Two days three (four) towns

When the talk is about Portugal, the only buzzing words are Lisbon, Ronaldo and Port wine. Literally that is where everyone starts off at. I did so too. Another one or two of those sunny walking tours and soon you realise it is not after all that tiny teeny of a mark on the planet Portugal is. As much as Lisbon, Porto and Sintra have vast choices for the most savvy and picky travellers, there are places that you do not necessarily get to visit in a short term vacay. I thought I would escape the city for a day or two and land at some rather hidden gems of Portugal.

Obidos town is 2 hours train ride North from Lisbon. On the way there, it's nothing but farms, forests and overly a scenery that's worth napping through. Though it's a good idea not to miss the Obidos train stop since trains go every few hours only. You especially feel lost when you look around after getting off the train at Obidos. Nonetheless, the passing chain of wagons is what truly blocks the sight. As soon as you cross the rails, climb a hill or two through narrow, yet paved road you get truly surprised. What's hidden behind rather poorly looking wooden arch thing and further up past what seems to have been an open air stage you come to the tall cobble stone/brick looking wall. It's remains of medieval castle and the wall that used to serve a defensive purpose. Castle of Óbidos truly charms once you wander your way through the one of the entrances in the wall. You'd feel like entering Utopia of some sort. Dwellings are built in such a comforting yet random order which makes some streets hardly walkable whereas others just take you from one sight to a better one. Walking around the town on the top of the wall is a must to do. You experience a 360° in real life. Stroll along the cobblestone streets, get lost, find your way out, do it again. This small town is destination to wonder about. Yet not spoiled, you will receive a very welcome hospitality from the people living there. 

If surfing is the keyword that burrs your extreme then catch the bus to Peniche. But make sure to do it during the season, though I'm not a surfer I very much enjoyed empty beaches and rocky cliffs on my own, without having to queue for taking a pic or two. Imagine standing a this massive rock solid island that's just connected to the land with a narrow boulders foundation. Biggest advantage is you can be as weird crazy idiotic as you wish and no body in a near future would find you there. On the other hand you deal with strong winds and quite a bone stinging cold. Sure it's not much dramatic if one is dressed well enough. Anyhow, nature and ocean is all there is. Few charming, but very much empty towns, that just awaken closer to the summer. Ferrel was the one I found myself crashing at. All in all great escape to find your next summer party and surf spot before it's booked out. 

When doing my research on the surroundings there I came across the town of Caldas da Rainha. My itinerary was just so tight, I only had over an hour to spare. But oh boy it was worth hitting the Dom Carlos I Park. Actually I wasn't much into the park itself. The one and the only reason I made my way there and was overly stoked, was the massive architectural stand out. It's Pavilhões do Parque D.Carlos I that could easily remind you of Hogwarts. 

Caldas da Rainha being a stopover point before I reached Coimbra - the city buzzing with life. I did not however spend more than an evening there, but the city itself will receive a two days stroll around next time I'm on the road. 

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One way ticket or how I ended up here (in Portugal)

Did you know, that coffee has over 700 different taste notes (that's at least twice as much as wine!), that makes it some of the most complex beverage out there. It yet contains some 1500 chemical compounds in that same cup of Joe you drink every morning (or two, three times a day if you ask me). Well, I might have some news for you - if 'Nespresso', 'Dualit', instant, pods and capsules are buzzwords for you - that does not mean we are not going to get along, in fact, that means we are going to have really interesting conversations about coffee and I suppose you are more likely than not just going to ignore my arguments. It's all about personal preference and personal taste (cliche). You might think 10$ a cup specialty coffee is just shit compared to the 2$ caramel mocha double unicorn glitter sprinkle tuti vanilla extract Starbuck stuff you get. And it's totally cool. No, really. But this is not about me disliking coffees other than the ones I drink. Oh wait, it somewhat is. So actually if this does not intrigue you or even appeals you, the only teaser to continue reading is that really just at some point recently I got rid of my useless slack, packed my bags and flew away chasing for coffee. Boom, coffee, it is going to tag along! Regardless you read it or not, it's still written down.

So it's over six years of time that I will cut 99% of and skip to the last piece, which really is where exciting stuff happens. Just to give you a glimpse in what all that fast-forwarded part was - it's my quest for diploma, triple change of education lines, six different places lived at, countless night shifts at work - all just to keep up with the fast pace and high living costs of some 13th most expensive country in the world (this really is just a fact I read today, if you catching this in the future, I would not get surprised it's placed elsewhere) - Denmark. This entire hustle and bustle was really just to get a diploma I now have tucked in the drawer. There the recap ends. Now let's move to real shit. By real shit I mean is the moment when you clearly aware of the following: 1. You have less than two months to leave your dwelling, 2. Your job sucks 3. (follow up on 2) ...because you really are doing something you don't wanna be doing, and even if you're doing it good, no one seems to give a flying fry about it. 4. Autumn/Winter for the next half a year. 5. You got your official, stamped and signed paper saying you graduated and competences you must have acclaimed require a translator (or sociologist) to interpret. Which apparently funnels to an ethnographer. None of that really rings a jingle bell to you, right? (I know, go on, it's almost down to interesting) That was my definition of real shit I was in. It may not come close to the shit one third of a starving world is dealing with everyday, however we all lay our own paths and because mine is missing a cobble or two, it does not mean it wasn't offroad ever before. Anyhow, this would be a part where one normally says he found Jesus or bottle of rum, depending on which direction one followed. I don't really fall into neither of these two. Instead, what I found myself greatly passionate about and having a good gut feeling about, was...yeah, you got it right - coffee. 

If this was a love story I should go by "we first met and blah blah bullshit". Well, it is not. Yet? It also isn't about love, so just keep reading. I drank my first cup of coffee when I was...booo...shut the nonsense. All I was really doing, was volunteering at simply most amazing student driven organisation on earth - the promised cafe "Analog". Shout out to you Analog'ers, even if we're different generations, we all had the same thing in common - we all ran day by day making Klaus a flat white having no real clue what flat white really was. It really just an inside joke. Anyhow, among others we also saved a great deal of pocket money consuming most popular (legal) drug in the world - caffeine. It really was about saving cash and drinking coffee for me. In the beginning. Then it was about wobbling the milk pitcher to make other than a pile of milk foam in latte cup. What started out as a good way having my time spent elsewhere, but studying, soon switched to studying on an actual activity. And if that did not sound clear enough, I really began reading more about coffee. Then yet more. Then brewing one, discussing one, and improving on one. It actually built up sufficiently high enough, that all the money I saved while volunteering, I ended up spending drinking only specialty coffee from specialty cafes. As much as I had to continue on assignments I continued on improving my Aeropress skills. At this point I knew this is among the things I want to shape my life and future! How sweet. Not long after, one of these amazing specialty cafes announced the expansion of their business to the very south of Europe. To the country I did not know as much as I do now, but the figures in sports and...well, that's about all I really knew other than fact it's the only country whose language is more popular elsewhere than in itself. To wrap it up, I had to go for it. I was excited about going for it. I did go for it. Well, after drinking yet another dozen of Joes. 

It's typical TV series' behaviour to just end the episode at most intriguing part. So cliche, I do. Another one will come in. At some point. It'll tell more. More about it all. 

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