So I was very stoked to hear that “The Starlit Path” was selected by Travel Start SA as one of the most underrated travel blogs of last month 🙂 I am personally a huge fan of www.travelstart.co.za , so I was absolutely delighted when I heard this news!
What’s also really exciting is that they’re currently running a competition for travel bloggers for 2 free flight tickets! Using only 300-1000 words to tell a story about a personal travel experience, here is my entry:
It was 11pm and while most people were going to sleep, another kind of crowd were just waking up and scuffling out of their homes like cockroaches in the night on the streets of Lisbon, Portugal. They were going somewhere far away from the tourist spots… from the Palacio Fronteira… the Castelo de Sao Jorge….the Igreja de Sao Roque…and they were making their way to a much more magical place that only the locals knew about. It lay deep in the heart of the dark alleyways and rainy ancient buildings, away from the tour buses, the cameras, the trams and the expensive dining. Multi-coloured fairy lights, crepe streamers and tinsel draped through tall trees hanging over make-shift bars and tables awaited them at this place. A place were sangria was so cheap, the crowd loosened up in a matter of minutes. A place where a record was put on and everyone began swaying to the beat. The chef wouldn’t have found his place on any “Masterchef” program, but he managed with some basic ingredients to turn a plate of sardines into something the whole crowd was waiting for. Never before has a plate of sardines -with their eyes looking up at me- looked so good! The menu was simple; 6 sardines or 12. A glass of sangria or a 5L litre pitcher. Vagabonds wandered from table to table at just the right time when we were feeling loose with our euros. 6 coloured hats and a pink light-up hairband later, our table became friendly with a bachelorette party and danced the night away with tipsy delight! It was our own personal amusement park, our own fantasyland, where the rich and poor mixed and time itself stood still. Glow-in-the-dark wristbands were thrown up into the air, echoes of laughter mixed with sangria and beer accompanied the smokey haze of char-grilled fish. Drunk on life, we were in our own enchanted world which seemed miles away from civilization itself. To this day, the only recount of precisely what happened as we danced into the night at this mystical place, is found in the photographs we took. Walking home at 5am, with the sunrise making its entrance over the cobblestone streets of the Bairro Alto just up from the Praca do Comercio, the world around us slowly woke up. The music from our magic hideaway faded further and further away, the trams once again began their route and shop owners opened their doors. Street lamps turned off and street sweepers took up their posts. It might have been business as usual for the rest of the world, but our group walked together with a sense of pride in our hearts as we kicked off the bits of streamers from under our shoes. We had a secret that would bind us together in memory forever.