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Tuesday
Jul232013

Portugal Interlude

A four hour bus ride from Lagos to Lisbon on three hours sleep and a baseball-bat hangover is nobody's idea of a good time and on top of that my back hurts.

Two nights ago my travel companion, during a bout of what could conservatively be described as horseplay, dropped me from his shoulders in the hostel common room. He was aiming for the couch, but his aim was impaired by six hours of stunt drinking and the fact that he was facing backwards while dropping me. My lumbar spine hit the corner of the table while the rest of me continued unimpeded towards the marble floor. A photo of the aftermath depicts me folded up at a wince inducing angle, like a man hit by a car while practicing yoga. Our friends and fellow backpackers are a frozen tableau of open mouthed horror, the night teeters on the edge, if it tips one way it's hospital trips, missed flights and disaster, the other and it's relief and a good story. It was not a disaster, it was just agonising. I eventually stood up and limped back to our room, my friend apologising all the way.

So While I'm failing to get comfortable the bus television screens a bizarre French film. From what I can tell It's some sort of spy spoof, the "humour" deriving from
its two buffoonish protagonists , who while idiotic and cowardly and incapable manage to frustrate their enemies efforts to ...kill them? Capture them? despite the villain's slicker gadgets, nifty martial arts skills, lacquered bad-guy mullets and intensely methodical approach to the job at hand. The humour is as broad as it gets, child-like in fact, which is jarringly offset by frequent racy scenes in which attractive female characters find excuses to lose most of their clothing.

But it'll all be over shortly and I'll have half a day in Lisbon before my return flight to London tonight, and though it'll only be a few hours it makes me want to travel on my own again.

The pleasure of solo travel was a revelation to me when I went to Thailand for OutThere Travel earlier this year. And thanks to that particular unfathomably jammy travel writing gig it's something I'll be doing more of in the near future.

Partly it's because I'm a natural introvert, which might sound unlikely in light of the above hostel wrestling story. But I am just an introvert who's learned that extroversion can be fun.

It's a spectrum rather than a binary state, even the shyest of us are in fact situational extroverts, blossoming in the right company. But if you want to know what end of the spectrum you occupy look at how you recharge. If you unwind, de-stress and rejuvenate by socialising then you're an extrovert, if you retreat into the pleasure of your own company, a book or a walk or a solitary workout, you lean toward introversion.

That's me. If it's you too, then consider solo travel if you have the opportunity. You'll learn about what's important to you, what kind of life you want to live and how self-reliant you're capable of being in the space of a few weeks.

You'll have the holiday you and you alone want to have, unadulterated by group desires or pressure to tick off the standard tourist attractions. Because let's face it, if you've seen one paralysingly beautiful temple you've kind of seen them all. If you want to see then of course, then great. But you may want to lie in a hammock and read and that's great too.

Most importantly you'll be forced to get truly comfortable in your own skin without distractions, a happy corollary of wifi being akin to moon dust in many of the places you'll want to go.

On which note, my free wifi is about to run out. Time to limp around Lisbon.


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