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Porto, Lisbon


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Portugal adventure

Published by Barbarka Houfková — 4 years ago

Finally I had enough time to write about Portugal! I was waiting for this moment long time as I wanted to describe everything we went through in detail and write a long story about all experience. The main message is clear: It was definitely the best trip of my exchange!

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When I chose Lille for my exchange I realized the fact that Lille is well located for travelling but at that time I had no idea I could visit so many countries as I did. Going to the south – Spain or Portugal seemed to me like a dream. I already heard from many people that Portugal is amazing. Moreover, two of my friends went there in fall semester and even though they were totally excited about their trips I did not take it seriously. I did not want to visit it by hook and I was waiting for a good opportunity, which came sooner than I expected.

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After few weeks in Lille during making plans for travelling, we agreed with girls on visiting Portugal because we noticed that Ryanair was offering good tickets. Some of them were even directly from Lille to Porto. The idea of going to the south of Europe in the end of semester when the weather was supposed to be super sunny and enjoying the beach and swimming in the sea was brilliant. In the beginning I did not count on going to the sea at all but it was easy to change my mind and I definitely wanted to visit Portugal because I love summer, beach, sea, friendly people, which is everything that belongs to holidays.

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We agreed on checking regularly the tickets to find a good deal for the month May. Actually we could not book it immediately as we did not know our exam schedule and May was supposed to be exam period for us. Later, I found out that we were not the only ones who wanted to go to Portugal as I spoke to Lilian and another people and they looked excited about the trip as well. Once, we had a cooking contest and I invited Lilian, Andreas and Arnaud to enjoy the dinner night with us.

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By the way I think that this dinner was a breaking point when I got closer to these people and when I started to hang out with them more often. Therefore, as it was already in March - the right time to plan our trip, I just randomly mentioned: “Hey guys, we should really plan our trip and find the tickets to Portugal! ” But they just looked at each other and said nothing. It was suspicious but I did not know why they stayed silent. That´s why I continued: “What´s wrong? You don´t wanna go anymore? ” After short break one of them just said they already looked for it. It was not satisfying answer so I continued asking. After a while I found out that not even they already did a research on tickets, they already bought the tickets for them! I could not believe it - maybe because I was already little bit tipsy or I was just really surprised they did not even tell me about it.

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Therefore I just answered angrily: “All right. That´s fine. So you just booked your tickets without me. That´s perfect. Even though we agreed going there together. ” It sounded I was angry but I did not mean it seriously. I did not even know if I would be free to go and I needed more time to think about it. When they saw my reaction Andreas already started to look for the ticket for me. I left the room to take another drink. I realized he meant it serious when I saw his mobile phone with a form to buy a ticket with my name. I started to take his mobile phone from him because I could not afford buying the ticket to Portugal for 30 euro just for fun! I had no idea which date they decided to go! I managed to steal his phone and everything was okay. At least until Lilian said: “So I bought it. ” Seriously? Did I hear well? I was so focused on the phone of Andreas that I did not notice that in the meantime Lilian bought the ticket. I was hundred percent sure she did not fill my name in a good way as everybody was confused with my name. On Facebook, my name is Barbarka, I was introducing myself Barbara and my real name is Barbora. What a miracle that she wrote it right! I did not know what to do though. I was totally happy to go with them for a whole week to Portugal and at the same time I was worried about the dates, exams, money and so on. I don´t do this spontaneous decision often. I always need more time to think about it. This time it was different.

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When I woke up after the party my first thought was: I am going to Portugal in May with people I barely know. After two days I was finally sure to go. I checked my exams and fortunately we had first week in May off so it was a perfect date. When I told this to the girls they were not happy. They wanted to plan the trip together and the tickets were already more expensive for the same date. That´s why they planned it differently. Lucia came to Portugal later with Juan and Katarina bought a ticket from Paris but she left Lisbon earlier to visit islands Azores. It was funny story. I guess she was already annoyed with trying to plan everything. Therefore, when she saw cheap tickets from Lisbon to Azores she bought it without telling anybody and she went there for a whole week alone! I stared at her with amazement when she told me. I think I would never do it but crazy spontaneous plans are the best ones. Later, we had a common group on Facebook called 'Portugal' so I found out there were more people coming. I was not so close to everybody but I had only good experience with them before the trip. It was crazy because we were almost 20. When we tried to meet at school and buy some tickets together it was useless because we came only four people out of nineteen and it was just impossible to plan it all together. Therefore, we had small groups with different plans but the main target was Porto and Lisbon. Lilian was major planner and she was amazing! She managed to persuade people, book tickets and accommodation and arrange places with program!

