And Sometimes the Guidebook Isn’t

Toward Lagos - Near Lisbon, Portugal
Despite the theft of my wallet Drying -Lisbon, Portugaland the ensuing hassle that caused, Lisbon (are its residents called “Lisbians”?) was nice. Any city moves up in my rankings when it can offer me an enormous meal of a whole fish, soup, potatoes and vegetables for less than five dollars.

The wealth of dinner options notwithstanding, I moved south to the Algarve looking for sun and sand in Lagos, but found irritating North American backpackers who bring their own beer bongs for the time-tested traveler’s ritual of getting through a case of brew before breakfast. But they “Loooooooove seeing Europe, dude!” despite having not ventured beyond the bars within stumbling distance of the hostel for the past two weeks.

But the real attraction of Lagos, golden beaches with strangely arching rock formations and warm sun, are just up the road. Three days float by.

Arches - Lagos, PortugalSet amidst the narrow cobblestone streets and whitewashed walls of Lagos, the hostel is a gem. Its courtyard is perfect for lounging and plenty of clubs and restaurants are nearby. But the real attraction, golden beaches with strangely arching rock formations and warm sun, are just up the road. Three days float by.

Going east across the south of Portugal toward Spain is a bit like a return to civilization. Behold: paved roads! But in Seville I realize two important things: that I am extremely underdressed and that my Sesame-Street level of Spanish language skills are wholly insufficient. As long as the numbers stay below 8, Big Bird and I will still be on speaking terms.

Going east across the south of Portugal toward Spain is a bit like a return to civilization. Behold: paved roads!

It is a rocky start in a beautiful city — a non-existent pension that I spend three hours not finding, a funeral dirge and a missed connection with hostellers from Lagos. I resign myself to the bottom rung of backpacking accommodation: an expensive and dull HI hostel complex just outside of the downtown core. I’m surprised at how few people speak English and how expensive Seville is. Until I see the guidebook paragraph about how not to be surprised at how few people speak English and how expensive Seville is.

May 21, 2004 Category: Nature, Transport 0 Comments
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