Surf's up

20:15 Paul Robinson 0 Comments

My old college friend Matt invited me to Lisbon to see Muse. I jumped at the chance. Whilst I used to love Muse back in the old college days, I felt like I'd grown out of them - however a trip to Lisbon with a mate was too good an opportunity to miss.

Lisbon instantly struck me as relaxed and friendly. We got a taxi from the airport and our driver was a little old lady wearing flip flops. The taxi was an old Merc. She knew exactly where to go (unusual for a taxi driver) and got very excited when I pointed out a Lidl. She didn't quite seem to know how wide her car was and I was continually bracing myself as we screeched past kerbs and fences. She didn't stop smiling though. Once we'd dropped out bags off we made our way to a rooftop bar called Topo. Before we'd even ordered drinks we'd began to make friends with a few students who were happy to give us some local advice.

On the trip we had plenty of time to sample the local food. It was OK, but nothing special. There was a lot of fresh salad and seafood available, so it was easy to eat healthily. Matt and I ended up becoming regular patrons in a little cafe bar for our breakfasts. I tended to go for the typical Pasteis de Nata, Matt tended to go for a steak sandwich for breakfast. In fact, Matt had steak for practically every single meal. That boy vacations in style.

We hit up a few tourist sites before heading over to Estoril. We had lunch on the beach, as you do. I got a bit confused when I was ordering my food - I thought I was ordering carpaccio - you know, lovely thinly sliced cured meat. What I got was a plate of tomatoes and mozzerralla, otherwise known as caprese. Bugger. It didn't matter though, everything was so peaceful. Lisbon reminds me of Barcelona, with its  blend of urban graffiti and Mediterranean vibes. It also has some stunning vistas, like those you associate with Rome but it is just so much more chilled than either of those more famous cities.

Once Matt had finished laughing at my lunch, we went to watch a Portuguese Primeira Liga game at Estoril Praia. The quality wasn't amazing but it was good fun. However, we did slowly wilt in the sun. I was getting so hot that I ended up soaking a scarf in water and wrapping it round my head. Not my best look.
Before the sun turned me into a sweaty mess
We had the chance for a little adventure in Estoril. We took a surfing lesson. I'd never been surfing before - and I technically still haven't. I just couldn't get stood up on the bloody surfboard. Forget Muay Thai or long distance running; surfing is the most physically demanding sport I've ever tried. Just to get to the right point in the ocean you have to continually battle the waves and the wind. Then you have to lie down on a supper slippery surfboard and instantaneously pop up onto your feet. I failed. Again and again and again. Matt managed to surf once, but struggled to even get to the right point in the ocean. The wind and waves were getting the better of him. I kept going up and trying, but had no luck. I even went back to the beach to practice my 'pop' on dry land, but it didn't help. There was also a German-Russina guy having his first lesson with us. He nailed it. I was impressed. And jealous. But it turned out this was his big dream to go surfing and he'd been practising the moves and preparing his body for months. How German. He spent the rest of the day talking about football tactics and reduced the romantic fairytale of Leicester City's Premier League title triumph to this "It's just kick and rush, it wasn't great." How very German.
Try going the other way mate!

That said, I loved the surfing. I really respect anyone who can surf. There was also something mesmeric about the waves. Their power was incredible and I wanted a single moment where I could become one with the ocean and feel like a part of nature, Instead, I spent an hour of my life falling face first into the sea. We spent the afternoon cycling along the Atlantic coast. It was a great ride, but again pretty windy. By the time the sun began to set my muscles had given up and I was walking around like John Wayne.

Our trip was over far too quickly. We spent the final day eating and enjoying the sun. Before I knew it, Matt had gone off to his gig and I was eating dinner alone. I was glad to have my own space but I also missed his company. How often do we have these simultaneous opposing feelings? It's exactly the same with travelling. You love to be in a new place but there is always something you miss from home.

We are always so busy; whether we are working at our desks, building our homes or falling off surfboards. How few of us stop and give ourselves the time to think and begin to acknowledge what we are really feeling?

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