Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Well, aside from being entirely sleep deprived the entire time, I had a great time in Portugal. It was really beautiful... the scenery, the weather, the people... Everything. So why was I sleep deprived?

Here's why: my flight to Faro left at 6:30 AM on Saturday, so I had to wake up around 3:30 to check out of the hotel on time and get to the airport early enough for an international departure and I had gone out Friday evening with Nick and Rachel from the Bristol office partially because I wanted to see them before I left and partially because Rachel had agreed to bring my credit card from the office that had been FedEx'd there this week. I ended up getting to bed around midnight. The flight was about 2 hours, but it was on easyjet which doesn't exactly specialize in comfort (small seats, no leg room, no reclining) so I couldn't fall asleep. After landing I went and found my transfer bus to take me to Lagos. I'm really glad easyjet advertised that on their website since it saved me a lot of money over taking a cab (like $150 each way!) and only cost me an extra hour. Unfortunately, that bus was particularly uncomfortable as well, so even though I had about 2 and a half hours on there I probably didn't sleep for more than 15 minutes or so.

So I arrived at the hotel around 12:30, walked up to the front door and pulled... it was locked! I was pretty confused at this point, considering looking in I couldn't see a reception desk or anything, it looked more like an apartment building. Fortunately there was a buzzer box next to the door with a button marked "reception" so I pressed it and after it rang for a minute a woman came on and told me I had to come somewhere else to check in. I was a bit sketched out at this point, but she told me they'd come pick me up so I figured I'd just roll with it. It turns out it was just couple minute walk up the street, but since I had my bag with me, the ride was much appreciated. Everything was all well and good once I got up to reception, pretty standard deal aside from being separated from the rooms, I assume it's because they manage more than one hotel from there (at least every other building in Lagos is a hotel). They told me the room wouldn't be ready for another half hour or so, but I was welcome to go around the corner and wait in the hotel bar/restaurant/pool area so I did. I ordered a caiperinha and sandwich and read a book for a bit, it was quite relaxing really so I didn't mind the wait.

About half an hour later the guy who drove me up came down and told me the room was ready and he could take me down and show me to my room whenever I was ready. After paying for my lunch, we went down and he let me in. It turns out the room wasn't so much a hotel, but more of an apartment. It was by far the nicest place I've stayed in since I came to Europe.

These two were the view off of my patio (yup, my patio)

The living room

Kitchen (complete with dishwasher and full set of dishes)


What kind of hotel room has a hallway?

Probably should have mentioned earlier, but the whole motivation for going to Portugal was that my friend Megan, who lived with my friend Mike (hey Mike!) last year and briefly with us this year before I left for training is now in Seville teaching English. Some of the people she's teaching with signed up for this trip to Lagos and she invited me to join them. Originally I was going to travel the whole way with them, but that would have involved taking 3 days off work since they left from Seville on Friday morning and got back late Sunday night. Unfortunately they couldn't give me a full refund, but thankfully the guys running the trip felt bad about that so they were happy to allow me to tag along for the parts of the trip that I was in Lagos for. I'll get to that later.

So after quickly dropping off all of my stuff in the hotel, changing into my swimsuit, putting on some sunscreen and grabbing my towel I headed off to find the beach that the group was hanging out on. Megan didn't have a reliable phone there so basically we had just arranged to meet on that beach at some point between noon and 4:30 when the group was scheduled to be there. It was about a 40 minute walk from the hotel but I saw some interesting stuff on the way there...

A skatepark...

...conveniently located right next to a dilapidated fortress,

an interesting modern fountain,

and a scenic walk along the inlet opposite the breakwater

After crossing the inlet and walking a bit more (not through anywhere particularly scenic) I finally made it to the Meia Praia, the beach I was looking for!

Look right!

Look left! (if you look really carefully, you might be able to see Megan and co.)

 After walking about 5 minutes I found them, it was actually a lot easier than I expected it'd be. It wasn't actually Megan that spotted me, it was on of her friends. Apparently Megan told them to keep an eye out for a confused looking redhead. I guess I fit that description pretty well. It helps that I didn't see another redhead the entire time I was there aside from one who was in their group. So I put out my towel and lay down with them (I think I used the right tense of lay/lie there). I chatted with them for a couple hours and then they decided to go shopping to get some clothes for the evening. We agreed to meet up in front of their hotel at 6 for the next part of the Lagos tour. I went back to my hotel to figure out how to get to their hotel, check my email and take a shower. My iPad told me it was a 5 minute walk to their hotel which I thought was incredibly lucky considering I had no idea where their hotel was when I booked mine and considering the sheer number of hotels in Lagos. So around quarter to 6 I set out to find their hotel, which the iPad told me was right near where I checked into my hotel so I figured it'd be easy to find. Got up there about 10 to- and couldn't find it. I walked around the block a couple times with no hint of a hotel. I decided I had probably missed them so I just walked back towards my hotel to check the iPad one more time in case they were still around and I could make it. On my way back down I just happened to see something I hadn't noticed on the way down the first time...

