Bombeiro-Surfing in Beja, Portugal (Sleeping at a Fire Station)

So I walked by the fire fighting station in Beja, Portugal, and decided that was the place I was going to sleep at. I’m coining this ‘bombeiro-surfing’ and it results in instant new friends! I don’t speak Portuguese – yet – but I know that ‘bombeiro’ translates to ‘firefighter’. And as you know, ‘surfing’ is short for couchsurfing—but without the help of the CS platform, of course. (See mosque-surfing, yurt-surfing, and café-surfing)

But all joking aside, I’d read or heard somewhere that bombeiro-surfing is actually a legit thing to do when traveling in Portugal. I’d link to where I saw it before if I could find it again! Perhaps I just read it in a Facebook group… but I digress.

The bombeiros in Portugal are sometimes a professional service, sometimes a volunteer service (‘bombeiros voluntários’). And sometimes it’s kind of mixed, I believe? Here in Beja, southern Portugal, at least a few people here are volunteers. The lady in the picture is studying to become a nurse, and volunteers here, which gives her certain perks like cheaper studying or health insurance—if I understood correctly, which I probably didn’t.

Yes, I also found out the hard way that Portuguese is actually not as similar to Spanish. Back in 2011, I learned Spanish for four weeks in Buenos Aires, Argentina. All my fellow students were Brazilians. Somehow, it felt very similar back then. But I can’t seem to get the pronunciation of Portuguese right.

People who walk the Camino de Santiago sometimes also stay at the fire stations. They have a women’s and a men’s dormitory here where there’s always a bed free. It’s of course important to not be in their way when there’s a fire; Portugal is a dry country and they take their firefighting very seriously here.

And when there’s no fire, they’re a bunch of very chill people who have game rooms and kitchens and lots of time to chat.

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