How I ended up in Portugal?

Reading time: 7 minutes

Since I was studying Spanish at the university, I wanted to visit Spain, so that I can try my knowledge and get to know the country. I was curious because my teachers were telling stories so enthusiastic about it and its people. The warmer climate sounded good and the Camino seemed a great challenge for the future. However, I ended up first in Portugal instead…

Some years ago, my friend Gábor was heading to Lisbon by hitchhiking with 100 Euros in his pocket. His path did not cross the capital of Portugal in the end, but his story planted the seed of the idea in my head and put Portugal on the map.

One of my zouk dancer friends was asking me many times if I join her to the Warsaw Zouk Festival in January. As one of my old zouk friends told me great things about this festival, it was already it on my bucket list for a while. I was hesitating only because I was on a low budget. However, I was lucky because this year the organizers offered some voluntary spots in change for the pass. I was definitely in! I began to believe in the thought that I can make it this year.

I was sitting at my computer to check the flights. With my WizzAir Discount Club card, I found a great offer around 25 EUR there and back. I already had an exciting thought: what if I would not come back to Budapest after the congress but I would travel somewhere instead for a while. Alone. Again. Like in November 2016 to Croatia. I really wanted to empty my head a bit and to experience solo traveling again, which was giving a lot to me for the first time as well. I called one of my friends for some advice and help, who is the master of flight bookings because this is her job. She was telling me laughing that she was booking flights in the last 3 hours to some kizomba festivals as Wizz had a 20% discount that day. – OK, I need to book the flights today. – I said to myself.

I started planning. – Where can I get from Warsaw at a cheap price? Maybe I could get to Spain finally? Hmm… Unfortunately, Madrid, Barcelona, and Málaga are all expensive… Or maybe I could check out those nice high bridges in Porto? – Stockholm, Lisbon, and Tel-Aviv seemed the cheapest. – But Stockholm is cheap from Budapest too, and anyways it is winter and I would prefer a bit warmer weather. Tel-Aviv seemed more out of comfort zone yet and cost the same from Budapest, but Lisbon sounds very nice, and it is a bit cheaper too. But does it worth it to go there in Winter? Anyways it should be warmer than in Budapest. 🙂 – I searched a bit on Google and found some articles that recommended Portugal in WInter. – Sounds great! In addition, there will be no mass of people. Hooray!… Let’s see how and from where I could get home at a cheap price? Lisbon? Faro? Porto? – Another round of searching and comparing. Faro-Budapest flight was not launched during winter, and the ticket from Porto was cheaper than from Lisbon including another train of flight ticket from Lisbon to Porto. As I was curious about both cities, I decided to return to Budapest from Porto. – Buy. Click. – The total cost was around 44 EUR for the three tickets. I was ready for my second low-budget solo backpacking trip in Europe. I was feeling the excitement in each and every cell of mine. – I hit the road in January again!

It was 18th of January. I was packing crazy so that my stuff does not get too heavy and will be able to fit into the cabin luggage. It was around 3 or 4 am when I got to bed so that I get up 3 hours later to head to my friend and then together to the airport. The flight from Warsaw was late because of a snowfall in Poland so we could take off only with a delay. We were waiting more than 30 minutes behind the gates. Once I was realizing that I see a face in the line that I know already. It was a friend from secondary school. – Am I sure that she is it? – and as I remembered her family name I knew it. – It should be her because her name is Polish! – I went to her. We were glad to see each other and began to chat. She told me, that she is visiting her father in Warsaw now. And this happens regularly in every 6-12 months. We boarded and it turned out that there is a free seat just near ours at the window, so she joined us. The two friends of mine found a good common topic to talk about during the trip: inner design and architecture. – What a bunch of coincidences! – I noted with a smile on my face.

When taking off we flew over Budapest, so I could see the inner city. It was so nice to recognize from the air the Elisabeth Bridge and the Csepel Island, where I grew up and I am living again nowadays.

