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Brigid Jelsma

48 Blog Entries
3 Trips
217 Photos


Brigid Jelsma's Travel Blog
Brigid Jelsma's Travel Blog
Walk a little further to another plan

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I enjoy having fun. :D

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Travelling of a more luxurious kind

Faro, Portugal

I am ridiculously fortunate in all my doing. Quite honestly, I have no idea what I did to deserve it all. At the moment I am in the Algarve, staying in a fancy resort for absolutely nothing.

My wonderful host, Miguel, has done everything to ensure that Kristi (another couchsurfer), her kid and I are taken care of. He's refused to let us pay for anything, even the mountains of food we acquired at the supermarket and, despite his setting off for Porto this weekend, has given us the keys to his apartment.

Needless to say, we spent all of yesterday and today at the beach, getting sunburnt. And, for the first time on this trip, the water was actually warm! I spent most of the time in amongst the waves or falling asleep on the sand.

This is a vacation, a proper vacation. No one needs to tell me how lucky I am.

permalink written by  Brigid Jelsma on May 27, 2011 from Faro, Portugal
from the travel blog: Walk a little further to another plan
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Fairytales and knights in shining armour: Sintra

Sintra, Portugal

Day two was spent in Sintra.

Sintra is, as Hans Christian Anderson put it, "the most beautiful place in Portugal. It is where fairytales live. Castles and forests and parks and lakes and hidden torrets and mossy stone walls and cobbled streets. The hike up to the castle was highly entertaining as I soon discovered that flip-flops were not invented for high gradient hiking. Slipping and sliding and losing the odd shoe here and there, nearly knocking a tourist over one of the walls, and eventually I made it to the top - where they charged me 6 euros...

At first I was ranting. SIX euros. What the hell would be worth six euros? It seemed ridiculous!

But then I climbed up the stone stairs and looked over the wall, saw the view and realised, Oh, so this is what is worth six euros.

From the top I could actually see numerous castles and palaces scattered in the overgrown forests surround the hill. And I could see for miles and miles. The Moorish Castle - probably the most worthwhile tourist expendature that I have ever seen. I just wanted to settle down there, pull out my notebook and start writing about knights and chivalry and quests and dragons and every other fantastical thing you can imagine. {


And then I tried to find my way back to the town centre, and again, I got lost and ended up with this lovely guy who walked me right to the centre (with a minor detour into a park because he wanted to show me the view). And there I ate a travesseiro - yet another delicious pastry that Portugal has to offer.

That evening, I ended up going with Rui for a wonderful tour through the hidden spots of Lisbon, seeing the best views, drinking kyporinyas and beers as we walked through streets where the nightlife was just beginning, sliding down handrails, and taking loads of photos (the latter was mainly on my part).

Afterwards it was time for the feature of the night... Brazilian dancing.

And I learned something. Dancing is not my forte. Definitely not. But it was great fun anyway and lovely to watch! But, with the heat, after five seconds of being on the dance floor, everyone was sweating buckets! We ended up hitching the fan so it remained facing in our direction.

All in all, Lisbon has been a pretty fantastic experience. But I need to leave Portugal soon, very soon. This food is way too good. I think my last stop in Portugal is going to be Faro, and I'm heading there tomorrow. It's by the coast (the actual coast), so it should have some great beaches. And then I'll re-enter Spain and make my way up to Barcelona, where I will go and annoy Robert. That should be fun.

permalink written by  Brigid Jelsma on May 24, 2011 from Sintra, Portugal
from the travel blog: Walk a little further to another plan
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Getting lost in Lisbon

Lisbon, Portugal

The value of maps is underrated. Honestly.

I arrived in Lisbon, full of expectations: it's one of the main tourist destinations in Portugal, so there must be something worthwhile, right? Exactly.

So I headed for the metro station, looked at the tube map, and realised that I had absolutely no idea where to go for any of the 'attractions'.

I chose a random stop and headed out into the heat. I was on a main road, so that seemed as good a place as any to start my adventure. I would just find a tourist information office and go on from there. Well, that was my plan.

"Peldonna... disculp... er... English?" Topped off with a helpless look on my face. "Turisma? Er...."

Then the guy responded, in perfect English, "You'd have better luck finding a tourist office in the city centre." He gave me a grin and pulled me out of the road....

Yes, I had been asking someone directions while standing in the middle of a street. I am actually that oblivious.

Anyway, what the guy had failed to tell me was where the city centre actually was. I hopped back on the metro, tried another spot right on the coast - or, rather, what I thought was the coast.

I stepped out, found the shore and ended up chatting to this old couple, and after a while I announced that I absolutely adored the ocean.... It's a river. To be fair, it is a very large river and it is really near the coast, but still. You can imagine how stupid I felt when they corrected me.

Then, I left to go and meet my new host. Rui, who then provided me with maps (tourist maps, clearly marking the tourist attractions), and I was all geared up for an afternoon of exploration.

With the map, I actually discovered which tube stop was in the centre. And then I realised that I had been walking around (almost in circles) around the centre, and that if I had just chosen one road to stick on, I would have reached one of the many massive squares.

Eventually I made it to the massive archway, walked through it and out into a massive quad, centred with a statue of a guy on horseback, and with a view of the bridge, Born Jesus, and the river. I was there just as the sun was setting, and the temperature was also becoming a lot more pleasant, and it was beautiful. Then I dutifully called a few people who threaten to slaughter me if I don't make it easy for them to keep track of me.

That evening I was given a traditional Portuguese swarma - delicious - and a nata from the store that they originated from - absolutely delectible and I could eat a billion of them and never get tired of them, and then I got a bit more of tour and saw one of the most beautiful monastories I have ever seen, accompanied by a stunning park and fountain.

