lagos & points west

The duration of a bus ride increases as a result of the following things: 1) amount of stops “por pueblo” and 2) nicotine to caffeine ratio of your driver. Therefore, a ride from Seville, Spain to Lagos, Portugal can take approximately five hours. But our driver was a gem and the weather held up, so we spent Friday morning motoring through the countryside, plugged into our ipods and slipping in and out of consciousness.

Upon arrival in Portugal across a massive bridge, the frontier guard comes onto the bus and checks our passports (no stamps when you travel throughout the EU – sorry, stamp fans!). No criminals or fugitives on board, so off we go. It is gray and somewhat dreary when we arrive in Lagos. Item #1 is confirming a return trip. When you leave Sevilla the return is considered “abierta” or open for 6 days. When you reach your destination, you confirm your return to make sure you have a seat. Monday afternoon return – done. Important to note that buses between Huelva / Sevilla and Lagos (and every damn town in between) run twice a day EVERY day, including weekends and holidays. Go, Damas, go!

The bus station is across from the marina so we cross the pedestrian drawbridge to grab something to eat at the Fool and the Pickle, or whatever it’s called. Already, the place is rampant with English. Brits, Kiwis, Australians in all shapes and sizes. I should note for Bethlehem Granny McCarthy fans that my first meal was the ploughman’s lunch and it was glorious (!). We get caught in a deluge of rain and make our way to our hotel in wet jeans and soggy sweatshirts. The hotel is basic and cheap. I would venture a guess that we are one of maybe 5 or 6 occupied rooms in the hotel – hello, winter.

We spend the day wandering around the town of Lagos and playing tourist. The old city is surrounded by huge fortress-like walls and gorgeous old trees. You are never far from the water, as it dominates one side of the town. We make our way to the surf shop and Matt books a spot for us on the next morning’s outing – to be clear, Matt surfs and I spectate 🙂 Randomly, one of the owners doubles as a DJ and will be spinning records later that evening at a local bar. Truth be told, I pass out after a delicious dinner and Matt flies solo to witness this event. A gold star for Don Toro and their pumpkin soup – little taste of fall on this side of the world.

Saturday morning finds us at the surf house and scowling at the weather. We will head out with a group of 10 or 12 people in two Land Rovers. In the same way that all surfing trips begin (as I’ve learned after several years being friends with Matt) – we make for the beach in search of waves. This can mean one stop, or several. In Long Beach Island, NJ – we can hop in the car, pull up at a dead end and Matt will hop out to stand on the edge of the dock like a sea captain, checking for this swell and that tide and all that technical stuff. Here in Portugal, the third time is the charm and our group decides to surf Praia do Zavial. But first, a coffee break at the seaside café.

I froze my butt off photographing my dear friend, although the water was warm it was pretty damn cold outside. Wet jeans do not make for appropriate windy-cold-drizzly beach attire. We had lunch with the group and headed back with plans to shower, siesta and start over – in that order. The best meal in Portugal, bar none, was a recommendation from our guide David. We met up with our NZ friends and headed out to dinner in town, where we ran into David and he led us through some back alleyways to deposit us in front of Casinha do Petisco, and I could kiss him for doing so. The portions were ginormous and the food was out of this world. We spent a little over 3 hours there savoring every last bite, and decamped to a local bar where David works as a bartender. Some time in the wee hours we had daylight savings time and gained another hour in Lagos. This was used for Sagres beer, a cricket lesson and the game of American English vs Kiwi English.

Sunday we met up with two beautiful Global Village* 2008 alumni: Maryna & Hugo, the newlyweds-to-be! I haven’t seen them in two years and it felt like no time had passed at all. It was a great way to end our weekend in Portugal, prior to the five hour twisting, turning bus ride that dumped us into Sevilla around 8:30 p.m.

Back to the grind tomorrow! Photos to follow, as usual.

*if you would like a shameless promotion for Global Village and would like to know more about it, just ask 🙂

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