Archive for the Vacation Category

I know what you did last summer

Posted in Erasmus, News, Travel, Vacation on September 1, 2008 by Fax

Hey guys,

I’ll start out by telling you about what I’ve been up to lately – vacation!

Less than a month after I arrived from Bristol, I was already hopping on a plane to get back there. The plan was to fly there on the 30th, taking my big suitcase empty, and then come back there after the vacation trips, pack the rest of my stuff and for the last time (this year) (yeah, I’m optimistic about it :-)) fly back from Bristol to Porto, on the 20th.

Throughout the year I got myself convinced that Bristol would be completely empty in the summer, since all the students should go somewhere else. Well I was wrong – there was pretty much the same lively atmosphere, both during the day and during the night.

Actually, if anything, there were more people. But that was only because the Bristol Harbour Festival was going on. The city was absolutely crowded. Check these out (photos from my phone):

Millenium Square during the Harbour Festival

Millennium Square during the Harbour Festival

Pero's Bridge during the Harbour Festival

Pero's Bridge during the Festival

There were all sorts of weird stuff going on. Like here, a row of people throwing water baloons at another row of people:

Catch!

Catch!

Fun! And it wasn’t only the Millennium Square, Queen’s Square was the same or even better, with concerts going on and inflatable parks for kids. Wow!

Well I had other plans anyway: on the 2nd of August I flew to Pau, in the French Pyrenees, where Hubert would pick me up to take me to Bayonne, where the Ferias (huge) party was going on. Again sorry and thank you very much at the same time for the trouble of driving me that night, Hubi! There I also met Felipe, Lorenzo, Marion, Nico and Tim, great to see you guys again :-).

Bayonne is located in the Basque Country, so if you think “Hey, you are dressed just like the people in Pamplona!”, now you know why. The party was immense. If you are Portuguese, imagine Queimódromo in the alleys of a city. Same thing. That was during the night – young people having fun “their way”. During the day, they were all sleeping :-) and the city was taken by older people and children, having fun “their way” as well. The place was really lively and happy, I have to go back there with more time.

Bayonne Ferias

Bayonne Ferias (photo by Felipe)

I say I want to go back with more time because after all I was only there for two nights and one day. On the second day we (Me, Felipe, Hubert, Lorenzo and Tim) packed our things and got in the car for a loooong trip all the way to Italy – we basically did the whole south of France!

The goal for the first day was Antibes, where Tim’s brother kindly provided us with space to sleep at his place. We stopped in Carcassone, half-way there – it’s a beautiful and well preserved medieval city.

So we spent the night in Antibes, and in the morning Tim showed us a nice walk on the rocks by the Mediterranean.

With time for a swim

With time for a swim

Then in the car again we go. A cheer as we cross the border, Italy! Tunnels and bridges along the Mediterranean, until we arrive in La Spezia. We have dinner with Lorenzo’s family, our hosts for those days, and it doesn’t end very well… some high-tension scenes, but hey – in the end the dinner was for free :-).

From La Spezia to Portovenere it took only 20 minutes. My words, stepping out of the car: “this is beautiful”. Lorenzo told me to “wait until you see it by day”. What a wonderful place.

Streets of Portovenere

Streets of Portovenere

Portovenere

Portovenere (photo by Felipe)

The views were absolutely amazing, I could make a photo blog out of them.

Well there we spent a bit more than a week. Each day was usually comprised of waking up around 12 (or later :-)), eating something between a breakfast and a lunch, and then hopping on Lorenzo’s boat and going to a different place around there, for a relaxing afternoon in the Mediterranean. Absolutely relaxing indeed. Just sunbathing while being rocked by the can’t-really-call-them-waves on the boat, going for a swim, exploring little islands, eating peaches, fishing… there was actually an ice-cream boat, just in case you went “ah, if I had an ice-cream right now, I’d be absolutely perfect”.

Afternoons in Portovenere

Afternoons in Portovenere

When it got around 7 we’d weigh the anchor and go back before the supermarket closed. We’d have dinner and go out, usually to a beach party nearby. Great times :-).

When we didn’t go on the boat for some reason, we’d explore the city or other places nearby. After all, the Cinque Terre are so close people usually think Portovenere is one of them. So we visited four of the “Five Lands” (only leaving Corniglia for next time) – Monterrosso al Mare, Vernazza, Manarola and Riomaggiore. These were beautiful villages as well, all by the Mediterranean. Between Manarola and Riomaggiore is the Via dell’Amore (“Walk of Love”) – if you are considering impressive places for kneeling in front of your soul-mate and saying the M-word, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore

Time flew. Soon it was time to wish to come back (Lorenzo, I’ll be your neighbour one day! Thanks again mate!) and then catch another flight, this time to Paris! Marina, who had joined us in Portovenere a couple of days before, joined me in this one. Ed had arrived that day as well, and broke a sweat running after our train – I’ll never forget that, mate! A long trip ensued. Train, bus, airport, airplane, another bus and trains and metro, and none of us was able to sleep. But even when absolutely exhausted, Paris is an amazing sight. Very open streets, bright buildings, iconic places, I liked it a lot. My local friends Roxane and Sahir were brilliant tour guides, thanks a lot again girls :-).

I was too tired to believe I was there!

I was too tired to believe I was there!

Again, I must go back with more time. After all this second French leg of my trip only lasted for four days, two of them in Paris. Another day was spent visiting very impressive châteaus in the Loire Valley, and the last one, a nice lazy Sunday, walking around Chartres, a nice little city dominated by its magnificent cathedral.

Château de Chambord

Château de Chambord

Alas, time to go home. Not without stopping by Bristol first, as planned. Everything packed, empty room, and this time not taking the key with me, I was ready to go. Well, more or less :-). But it’s definitely more than time to move on.

Stay tuned for what’s happening next!