Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside...

Been almost two weeks since my last one of these and it sort of feels like it might be time for another update. In all honesty, other than the usual travel guff there hasn't been a whole lot to report. The "drugs offered count has skyrocketed (thanks largely to Lisbon) but I"ll get to that in a bit.
So last I wrote we were just on the way out of Sevilla. Next stop as intimated was Lagos which proved to be almost as insane as it"s reputation suggests. Now here"s a place which is in essence a British Colony scattered with a few Americans and large hand fulls of Aussies, a myriad of Western bars and beautiful sun-drenched beaches. Given this, the name of the game in Lagos is basically to hit the bars until the early hours getting maggoted on cheap beer, shots and cocktails, then soak in your remorse with a sizeable hangover on the gorgeous beaches. Believe me, there"s worse ways to spend a few days.

Tristan does windsurfing...

Anyway, to any parent"s hoping to read up on the good deeds of their sons, I"ll just say they all (barring myself) acted shamefully and you'd be largely disappointed with their behaviour. Well; maybe not entirely but after an evening comprising of several pints, numerous cocktails and a variety of shots (some laced with absinthe), there were few able to stumble home in a straight line.
Moving on now to a truly tragic morning when, after convincing a sports bar to open at 11.00am, I watched my brave Collingwood cruelly denied a Grand Final berth by less than a goal. A most upsetting way to leave Lagos, a town of many good times, but Lisbon was waiting.

Now at this point I might add that we have finally hit our straps travelling-wise and with the increase in movement, it now feels like we're spending half our time in trains or waiting around stations. A necessity of travel I know but the other day for instance we got to our first station at 6.30am and arrived the next day at 8.45am following numerous changes and many hours whiled away on various platforms. Tedium central!

Anyway, to Lisbon and probably the second-most bizarre hostel we've stayed in to date. Front door for instance; no signage whatsoever. Go upstairs and casual glances from couch-bound Europeans makes it feel like you've walked into someone's apartment. Hard to describe but apparently it's only been open for little over a month and as it turned out, was atmosphere-wise one of the best hostel's we've been to. Met a pretty decent bloke called Chad from Cronulla (first words: "Cronulla eh? You guys get a good wrap huh?). Hung out with him for a night or two- was a fairly decent guy with some pretty tall stories. Made friends with some American students as well. Really nice people and a pleasant change from the clich├ęd hash-peddling, loud and obnoxious Yanks we'd met on other nights of our travels.
Our street in Lisbon..
Speaking of hash-peddling, it's time to explain Lisbon's "drug" culture. Now as I've previously mentioned we've regularly been the target of dodge-as blokes whispering various substances at us. It was a surprise however to walk down the main drag of Lisbon for the first time and have guys opening their palms to reveal very authentic produce. Now whilst the contents very much resemble the real thing, it did seem odd that these guys operate under the cloak of daylight looking hardly inconspicuous. After being propositioned more than 20 times we were informed by Aussie Chad that a Belgium mate of his had bought 50euros worth to find he'd purchased nothing more than garden herbs (not the good type). A pretty good scam on gullible tourists in my books but it was probably the only really annoying part of our time in the city.
Otherwise our days in were spent (in true Team Travel fashion) walking up, down and around the streets of Lisbon. Like Lagos, all the inner city paths are paved with a glossy, cracked tiling (of which I'm a big fan) and complement the antiquated architecture quite well. As a city, Lisbon has a pretty cool vibe that in parts resembles the alleys and laneways of Melbourne. Despite not being particularly avid shopper it wasn't hard to see why they've got a reputation for fashion and I ended up splurging (and substantially blowing the budget) on a pair of new kicks (the old ones being worn out to the point where heal was touching pavement). Site-wise we headed to the Castello Sao-Jorge which provides a decent vantage point to take in all of Lisbon.
Lisbon... Through a rock. Because my other photos were worse.
Our final day threw up somewhat of an unfortunate incident. Some bloke under the influence came up and stared harassing A Tribe Called Travel's fearless comrade. Whilst it started with the usual sort of macho street bullshit the guy then began threatening to put a gun down his throat and kept saying he was going to kill him. At the time I was inside an Internet cafe and wasn't aware what was going on till near the end but it was potentially a very ugly situation. Roz carried himself well and was able to walk away in the end. The creepy thing though was that we ran into the same guy later in the supermarket who proved his deranged pedigree by shouting; "I'm going to kill you," then laughing and walking off.

