Monday, August 29, 2005

Home at last

Dear all, after arriving at Porto and, above all, eating one "francesinha" and a half, I am finally home. Night night to all of you. See you all after my 24 hours sleep therapy.

Kisses and Hugs,

P.S. - we are already planning the next adventure, right my fellow "deushe"

P.S. - Barcelona wasn't our last night our after all. Viva la Feria de Toro!!!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Last night out

Dear all,

And the last night out of this adventure comes… Barcelona has been incredible so far. It is very nice to have company, specially in these last days. Nevertheless, we have been as well making some friends, as we did along our way. So tonight, we shall all make the deserved last partying of our journey. As some sangria might be involved in the process, the 2cv will today rest at the hostel. Afterall, he has a last long journey ahead of him from tomorrow on till our beloved home town Porto.

Kisses and hugs to everyone,

P.S.- I-m missing home, my family, my little dog, my friends, my francesinhas, but I can hardly realise it is coming to an end… Doesn’t anyone want to pay me to do this for a living?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Ciao Italy. Ci vediamo presto


Indeed Mom, our adventure is slowly coming to its end. The 3cv and I are already in Barcelona, where we arrived yesterday after a long one day cruise across the Mediterranean Sea.

Leaving Italy was, as always, not a pleasant experience. That is something about this country that makes it almost impossible not to fall in love with it. The people, the places, the food, the sea, the spirit, the chaos and above all, “my people”. For those who know me well, it is not a surprise that every time I travel to some place I return with the feeling that I would like to leave there at least for a while (I believe that’s the only way you can truly know a place). But regarding Italy, it is not just a matter of curiosity, is something much stronger. Strength I would just like to be given the opportunity to explore.

We left Palermo on the 22nd in the Morning, heading directly to Salerno, where we arrived by nightfall, after a long journey back on the road. The 2cv choking problem is getting more recurrent, but the only consequence so far is a decrease on our average speed, now around 70km per hour. Anyway, as always, he is the with decision making power on the velocity department. But despite its “cold” and the over 6000 km made since our departure, our hero still found the strength to help up a Sicilian family stuck on the highway after running out of fuel. Now confess: if you would see a 2cv and a Golf stopped on the highway, who would you think was helping who?

Salerno was, as it always is, a city of intense and mixed feelings. The pleasant relaxing evening contrasts with the cocktail of contradictory emotions this city always generates on me. Sometimes it just comes as my most perfect metaphor of Italy.

Next day, time to the hard farewell. We headed north to our final destination in the country, Civitavecchia, unfortunately with no time left to some other stops we would have liked to have made. But as I’ve mentioned to a friend, I have to leave some places left to justify my next travel in the country, right? Upon arrival, a long and promisingly boring journey on the see. The beginning did not add anything to improve our expectations. After parking the 2cv and finding my seat, I saw my room invaded by a group of elder citizens that immediately made what the Italians so eloquently call a “Casino”. It just took me to go five minutes in the bathroom a group of old ladies have “camped” in my seat. There was not even point on trying to explain anything. Just took my things and moved somewhere else. Than the noise, and, worse of all, the smell… God!!! Lucky, I meat two Italians around my age who had just found out the solution that would save our journey: to settle on the cinema room.

Finally in Barcelona, 20 hours afterwards, I thought I would be finally granted with a relaxing day while waiting for the arrival of my friend Pedro, who is joining me for the last days of my adventure. But by now we should no better than trusting in our plans. After leaving the boat I’ve driven the two Italians to their hostel. It was a pleasant long ride around Barcelona’s city centre to arrive just 500 meters from the pier. Than we added to our hostel, an amazing Students’ Residence up the hill with outstanding facilities and incredible prices. After using the free internet service, I was calmly climbing to the swimmingpool located on the top of the building, when I saw a group of spanish playing soccer on the artificial grass pitch part of this complex. Well, this I did not even had the courage to tell anyone I had brought it with me, but indeed I had my full soccer goalkeeper equiment in the 2cv. And it became handy. After the nice soccer game and the late bath at the swimmingpool, still two hours and a half till Pedro’s arrival at the airport. Just the suficient time to rush into Camp Nou and watch Barcelona and Juventus playing the Joan Gamper Trophy on a completely full stadium. What an experience, even for those who do not appreciate soccer in particular. Even better was to buy the ticket on the blackmarket for 5 euros less. This way, I had a “perrito caliente” and a beer included on the original price.

Well, I believe I’ve molested you all more than enough for today. Anyway, time to hit the town and start this huge adventure’s grand finalle!!!