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I had no idea who was coming to the trip. I just knew that approximately 15 people were coming. It was a big mess with accommodation and everything. Therefore we decided to have another accommodation from Airbnb which was not the cleverest thing ever but you will see why. We were also little bit sad when we found out we had a French exam 9th of May which ruined our plans to visit Faro (in the south of Portugal). That´s why we had to come back earlier. Anyway, we still had a whole week.

The circumstances were inconvenient since beginning. We had to leave Lille at 3 am to catch flibco bus and then catch the plane from Brussels Charleroi. Therefore we decided to be together with Lilian, Andreas and Arnaud to cook dinner together, sleep a bit and go to the bus station as Andreas lives super close to the station.

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My last week in Lille before this trip was one of the best ones. Without joking we spent every night together with Lilian. It can seem crazy but it was amazing. We did not want to lose our time and we wanted to enjoy Lille as much as it was possible. We did not care about anything. We were present on the class twice instead of four times and nobody cared. We went out every night for a dinner or party. We spent hours of talking about everything. I felt so happy. This evening we were together again and we headed to the place of Andreas. After whole semester he decided to cook for us Mexican food even though he claimed he was not able to cook the whole semester. Of course it was a big lie because the food was just awesome. We were also with Javier that evening but he had already different plans. We had special soup with noodles and after packed tortilla with beef meat and peppers. Later we got tired and I fell asleep with Lilian on a small bed. Javier already left, Arnaud was sleeping on the floor and I guess that Andreas did not sleep at all.

When we came to the bus station we met the rest of the group and, except for the fact it was 3 am, we were all excited to travel somewhere with no rain and sunny weather. We had a flight from Brussels to Porto.

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Porto

A lot of people warned me before the trip Porto was not nice. I took it as a fact and when we were there I was surprised. The city was wonderful. There was a big river with a bridge and there were a lot of restaurants along the river. The weather was hundred percent better than in Lille. Finally holiday! Our accommodation was also nice even though it was quite far from the city centre. The big difference in comparison to Lille was that the city was quite hilly so it was uncomfortable with all luggage but I had only one backpack.

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I don’t exactly remember our program but firstly we wanted to see the beach. We took Uber or taxi and we went there. Surprisingly, the wind was so strong that we were not even able to go to the sea. Therefore, we were just lying on the beach. Later we found a place full of people who were dancing. We enjoyed with them for a while and after few hours we went home.

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We also tasted typical Portugal food from Porto – Francesinha. We were quite unlucky as they had this food for special price but not the day we came. This meal was a normal sandwich with cheese soaked in some soup. I did not perceive it as something special. In the evening everybody was so tired that we almost did not manage to have a party. Few of us stayed awake, few people took a nap and few people started to drink immediately. Katarina and Adrien took a plane from Paris so they arrived later – around 11 pm. When we finally stopped being tired and we were singing random songs, rude neighbours started to knock on our wall! It did not seem to me that we made a big noise but according to them we did. After third time when they knocked we went sleep.

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Next day we also met Arisa and Eduardo and we were all sitting along the river enjoying the city. I couldn´t get enough of it! People there were really friendly and everything was cheaper. Katarina bought a perfect beer for her – more than half of the litre.

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After that we went up to the bridge and everybody was taking pictures because the view was beautiful. We again ended up in some restaurant and I decided to have my favourite lasagne. I would say that maybe cheap prices corresponded to the quality of food because my lasagne was all burnt. I also remember our chaotic breakfast. We all ordered different menus with omelettes, juice, coffees, bread and so on but the waitress did not care about the order of the food. Therefore, she brought omelettes first, later coffee for few people and bread. After 15 minutes she decided to bring juice as well. After telling her our orders all over again she accomplished to bring all coffees even though it was a bit later. We did not get why one espresso was smaller than the other ones and so on but it was funny.

