Heyo! Greetings from the Reading Room (at least I think that's what "Salle de Lecture" means) at the University of Geneva... I found this place thanks to my handy little wifi map that my handy guardian angel gave me, but more on that later. I just thought I should let everyone know I got to Geneva safely and say a little about PORTUGAL!!!
OK. I did not expect much from this country. In fact, I wasn't that excited about going. Going to Portugal meant leaving Spain for what I expected to be a lonlier, less pretty version of the same country. Oh, silly ethnocentric American girl.
Portugal was beautiful! Even though it took me two hours to find my hostel, it was the perfect place to stay (somehow, in my frenzy at the airport to make my checked bags the magic 20 kilograms, I managed to loose my entire stack of papers with directions, addresses and the like. Hiccup # 1).
Thanks to Kate and Shiloh from ISA for the hostel recommendation. It was a touch on the expensive side - 22 Euros a night - but they had nice big security lockers, clean comfortable rooms, cozy common areas where I could sit up Skyping until 3 am, and - highlight - homemade nutella crepes for breakfast. Yum!
Actually, food in general was much better in Portugal than in Spain (seafood and cheese and veggies, oh my!). I got to walk around by the ocean (I miss you, charleston beaches), I climbed the tallest hill in Lisbon and saw AMAZING views, and I perused antique book stores (because apparently I'm middle aged). I met some nice people, including one Brazillian girl who said she spoke English her entire trip because the Portugese feel the same about Brazillians as the Spanish do about Latin Americans (which is not well, by the way).
I was really worrying about travelling alone; about not being able to make the most out of my trip or not feeling safe or just being lonely. In truth, most of the time I saw something pretty or interesting, I though "I wish so-and-so could see this," but, thanks to my trusty digital camera, everyone can! (hint hint: look for facebook pictures soon).
I think I underestimated the relaxation factor of being able to go where I wanted, when I wanted. To not feel like I was holding someone else up by deciding that I just wanted to sit in the sun for a bit or feeling annoyed that whoever I was traveling with wasn't ready to go. Don't get me wrong, if really anyone I liked called me right now (difficult as I don't have a phone) and was like "hey, I'm in Geneva, wanna stroll about together?" I would be all for it. At any rate, it's not terrible being on my own. : )
So that's that. Sorry this post is so long. I think, once it gets too dark to be out by myself, I might try to track down some pool hall by my hostel that supposedly has wifi and put up pictures. Or not. It's actually kind of nice knowing that, unless I deliberatly seek out a place with internet access, I'm totally unconnected. Good weather, good food, a good book...what else could I ask for : )
View of Lisbon from a castle from the aforementioned tallest hill. Also, never underestimate the value of other solo travellers. At least three people a day have come up to me, seeing that I am also on my own, and are like "hey, here's my camera, please take a picture of me." So then it's not a stretch to switch off.