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We go West

by Miška and Łukasz

It was a rather cold and dark night on the shore of Ohrid Lake in Albania. The scenery was missing some lightnings. That's where and when we met, both tired but anxious to experience an international youth project within Erasmus+ framework. We met away from our homelands (Poland and Czech Republic), and since then we do our best to discover even more. Our journey so far kept us somewhere in the Central or Eastern parts of Europe. For months we wanted to go the other direction, and there are not many more places on our continent further West (and most importantly South) from Prague and Krakow than Portugal.

In the case of the prettier half of the Wandering Sloths duet the incentive came from boredom. The lady was fed up with her studies and the formal ways of the Czech higher education system. The solution we thought of was an active break from the Charles University walls via the professional experience of an internship abroad.

While a lot of my schoolmates at the university used the opportunity to go to a foreign land to study, I never thought of the Erasmus student's exchange as something for me - I saw in it too much party and too small amount of development. In the same time, I don´t like to leave my comfort zone and so I had stayed there for years – in my homeland, in Prague where the world was coming to me and where I felt quite happy. Especially, that simultaneously to studies I was working in my field of interest which made education even more meaningful. During that time I was travelling a lot, though, for short trips here and there. The more I saw the more I wanted to experience some distant place for longer, I started to crave for diving into another culture. With the support of my fellow sloth, the final decision was quite easy and there was nothing more to wait for.

The part where to go was also not that difficult as I always loved the southern countries with their atmosphere and the visible know-how about „how to live“. In the end, we chose Portugal, a country I have heard some many positive things about but have never visited it myself.

And me? I missed Portugal. I was here the previous year and I discovered it to be a place for me: a mixture of gorgeous weather, welcoming people and ages of history. I wanted to come back the moment I was gone. The window of opportunity opened a few months ago when my lady decided that she would like to go somewhere abroad for longer. I didn't have to convince her much, and – having in mind everything what we already wrote above – the choice was easy and we started our cooperation with a growing initiative: Go Beyond Lisbon. The name says it all. The female sloth on her internship, me working as a consultant.

Just like so many other foreigners we landed in one of the biggest cities of the country – Porto, one which charmed us incredibly and demands more attention in the nearest future. From there we went to the capital, and Lisbon is a brand of its own, widely known and described. Our destination was different, though, and it was the Western region of Portugal.

We reached it a few days back, on Wednesday, 30th of August, and that moment marked the beginning of our adventure in Portugal, in the lands just beyond Lisbon. The road took us through Santa Cruz and via Marteleira where a local festival welcomed us with crowds, fantastic food and a loud disco music. Finally, we arrived to a small, ocean-side village: Consolação. But that's another story, one which we will share with you in another post.

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