Road Trip Day One: Lagos, Portugal

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Welcome to Lagos, Portugal in the Algarve (south).
Stunning beaches, crashing waves, surfing towns and amazing scenery await.

I had talked about renting a car in Portugal well before I left for my trip, but once here it seemed a bit daunting. But, after meeting a few groups who had rented a car I realized that maybe it wouldn’t be that difficult.

I got online and reserved a small car through Europcar for about 40 euro a day. Finding people to come with me was fairly easy, and the next day four of us started our amazing journey.

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Alan, me, Natalie and Jochen; an Australian, a Canadian, a Londoner and a German.

We got ourselves a tiny Fiat Panda. The horsepower in this baby was…non-existent. But, that was okay since I didn’t really have to worry about my speed when passing cops since the car could barely make it to 130 KM/H (speed limit is 120).

We drove right down to Lagos since we wanted to see the sunset from a viewpoint Nick (Gspot hostel owner) recommended to us. It was only a 3 hour drive down on the A22–but be aware there are tolls to pay!

We got to Lagos and checked-in to the Rising Cock hostel and took a walk to the lighthouse.

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We took this teeny-tiny path to walk out onto the cliffs and were pleasantly surprised with an amazing view. And, we made it just in time for the sunset.

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We sat on the cliffs, drinking wine and chatting and it was in this moment that I realized this was a memory I was going to cherish forever. That time I took a road trip with 3 strangers to the coast of Portugal and sat on the cliffs during sunset with a few bottles of wine.

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Next we headed to the famous Nah Nah Bah.
It has been voted as one of the top 50 Burger Joints in the world!
The most famous is the Toucan Burger which a few of my fellow travel mates ordered, while Alan ordered the Luis Figos Wet Dream chicken burger and I ordered the Veg burger topped like the Blue Ball Buster.

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Oh yeah! We also ordered a starter of Nachos which were amazing (I haven’t had any since in Europe). Jochen ordered their famous drink, the Bottom Line.

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Needless to say we were extremely full after dinner and quickly fell asleep at the hostel. Stay-tuned for Day Two: Picnic at Marinha.

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Day One: Dublin and Making Friends

Now what?
That’s the thought that went through my mind when I grabbed my pack from the conveyer belt.
Now what? Okay, first, make my way to the hostel. What’s it called again? Barnacles Temple Bar Hostel. But how do I get there? Then I saw it: Tourist Information. Yes! I’m a tourist!
Side note: no one likes to look like a tourist. I’ve travelled a lot around Canada on my own, taking buses and trains, and I always make a point of looking as though I know what I’m doing. Well, as a solo traveler my ego has had to take a backseat. And you know what, it’s way less exhausting if you just admit to yourself that you need help.
Besides, I’m a 5’3″ woman with a backpack I could probably fit into strapped on my back: I may as well have had a sign saying “I’m a tourist” around my neck. So, my point is: you will look ridiculous. Be okay with it!
‘Hi, how do I get to Temple Bar?’
Answer: take the bus to Trinity College, which is beside temple bar”.
Okay! Luckily there was free wifi on the bus (ticket was 7 euros), so I looked on google map right before I got off and took a screen capture of the route from our current spot to where my hostel was.
So, off I got and started in the direction of temple bar. Despite my map, I got ‘lost’ so I went into a pub and guess what: I was right next to my hostel! Thank goodness because I was tired!
Well, of course, check in isn’t until 230pm! It was 1030am! Luckily, the very kind reception dude (yeah, he’s a dude), locked away my bag for the day, pointed me in the direction of a cafe and told me to go on the free walking tour at 11.
Up to this point I was feeling very excited. My mind was in over-drive. As I sat down to drink my coffee I felt myself becoming overwhelmed: I was in Ireland! Friquen Ireland! I had dreamed of this since I booked my ticket in March!
Now what?
Well, I put my ego on the back-shelf and headed to the free walking tour. My goal: meet people!
Everyone was waiting in Mercantile’s pub–free coffee (go figure) and cookies. There was a free spot across from 2 guys who I immediately thought looked friendly. But how do you start a convo? I stood there very awkwardly, fumbling with my small bag, unsure of how to start a conversation.
I wish I could tell you that I said something clever, but that’s not my style.
“Hi” — Yepp, just “Hi”. An awkward smile spread across my face. I’m pretty sure they said hey back, our first conversation hasn’t really stuck with me.
Now, I’ve noticed a pattern when it comes to introductions among travelers: country and trip plans. I found out they were from Colorado and that they had just arrived as well. One month together and then one was going home and the other was heading to meet his gf in Thailand. Well, I think they told me all of that immediately–maybe not the Thailand part. Regardless, the point is that no names were exchanged.
The walking tour started and our very friendly tour guide, Jesse, showed us the Dublin Castle (not really a castle like you would imagine), a garden, the stairs to hell, and a few other important buildings. If you’re a history buff you would love Ireland. Very rich history. And, awesome stories of Vikings, civil war and kings and cheating wives. Yeah–pretty awesome!
Mid-way through we were able to stop for a quick pint of Guinness.