Saturday, August 20, 2005

Update from Palermo (again)

Ciao a Tutti

I'm again writing from Palermo, to where I have returned yesterday after 5 marvelous days in San Vito Il Capo. As I have writen before, I was promissed paradise there and indeed, that was exaclty what I have found. I will for sure make a large (tipically Tiago's) post about this spot. For the time being, as I the only internet point I could find was in a bookstore (I have to stand, but at least is for free), I can only say I was at home. For the first 4 days I stayed with a huge and amazing Sicilian family, which literally adopted me. It is amazing how you can travel over 5000 km away from your city and have the feeling of arriving home. For the last day it was reserved the missing piece of the paradise's puzzle: an incredible party on a house by the sea, in the middle of nowhere, with over 20 italians celebratring their last day of holidays. Let just say that I should be gone to east Sicily 2 days ago and I still keep myself around.

Again, my plans did change substantialy. Tomorrow I am finally leaving to Salerno, where I should arrive on the 22nd, sleeping over for one night. On the 23rd I have my ferry to Barcelona, where my friend Pedro will be meeting me for the last 3 days of fiesta of this each day more amazing journey.

Now, if you excuse me, I have better things to do in my last hours in Sicily rather then to stand in front of a computer;) I'll keep in touch.

Kisses and hugs,

P.S. - Mano, entao vou ser tio?! lol. Espero que as tuas amigas n venham a descobrir o endereço do meu blog

P.S.2 - To my mom, a huge "Baci" with many "saudades"

Friday, August 19, 2005

Spot 12 – Bern
Bern is known mainly for 3 things: being the Capital of Switzerland, its bears and hosting the contemporary descendent of the well-known Willy Fog, my very good friend Gian, Ryanair’s favourite client.
After having met him in I don’t know how many different countries, including my home town, I finally had the unexpected pleasure to visit him in his home town for two lovely days.
Besides the scepticism of some of its own inhabitants, I once again found Bern a charming town, specially its lovely city centre. Besides, I have arrived in the middle of the “Buskers Bern”, a festival of street music that, according to what I have been told by the locals, brings thousands of people to the streets, creating a great atmosphere that is not common through out the year

After attending a quiet party on my first night, we took the following morning to some proper sleep (believe me, I know how to value a nice comfortable bed now), hitting the town in the afternoon for some sightseeing. In the night, the first heavy partying of out journey, which started with the kind invitation of Gian’s old flatmate, Sabine for a dinner at her place (I take this chance to thank you, as I believe the tasty shots I’ve prepared you did not express a lot gratitude then) and ended up quite some ours later on a Disco, after some drinks and “borrowing” a bicycle for the night. Before our departure on the following day, the obligatory visit to the Bear’s Pit.

Thank you Gian (see you soon in Porto, right buddy?), as well as Gian’s Mum and Sandra for the hospitality.

Spot 11 – Conbloux

Conbloux is a typical small village from the French Alps. Located close to Salanches and Megéve, Conbloux is in the winter the dream location of any winter sports fan, as a large group of ski resorts are located in a range of 20 minutes of driving, among which some of the most well known in the whole Alps. But this is just part of the wonder.
It is quite impossible not to fall in love at first sight with this little village. With a small old centre perfectly preserved, with the tower of the Church as its most prominent element, it extends itself along the hill, displaying an impressive collection of Chalets “for all tastes”, if you allow me this Portuguese expression. On the other side of the valley, the 365 days per year impressive Mont Blanch, highest pick in the European continent.
Isa’s Chalet comes as Conbloux’s most perfect metaphor. Typical, beautiful, big but impressively cosy and perfectly located, allowing from almost any spot a breathtaking view on the Village, the valley and the mountains, always with the Mont Blanch in the background. Adding to all this, the cherry on the top of the cake: the spa, where one can spend a chilly summer night or a snowing winter day outdoors, under the most relaxing warm water while having a nice glace of champagne. I’ve experienced both situation and I can only recommend it. By the way, it is for rent for a very reasonable price, isn’t that right Isa? So, in case you are interested, just let us know.

What you can not rent, but only earn is the owner’s friendship, one’s I cherish the most. This is of course extended to Isa’s family and her boyfriend, Nico. It was, as always, a huge pleasure to see you again. I know I don’t have to thank you for anything, but nevertheless, I want to do it. I know we will be meeting again soon. I just hope this time in Porto. Nevertheless, two were missing to the equation to be complete.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Ciao From Palermo

Ciao a Tutti da Palermo!!

After two amazing days visiting Toscana (I really hope I can find the time to write you about the 4 cities I have visited there, as they were fantastic), I kept on my journey towards the south of Italy, heading to Cirella, a little village by the calabrian sea. Where my “Pazzo Terrone” friend Giancarlo and his family welcomed me at their summer place.

