As I’ve already said, there are a lot of CS-ers in Lisbon, but a lot of guests as well especially for the Marchas Populares. But we managed to find a host even on this special night. He said us that he is going to enjoy the festival with some friends and will come at about 3 am in the night at home. That was ok for us as well, because we didn’t want to miss anything. We parked the car near his home far away from the city centre and took some bus to the centre. Everywhere was full of people. An important part of the festival are the baked sardines. Exactly at this time of the year they are particularly tasty. Not too small, but already fat enough, but still not too fat. Exactly the right size for a real gourmet 😉 Everywhere on the streets people were grilling sardines. We could have bought and tried them. But they didn’t really look tasty. They were more smoked than baked and the hygiene standard did not look like very high, so we decided to skip this traditional dish. And the whole city was so smoked because of them that we really had no appetite at all. Some days later we managed to try them in Porto in a gourmet restaurant. There we ate sardines with exactly the perfect size and drank the perfect wine for them 😉 But this is a different story.
We visited the castle and walked through the old arabic quarter and headed quickly outside the smoked cetral city area. We were already totally hungry and very happy that we’ve found a organic food store. From there we bought some typical goat cheese, some countrymen’s bread and some mountainous honey from Serra da Estrela. It’s the highest mountain in Portugal, a natural reserve and very beautiful. Amazing place we wanted to visit, but had to skip, because we hat not so much time. But we’ll put it on the plan for our next journey in north Portugal and north-west Spain. Back to the honey. When I travel around Europe, I’m always trying some traditional honey. I love honey. Honey is everywhere different. You can experience the country, the region, the nature, the people … everything … by trying local honey. It tells a lot of stories with its unique flavour. This honey was especially good and very very strong. A real honey from the high mountains with a lot of tars. We were sitting in the park above the city centre and drinking this delicious honey directly from the glass. And eating goat cheese and bread. Great combination, try it out. Actually, cheese and bread are two traditional products you have to try when you travel around. Through them you can experience much more about the culture and the people than by visiting some museums … maybe I’ll write some day an article about cheese in Europe 🙂 And honey, and bread, and wines …
Later we tried to find a good place to observe the Marchas, but it was to late. It was already overcrowded. Nevertheless it was very interesting and we had a lot of fun looking at them. The whole atmosphere was great. People were very happy. Much like the traditional winter carnival in some places in Germany. At some point we were very tired and when back to sleep a little in the car before meeting our host. Shortly before 3 am we were already waiting for our host in front of the five-stock building he lives in. We discovered that there were at least 5 other people waiting there. It turned out that they were all waiting for him. He came a little bit later with some friends and some other couch surfers. What the fuck … where we are going to sleep? How many people at once are we going to stay there? It was not the first time to share the same host and place with other people, but not so many. And it used to be comfortable enough for everyone. It turned out that we were even more than we thought.
Our host is a student and lives in a big building but has a really small flat – a small floor, small kitchen, small bathroom and “his” room. Actually it turn out to be “our” room, a guest room with nothing but mattresses on the floor for his CS-ers. Place for seven of us. The first seven who wrote him for that night. We shared the room with a group of five young people from Tahiti travelling around south Europe. It was great to meet them. Very nice and cordial people. Originally they have ancestors from all of the continents – indigenous, African, European, Chinese … and they manage to live so good together without any prejudices. Hopefully they manage to take the best from the different cultures. It’s definitely not easy to do it, but it’s so fulfilling when you achieve it. I always try to take the best of the life style and the nature of the people around the world. It’s the best that can be learn from travelling. It makes you improve yourself every single day, with every single trip.
So, we were extremely happy to share the room with our friends form Tahiti. Later on, on the next morning, we discovered that there is one other person sleeping on a mattress in the entrance. And that the building has a small inner yard. It seems that no one uses it except our host. He put there two tents for two person each. The last four that get place at his home every night. So, we were 12 people surfing his flat. The first 12 that wrote him. And it was not an exceptional night because of the Marchas Populares in Lisbon. It was a typical CS night at his flat. 12 guests every single night, 365 days per year! You can calculate how many guest he already accepted 😉 It turn out that there are a lot of CS-ers in Lisbon, but most of them are not really hosting. Quite typical for the south of Europe actually, much as in my home town Sofia. Not like here in Germany or in the Scandinavian countries. But that is a topic for another CS post.
We left quite early in the morning, so we couldn’t meet our host again – he was still sleeping. But we left him not only the wine we bought for him, but also the 10 litre German beer we originally planned for our English friend in Albufeira. It seemed to be a nice present for a student having so many guest every day. And it turned out to be a good one. He wrote us on the same day a really positive reference. Nothing unusual actually. But he had never written a single reference before! And how can he – this is a lot of work – at least 12 a day … But after that day he started to write references. It seems that the German beer was the final bit of inspiration for him in order to start writing references 😉 We are still very happy to be the first to have a reference from him. Because he is a really special CS!
You may be now wondering where our host sleeps? It was an old building with a high ceiling, so he has a bed above the floor. And you may think that it was not comfortable for us and that this was not hospitable enough? But it was comfortable and he is a great host. He even buys baps for his guest for the breakfast and there were more than enough toilet paper in in toilet. In order to have a shower, you have to wait a while, but most guests have understanding and if they stay only one night, they skip the shower in order not to occupy the bath for a long time 😉 Our host makes his best in order to help as many people as he can. A great example of how you can achieve a lot with simple means. Of how you can host and meet a lot of people. There is always a way if there is a will. And what about his “personal life”? He definitely has such, but he is so open-minded to share it and not hide it from the humanity. His lifestyle is definitely a good way to lose a big portion of egoism. Can help everyone living in our time.