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Lilian´s phone again decided not to cooperate with her and unfortunately, the push button fell somewhere. She therefore spent whole breakfast by looking for a repair shop – successfully. After this day, as I am in habit of doing it, I got a sunburnt and the day after I had to wear a t-shirt with sleeves and suffer. We spent two days in Porto and our next city was Lisbon.

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Lisbon

The big story happened in Lisbon. During the planning of our trip we decided to share Airbnb with Juan and Lucia and another people stayed in hostel. The first mistake was that I did not check the location of our accommodation well so we did not live in the city centre at all even though the guy from Airbnb told us so. We arrived to the accommodation and Juan and Lucia were supposed to join us for the third night. Juan made a reservation for five nights together but the night we stayed together was not included in the price. The owner of the flat wanted us to pay extra for this night right after we arrived there. At that time I had no idea it could be a mistake as well. Another important point is that it was shared apartment so another strange people were living there. I did not like this accommodation much.

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Our plan for the following day was going to the beach! Since people who were staying in a hostel had their check-in around 2 pm which was quite inconvenient as we wanted to go to the beach for a whole day, I had no better idea than let them leave their suitcases at our Airbnb. I did not think about it more than 2 seconds because it was clear for me that it was a good idea to do it and I had no idea it could go wrong. In early morning our friends arrived. I just messaged Lilian that we were sharing the apartment with another people but I did not highlighted in front of others. I guess it was a mistake as well, because when they came they were not aware of it. I just said something to make them behave quietly but it was not easy with 15 people or how many we were. After few minutes everything was wrong. People from the apartment were queuing the line in front of the bathroom because Lilly occupied it. In the meantime they noticed our friends in the room changing their clothes and someone was cleaning their teeth in the kitchen.

As it all happened in 10 minutes I did not see the problem. When I noticed people were angry and I immediately told everybody to leave, I made the bathroom free again and I apologized to the woman. I was not rude at all. Actually I stayed calm and I was trying to solve the whole situation. I explained all situation to the people from the apartment and the only thing we wanted was to leave the luggage in our room. I said sorry many times and it seemed to be solved. On our way to the beach we received a text from Juan saying: “What were you doing in the apartment? The owner is furious. He wants you to leave the apartment immediately. ” Adrien therefore called the owner about the problem. When they finished I felt relieved because he told me he explained everything and there was no problem. I thought Juan exaggerated.

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When we got to the beach I was so happy. I can understand that for Australian or Mexican people it was nothing special but I liked it a lot. It was real holiday finally. We were sunbathing, some of us were swimming in the sea and we were drinking, eating and talking. I tried to enter the water but it was seriously too cold for me. We went to the spit of land where we had really nice view and we took some pictures there. I also bought my flip flops finally. In fact, I had a lot of them in the Czech Republic but it was useless and I did not count on using them this semester at all.

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When we got to our apartment we were badly surprised. The owner was waiting for us to tell us we had to leave the apartment in 5 minutes. Yes, he said into the phone there was no problem. We just had to leave. We tried to make it right but the decision was already made. He heard from the people living in the apartment that we let our friends to stay overnight in the apartment and that our friends used the bathroom together with shower and another bullshits. It was impossible to convince him it was not the truth. When I noticed all discussion were useless, at least I wanted to be sure that we were not going to pay for the nights we did not stay in the apartment. Therefore I asked him at least three times how it would be with paying. He answered with no interest: “Of course you don´t have to pay for another nights. You have to pay only for the first night you stayed. ”

That was a dirty lie. He just said it to make us leave but the day after Airbnb took down the money from Juan´s account. The guy was so rude! He did not even let Jake help me so we had to take all luggage on our own. That night we just had to deal with finding new accommodation. Fortunately, they had free places for us in the hostel where another friends were staying. It was called Good Morning Lisbon. In fact, the hostel was way better than Airbnb. I have to admit that it was probably my first time being in a hostel and I was nicely surprised. The breakfast was amazing! We could try home-made cake, home-made waffles with Nutella, fresh bread, sandwiches with cheese and ham, juice, coffee and much more.

