If you don’t get the title reference it’s a song by Kanye West and John Mayer. Not really sure if it fits in this context but whatever right?
This past weekend we had a 4-day weekend. So we had class on Wednesday but then had Thursday and Friday off. Most of the people in this program decided to make the trip to Portugal. The plan was to spent one 1 day in Lisbon and then 2 days in Lagos.
Our bus didn’t leave until like midnight on Wednesday so we spent most of the day just hanging out. Luckily Spain played Chile at 9 pm on Wednesday so we were able to go get food and then watch the game, which was very awkward because the defending World Cup champions were ousted in the first round with a 2-0 defeat to Chile. Oh well, at the USA was still in it. After the game ended we started making our way to the bus station.
The ride to Lisbon was supposed to be around 5-6 hours and since we were leaving late at night everyone’s plan was to just sleep the whole way. So everyone proceeded to take their melatonin/sleeping pills/or whatever other drugs they needed to make it through the bus ride and we hopped on the bus.
The ride was pretty all right at first but after one of our pit shops, the AC stopped working. That’s a problem. Why? Cuz nobody likes sitting on hot buses. Duh. So basically we spent the last third of the trip on what seemed to be the hottest bus on the planet (I thought this at the time but would ACTUALLY experience the hottest bus ride on the planet later that weekend). Like I would be sleeping and I would roll over and my shirt would be soaking because I was sweating so much. It was bad guys. But somehow we all made it to Lisbon in one piece….at 5 in the morning.
So we all split up and got taxis to our hostel. Thankfully all hostels are pretty much open 24-hours we didn’t have any problems getting in. Unfortunately, we still couldn’t check into our room until 2 in the afternoon. They had a dining room area and a lounge where most of us posted up and napped for a while. Close to around 8 we gathered up a group of people to go out, explore the city and finally get some food in our system.
While exploring we food a kiosk that sold passes for a bus that would take you all around the city. It was pretty cool because it was “Hop On, Hop Off” policy, so you could get on at one stop and then get off at another one to look around and then catch another bus to ride around some more. It was also especially cool because it was one of those double-decker buses so you could sit up top and really take in the beauty of the city. By the time we had done all of this it was getting close to our check-in time.
So we all made our way back to the hostel, got our stuff out of the storage room and made our way up to our rooms, where were proceeded to nap for the following 2 hours. When everyone finally regained consciousness we thought it would be a good idea to make use of our bus rides and start exploring more of the city.
Its corny to say it but basically everything here was beautiful. The architecture and the landscape was just so unique from anything that we have in the US. I probably took about 50 pictures of just buildings and stuff. No particular reason, they just looked cool. Anyway we got off at the stop where the aquarium. Some people wanted to go but it was a little too expensive so most people were content to just keep walking around. Because we did, we were able to find a cool carriage/canopy thingy that would carry us across the sea to the other side of the water. After that we caught another bus, which took us to a park. After looking around for a little be we decided to get some lunch and head back to the hostel.
Apparently there was a cool church that was also nearby the hostel but that also cost money so we just walked around that area for a while and then did a little souvenir shopping. There was also a central plaza that had a huge jumbo-tron so we were able to catch the last bit of the Colombia-Ivory Coast game before heading back to the hostel.
One of the really cool things that the hostel did was an organized dinner that was cooked by one of the owners, who was appropriately named “Mama”. So for only 10 euros we got a 3-course meal, not to mention unlimited beer and wine. Everything was very on point. Wish I could have been there for another night just to get the food again.
One of my friends had a friend who was an exchange student at his high school. He lived really close to our hostel so he was able to come out with us and show us around the city at night, which was really awesome.
The following morning we were able to catch an early breakfast at the hostel and head out to explore the city again for a little bit on the buses before we had to head back to the bus station for our bus to Lagos. Unfortunately for us, we miscalculated how much time we had ended up in a weird part of town when we still needed to get back to our hostel, pick up our luggage and get a taxi to the bus station. It was a little stressful at times but we were able to get to the station on time. However it was still a little bit more stressful for me. Before the trip I had already bought my bus ticket to Lisbon and the ticket from Lagos back to Sevilla but I hadn’t bought my ticket from Lisbon to Lagos because most people said that they would just buy them at the bus station when we got there. But when we got to Portugal most people said that they had already bought their tickets to Lagos. So I was stressing the whole ride over to the bus station because I wasn’t sure if there would be enough time to buy a ticket so that I could get on the same bus as everyone else. So we get to the bus station and I immediately head to the ticket office, where I sow the worker one of my friends’ tickets to show her what I wanted.
Her response: “Oh no this bus is all full.”
Me: “Fack. Just fack.”
I asked her when the next bus would be leaving and she said it would be in like three hours. Dejected, I bought the later ticket and returned to my friends to deliver the news. But somebody had the idea that I should ask if I could do standby seating, like if somebody didn’t show up for the bus and see if I could take there seat. So I head back to the ticket office and do just that and thankfully she said that would be fine and if there were any open spots on the bus I would be able to take one.
As the time slowly approaches the take off time, I get increasingly more nervous as I see all of the people crowded around to get onto the bus. I just keep praying that there would be just one spot on the bus. After a few minutes, the bus driver signaled for me to wait as he checked the bus and the sitting arrangements. I waited for what felt like hours but was relieved when he got off the bus and motioned for me to come abroad. THANK GOD. We were in business. I was on the bus with all my friends and on my way to the beautiful beaches of Lagos.
