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Week 18: Portugal

I have spent this week travelling north through Portugal, firstly I left Tavira and headed to Lagos. Lagos is a nice coastal town, which was quiet because of the time of year, the weather was awesome so I wandered around the town in the day and headed to a pub for some Guinness in the evening. From Lagos I headed along the coast to see a fort in Sagres, on the south western corner of the country before I headed north up the coast to a small village called Almograve. The village was nice but extremely quiet because it wasn’t tourist season, but when it’s the correct season the village is really popular with surfers.

Europe Trip

From Almograve I headed further north to Lisbon, where I couch surfed with a couple of girls in the city centre. They had a really cool flat in a cool, busy area of town. The flat was cool but the electricity was cut off, I really didn’t mind, it actually made it cooler, we were sat around talking and eating by candle light. The next day I explored the city then headed back to the flat as the girls would be back from uni and work. We then headed out to meet some of their friends and ended up sat in the street drinking a traditional cherry liqueur and smoking hash, an awesome night.

Europe Trip

After spending a few days in Lisbon I headed even further north, to Porto, I was couch surfing again, this time with someone who has been involved with couch surfing for years. We had a great time eating and drinking red wine while exchanging travel stories, but we took a walk around Porto during the day time on Saturday. Porto is a really nice city, the kind of place I would enjoy spending a few months living in, preferably in the summer.

Europe Trip

Today I left Porto and drove through the Douro valley, it was a really enjoyable ride, beautiful views and the weather was nice for most of the journey. Tonight I’m staying in a hostel in Vila Nova de Foz Coa, then in the morning I’m heading back into Spain, to Salamanca. Hopefully the weather wont be too bad.

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Weeks 16 & 17: Malaga to Tavira

As some of you may have noticed, I didn’t add an update last week, so this update covers both weeks. I spent about a week and a half in Malaga, staying with friends, most of the time I was researching the documents that I need to travel through Africa. We also had a Halloween party on the Saturday before Halloween, with some friends of my friends. Then on Tuesday me and Jessica headed into Malaga to see some of the city and visit the castle.

Europe Trip

Now that I have done all the research I need, so far, I have left some of my baggage in Malaga and headed off to explore Portugal and Spain for a few weeks. Firstly I headed to Sevilla, a nice ride but the weather was horrible, rain, wind and hail. By the time I arrived in Sevilla the weather had improved and I headed to the house of my couch surfing host. The two days I spent in Sevilla were nice and also unique, the first day we headed out for drinks in a square called san salvador, then on the second day we went to a political rally.

I left Sevilla this morning and drove over into Portugal, I am staying in a hostel in a town called Tavira. It seems nice but I haven’t had much chance to explore yet.

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Week 15: Andorra to Malaga

This week has passed by quickly, probably because I was rushing to get here in Malaga to start my carnet application. I left Andorra headed for Barcelona and stayed with my first couch surfing host here in Spain, a French guy living in a coastal town north of Barcelona, called Blanes. I stayed there for a couple of nights, visiting Barcelona by train. I wasn’t too fond of Barcelona, but I think that is due to the general dislike of large cities that I am developing.

Europe Trip

From Barcelona I drove down to Valencia, I have visited Valencia before and I really like the place. I stayed with a Venezuelan guy and his house mates, one Columbian girl, an Italian guy and an Austrian girl. In the evening we went to a couch surfing meeting, then to a club which was having an Erasmus night. It was a really fun night and we didn’t get back till late, I slept while two in the afternoon. After walking around Valencia and eating some ice cream I headed further south to Alicante.

Europe Trip

I arrived in Alicante late in the evening but still had time to have a Chinese meal, some beers and a talk with my couch surfing host Arthur. The next day I met him and some of his work mates for some lunch, more beer and more talking. They were really friendly and entertaining, I really enjoyed my time there. From Alicante I headed to Granada to stay with a girl I did my teacher training with, She lives in the beautiful old part of the city, up on the hill behind the Alhambra.

After spending a couple of days exploring the city I headed here to Malaga, to stay with a friend who has been living and working here for a couple of years. I now finally have my replacements for the documents that I lost in the Netherlands and can start applying for the Carnet de Passage, which I need to pass borders as I go through Africa.