But before, the journey on the road. Passing from Lazio (Rome’s region) to Campagna (Napoli’s region) feels pretty much like looking the road from a normal car’s windshield and then from the 2cv’s one: we move into a completely different reality. Indeed, I doubt “reality” is suitable word, as quite often one has the feeling to be inside a Emir Kusturica’s film. The people, the landscape, the environment and of course the driving just seem to come from a complete different planet. But somehow, everything just feels surprisingly comfortable and cousy. People are very, very friendly, the clock seems to tick 120 times per minute, the food is great, the ocean marvelous and in less then one hour you are already laughing every time you see a car coming straight to you on a one way street. Summing it up, welcome to the south of Italy.

We moved from Calabria this morning, after a heavy, heavy party last night, on a marvelous disco just by the sea. The journey is long and we are in “Ferragosto” (main period of holidays here in Italy), so the day started only a couple of hours after we hit the bead. After a path over the land and the sea, where I am in the Capital of Sicily, at the place of my favourite “Bastardo”: Maurizio Sorbello. Tomorrow I’ll move to San Vito Ill Capo, a place by the sea at the western coast of Sicily, where I was promised Paradise.

The 2cv is, specially today, deserves to be congratulated. Afterall, after over 4500km we arrived in Palermo. Just missing the “Back” part!

Hope to be able to address you again soon, but still was unable to check whether internet is already available in Paradise.


P.S 1 – again and again, thank you guys for the great comments you keep leaving here. I always have a great time reading them as well for me it became an addiction. Even better to see my journey is as well putting some of my friends in contact again. Did you really had to wait for me to leave the country?

P.S. – Tomorrow the big concert. Unfortunately, or on second thoughts, fortunately, I won’t be able to attend. But I hope you all enjoy it, especially you! (now, it’s not for all of you, just for one you that I am sure will “recognize” easily herself).

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Quick update from Toscana

Hi everyone,

I am writing to you still from Toscana. I am currently in Siena, my last spot here before heading south to Calabria. Don’t worry Ruca, your tips were just perfect: both Lucca and above all Siena are awesome. From tomorrow on and till aroubd the 20th my trip will slow down a bit, so I can finally enjoy some relaxing days at the beach and jump into some heavier partying. I should then find the time to make the updates on the several Spots visited since day 9 of my trip. Believe me, they will be woth it to read (and above all the Spots to visit as soon as you can).

I’m off to finish my sightseeing in Siena, after wich we’ll head south, trying to “eat” as many miles as possible till sleeping time.


P.S. – The 2cv is doing very well.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Day 11: Day's Plan

After a great day (and relaxed night) spent in Milano, once again among friends made in prior adventures, we are on the road again. Our plans don’t stop changing, either to include new destinations on our route, or simply changing the dates of some visits in order to take this chance to meet all my Italian friends.

Today we will finally head to Toscana, but the original 2 stops planed increased now to 4. Following the advice of my friend Ruca, confirmed by every single Italian asked, we decided to include Lucca and Siena in our plans. Therefore, we will leave in about half an hour from Milan o the way first to Lucca and then Pizza, ending the day in Florence, where we will sleep and spend the following day.

Today, we sightsee!!!

Day 9: Bern - Milan

Ups, I did it again… Already on my was from Bern and heading to Florence, I could finally get in touch with my milanese friend, Andrea Brizzi. He would be arriving in Milan on the following day, so the city was back in our route.

But the highlight of the day came even before our plans’ change. Recommended by Gian, my Swiss friend, we followed the road through the mountains from Bern to the Italian border, passing through Interlaken, Wassen and Lugano. First, the road through Interlaken offering an amazing view on the lake and the steep alpine mountains. A bit further on, the test of the day for the 2cv: a typical alpine mountain road going till the very top and back on the valley, a route were breathtaking views surprise us at any curve.

After crossing the first border in which we were stopped and inspected (Where are you coming from? Portugal? With this?!lol), we headed till the entrance of Milan, where a gas station was once again our hostel.

The night wouldn’t end without another adventure: with the car closed, I left it…leaving the keys inside. It was quite an experience to “rob” my own car on an Italian gas station, at 2 am, wearing nothing but a pair of boxers…

As for the 2cv, he was back to its best form. Dealt the mountains under the rain with an evident pleasure. For two times later on on the highway the shocking problem appeard, but this time only for very short periods. Congratulations buddy, we are over 3000kms!
KILOMETRES (Total): 3107km 
GAS SPENT(Total):194.71l

Click here to know all the details of my Legendary Companion

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Plans for the upcoming days

Dear all,

We are about to leave Bern, but not before letting you know our planns for the next days. But before, our apology for the huge number of posts put online yesterday and today. For the first time I had internet connection at the place I was staying, so I took the opportunity to update the blog till today.

