Let’s Write About: Portugal.

Thinking about traveling? Is the anxiety of being alone stopping you? How do you feel about dinner with friends?

You might leave your hometown by yourself but you’re never alone as a solo-traveler. If you are capable of sparking a conversation, you will always make a friend.

90% of conversations between backpackers start with one of these questions.

  1. Where are you from?
  2. How long have you been traveling for?
  3. Where have you been so far?

After you get through the basics, you can talk about anything.

  1. What are your top 3 favorite movies?”
  2. If you had access to every ingredient, what would be your dream sandwich?

I used to be extremely shy but over the years I have blossomed into the wonderful oddbean I am today. I learned how to embrace my “awkward charm.” Some of you might be scoffing, or shaking your head at that idea but chances are that if you’re reading this blog, it worked on you too.

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Hostel in Albufeira, Portugal

Once you step outside of your comfort zone you’ll find out that everyone else is just as vulnerable as you. Every person you meet has their own unique story, a life time worth of choices and experiences that led them to who they are today. How interesting is that? I have 24 years worth of stories and I just started. Every person holds an incredible story so why wouldn’t you want to immerse yourself into those pages?

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Yerba Mate with roommates in Lagos, Southern Portugal

So the purpose of this “Lets Write About” blog (I’m still working on the name) is to write posts about new places, while simultaneously getting a glimpse into another perspective. Since there’s no better combination than snacks and stories, these posts will often take place at kitchen tables. Get ready for tables full of pastries and fun memories! Thank you Katie for being my first blog partner!!

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Climbing in Cascais, Portugal

Personal 3×7: Katie, 30 – High School English Teacher from Melbourne, Australia

I met Katie while taking a BlaBlaCar from Lisbon to Faro and we continued to soak up the sun in Southern Portugal for a few days afterwards. It’s not everyday that you find another person who’s obsessed with old doors from around the world! New door inspired blog idea: TBA

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Beach bummin’ in Lagos, Southern Portugal

“Ah, Portugal, such a magical place. I came here not really expecting anything and just fell in love with it. I’d just finished two weeks in Spain, which really was wonderful, and I remember thinking, ‘yep, Spain’s my favorite’. But, then I came here and realized that this ancient place had some things that went beyond what I’d seen before. Firstly, the landscape is absolutely stunning and different in every region that I visited. Whether it’s tight meandering streets, sheer cliff with seemingly crumbling buildings seeming to miraculously cling to them, or idyllic sandy beaches you’re craving, you’ll find it in Portugal. The people are really kind and respectful and I can honestly say I’ve never felt the dreaded pangs of getting ripped-off as a tourist here (which I definitely have in other places). The level of English is very high as well, which many people say is helped by the fact that English/American TV is not dubbed but subtitled, which helps people to pick up the language. Public transport seems tricky – it can be difficult to find information on buses and trains on the internet, but if you go into any station and ask for help, they will be able and happy to assist you. And the food! I could go on and on about the food here, but wow it really is fantastic. I could go on and on, but really I just love the place!”

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Bone Church in Faro, Portugal
  1. If you can tell a newbie traveler anything. What would it be?

Katie: Get off your ass and go! I’ve met so many different people traveling and it seems everyone’s been through this; making the jump out of your comfort zone and actually starting a journey is the hardest part. Once you’re out in the big wide world, you realize how easy it is to get around, that people are largely kind and helpful, and that not speaking the native language really isn’t that scary. One day you’ll find yourself standing in a strange, beautiful place on the other side of the world, thinking, ‘how did I not do this sooner?’

Aimee: Exactly what Katie said, can you think back to the last time you tossed yourself out of your comfort zone? We all know that terrible feeling we get preparing for something like this, maybe it was an audition for a play, singing karaoke or simply just starting a new job. After it’s over, how many of you giggle to yourself because of how easy, and stress-free the situation actually ended up? You want to know what makes me shiver now? Thinking “what if” I never left home. If I find myself regretting any of my travel choices, I can always go home but obviously I can never go back in time to buy that ticket.

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Livraria Lello & Irmão in Porto, Portugal

2. As a late starting traveler, do you have any advice?

Katie: Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams – you can make it work. It’s pretty daunting to get five or six years into building a professional career and to suddenly go, ‘that’s it, I gotta go out and see the world!’ I was lucky enough that when I asked my boss for six months leave (on a complete whim), she said yes. But, if I’m honest, the thought of asking was so terrifying that I almost didn’t do it at all. What I’ve learned is that more things are possible than the you think, all have to do is ask.

Aimee: The most common positive response I get from older folks is “Travel when you’re young, it’s the best time.” or “When you’re my age, you’ll wish you traveled more.” I started traveling when I was 20. I still think about “all the places that I could have gone” during those two years in between High School and my first road trip. GO!

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A morning pastry and espresso in Lisboa, Portugal

3. What is your unique must-have item while backpacking?

Katie: Rose-hip oil is an absolute savior for desiccated travel skin. Also, I have crazy frizzy hair and it really helps to keep that in line. But, if I’m going to be completely honest, I have carried around an item, for the whole damn four months, that I have not used a single time, but still haven’t sent home, even when I’ve had the opportunity… My hair straightener. I don’t know why I even packed it, maybe I had visions of some kind of glamorous-wind-swept-Instagram-goddess kind of scenario. Needless to say, that went out the window the moment I got over here and started soaking up all the marvelous sun, food, culture and hanging with some of the best people I’ve ver met. I mean, who has time for vanity when you can see the world?

Aimee: I carry around a copy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I bought this book in 2014, since then I’ve opened it more times than I can count. Sometimes I’ll just simply open the book and read a few pages until I find a relatable quote. This book inspires me every day, and not always for the same reasons. Which is why after every scribble, sketch, or highlighted section I’ll always put the date so I’ll always know where I was, both physically and emotionally. This book has been around the world as much as I have and the proof can be found on every page. There’s a mixture of Portuguese and Thai beach sand tucked into every page, my bookmark is an Indonesian Rupiah, and a postcard from Colorado that I never sent out is currently marking one of my favorite sections. The corners of this book have been worn and tattered after almost 4 years of being shuffled around my backpack, but this book is my most prized possession. I’ll continue to bring it everywhere with me because my backpack is incomplete without this book.

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My kitchen table, Foshan, China

“The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.” The Alchemist. Foshan, China 26/12/2017

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