Do you enjoy Guinness? I don’t like it in Canada. Well, I sat with my two new acquaintances and one got up to buy the first round of Guinness. Yeah, my first Guinness in Ireland was free! Awesome! I found out that his name was Cree (awesome name, eh?) and the other was Chris. Cree doesn’t drink, but he kindly bought our drinks and Chris and I cheered. Woot to being in Ireland!

Verdict: Guinness is delicious! It also has some nutritional value! It really is a meal. It was smooth, not too bitter, a slight coffee taste. Yummy! Also, Guinness is actually crimson red, not black. Seriously!
In that moment I felt so elated: I was in Ireland, drinking Guinness with two people who I had just met. Awesome!
The rest of the tour was more history and touring the Liffey. We ended in Trinity College — beautiful campus by the way! — and then the boys and I decided to get together for dinner and the pub crawl that night. We chose a meeting spot and a time and separated.
It was 230 by the time I got back to the hostel and I grabbed my things and went to have a lie-down. And of course, I met someone else! Pablo, from Madrid, was staying in the lower bunk next to mine. He was very friendly, and I asked him to come to the pub crawl that night and we both went to reception and bought tickets. He went to meet a friend for dinner and I went to the meeting spot to meet the guys.
I wish I could say I had some Fish n’ Chips for dinner but we went to a Gourmet Burger Kitchen and I had one of the best, and largest, veggie burgers of my life. We all got to know each other a bit better and it was in this moment that I realized I may have made some friends. If you know me, you know I love making friends!
We met for the pub crawl, got a free glass (not pint) of Guinness and met Pablo there. Then we saw a table of other pub crawlers and invited them to sit with us. Imogen and Kristin from Australia. It was an amazing group of people and we all stuck together all night. We never left anyone behind, always looking out for each other.
Each pub had live music, and it seems that although not many men look like Gerard Butler, they sound just as good (and yes I know it isn’t really him singing).
We had about 45 minutes at each pub where we got a shot at entry (usually a slippery nipple) and then we sat and clapped and sang along to the music.
Have you ever been to an Irish Pub in Ottawa? Well, it really is exactly like that. It’s such a friendly atmosphere. I didn’t drink anything beyond the shots and one Guinness that night-I just enjoyed the music and company.
The last stop was a club. And, lucky us, they were having a paint party.
A what?
You get paint sprayed at you. Awesome, eh?
Well, thank goodness for my new American friends, as they have been the ones saying YES to every experience. I’ve learned from them. No, I didn’t want to be covered in paint. No, I didn’t really want to dance in a club. But, why wouldn’t I?
We bought paint suits for 2 euros and made our way to the front where I got trampled, pushed, pulled and covered in paint. And you know what–it was awesome!
By the end the paint had soaked through the suit to my clothing and I had paint in my mouth, ears and eyes. We left at 230, wet and freezing, and went back to our respective hostels. I had a shower when I got back and the entire shower was pink! My clothes, after the first night, were filthy.
It was amazing.
And guess what? All of this happened in less than 24 hours of arriving.
Stay tuned for Day 2 and 3!

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Instamoments – #yeg, #yyc, #yba

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