Saturday the 23rd
Everyone was feeling less than average this morning. The physical exhaustion from our partying was realised on this, the early hour of our departure, to the extent that more than expected contiki travellers ended their tour in Lisbon. For the rest of us it was bags to coach! Although it is not unusual to have one or two stragglers on such mornings, this time we were missing the man of the hour! At five minutes past departure time, those on the bus were worried that our trip manager Mikael had abandoned us! But a quick call to the room hurried him onto the bus carrying an equally weathered Yoda in his satchel. A few hours on the bus would deliver us back to Madrid but not even I could push myself to write during this journey. We slept.
It was our last evening as a family. The moment felt bittersweet. The small group of friends I had been privileged to know so well over the past two weeks sat together at the Restaurante Los Galayos located at walking distance from Plaza Puerte del Sol. The series of olives, fresh tomato slices, pickled red capsicum, caramelised onion chips, deep-pan potato frittata, battered calamari rings, chorizo sausage slices, and other tapas was becoming a routine I could get used to! Followed by a saffron-stained vegetarian paella – I don’t know why I don’t eat this well each and everyday! Following our final supper, we resumed a pub crawl around the plaza.
There is little else I can bring myself to write in regard to my journey through Europe this time around. I have enjoyed every minute and am already aching to meet again the genuine and compassionate friends I encountered on this holiday. I recall a conversation I had with my parents prior to their return to Australia: my father believes that family is an obligation and instead it is friends who engage in an endearing relationship which comprise family, but I would like to argue an ulterior point, although be it one of contested terminology. Whilst I consider blood relatives my kin, I believe my family consists of those individuals whom have engaged in unconditional support and commitment. This applies to my friends and relatives overseas, my friends awaiting me at home, and those I meet underway who would open their arms to me no matter how long it has been since our last engagement. I value the relationship I have with these gorgeous souls and cannot wait to be back in Belgium, the Netherlands, and wherever else my travels take me on my next adventure.