Sunday, April 4, 2010

Oh, Portugal, That’s Where I Want to Go…

…To get away from it all. I know, I know, that’s not how the Beach Boys sing it. But Cocomo was too far away for a five-day spring break trip, so Spain’s friendly neighbor Lagos, Portugal had to suffice. Unfortunately, our 6 hour bus ride did not entail ‘getting there fast’, but as soon as we stepped foot in Lagos, we certainly were ‘taking it slow.’

Spring break while in Spain? It seemed too good to be true. It was a break from THE break. But nevertheless, 6 friends and I took advantage of our one-week vacation for Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Sevilla to soak up some sun on the gorgeous beaches of Portugal.

To put it simply, I fell in love with Lagos. The long stretches of sandy beaches and caves were perfect for relaxing and exploring during the day, and the center is packed with bustling little restaurants and bars for the nights. With a population of only 11,000, we were already running into people we recognized on just the second day. Unfortunately, this included our bartender from the night before who was prancing around the beach in a banana hammock, but let’s focus on the positive. This included…

1. Having my first real hostel experience! This particular hostel scored bonus points because we came the first weekend of the season, so they threw us a party with free sangria and Portuguese Easter cake (aka bread with a full hard-boiled 'easter' egg in the middle…including the shell. We found this out the hard way...) But all in all, hostels are the opposite of what I had ever thought before coming to Europe—they are clean, safe, and a great way to meet people from all over the world. The owners are also not people who want to cut you up and keep your eyeballs (thank you to the horror film Hostel.) The amount of traveling our fellow Hostel-ites had done made my list feel pretty inadequate, but it was inspiring at the same time. I now know that after conquering my first hostel, it will be far from my last. Let’s just say it was such a success that I left asking the owner if they’ll be hiring in Summer 2011.

2. Learning how to surf! And I stood up…3 times!! (picture proof below if you don’t believe me.)

Sunday afternoon, Chantel and I, along with 3 surfboards, wetsuits, and our new surf-instructor friends, crammed into a tiny station wagon, and set off on our surfing adventure. After a short road trip, we arrived in the most southern-west corner of Europe, and piled out of the car to see one of the most gorgeous views I’ve ever seen—the brilliantly blue Atlantic waves crashed up onto the cliffs, and where the sky ended, the ocean began. We practiced on the beach for awhile before even getting into the water, and after getting made fun of to no end for my insistence on keeping my hands out and pointed surfer-style (I guess that’s only in the movies…), we headed out. After my fair share of wipeouts and swallowing far too much saltwater, I finally got myself up. My last time was a record high of 5 whole seconds standing! (I know, I couldn’t believe it either.) I decided I didn’t want to curse my good luck, so I quit after that.

We reluctantly left Lagos, with big plans to return in May. Luckily, I left one adventure and continued right onto the next, as my family arrived in Sevilla the day I got back. We leave for Barcelona today and if you know my family at all, you know Campbell family vacations are sure to bring good (or at the very least, awkward) stories. Stay tuned for an update.

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