Yup. It wasn't 5 minutes away. It was 30 seconds away. Just after I spotted their hotel I saw the bus driving away and I was pretty disappointed. Then, at the peak of my disappointment I happened to spot Megan jumping up and down waving her arms at me telling me to hurry up. I wasn't late! Well, I was, but not TOO late. They were riding in a separate van since the entire group didn't fit in the bus. As I seem to have a horseshoe, 4-leaf clover and a couple rabbits feet where the sun don't shine, there just happened to be one seat left in the van. The next stop on the trip was the west coast of Portugal to watch the sunset. In case you wanted to know what the end of the world looked like when it was flat about 500 years ago... here it is:
Pretty spectacular, really.

Here's some more...

The lighthouse at the end of the world (caption credit goes to Megan, I stole it from her blog)

Got some groovy color, care of Megan's sunglasses

It was bright. And windy. Hence I look like I'm riding in the front seat of Millenium Force

So after the sunset at the end of the world we bussed back to Lagos, got some pre-dinner drinks at the store up the street from the hotel and then drank them while waiting for a few of the girls to get ready for the evening. Needless to say I had a bit of a buzz after all of that waiting. We then walked downtown for dinner which was some pretty good pizza at a place near the bar we were headed afterward. The bar was called Joe's Garage, I assume they picked to to cater to an entirely American tour group, though it didn't feel at all American besides the name, which is fine by me. We were there a bit early for the Portuguese party scene since they don't start until quite late, but eventually it picked up and there was a bit of dancing a drinking... a lot for some and not so much for others... a few girls decided to go Coyote Ugly on the bar. I'm not sure if the bartenders appreciated it or not, but either way they decided to use some compressed air cannister hidden somewhere to blow up the skirt of anyone who did it so that pretty much ended in a hurry. Can't help but think that'd be a lawsuit waiting to happen in the States...

Eventually, I made it back to the hotel and crashed, but it was quite late, since the club scene doesn't start until after midnight, it doesn't end until at least 4. I think I made it back around 5 or 5:30 and crashed for just long enough to be fast asleep when the alarm went off at 8 to wake me up for surfing on Sunday morning.

We went surfing on Sunday morning!

There's the beach

and theres us looking like some proper beach bums

It was a ton of fun, though way more exhausting than I expected. Probably something to do with the lack of sleep (6 hours for 2 nights if you're counting). After about 3 hours in the waves I was so parched from all the saltwater I had involuntarily ingested and being a bit dehydrated from the night before that I couldn't go on. Megan and I went up to the cantina and got a huge bottle of water and some lunch. Eventually we made it back down to the beach to work on our tans (stop laughing, it almost worked for me!) and get a nice power nap in. I decided right then that I need a lot more naps on a nice warm beach in my life.

That's pretty much it for the trip, after surfing we came back to the hotels so everyone could gather up all of their luggage, load it on the buses and shower the seawater off before they headed back to Seville. I did the same except waited an extra half hour for my bus which picked me up at 6. This time I was exhausted enough that I was able to sleep for most of the ride despite being quite uncomfortable.

Because of the nature of the bus transfer service I got to the airport well before my flight and had time to eat some dinner and watch the last bit of the Saints/Panthers game. Normally I wouldn't care about that game, but it was just nice to see some real football for a change albeit with Portuguese announcers.

After landing in Bristol around 1:40 AM on Monday, I got out to my car and got to my hotel as fast as I could. Checked in and checked my email very quickly and went to the room. The key didn't work. Ugh, I'm too tired for this nonsense. Went back down to reception and the guy made me 2 new keys in case one of those didn't work as well. They both did, but I still appreciated him trying to get me in the room quickly. Finally fell asleep around 3:30 and woke up for work around 7:30.

That puts me at work on Monday with 10 hours of sleep for 3 nights after a weekend that probably would have been pretty exhausting with a normal amount of sleep anyway. It was pretty rough, but fortunately there wasn't really any work for me to do so I could just take care of logging my hours and expenses. I killed the rest of the day basically just chatting with the other engineers a bit about the trip and other random stuff.

After work I made the drive up to the Midlands again since I'll be working up here for the rest of the week (and probably quite a bit the rest of the time I'm here). That's when a great idea came to me: since my sleep schedule is already messed up, and this is the first time the Lions have been on Monday Night Football in a decade, I should go to bed early and wake up at 1:30 to watch the game before work (maybe squeeze in another hour after the game if there's time). Then I realized that ESPN is scrambled on my TV in this hotel so I gave up on that idea and decided to watch the episodes of Dexter and South Park that I had downloaded. When those ended around 11:00 it occurred to me that I could watch the Lions online, so I figured out a site I could use for that and set my alarm for 3:30 (a bit after halftime) and decided I'd watch the 2nd half. I caught most of the 3rd quarter and about half of the 4th before I fell back asleep and I gotta say... The Lions are looking great. Still feels weird to write it, and I was having a really hard time believing it until this morning when I saw for my own eyes, but its true. Being one of two undefeated teams in the league doesn't just happen the same way that being winless over a season doesn't just happen. Somehow we managed to make the change in 4 years which has got to be some sort of record and I doubt it'll ever be broken.

Anyway, that'll be all for now.


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