That was day one in Lisbon.

permalink written by  Brigid Jelsma on May 23, 2011 from Lisbon, Portugal
from the travel blog: Walk a little further to another plan
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Where Portugal was born

Guimaraes, Portugal

Rob (a Polish couchsurfer) and I set off for Guimares, the place where Portugal was born. We wandered around with our free tourism booklet and got lost and ate local dishes and climbed up the castle and got the backs of our heads in the footage of some communist party's interview. It was great fun!

permalink written by  Brigid Jelsma on May 21, 2011 from Guimaraes, Portugal
from the travel blog: Walk a little further to another plan
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Drinking Port in Porto

Porto, Portugal

Porto is wonderful!!! It's completely different to any other city I have been in, because it's beautiful in a real way. Even dilapidated old buildings have something special. And every single street has so much character, it's just fantastic. The red tiled roofs.

I've been really lucky. Quite honestly, I have no idea what I did to deserve such luck. I had a wonderful host who made me feel completely welcome and who showed me a bit of the city the night I arrived (which was actually the night Porto defeated Barcelona in football, so EVERYONE was out, hanging out of passing cars, hooting, shouting, waving their team's flag). And the river, by night and by day, is beautiful.

The following day, I was left to my own devices and was fortunate enough to hear from Fernando, the couchsurfing king. The consequential events were beyond anything I could have expected. I met up with him for lunch, where we were joined by two other couchsurfers who he was hosting. After the delicious lunch, Fernando's tour began.

We saw everything. EVERYTHING. And we learned the history and the facts behind it all, punctuated by Fernando's many jokes. It was fantastic. We saw the tourist attractions and we saw the local attractions. We tried numerous treats (I think we all expanded during the few days we spent with Fernando) and drank Port and vintage. We crossed the bridge and walked along the river. And by the time our tour was over, it was time for another delicious meal.

I love Porto!

permalink written by  Brigid Jelsma on May 20, 2011 from Porto, Portugal
from the travel blog: Walk a little further to another plan
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Santiago de Compostella

Santiago de Compostela, Spain

permalink written by  Brigid Jelsma on May 18, 2011 from Santiago de Compostela, Spain
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I love travelling.

A Coruna, Spain

Spain is wonderful. It truly is. There is something so unique about it. Wandering through the streets, watching the people inside cafes as they ate and laughed and drank beer, seeing the kids ride their bikes around, while a woman dusted out a mat from a window above - I have had a fantastic day.

And there is so much water! Endless beaches and boats and harbours, rocks and sand. A Coruna is a peninsula that juts out and makes it impossible to determine which way to go. Usually having the sea as your landmark works, but here.... I have gotten lost so often, just in the past hour! But even getting lost is fun because you see little corners of the city that you wouldn't have found if you had been trying.

Although getting lost to the point of not even remembering the number of the place I'm staying at is quite terrible. I am an awful traveller! I was with Arjen at the time, and neither of us could recall what the place even looked like. Once we managed to find the street, I ended up trying the key in every door, until finally finding the correct one. It was highly entertaining!

Today, I was better, and actually managed to find my way to the castle (all on my own!) and then my wonderful host, Millán, joined me for a stunning walk along the coast and through a bit of the Old City, where we had tapas and beer in a charming little cafe that I would never have found if not for him. Delicious food! And I now know a new recipe - Spanish Tortilla.

I am setting off to Santiago de Compostella later on today, and at the moment I am just waiting for siesta time to end so I can go and buy some food to take with. Honestly, siesta time springs out of nowhere and suddenly EVERYTHING is shut. It's awesome (except when you're hungry).


permalink written by  Brigid Jelsma on May 16, 2011 from A Coruna, Spain
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Beaches and buildings and things like that

A Coruna, Spain

permalink written by  Brigid Jelsma on May 15, 2011 from A Coruna, Spain
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What a night out

Gijon, Spain

Not much was accomplished today. I woke up at about twelve, recovering from another late night in town (or should I say 'early morning'?). It really is true about Spain. Their day starts in the evening and ends late morning. It takes a bit of adjusting.

Gijon, the town I was staying in, isn't really a must-see, but I definitely enjoyed it.

At the moment I am sitting on a bus heading to A Coruna. Five hours... at least I have my music.

And cookies. And homemade strawberry jam (a gift from my fabulous host).

Oh, and the scenery. There is that.

I really prefer this side of the North of Spain. It's a lot more rural, more natural and sparcely populated. And people just seem that little bit more friendly.

We went to a CS (couchsurfing) meeting, a language exchange night, and it was really good fun. I met wonderful people. Why are there so many wonderful people? I woke up with several business cards, numbers, contact details for people in various places dotted around Europe that I can stay with on this trip, and a list of places I just HAVE to go to (everywhere...).

The worst bit is that I lost a few napkins that had more contact details, so some of the people I met I will never be able to speak to again. It's quite upsetting, actually.

There are so many great people in this world. And I really want to get to know them all.

permalink written by  Brigid Jelsma on May 14, 2011 from Gijon, Spain
from the travel blog: Walk a little further to another plan
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Beaches.. that's about it

Santander, Spain

Santander. Not really all that impressive. The coast is great, loads of beaches, a mediocre bird park, some ships, a castle/palace thing, some trees, a few parks, Pizza Hut, more beaches, statues of surfers and a creepy kid statue on a hill.

But then there's the city. The buildings... pretty depressing. Huge apartment blocks, grey, clothes hanging out windows, water stains, peeling paint... well, you get the picture.

So, if you like beaches, sure. But beyond that. At least this is one place I haven't fallen in love with. :)

permalink written by  Brigid Jelsma on May 11, 2011 from Santander, Spain
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