Tag Archives: Lisbon



I’m working at a hostel on the coast just west of Lisbon. I like hostel work and while I have to keep my head down the next two years and hit the books to become a massage therapist, I don’t intend to take my eyes off of the prize -I like this life and I want to do more in this domain.

That said, tonight has been….hilarious. I don’t know of a more diplomatic way to refer to a frustrating night full of guests who make me wonder how they are able to tie their own shoes, let alone book rooms online. Timothee for example and his compatriot called up unable to find their hostel building. Since I’m managing from offsite and a foreigner to boot, I was at a bit of a loss to navigate him to the location in Lisbon. More frustratingly, he wouldn’t listen. The whole exchange would have taken half the time if I could have had him shut-up and listen to my questions, but he was so flustered -THEY were so flustered- it was like being on the phone with two little French girls whose croissants had been taken away.


I kept them on the line and got on my personal phone with my supervisor, Ricardo, a muscly, beautiful gay Portuguese man who unironically uses the term of endearment, bros when referring to me and Charlie. So I had two phones up to my ear: The voluminously frustrated French man in my right ear and the loud, gay, Francophobe, Ricardo on my left, and I was trying to relay the information back and forth but whenever I said something to one phone, the other phone piped up. Ricardo for all his good qualities can be a bit of a prattler himself and he was already frustrated with these dudes because they hadn’t been reading the emails all week leading up to their booking which told them that the hostel was self-check in and that we couldn’t give them their room codes until they provided us with credit card info.


At length, I had Ricardo call them and they later got back to me with their CC and I gave them room codes. They had me stay on the line until they were past the vestibule and then abruptly hung up on me….wankers.

I was happy with myself that I managed to take it all in stride. A younger, dumber me might have been a little averse to this flaccid abuse, but honestly, it starts to wear less on you the more you remember that you are dealing with small children. Small, adult-sized children.

Fuck it, having a smoke!

Who am I kidding, Timothee and his friend are French, so they’re probably Napoleon-sized.


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Resting my Fitted-Cap on Jupiter

My Friends,
   I left Lisboa (finally) Friday morning and took the long ass four hour train to Faro.  I got to Faro and walked around a bit, but I decided there was progress to be made so made my exit for the town post haste with only the vague goal of reaching Espanha.  I proceeded east barefoot (I knew I was going east because the setting sun silhouetted me on the ground in front of me: suck on that fucker who stole my compass among many other things) and reached then passed Olhau.  Iit was around this point that I decided I would hitch because my feets were sore and my flippy floppys arent the best for walking in, they tend to rub the foot raw.  However, it being after dark and Portuguese people being fuckers, nobody was picking a pimp up.  It was during this unsuccessful bout of trying to find a ride that traipsed ( I traipse a lot btw) into a small little hamlet called Fuseta.  There was nothing noteworthy about the town save for the loud voice I heard coming over speakers in emphatic Portuguese.  I figured it was either a DJ or a Bingo but as I got closer I noticed there was a prevalence of “espiritus” and “dios” being dropped.  Could it be?  Had I found a Portuguese evangelical?  I had
   I wandered closer and these little kids tried to wave me in as a caught of Portuguese Elvis waxing theological from the pulpit.  I debated having a Borat moment and letting them save me.

Hell Heck, religious people are great for wandering types (read: potential converts) like me: you never know how far they will go to show you how righteous they are, as I found out in Australia when I was shown great hospitality by a couple who were 7th Day Adventists (they let me crash in their spare room after I disavowed the theory of evolution).  However, I decided in my tired and fragile state that I might in fact be susceptible to their cult programming and walked leaving them to their God.

“Good Riddance, more Jesus for us!”

Back on the road, I was all in “fuck that, Ill walk til someone picks me up” mode for a while but the yawns became more freqent and I spotted a nice little flat spot that I wanted right on some dudes property.  So I asked him if I could crash.  In the no English he had, he was emphatic that I make “no problem,” but after talking to his wife they let me crash in their garage and even brought me inside for some coffee, wine bread and sardines (midnight snack of champions).
   The next morning (today) I was on a hot streak.  I got three rides in the morning, and although noone took me far I managed to get to Villa Real do San Antonio when it was all said and done.  Once there, I crushed a ferry ride into the Spanish town of Ayamonte, saying goodbye to Portugal until round two sometime in the future.


