For me Portugal is a mystery. And I just had this feeling that I really need to make it there. Maybe it was because last year my mother went there without me, and we said that this summer we would do it together. And even though our trip is not exactly as we have planned, we are still doing it together, but under a different form.
After my exams I automatically booked the tickets, and two weeks later I was standing with my bags at the airport ready to check in. The best part of going to a new place is to have no expectations, and I was lucky enough to experience that with Portugal for this time.
The first week I was staying near Porto in Foradouro: This is a beautiful place with wild beaches appearing to be endless. Having the chance to watch as the sun was hiding in the ocean every evening was magical! The colour mix of intense pink, orange and yellow could be seen as a gift for my eyes. Morning yoga on the beach and stand up paddling through the delta was also something special for me.
I loved it there, but I had the feeling that I was ready for something different: I was prepared to experience the life in the city! So I took the train, and 50 minutes later I landed in Porto. I remember that when I was coming out of the train station at the stop Sao Bento my first reaction was Ouau! The streets, the buildings, the castle, the colours, the music, they impressed me. Checked into my hostel that was 5 min away from the center, I decided to take a quick rest. But I didn’t manage to do so because the people were so friendly and interesting that I ended up with them talking, laughing, drinking, and playing guitar until the next day in the morning.
I love to get lost in cities, and that is exactly what I did.
No worries, no plans, no stress, just following the wind through the narrow streets of Porto. I discovered the beautiful gardens, parks, wine caves, Gaia, the river, the gigantic bridges, the laughing men – statues from a park with some men sitting and laughing, created with the purpose to make passengers laugh, because:
“Laughing is contagious.”
The old tram, the beach and many other beautiful impressions. I was planning to spend only three nights in Porto, but the people and vibe of the city was so good that I decided to stay longer, and I spent some more than a further week there.
I was travelling alone, and this happened to me for the very first time. I remember when I was meeting girls one year ago which were travelling alone, I couldn’t understand how they had the courage, and always asked myself: “Did they enjoy the time being alone?” I couldn’t even imagine not having a safety net, which means for instance a friend which is there in case you get sick, or you run out of money, or something else happens to you. At that time I could never see myself taking such a risk.
But here I am. One year later, travelling alone, and I love it!
Travelling all alone has it’s beauty and freedom as well. And it is so amazing to find out of how being alone makes me more open and more sociable. Before the trip, I was afraid that I won’t meet people, but it hasn’t happened even one single night that I spent only with my own, alone.
After Porto I went to Braga. This is the city that my Mom was visiting last year. She loved it, and I had to see what she must have seen in it. After I arrived there and went to Bom Jesus, I understood! I was lucky enough to catch the sunset there, and it was absolutely amazing. I think a picture will speak more than my words, this time:
Gereis is a natural rezervation, 40 km away from Braga with a huge lake, mountains, rivers, dams, and, most captivant for me: wild horses. Since I am a nature lover, I felt purely happy.
And so, going through Gereis I made my way to Spain. Went along the coast, and felt a small shock when I started to miss Portugal even though I was not placed far away. I was just 20 km away from the border – but everything was different. The language, the attitude of the people, the type of music around me. Maybe I took my expectations from Portugal – and they just didn’t get fulfilled with Spain. I was looking for a small place somewhere near the ocean where I could just relax and recharge my batteries – and faith took me there by booking spontaneously a hostel in Muxia. After changing the bus twice, I finally made it there, to find out that Muxia is actually situated where the pilgrimage Caminho de Santiago unoficially ends. Met some people that where doing the caminho, and hearing their stories really motivated me to also be willing to give a try next year.
Now I am in Madrid. Not exactly my favourite city, maybe a little too modern for my taste, but I did see something over there that put a smile on my face. I will also show it to you:
Travelling is like breathing deep air for me. Saying stop to everything and just be myself without having to react on anyone.
So I can follow my crazy or boring ideas, learn from them, explore them, give them a try. I enjoy being alone sometimes, especially when I am travelling by bus or train, with a notebook or a book in my hands, music in my ears watching the landscapes of this foreign country pass by, and making notes of my ideas. I feel at peace. I feel safe.
Meeting people is the best part when travelling, as I have mentioned already. But why is there a difference between meeting people while travelling and meeting people at home?
When you are leaving your home, you get to know somebody or maybe a group of people, and you do spend 1 or 2 days in the same city, and you are having a great time, without knowing anything about the other person.
I am talking about financial status, grades, merits, troubles, difficulties; you just accept and take him\her as she\he is right here in that moment. Everybody is equal and everybody is doing the same thing: travelling, exploring, experimenting, and some of us searching for something that we don’t even know what it is. And it is fine, as long as you trust yourself and follow your feelings.