Almost Trapped in Portugal

After a great time in the Algarve, real life intruded (specifically my lack of money and need to start working again) and I had to go home. Let another travel story begin!

First, I got to the Faro Airport with plenty of time and started to chill, conveniently forgetting that Portuguese airports are staffed by retards who’s only joy in life is to make mine as difficult as possible.
When I decided to check in, there was no one at the desk. And then the person I asked looked at me in panic and said “you are very late.” No, I was not, I must add. The problem was, I couldn’t just run through security. I NEEDED a passport check or there was no point.
I finally  found some flunky to check my passport and he took about 10 times longer than he needed to. And then, off to security, slightly concerned I was late, but knowing too much about Ryanair timing to be unduly worried. So, I waited in line, grumpy about the fact that Portuguese take the longest of all European airports to process security (which means about half the time of the best American airport). Luckily, these idiots didn’t have a problem with my liquids. Which is good because I would have dumped them on their ugly TSA shoes at that point.
Walked through the entire Faro airport, quickly but not too worried, despite the many many boarding calls for my flight I was hearing. When I got to the gate, no one seemed surprised that I was checking in “so late” and, I must add, there were 15 more people who got on the plane after me! Yeah, bite me Faro employees. Don’t freak people out without any reason.

So I got myself back to Porto. Great, should be easy from here on, right? Ha. Ha.

There’s a bus that runs from Porto to southern Galicia. It runs a couple times a day and I missed it by 30 minutes…Waiting ensued.  Oh yeah, and the zipper on my pants had decided to fail, probably hours before I’d noticed that I was flashing the world. To add to the fun, I only had enough cash to pay for my bus tickets. And in Europe, paying for things with a card can be complicated or impossible (especially American cards). I’d finished my book on the plane, my pens were out of ink, and my iPod was dead. Cue hours of grumpy boredom in the aiport…Also the bus was late!

So I basically got to Vigo about 30 minutes later than I should have. Easily missed my connecting bus . Oh goody, thinks tired Jeannette. Time to figure out a new way home. I went to the info desk at the bus station and asked the guy, “Where’s the train station? I need to go to Santiago.” He looked at his watch and made a face. For those of you who don’t travel, this is never a good sign. “It’s too far away, you need to take a city bus,” he finally offered, which is infinitely better to hear than, “you missed the last train.”
I grumbled, but I didn’t have a clue how long I had til the next train, and therefore taking any more time than absolutely necessary to get to the train station was a bad idea.

I ran up the stairs and stared at the arrivals board. Next train to Santiago–leaves in 90 minutes. Really? Really?! Not only was I not getting home until midnight, but I could have taken my sweet time getting to the station. My bad mood only slightly decreased when I realized that I could pay for my ticket with my credit card, thus meaning I could spend my cash at the station bar. So I went to the bathroom and futilely tried to fix my pants, gave up and bought a pen and a beer. The next 3 1/2 hours were spent writing and planning out my future, until FINALLY I got home.

-Of course, there are no city buses in Santiago at 12:15 a.m. so I ended up walking for another 30  minutes, but that’s another whiny experience alltogether.

A Pre-Work Vacation: Going to Portugal

Even after traveling for 26 hours straight and moving house for the 3rd time in 4 months, I can’t sit still. So, I landed in Santiago, ditched my suitcase in the apartment, slept for 10 hours, and then ran off to Portugal for a spontaneous bit of fun in the last of the sun!

Getting to Porto is a royal pain in the ass on a Saturday, just saying. The normal buses don’t run so my only option was the 5:45 AM train from Santiago–which I made by virtue of being completely jet lagged. When I changed to the Portuguese train in Vigo the grumpy conductor lectured me about not buying a ticket in the station. Not because he thought I was trying to pull something, but because it costs more to buy a ticket on the CP (Portuguese) trains. Yeah, the conductor was trying to save me money. I take back all (okay, half) the bad things I’ve said about RENFE!

In other news, Portuguese airports have the stupidest employees in all of Europe (possibly the world, but I need to collect more data to be sure). See, the last time I flew through Porto a moron on power trip confiscated my toiletries because the 100 mL bottles didn’t have labels. Yep, the person whose jobs entails handling 100 mL bottles everyday couldn’t say if my liquids were the right size or not.
Well this time I was ready for them. Everything I owned had a label on it and was in the little baggy. And…I still got flagged down. The two morons in question demanded I test my hairspray on my arm–to prove it wasn’t evil terrorist juice. Why? Because “it’s not labelled.”
Thing is: the f***ing bottle is 40 mLs. And yes, it is labelled. The label happened to be on the back, where apparently Portuguese employees don’t look. Lucky for me, this wasn’t decided to be my fault and I got through with all my shit.

One quick flight down the Iberian peninsula later, I made it to Faro and promptly left the airport in search of a sunny spot in which to NAP!

Porto, a City Named After its Wine

Last weekend, I spent far too much time trying to decipher Portuguese. The fact that it’s similar to Gallego did not help me in the slightest–it sounds like a mushy and incomprehensible version of Gallego. Why was Jeannette trying to understand Portuguese? Because I decided to hop a train to Porto for the long weekend!

The train in question left Santiago at 5:45 am, which was as disgustingly early as it sounds. I slept on the train. And then I attempted to sleep in the station in the ass-end of nowhere while we were waiting for another train. And then I slept on the second train to Porto–which was a rattly pain, let me tell you. However, completely worth it, as I arrived at Porto by 10 am, and promptly devoured an amazing sandwich, the Francesiña.

Our hostel was amazing, with super-friendly people who fed me, AND gave us free shots. Basically, they are now my friends forever. We explored the wonderfulness that is Porto–with beautiful sunny streets, a river the runs straight through the town, and a beach nearby. Note: I use the word “beach” loosely, and in the Oregonian sense–it was a beach with a cold wind, crashing waves, and glorious amounts of FOG!

However, the best part of Porto is the wine–Porto wine. Imagine a wine that is much sweeter than normal, because the fermentation process has been halted by the addition of copious amounts of brandy (This addition also jacks up the alcohol content of Porto, a word to the wise). The entire far side of the river is populated by wineries, complete with tours and tastings! Yum yum yum.

My barrel of Ruby porto wine