After a 3-hour bus ride, we were pulling into the bus station in Lagos. I stepped off the bus and was hit with a wave of the smell of sea and salt. We were at the beach again. We admired all the sights and smells as we made our way along the coast to our new hostel.
This hostel was definitely way different from our other hostel. Not bad just different. Very international. The owner of the hostel was from Slovenia and many of the other workers were from places like Estonia, France and Australia. Our room consisted of my two friends, a random guy, who we would be later that night, and myself. Our last roommate was from Colombia. We walked into our room, dropped all of our crap, got out bath suits on and made our way to the beach. Why waste time right?
And I’m glad we didn’t wait because the beach was gorgeous. We probably laid out there for a good 2 hours. I tried going into the water and of course it was freezing but unlike other times, I actually decided to stay in and enjoy it, or at least try to. After a chill afternoon at the beach we returned to our hostel to shower up and get some dinner. The owner suggested a great burger place that was cheap and close by. It was a great spot because we could sit outside and watch the France-Switzerland game. The restaurant started getting pretty crowded so we decided to dip out and find another place to watch the rest of the game. The game ended up being a massacre. France crushed Switzerland 6-2.
After the end of the game, my roommates and I made out way back to our hostel, where, we were welcomed by screams and cheers from our neighbors. Like I said some of the people in our hostel were from France, and since they won they were drinking and partying like the world was ended.
We were hanging out for a while until one of the workers came to our room and invited us to a bar crawl around the area. We figured why not and we joined the large international group for a solid night of alcohol, exploration and soccer.
The first bar we went to was called the Black Cat bar. There was next to no space in this place but somehow we got in. One of the few things that surprised me was the drinking culture. Apparently beer bonging was a huge thing there which just interesting to me because it not something that I would consider super common at most bars, even in the US. Anyway, I digress. After a few drinks we made our way to the next bar which was just more of the same thing. At this point my roomie and I were getting a little tired. It was getting a little late and we had to be up early the following morning for a boat tour that we were trying to do.
The following morning, we meet up with our other friends, who were staying in a nearby hostel and went to one of this attraction offices, where we could but tickets for a boat tour that we wanted to do.
The boat ride was awesome. Not too long. Only around like an hour and a half and we were able to see along of cool places and explore some of the caves. After the boat tour, we hit up a local supermarket and got a bunch of lunch stuff that we could take to the beach. We were able to find a great spot on the beach and were able to post up there for most of the day. A few times during the day some of us would just look at each other and smile. Nobody could really believe that we were laying on a beach in Portugal. It felt so natural that nobody really thought about it. It was just weird to think that then I was laying on a beach in Lagos, drinking Coke, and in two weeks I’m going to back in North Carolina, applying for jobs and going to interviews. But right then, everyone was just enjoying the moment.
But how could we when there was so much to take in? A few times we would get up and just walk around. There would always be some caves to explore or some rocks to climb or some sight to admire. It was so beautiful that, if I hadn’t taken pictures I wouldn’t have believed that something like that could ever exist in real life.
But after a good while we finally decided we should get back to the rooms and get ready for dinner. We went to dinner at a place called NahNah Burger. Hands down one of the best dinners I’ve have in my life. This place was the triple threat: cheap beer, huge burger with everything on it, and fries that make my mouth water now that I’m talking about them. After dinner we went to another store to pick up some wine and drinks for later.
We made a quick stop at the room and headed back out to meet our friends to go to the beach, but not before our hostel lady offered us jello shots (they’re crazy here). We met the rest of the crew and headed to the beach. We set up towels and laid down and gazed at the stars for I don’t know how long. At the moment, nothing seemed to matte. We had no worries and cares.
It was weird. 5 weeks ago these people we complete strangers to me. Now they were family and I think about how truly blessed I have been to enjoy some many experiences with these people who were now some of my best friends.
Enough with the sentimental stuff. We stumbled back to our hostel at dark-thirty o’clock in the morning and slept a bittersweet slumber.
The following morning everyone met up and again and we decided to look around the city some more before our bus ride back to Sevilla. We packed up our stuff on the bus and just like that we were on our way back home.
You know how early I said that I would later experience the hottest bus on the planet? Well that was this bus ride. I don’t know what it is but we always seem to have the worst luck with buses. Like how hard is it to have a bus with AC? Mind you this was a 6 hour bus ride so AC was kind of a must. After about 2 hours on the mobile sauna, we made a pit stop. Thank the Lord. Thankfully the driver said that we would be making another stop in 30 minutes so that we could switch buses. Praise Jesus, bus with AC. The rest of the bus ride was uneventful. We made it back to Sevilla at around 8 at night, just in time for dinner.
We would end up going back out that night because the US played Portugal in the World Cup at midnight so obviously we couldn’t miss that. Damn shame. US should have clutched it but all they have to do is take care of business with Germany and they’ll be moving on the next round.
As I’m writing this post, I’m constantly hit with a sense of finality. My time in Sevilla was coming dangerously to an end and there was still so much to be done. It’s definitely hard to come to terms with the program ending. Like I said, it’s very bittersweet. I’m gonna miss all the things I’ve done here, all the people I’ve meet, the places I’ve visited but I’m also excited to be reunited with friends, family and, most importantly, food.
Don’t know how many people have actually been reading this. I’d imagine just by family but that’s alright. Initially, I was on the fence about writing a blog like this but I’m glad I did and I will be cool to look back on this in a few weeks or months and just re-read my stories as I experienced them.
I think this will be my last post but I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to listen to my story.
Signing off for the last time,
Kendall (aka Andre Brown, its alright if you don’t get the reference, in fact you shouldn’t, it’s a bbg thing) Garriss