A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Portugal is old and beautiful, with friendly vibes. It was the perfect location for my friends’, Carlos and Joey, wedding in many ways. For me, it was close enough that I could afford travelling there, and far enough to be exotic. For them, it was a bit of family heritage and a beautiful spot. For some of their family members, it was also the first time leaving Canada. I hope they got the travel bug!
The entire wedding consisted mostly of the two families: parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles. And then a bunch of friends from both Carlos and Joey. Mark and I made up Carlos’ friends from his (few) university days. He was way too cool for school! Actually, turns out he didn’t need school so much in the end anyway. He’s doing just fine, raking in the dollars, as a phone app designer, hence the destination wedding in Portugal. So, completely apart from the hostel life, the wedding was also a source of happiness, positivity, adventure, and wonderful people.
As a group we did several trips. The first was a day trip — with a dedicated bus — to Palais de Pena, Palais Monserrate, and to a remote beach house. The two palais’s were in Sintras, on a large cloud-touching mountain. I have no idea how the bus driver was able to get the bus up the narrow roads on the mountain side, but it clearly wasn’t his first time. Both palais’ — actually all of Sintras — are worth a visit; Palais de Pena to see a old royal Portuguese castle, and Monserrate to see hundreds of flowers and amazingly sculpted buildings. After a long day of tourist activities, we caught a late lunch at some remote beach house where I tried some interesting Portuguese food.
A second day trip was a trip to another remote beach, this time purely for the warm sun shine — and cold Atlantic water. All sorts of fun was had, though mostly just frolicking around enjoying the weather and company. Some people got crabs in their pants. That night Carlos and Joey rented out a rooftop terasse in Lisbon! We partied there with an open bar and hor d’oeuvres, which was good fortune because the wind was a little chilly that night. We needed the extra mojitos.
I’m not sure how I managed to keep my clothes so clean over the course of my summer travels, as I only did laundry once the entire time. However, when it finally came to the wedding day I even had a mostly wrinkly free white shirt, and green trousers for an idyllic beach house wedding somewhere along the coast. Oddly enough, Mark had chosen a similar attire but with some fancy 6 euro shoes. I did not bring my camera to the wedding, since I didn’t want to risk loosing it. I’ll just say, so many tears of joy flowed, and hearts fluttered that day. As some one who thinks religion is an oppressive farce, I was delighted to see that the marriage was amazing, simple, and heart-felt without an institution to make it “real”. It was just two people saying that they want to continue loving each other before friends and family. Just an acknowledgement.
The party is always what people look forward to most at weddings. This is the time when all the remaining ties to status disappear. The king and queen mingle with the good people on the dance floor, or else shuffle over to the area of serious, cigar-stoked debate, or else slip away for moon-lit walks along the beach, or else spend hours experimenting to create a unique drink at the open bar, or else… the night is forgotten, and forever remembered.
Soon after this magical, climactic night the wedding party was heading off to Barcelona and Mark and I were to stay back in Cascais at the hostel and enjoy our last few days and nights around there.