   It took me a while to get my bearings in Spain but once I did I wound up hiking this baja trail for a while before I found the highway east to Lepe and Huelva.  The hitching again slowed although it was beautiful country_side to walk through: lots of orchards and vineyards and it smelled great.  I stopped in a roadside restaurant for water and the proprietor broke a pimp off some bottles of water when I would have been satisfied with the tap.  I grabbed an espresso and brandy (truly up there with beer and pizza, shrimp and white wine, or Dom Perignon and chicken wings, as one of the dopest pairings).  It was my second of the day, but fuck it, I wasnt driving.  I entertained the notion of offering this guy a few hours of labour for an authentic Spanish meal, but work was slow so I made my way but to the highway for what I was sure would be hours of fruitless hitchhiking.  Not the case!  Samuel picked me up with his two kids and took me to Lepe, but then I guess he realized how much he enjoyed my company and said hed take me all the way to Huelva.  For those no in the know, this is what is known to a hitchhiker as “dope as fuck.”
   In Huelva, I sighstseed a bit (its truly a nice town and someday Ill come back with my pet midget) until I caught the bus to Seville, which Samuel informed me was the hub of south-west Spain.  So here I am, feeling very old in a hostel that is evidently party central for the city.  While this place would have been right up my alley five years ago in Australia, Im so old now that I dont even want to go check out the rooftop patio.  God, when did I become so lame?
   Anyhow, I had a churro for the first time on the way here (ps I messes wit fried dough!) and I think I will go find out what a tapa is.before heading to Cadiz tomorrow.  
Stay Thirsty,

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Lets Get This Show on the Road

My Friends,
   After some long days of document re-issuance and wound-licking,  I am ready to set out again in search of adventures.  I got a pssport and money, which are really the only things you need for adventure..  Will be spending one last night in Lisboa, which has been the equivalent of the city of Darwin on my trip to Australia; I ended up staying longer than i planned and the trip really jumped off when i left.  Found a really nice and cheap hostel last night in spite of my plans to sleep in a building  under  construction (I promised I would sleep indoors, Anita lol) But the hostel was great and the price was right.  Ill spend the night there and maybe takee a trip to the bookstore I was at lastnight and finish reading the graphic noveel I started.
   Speaking of reading I started “Men Without Women” by Ernest Hemingway.  I could not find a replacement copy of Don Quixote but its ok because I have wanted to read Hemingway since I heard him refeerred to as the Biggie Smalls of American Literature.  As a bonus, most of the short stories in this book take place in European cities I will be visiting so that wwill help me contectualize.
   What has made the last few days bearable for me is slowing ddowwn the pase of life.  Without a schedule save for deadlines with the embassy I am moving on local time: I  have learned to aappreciate my afternoon espresso and brandy and converssing  with the locals.  Through this interaction my Portuguese has improved, but itt is not yet  high-tech enough to have arguments with the locals about futebol.
    Another hard-earned lessson is not to pinch a penny so hard: while I am on a shoe-string budget I  should heed the sage advice of the great traveller, Tanya Gouveia,  who told me prior to my departure about not depriving myself for anything i want.  Well she was right, and depriving myself of a bed for the sake of frugality and proof of ruggedness ended up being a costly prospect for both myself and my support base at home.
   In regards to the help I received from home in my tume of need, I felt bad taking help: I had sincerely wanted to do this trip on my own.  But this logic is self-defeating as I know that we are not alone in this world: It is a symbiotic place and to pretend otherwise is folly.  Besides, I had no such qualms when Wilson, Victor, or Joana (locals I meet) helped me out.  In fact, this whole trip with its hitchhiking and couchsurfing bent, is  predicated on the notion that we all need help sometimes.  I just hope that when my benefactors are in time of need, that they don not hesitate to come to me.
    That is all I am going to say; spirits are high and I face the better part of the world both humbled and a little wiser.  Are my troubles finished?  I dont know.  But I am not.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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Big Shot in Portugal

My Friends,
   I am in a shitty little internets cafe in Lisbon right now.  I have been in Portugal for just under 48 hours but it seems like longer.  Certainly the tempo of my trip has been high and I have covered a lot of ground.  I started in Porto in the NW of the country.  After my couchsurfing contact failed to meet me at the designated spot I figured I was on my own and walked through the city, eventually working my way south of the Douro River to Vila Nova de Gaia, the location of all of Porto´s Port Wine cellars.  Crossing the bridge into that land of milk and honey, I truly felt as if I had reached the promised land.