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Week 13: Circular trip through Northern Italy

Ok, well its actually more like 13 and a half weeks, but the trip I just finished started on a Wednesday and ended on a Wednesday, so it makes sense to include the extra half. Since my last post I stayed with Federico in Verona for a couple of days, left most of my stuff in his garage, then drove from his place to Forli to pick up Teo and start the one week trip around northern Italy.

From Forli we drove to Bologna to stay for the first night. I had been to Bologna before but had never visited the city itself, I has stayed in a hostel on the outside of the ring road. It was nice to walk around Bologna and Teo thought it was a beautiful city, I told her that there were even nicer cities to come. We bought a couple of beers and sat in the park having a drink before we headed back to the hotel.

From Bologna we drove to Padova where I left my motorbike in the garage of my couch surfing friend, Simone. While we were in Padova we stopped to look around the Cathedral of St Anthony and the large market square. From Padova we took the train to Venice. Venice is an amazing city, really beautiful and a great place to wander around.

Europe Trip

From Venice we travelled to Verona, I had already seen Venice with Federico and so I could make sure that we saw all the best things in the time we had. After Verona we headed to Lake Garda, I had visited a small part of this lake before but this time we planned to travel all the way around the lake. The lake is really amazing, the further north you travel the bigger the mountains get, making for a beautiful ride. We decided to stay the night near the lake with Teo’s aunt, this meant that we would miss Parma and would also double the amount of distance we had to travel the next day.

We left Lake Garda headed to Pisa, the trip took us through the mountains between Parma and La Spezia. This is a really awesome road, there were lots of other bikers travelling through. We eventually arrived in Pisa late in the night and went straight to the hotel, deciding to visit Pisa the next day.

Europe Trip

After looking around Pisa we headed to Florence for the last two days of the trip. I had never visited Florence so it was a new experience for me as well as her. Florence is a nice city and I enjoyed walking around there and having a beer in the park.

Europe Trip

After dropping Teo at the airport in Forli, I drove back to Federico’s house near Verona, where I stayed last night. From here I will head into Switzerland through the Alps for the next few days.

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Week 12: Couch Surfing Northern Italy

Three months on the road and still loving it. This week I have managed to arrange couch surfing, although I have had difficulties doing this in Italy. I sent out lots of requests, some of which were rejected, most of them were just ignored. I eventually placed some posts in the SOS emergency last minute couch forums, this did the trick, I had offers from some very kind people.

Firstly I went to Bologna and stayed in a basic, cheap hostel for one night before heading to Parma to meet my first Italian host. Ian was a great guy with excellent English, he is planning a trip by canoe in East Asia, which sounds like it will be great. The first night we started talking about travelling and had some beers and suddenly realised we had been talking for around 5 or 6 hours. The second night we went for a walk around Parma to get some food and have a couple of drinks. Ian also suggested a route through Switzerland which I am looking forward to trying out.

My next hosts were a couple who lived in Padova, around 30Km from Venice. The night I arrived we went for a meal and some drinks in Padova, it is a really beautiful place but I didn’t take my camera out that night. The next day we went into town again to see the main tourist sights of Padova, the Cathedral of St Anthony and the town square.

In the afternoon I took the train into Venice and explored. Venice is like a huge maze of tiny paths and bridges, even with a map it is a real challenge to find your way around. After exploring for a few hours I headed back to Padova to rest.

Europe Trip

From Padova I headed to my third Couch surfing host in Verona. On the way I dropped into a small town which had been suggested by my second host Simone. There is a beautiful castle but unfortunately it was closed when I visited. I got a good picture anyway.

When I arrived in Verona I stopped for some pasta before heading to the village where my third host, Federico, lives. After I arrived we headed back into Verona, by car, to have some pizza with another two Couch Surfing hosts from the Verona area. Yesterday we both headed out on our motorbikes to Lake Garda, picking up another Couch Surfer on the way. The lake is really beautiful but I didn’t get any pictures this time, I will be visiting it again soon though so I can get pictures then.

I am leaving most of my luggage here in Verona while I take a trip around the North of Italy, then in about a weeks time I will head into Switzerland, then through the south of France, Andorra and Spain. I’m also starting to do more research on the paperwork that I will need for my trip through Africa.