Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Super Bock Super Rock

Portugal is home to tons of concert festivals every summer. It's a little amazing how many famous bands come here and we're even more amazed by how many Portuguese can afford to go to expensive concert festivals every weekend of the summer.

We went to Super Bock Super Rock, one of the big festivals near Lisbon. Our friends had gone the previous year and said it was a lot of fun to camp and go to the concert. The festival was near the coast 45 minutes south of Lisbon. Unfortunately, it was down a tiny road and the traffic was terrible. Hillary, one friend and I went on Thursday after work to catch the first night of the show and set up tents. It took us three hours to get there, but we finally made it. We struggled to find space for our tents in the mass of humanity crowded in the area!

We saw some good bands and eventually kind of got to sleep at 2 a.m. (No one warned us that club music blasts until 6 a.m.) I had a meeting on Friday and had to go to work. Hillary had originally planned to go back too, but the three hour car ride changed her mind. The festival venue was near a beach, but too far to walk. Hillary and our friend waited an hour to board the bus and then waited on the bus an hour to go the three miles to the overcrowded beach.

After work, three more friends and I made the drive back to the concert venue, this time with no traffic. Here are some photo highlights.

Our campsite

The garbage pile grew bigger and bigger

At least the beer delivery guy was never too far away

Random photo dress up booth

 We brought surgical masks because we heard the dust was bad. It was worse than we even expected. 

We had fun with our friends and saw some good performances. We won't be around for the next one, but we probably wouldn't be going back if we were. It was definitely memorable though.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hillary's Birthday Getaway

Hillary can no longer say she's in her 30. To celebrate her birthday, we decided to get out of town and explore the Alentejo coast. We have visited the interior Alentejo region several times, but this was our first time to drive down the 100 miles or so of coast south of Lisbon.

We started by going to our new favorite beach, Comporta, an hour and a half from Lisbon. It had beautiful turquoise water and soft sand. Although there were many people taking advantage of the great day and Monday holiday, the beach was so long that we walked a little further and had plenty of space.

Because we're going to Italy next weekend, we were trying to do this on the cheap. We borrowed a tent from friends and planned to find a campsite. We stopped at the first campground south of Comporta, but it was completely full. We called a another one an hour further south and although the tent sites were full, they had an available "teepee" that we could rent for the night. It was more triangle-shaped shed than teepee, but it did the trick.

The next day, the teepee wasn't available, but we were able to pitch our tent. The campground was really interesting because lots of Portuguese go there and spend weeks. They set up elaborate sites with TVs, refrigerators, floors and potted plants. Our campsite wasn't so elaborate.

After spending our day at another beautiful beach, Zambujeira do Mar (photo above), we went back to Milfontes where we had camped and relied on our local food review book to pick one of the best restaurants we've been to in the region to celebrate Hillary's birthday. We had a great meal and Hillary's sister, Brooke, reached us by cell phone to say happy birthday right before we sat down. The next day, we made our way back to Lisbon via another stop at Comporta beach. It wasn't the fanciest birthday vacation, but it was great.