All of those warehouses stacked haphazardly in the mountain are dispensaries of fine Port wine…fucks yeah
I went to the Quinta de Noval cellar, purchased a bottle and crushed about half of it on the patio whils leisurely watching the day pass by.  But as nightfall approached I realized that facedown drunk in a gutter was not how I wanted to spend my evening.  So I hopped a bus to Valadares (sic) beach thinking Id camp in some dunes but on the bus a girl overheard my difficulty talking to the bus driver and started asking me about my travels.  I was pretty silly of the wine so I dont remember how the convo went but I was invited to meet with her and her boyfriend for coffee.  They were an interesting and well-travelled couple and gave me lots of advice on places to go but unfortunately they couldnºt offer me a couch to crash on to replace the one I had missed out on.  When we parted ways it was dark and though I had intended to go to the beach and sleep I had inexplicable energy and decided to wak along the beach to the lights in the distance, which it turned out, were the lights of Espinho.
   I dont know exactly how far I walked; about as far as you can walk in three hours I guess. When I finally got to the Espinho promenade it was around midnight and there were still some people out. But as I continued it didnt occur to me that the areas was getting less tourism friendly and more ghetto every block.  Around the same time I thought to myself  “hey this kind of looks like a low-income area where violent crimes would be wont to take place,” I rounded a corner and came into view of a group of ruffians smoking some shit.  They started advancing toward me tentatively and asking me to come over and smoke some hash with them.  I politely refused their offer while walking as fast as my fucking legs could take me.  Luckily trhey relented.  But it occurred to me that the knife I had strapped to my leg would avail me little in a altercation with six dudes when I was encumbered by a pack.  In fact, I was lucky they hadnt seen it or else they might have been provoked.  I resolved that from then on I wouldn´t wear it anymore at night to deter potential accosters, as it would likely bring more attention and therefore more menace.
   I ended up backtracking to the casino after some Portuguese Bag Lady gave me directions to the main road to Lisbon but decided that the day had been long enough.  I got back to the sand dunes I had traversed earlier and set up camp 4am … about an hour later it started raining.
   I spent my second day walking the long road from Espinho to Aveiro (the Venice of Portugal).  My attempts at hitchiking had been abortive and with a blister developing on my right heel after walking the better part of two days I was starting to despair.  But I kept my thumb out whilst hobbling forward and hoped for the best.  After three hours people driving by me (its funny when you hitchhike, , some people look away from you, some veer away from you, some veer toward you as a joke and others just throw up their hands as if to say “I wish I could help my dude, but go fuck yourself instead”) I was fionally picked up by Wilson, a student on his way to class and coincidentally a Portuguese counterpart in the army reserves.  Originally he said he would take me a couple of miles further south cause he had to get to class.but as we got to talking he he realized that he´d rather bang wit a real OG such as myself than spend a friday afternoon in a classroom.  So he drove me all the way to Aveiro, stopped at the now-abandoned soccer futebol stadium built for the Euro Cup a few years back
It could be yours for only 16,000,000 Euros
bought me dinner, showed me around the city, found me some internets, tried to hook me up with friends in Lisbon, bought me a bottle of wine and was generally a standup guy. 
Me and Wilson with my regimental flag with Aveiro canals and gondolas in the background
I am ashamed to admit that the whole time I was thinking this guy is trying to hustle me somehow, but he said only that its how he would want to be treated if he was a “walker” (hitchhiker) and that to pay him back I could return the favour when he visits Canada. He was a good dude and when he drove me to train station later so I could catch the train to Lisbon my biggest problem was bewing further encumbered by a map of Portugal he gave me and a second bottle of wine (I still had the Port from the previous night).  But don´t worry, I solved the problem of these two bottles on the train ride to Lisbon. 
  I am in Lisbon now, it s a beatiful city with crazy architecture and narrow, curvy alleys.  It is a relic of a time before zoning laws, when immediate necessity was the dominant guideline fo what was built and how it was built.  I wandered around the better part of the night, talking to people, meeting people in bars, looking for a place to camp out and generally getting over the fear I had had about the criminal element in the city (Wilson had warned me it was dangerous).  The problem of sleeping was a difficlut one and it made me acutely aware one of the trials of being homeless: you want to camp out of sight of police so they cant wake you up and tell you to move on, but also within earshot so that they can hear you if you get attacked.  After searching in vain for most of the night I settled on an alley with parked cars blocking me from view.  I think I may have slept an hour on the hard ground at most but with no foam mat (I left most of my gear at the locker in the station and only had a blanket and pillow in my napsack) I woke up shivering at 7am and figured “fuck it, might as well see the city in the daytime.  So I think I am at a grand total of three hours of sleep for the past three days: couldnt sleep on the plane the first night, got rained on the second night and woke up freezing last night.  Surprisingly I am wide awake though (the espresso here is killer).  My plan for today is to head to the airport in a few hours and haggle a cheap flight to Madeira where it should be a little more rural and therefore a little more conducive to camping.  Thanks if you read this far and next time I will endeavcour to be a little less verbose.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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