Our next destination is Florence, where we expect to arrive only tomorrow, due to the late departure time (heavy partying last night…). We will oversleep in Florence, moving then to Pisa, being still considering a stop in Siena. From there we will move to Calabria. Arrivo subito, Giancarlo!!!

I’ll try to keep in contact, hoping that you’ll keep as well.

Hugs and Kisses,
Tiago and “Le Deush”

P.S.- any tips regarding our next destinations or nearby locations are of course more then welcome.

Day 7: Conbloux - Bern

After some great and relaxing days at Conbloux, once again there we were changing our plans again. Gian, another good old friend made through ELSA, had joined us in Conbloux the day before. Being owing him a visit to his home town for some years now, again we could not resist the invitation to add a new destination (and country) to our route: Bern.

Having for the first time company while on the road, we headed to Bern, starting another great piece of driving, first through the French Alps, passing by Chamonix and then entering Switzerland through Le Châtelard, over Col de la Forclaz to Martigny, arriving “chez Gian” close to 10pm.

Unlike expected, the two days of rest at Conbloux seemed not to have been very good for my companion. Till Martigny the 2cv performance was quite poor, with the engine chocking constantly, reducing drastically the speed average. For the first time since we left Porto I feared for his health. But apparently he was just sentimental to leave France again, this time with no perspectives of returning in the upcoming months. Once in the highway, he regained energy, even surprising Gian with average speeds over 100kms and a couple of overcomes.
KILOMETRES (Total): 2835km 
GAS SPENT(Total):176.50l

Click here to know all the details of my Legendary Companion

Day 5: Sanremo - Conbloux

Without being able to confirm accommodation for a reasonable price in Cagliari and after acknowledging the prohibitive ferry prices to Sardenna at this time of the year, we decided to head directly to the French Alps. To Conbloux, to be more precise. Isabelle, a good friend from the time I was in the International Board of the European Law Students’ Association (she was our President) and her boyfriend, Nico, welcomed us on Isa’s amazing Chalet, just in front of the Mont Blanch (I will dedicate later on a post solely to Conbloux and the Chalet).

It was again a long drive, but the 2cv seemed to have guessed that homeland France was again in our way. He proudly entered France again on a very steady speed average through the Mont Blanch Tunnel, dealing afterwards in style the long downhill till Salanches and the steep uphill to our final destination. He was determined to prove our sceptical French friends the magnificence of the finest French technology piece of art ever!

P.S.- A bed, at last!!!
KILOMETRES (Total): 2615km 
GAS SPENT(Total):161.68l

Click here to know all the details of my Legendary Companion

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Spot 10: Sanremo

Together with the rest of the Italian Riviera we had the chance to visit, Sanremo was the biggest disappointment of our journey so far. Not knowing exactly why, when planning this trip Sanremo appeared always side by side with Saint-Tropez, Cannes, Nice or Monte Carlo. Pure illusion. Its centre, cut by wide avenues filled with beautiful and reasonably preserved beginning of the 20th century buildings and palm trees, still holds the main traces of what once was one of the top European summer destinations. But at the same time underlines what seems to be the city’s main characteristic: its stoppage in time. This is even more notorious when we acknowledge the (high) average age of its tourists. The scarce nightlife and the crowded rocky beaches just added to the great feeling of disillusion. Another downsize: the use of shampoo was not allowed in showers at the beach...Where am I supposed to get a bath then!?

Spot 9: Drive from Saint-Tropez till Sanremo

This is the hardest part of our journey to describe so far, especially without falling on a common place. In the past couple of times I had of course felt the its strong impact, but I could never help leaving with the feeling the Côte D’Azur was overrated. Till today.

Not defeated by the heavy traffic from Saint-Tropez till Saint Maxime, we kept faithful to our purpose of driving till Sanremo always following the cost line. I can only say it was the most amazing drive I have ever made. Having first the sunset and later on the night fall as our background, we were given the chance to delight ourselves with the magnificent symbiosis between the sea and the amazing cost line, the imponent presence of Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo, the inimitability of its many small villages bathed by the Mediterranean, with the unique glamour of the French Riviera adding the final touch of almost perfectionism. With the top off, a Cohiba Robusto in my hand and Diana Krall and Jack Johnson playing in the radio, we could hardly imagine a most perfect scenario to go through one of the most famous drives in the world, that indeed leaves up to its high, high expectations.
With the border crossing comes a shock that can only underline the magnificence of the French Riviera. Unfortunately, no signs would be needed to inform us that we had just entered a new country, as the differences on the Italian side are simply notorious. The one can clearly understand why glamour is a French word.