Anyway, drama aside Lisbon was a cool place but a new location was required. This we achieved in the form of Madrid; a city perhaps even more alike to Melbourne than Lisbon. Checked out the Royal palace and cathedral (the latter apparently being none too popular with the locals. Various day trips took us to Segovia and Salamanca to continue what has become our castle and cathedral tour of Europe. Actually I will mention that Segovia was especially beautiful and was home to both an impressive aqueduct and a rather Hogwarts-esque Alcazabar.
Shaved in Segovia The true highlight of Madrid however occurred on a Thursday night when, by sheer dumb-luck, there happened to be a football match between local heavyweights Real Madrid and rivals Real Betis. Though not quite as electric as St. James Park in Newcastle, sitting in the Colosseum that is the Estadio Santiago Bernabau cheering on one of the most famous teams in world football was utterly brilliant. The game finished 2-0 Madrid's way with a penalty (filmed expertly below) and a scissor-kick deciding a largely entertaining affair.

The aforementioned 26hr train ride & station saga saw us leave behind the sun, tapas and bullfighting of Spain & Portugal and return to the, well sun and beaches of the South of France. As I write this we find ourselves in the ritzy city of Nice enjoying one of Europe's most picturesque coastlines. Ventured down the road to an even more ostentatious part of the world in the principality that is Monaco. Ridiculous opulence takes on a new meaning that country. Basically if your not a tourist then chances are you're a multi-multimillionaire. Nice view though.
Monaco... Obviously

Big Pimping in Monaco

So heading out (again via overnight train) to Florence tonight. Picked up another traveller by the name of John. He's a Perth boy(/25yr old), very ochre but a good bloke and again with some VERY tall stories. Looks like he'll head to Italy with us and then head off to Croatia from there. Keeps things interesting.
Diet-wise we've pretty much been reduced to 4 food groups: The Pasta, Burger, Baguettes and Kebab groups. As it turns out there just about as cheap as one can get but hardly nutritious (save maybe the pasta).
Done now for another entry. Good to chat to a few people over the phone recently. I'll try and keep calling every couple of weeks or so.
Au revoir,

Oh, one of the best things about Madrid: Turtles in the train-staion! Can't explain it but when you're waiting around for three hours it certainly helps pass the time.


Pauk said...

You look so grown up without hair. Haha. I feel like pinching the flesh of your cheek and going 'aww... wook at the gwown up all gwown up and-'


Is it something about Perth that makes people talk nothing but shit? I've run into a few, and they tell nothing but lies - while being very friendly about it.

Also the accent mixed with the ozzy slang. Don't get me started.

Keep having fun my boy, because I am certainly not having any where I am. Hooray!

Lit-Girl said...

hey! i managed to change my name. which, being as technologically challenged as i am, is quite impressive i think.

and other than that particularly inane statement, i don't really have anything new to say...other than missing you terribly, of course...

oh, and complaining about the fact that the one video you have up is of soccer...! what about all these castles and whatnot that you claim are there in europe. frankly, i don't believe you.


...hmm, make that 2 inane statements

Anonymous said...

Hey Jez
Glad to see that the hair is growing - what a shock - the first photo makes you look like your Uncle Ian, the second has you bearing resemblences to the Blackford side of the family - confusing? yes! At least you did it over there!
Ocker is spelt ocker by the way not ochre (which is what Martin and I saw a lot of in the indiginous paintings in Arnhemland - now you really know that it's your mother here!!!

Daniel said...

Jeremy! I have two pieces of information that of all the people I know, only you can appreciate. So I'm leaving the information on your comments page as a way of personal catharsis.

First, the new FIFA is out, and you can finally play as the A-League. So, Melbourne Victory v Chelsea? Anyway, I'm getting it and you can have it when you get back from your sojourn.

Secondly, the new Radiohead album is out, 'In Rainbows'. You can download it for free from their website if you have the facilities. It's a "you decide how much to pay thing" so of course that means zero pounds zero pence. Heh. Anyway, I can recommend it, it's very good (not to mention easier to listen to than a lot of their more recent stuff).

Anyway, hope you are having a great time in Florence! Don't bother going to the Uffitzi - the four hour line just really isn't worth the stuff inside!