After landing, we said goodbye to our surprise companion and headedto the venue of the congress, to a nearby hotel. Almost after arriving we started our shift. This was the first time volunterring at a dance festival. I was seeling festival T-shirts that day and checking ristbands and helping in the cloakroom the other days. For those who have not been to such festival it is a conference. During the day there are several classes in more rooms and you can choose which to attend, plus in the night there is a party in one or more rooms, the teachers do some shows and then you can party until sunrise. Repeat this for 2-3 days and then go home and take a rest. This time I was satisfied with 1-2 classes during the day and some hours at the night party each day. This was the first event, where I did not want to rush and attend everything possible. This time I was not having the FOMO (fear of missing out). Just wanted to enjoy every moment and everthing I did and took part. I was not attending in many classes, though I got to know a very inspiring couple: Anderson and Brenda. I started to admire them for their teaching methods and intentions. They became role models for me. In total, I danced less than in other events because I worked 4 hours every day and I still needed to deal with such details like hosts and accommodation for the rest of my trip. I was really very looking forward to it! Meanwhile, I created a time also for writing the very first post to my blog. – I made The First Step… on the road. 🙂

In spite of all these, I connected more with the participants than at other congresses. I was chatting more than ever with them. With my Romanian friends, with an English friend of mine, with a Latvian girl, and also with a Hungarian girl from the countryside, who I only met abroad yet until that time. 😀 In the night parties, I did not chase dancing all the time, however, I was more satisfied than ever. With most partners after tuning together, I felt all the way that I am dancing with this person now, I can trust him, he deserves to have all of my attention, and in this moment, I give him all my love, and I enjoy the moment and the time, we spend together. I am giving and I am accepting. Many times, it was so light and easy. I got many grateful hugs in the end of the dances.

After the festival was ending, on Monday morning the people said goodbye to each other flight by flight and headed to the airport. There was a little tired but smiley mood because the event was over and it was cold and snowing outside. However, I was full of excitement because the rest of my trip just was ahead of me. I was busily using the hotel’s internet connection to finish my todos, get hosts. My flight was leaving in the evening. – My first flight ever during the night and I have the ticket near the window! The sight should be super nice from up there!

I arrive to the Warsaw Airport. – I was about to check in forth time in my life. I am still a bit nervous about it. – The Polish airport staff was checking really thorough. I could hear classical music from the loudspeakers and I also saw a piano in the waiting room. Somebody was playing. I felt enchanted. 🙂

After boarding, I realized with a slight disappointment that I will be sitting in the same row where a mother was fighting her child not to sit near the window because they don’t have the ticket for it. Though I wanted to sit close to the window I was not forcing it. I just let it go. The woman was apologizing in Polish and she tried in English too. I grabbed her hands, smiled at her and told her “It’s Okay”. I have seen that she did her best and already felt uncomfortable about the situation. SHe was grateful. Later, she offered some mandarines for me and gave a gummibear to his son to give me as thanks for the seat. 🙂 Although we did not speak each others language, we could turn with love and understanding to each other. 🙂 In the end, it turned out that this was the best solution, because the boy felt asleep and it still remain easy to go to the toilets.

While landing in Lisbon around 1 am, I was getting more and more excited, curious and was waiting for adventure. Somebody felt sick during the landing so we still needed to wait in our seats until she got helped. Al the people were speaking Portuguese. I was paying attention so that maybe I can understand something because it is similar to Spanish. But the pronunciation is different, so it was hard to understand. Then, the Polish woman was asking me in Portuguese – Falas portugués? (Do you speak Portuguese?) – Haha, falo so um poco. Porque falo Espanhol. (Haha, I speak only a bit, because I speak Spanish.) We were laughing at ourselves because we realized in the last 5 minutes of our 4-hour-flight together that we could communicate much better all the way. It was a funny moment. 🙂 The passenger felt better soon and everybody could leave the plane. We get off and said goodby to each other. – So, I arrived. I am here in Lisbon. 🙂 Let’s see what this trip holds for me. – I was curious as always. 🙂

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