my bus at Sete Rios.
One of the worst things a traveler can do is to arrive in a new city at night, with no map and no fucking clue where you are. The tiny one in Lonely Planet didn’t really help. So with my mental prowess (which I was beginning to feel wasn’t so amazing anymore), I ended up walking, with my backpack, across the bridge, back again, down some alleys, up some streets, and ended up in some Portugese coffee shop with no idea where I was. I was tired and frustrated but somehow, found an old man who spoke French, and with bad French managed to get some directions.
So here I am, in a nice hotel, where I managed to convince the concierge to feel sorry for me (as I was feeling extremely sorry for myself) and let me use the hotel phone and wait in the hotel lobby. I was beginning to think Pedro did not exist but I waited. Finally, at around 1am, after much ado and effort, I was found. A bit worn around the edges, and a little grumpy, sure, but I still had my wit, humour, and a good head on my shoulders, and that after all, is the most important thing.
December 17, 2008 § Leave a comment
I have made the 6 hour road trip to Lisbon and am now couchsurfing with Rita. She greeted me at the metro station with a warm smile and led me to her flat. To get there we navigate through labyrinth like streets, the old cobblestones rough on my feet. From the steep street we climb up and reach her building, old, with faded tiles on the outside. We have to walk up three floors of hard stairs with no lift or light, but I’m just happy to be in Portugal, finally.
Her place is small, and I notice there is no couch, but the smell of food wafts through from the one-person kitchen. Within the hour my eternally starving self is satisfied. Her cat falls in love with me and spends the next few nights sleeping at my feet as I lay bundled up in a sleeping bag on the unfinished timber floor. I have no complaints.
It feels nice being with a girl for once and doing usual things such as waking up in the morning. Though I have enjoyed hanging out with the boys immensely, I also like doing girly things on occasion. So with Rita I have spent many lovely hours strolling through the city (by day!) and beautiful afternoons taking boat rides and indulging in Portugese custard tarts.
I have really pleasant memories of cooking, eating, and even just hanging washing out on the line in the sparkling sun. From the top floor I have a great view of the ‘real’ Lisbon, with its maze of streets and messy tiled roofs. I breathe in the smell of fresh laundry, I love this smell. I almost feel normal again.