Swimsuit c/o Everyday Sunday
So I meant to put my Lagos and Porto travel diaries together as one last final hurrah to Portugal, but Lagos was just too special and I just had too many amazing images to share from this most-beautiful-place-in-the-world contender that I had to do it justice and share my Lagos travel guide all on its own today. Lagos was not only one of the absolute most insanely beautiful places I’ve ever been to in my life and a well-needed beach vacay after freezing my buns off in Northern Europe, but it was also where I learned some of the most important lessons on my whole Europe adventure. Click through to read the full travel diary!
As often seems to be the case with my travel diaries, Lagos didn’t exactly start off perfectly. After my first couple of weeks travelling around on my own, I had then just wrapped up a couple incredible weeks with Matt travelling in Amsterdam, Barcelona and then Lisbon. We had had the most amazing time and I had gotten so accustomed to having him with me again, so naturally, when I had to board my bus to Lagos and say goodbye to Matt in Lisbon as he journeyed the other way back to Canada, I was bawling my eyes out and making most everyone in the bus depot super uncomfortable.
I’m someone who prides themselves on being very independent (sometimes to a fault) and not being one of “those girls” who don’t seem to have lives of their own, but still, I love the guy and we’ve been together for about 7 years of our relatively short lives so far, and we live together. I see him pretty much every day and he’s been such a huge part of my life, so while it wasn’t forever and I was so excited for my adventures alone, it just killed me at the moment to have to say bye again. The next 5 hours on the bus were suitably miserable, with me sniffling through some Portuguese-dubbed, straight-to-TV movie from the ’90s starring Steve Buscemi, staring out the window with bloodshot eyes and wondering what the hell I was thinking. I had a little loop along the lines of “Why would I voluntarily opt to not see my boyfriend for so long? Stupid IDIOT. I’m going to be so miserable. I hate this movie and I hate stupid Buscemi.” rolling through my head on repeat.
I got to Lagos and checked into my (amazing) hostel, the lovely surfers’ space Tag Hostel. It was getting late at this point and I was kind of wiped emotionally and from travelling all day, so after a hot shower and some tea, I settled into bed to sleep. And then, of course, I had a night terror. Since I was little I would get them sometimes if I was in foreign places (my parents love to tell the story of me thinking I was blind screaming in the middle of the night on a camping trip in the woods), so while this sounds weird, as a means of prevention during the trip I found that if I clearly remind myself mentally where I am again before nodding off, I don’t get spooked if I wake up somewhere foreign. Unfortunately, because I had been feeling so drained, I let myself sink straight into sleep in Lagos, so of course, in the middle of the night in a room full of six girls I wake up flustered with no idea where I am, yelling “Matt! Matt!” again and again and frantically whipping my head around trying to find out where he was (needless to say….this all made me question my sanity when I came to).
The lovely German girl who was lying in the bed next to me got the brunt of the screaming and when I finally realized what I was doing and remembered where I was, I whispered a frantic “I’m sorry!!!” to her and went back to sleep. Waking up the next morning, I felt beyond mortified. It couldn’t get worse – I was without Matt, I hadn’t made any friends yet, and I had effectively become “that crazy screaming Canadian” all in one night, so any prospect of making friends had been shot to shit.
The reason I tell you this pretty embarrassing story is that I realized that even when you’re alone and in need of companionship (actually, especially when you’re alone and in need of companionship, and especially when you feel like you’ve really either found yourself in or forced yourself into an even worse situation), the universe seems to get it and sends the most compassionate people your way.
I don’t know if Svenja or her equally lovely sister Laura were actually just being sweet and lying about not hearing me screaming like a maniac the night before (everyone else slept with ear plugs in, thank God, and we all laughed about it over breakfast), but I do know that they saw that I was on my own and maybe needed some friends, and immediately took it upon themselves to make me feel included. They asked me to join them for a hike of the breathtaking beaches in Lagos (something I would definitely recommend doing with someone else if you can!) and from that point on, we were together all the time for the rest of our stay in Lagos, even venturing out to Sagres and Capa St. Vincent (the proverbial “end of the world,” as it was once thought of to Portuguese sailors). They were honestly the loveliest girls and they made what could have been a low point of the trip a total highlight instead. Also, I was proud of myself for letting go of the negative – it was easy enough to laugh off such a stupid first night, but I also made a point of not focusing on missing Matt, on my dwindling travel savings, etc. I opened up myself to the experience and to new friends and it honestly made such a world of difference.
When I said bye to the girls with promises to keep in touch and a couple extra hugs thrown in for good measure, I left Lagos with a much lighter heart than I had arrived with, and a new perspective too. I had different adventures and different things to deal with in my first month of the trip, but this was the first time that I really had felt so low only to have it completely evolve into an amazing new situation – the sheer contrast in my arrival and departure was the biggest roller coaster emotionally since embarking on the trip. It reminded me to always approach life and especially the unknown facets of life with an open heart and open mind. What seems like a negative, scary, nerve-wracking or downright awful situation could lead to a new friendship, a new opportunity, a new adventure – anything and everything, really.
I’m actually emerging from a couple months since returning home to Vancouver of questioning, of uncertainty, of feeling conflicted with my values and ambitions, of just all-around not feeling totally like myself – it hasn’t been a highlight of the year to be totally honest and it all kind of presented itself completely unexpectedly, but in working through why I’m feeling that way and opening up to the situation rather than closing myself off and getting angry about feeing the way I do, I’ve now found myself in a place where I’m more excited than ever before about life, about new opportunities and new directions.
In order to finally access this newfound positive place though, I revisited my travel diary and incidentally, it was really in rereading my Ireland and Portugal entries that I was reminded of just how important it is to always always remember that even when things feel rough or off, if you can find levity and light and openness to push through the negative situation, you usually then get transported to something completely and unexpectedly amazing. Oftentimes, it’s really just as simple as choosing to be happy even when things aren’t quite right, knowing that you’re headed in the right direction regardless and trusting that you’ll end up where you need to be. All very vague and ambiguous I know, but let’s just say I’m happy to be revisiting this amazing part of my trip today because it couldn’t be a more perfectly timed reminder.
Anyway, sorry for the novel – I just get reminded of so many incredible experiences, sights and personal revelations from each city I explored, it’s hard for me not to want to spill them all! It’s almost a relief that Porto, my next travel diary, was beautiful but a bit devoid of anything major (except for one creepy-ish incident/it’s kind of funny), but I’m gearing up for Paris in a major way because it was major. Oh and speaking of major, two major tidbits in giveaway news: 1) don’t forget to enter to win a $100 voucher to Joe Fresh over here and 2) I’m so excited to be partnering with one of my favourite local brands for a giveaway beginning next Monday – little hint of what to expect here!
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