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In the bathroom they even had a hairdryer and shampoo and everything was clean. They also had every day and night program for people from their hostel, they had common living room and computers. The thing with Airbnb was unfortunately unsolved since Juan refused to solve it directly with Airbnb. Therefore, we paid for the nights we did not stay but the hostel was worth it and I was happy to move. By the way, the guy was an asshole because when I tried to call him to talk about it, he hung out as soon as he heard my name. You can see how everybody was sad about what happened:

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Despite our tiredness we decided to go to the party this evening. On our way there we had the best ice-cream. It was so similar to the ones from Italy. I had three flavours and the best one was Speculoos. It was my first time trying it. Speculoos is a spiced type of shortcrust biscuit and it is similar to the biscuits you get together with coffee. We found a perfect place where we all got drunk because they offered amazing big cocktails. I did not have cocktail for a long time because it was super expensive in France to have it. In this bar they had big cocktail for two or three people approximately for 7 euros. We had two or three Mojito cocktails and it was amazing.

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Later I remember Jake entertaining us whole night. During this trip I had two main thoughts in my mind. The first one was that it was a shame I did not have time to meet more people since the beginning. For example, I barely remember Jake in the beginning of the semester and I did not know him well before the trip but I came to like him so easily. He is such a nice guy – kind, easy-going, full of energy, entertaining and optimistic all the time. I was also happy to get closer to Lilly because before the trip I just knew about her that she was a party animal because almost every day she suggested going out. Although I have to say she is also super nice and sometimes she can take things seriously as well haha.

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On the other hand, my second though was feeling so happy to be with this group of people for a whole week. It is completely different when you hang out with someone few times per month or if you travel with someone for a longer period. You “have to” spend together whole day, go through ups and downs, solve problems and share joy and excitement. I would like to say that our Portugal crew was amazing. I liked being with each person so much and I have so many nice memories from this trip. I still feel delighted from this trip and it was all because of people I went with! All amazing pictures from Andrea´s camera will always remind me this.

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In Lisbon we also did a free walking tour where the guide recommended us the best places and we tried local liquor and pastry. I liked it as always because we got to know a lot of information about Lisbon. One place she was talking about was called Cabo da Roca – the most western point in Europe. She also told us not to go to the castle in Lisbon because it was not worth it.

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At that day we were already split so one group decided to visit the castle and we decided to wait for them. If I had known it would take them eternity to explore it I would have gone there too. Nevertheless, we were waiting for them and after we decided to go to the big bridge. The bridge is stunning! It was seriously similar to the one in San Francisco. We took a rest in the comfortable seats there and we were enjoying the sun. During the evening we met Juan and Lucia finally and we went to the club. Although I was half dead with tiredness so I went sleep quite early.

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Next day we were considering visiting Sintra or Cabo da Roca. None of them was directly in Lisbon so we had to take a train. We agreed on the exact time when we wanted to meet. We successfully met there with people from another hostel and we headed to Sintra.

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Unfortunately, Juan and Lucia missed the train and when they got to Sintra we were already left. We saw a lot of guys offering trips in surroundings. We opted for Cabo da Roca because of the cliffs. I have to say that the weather was awful. It was raining almost whole day. We decided to buy hop on hop off bus and even though the bus is covered we felt cold. It all cost 17 euros but it was for a whole day. The bus was not so comfortable. It was raining through it, it was cold there and the audio guide did not work well. We did one stop but all entrance fees were quite expensive to the castles so we were just waiting under the umbrella until next bus came.

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We decided to go quite far by bus to Cabo de Roca. When I went to Dublin I missed the trip to the cliffs so it was kind of replacement of it. When we finally got there the place was different than I expected. It did not stop raining and due to the foggy weather we did not see much. I could imagine that the place had to look nicer in a better weather but we could do nothing. At least we decided to climb down a little bit to the cliffs and we found such nice places where we had amazing view.

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We were little bit scared there. Except for this there was nothing to see, therefore, we had something to eat and we got on the bus again. I fell asleep in the bus.

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We also did a small walking tour in Sintra but if we had visited the castle we would have paid a lot for the entrance. It was my last day so I felt already sad because I did not want to leave. We were in a rush to catch our bus because the next station was Madrid. I did not even have enough time to say good bye but maybe it was better. When I got to Lille again after this week I could not stop thinking of the trip. Even though I had few exams I felt happy to had spent such an amazing week in Portugal with these people.

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