My second month of travel was drastically different from the first. Going into this month, I had my first experience with the magic that comes from leaving things open. When I stopped planning, my trip became something more than I could have ever designed it to be. I opened myself up to possibilities I wouldn’t have known about or been open to. This shift in mindset was what ultimately led to the best month of my life thus far.
I stopped being anxious. I stopped worrying. I just lived in the moment.
Month 2: The Route
1. Sintra, Portugal
2. Baleal & Peniche, Portugal
3. Odibós, Portugal
4. Lisbon, Portugal
5. San Sebastian, Spain
6. Bilbao, Spain
7. Paris, France
Best Day: The first Thursday at surf camp in Portugal. All of the surf classes spent the day at Praia de Mohle Leste and had perfect learning waves for beginners. It felt like the day when everything finally gelled in terms of surfing technique. In the afternoon, I went with a group to Obidós, a beautiful fortified town nearby. We walked along the stone walls and tried the local specialty, Ginjinha, which is a bright red cherry liqueur. I proceeded to spill it all over my white shirt while filming my 1SE (the one with “Cheers!”). Then the surf instructors invited us out to the best restaurant in Peniche, Tasca de Joel. We had red wine, squid, fish, meat, veggies, and chocolate cake. Everything was fresh, everyone was there. We took the group over to Bar do Praia and danced for hours next to the crashing waves. It was a fantastic day.
Worst Day/Moment: Being sick in San Sebastian, which wasn’t even particularly bad. As a reference, I mentioned in my previous month’s round up that I made a “When you’re having a bad day” note to myself – I didn’t even open it this month. The worst moments were saying goodbyes to friends. It’s still something I get emotional about, even though it happens so frequently.
Most Ridiculous Moment: I ducked into a cafe to escape a rainstorm in Lisbon while I had six hours to kill before an overnight train. I got a coffee and after a few minutes of checking email, I noticed the owner had the TV on and kept sitting down to watch it. There was another man sitting and facing it as well. As it turns out, the TV was playing “The Notebook,” and Bruno, the owner, had put it on himself. Because I had so many hours to waste with my huge bag to tote around, I figured – why not just hang out and watch? I moved closer to the TV and ordered some snacks. Bruno came and sat next to me and, because he only spoke Portuguese, he told me how much he “loves love stories” using Google Translator. We were both glued to the TV, laughing at the correct moments, sad silence at the others. I looked up at one point and there was half of a chocolate croissant sitting in front of me. It was the backpacker’s equivalent to eating popcorn on the couch. I loved this memory. It made what could’ve been a dreary, annoying day feel very special.
Food Item Most Consumed: Bruno’s Burgers at Bar do Bruno in Baleal, Portugal
Song on Repeat: “A Haunting” by Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
Number of Photos Taken: 1514. That’s an average of 50 per day. Pathetic compared to last month!
Most Beautiful Place: Sintra, Portugal. It was all spectacular, but specifically the Quinta Da Regaliera, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Thanks to my aunt and uncle for hosting me there – what a spectacular 24 hours we had!
Best Meal: Dinner at Tasca de Joel (described in detail in “Best Day”).
Place I’d Most Want To Live: San Sebastian, Spain. It’s beautiful, urban, outdoorsy, and fun.
Everyone speaks English everywhere (well… almost everyone). In other countries, it’s considered the universal language.
The friends you make when you travel are as real as the ones you have at home. They look out for you, they share with you, they keep in touch with you, and they want to meet you again in the future.
It all works out. Once I decided to leave pretty much all of my planning open, I got really relaxed about all aspects of my trip. I started booking trains the day-of, hostels the day before. This would have stressed me out before, but now it just seems to work itself out. It’s nice to stop anticipating so much.
Find your happy places everywhere. Being by the sea is what makes me happiest. It centers me even if I am in the strangest places. I try to build the ocean in as frequently as possible, hence me essentially going along the coast of Western Europe.
Slow your roll. The best way to travel long term is to build rest days into the trip. They are as important as the busy ones, because if you don’t have them you burn yourself out (and get sick)!
Do whatever feels right at the time. After two weeks of surf camp I was dead. I was physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. I decided to get an Airbnb in Lisbon. It worked out that I split a two bedroom spot with two friends and we all got to relax together. Those four days brought me back to life. I’ve tried to stop feeling bad about being anti-social, because it isn’t realistic to be constantly going-going-going for a year straight. I take as long as I need to feel rested or centered or in touch with those I love. It balances me out.
1SE (One Second Everyday): Coming soon!
Month three is off to a very strong start! I can’t wait to share more.