How I Almost Lost My Ear in India

The Addiction

I got my first piercing when I was 14. Like many other teenage girls in the 90’s, I chose to pierce my belly button. It was my summer break and my parents were away on holiday. I had about $8 in my pocket and I chose to spend it on a piercing. My mom was furious when she found out, but the piercing stayed and everybody forgot about the whole thing. At one point when I got older I took the belly ring out because I thought it was uncool.

Fast forward to 2016, when I was 33 and together with my husband we started our travel adventure. Call it a midlife crisis, but I wanted to get some cool piercings. So when we arrived in Lisbon, Portugal I instantly started to look for a piercing studio. I found a perfect place and I scheduled an appointment for placing a new piercing in my bellybutton and new upper lobe piercings.

The procedures were done in a very sterile environment by a professional, and I never expected to have any problems with it.

First signs of infection

A few days after the piercing, we arrived in Morocco. It was hellishly hot, about 45 C. My ear started to hurt and the color resembled a sunset on a desert. Perhaps it was the hot, dusty weather or not having been properly cleaning my fresh piercing but a small infection started. I got some over-the-counter medicine and continued to properly clean it for the rest of our stay in Morocco.

Indian Healers

By the time we got to India, I knew that my infection was not going away. I had to take some antibiotics. The day we started our journey in the Himalayas my year was better, but it was still bothering me. It had been almost 4 months at this point since I had been dealing with this chronic infection. As you can imagine lot of people told me to take the earrings out, but I desperately wanted to keep them. I believed it was just taking a while to heal and soon any signs of infection would be gone.

After few days of traveling in the Himalayas we arrived in Mudh, a small village. There was no pharmacy in the village, and the closest medical center was about 10 hours away.  In the evening my ear turned red/purple, doubled in size and I was in pain. At the dinner table I met a doctor who insisted that the earrings be removed. He explained that the bacteria was trapped inside and the infection would not go away. Because the ear was so swollen I wasn’t able to take the earrings out myself. I turned for help from our host lady, whose name I am unsure of but I just called her Tara. India is famous for piercings and most Indian women have at least their nose or ear pierced. Tara looked at my ear, made an “ooouch” noise that confirmed all my worries. She told me to come back in the morning.

As soon as I woke up, I ran down the street to the guesthouse to have my piercings removed. Tara was in the kitchen prepping food for the arrival of the Lama. It was a big day for Mudh, but she still had time to help me. We walked outside the house where I sad down on the warm, sun soaked cement stairs. I could not wait to have the earrings removed already! The screws from the earrings where jammed so tight, that no matter how hard Tara tried to unscrew them it wasn’t doing anything. Then Tara's husbands decided to bring some old rusty plyers from the garage and used some force. Do you see where this is going? Yeah… Mind you this was all happening very fast and I didn’t understand anything these people were saying. I didn’t resist the use of the plyers at first. I thought Tara’s husband was going to unscrew the stubborn piercings, but instead he decided to pull on both ends of the earrings as hard as possible, which caused extreme bleeding and almost tore my ear off. I swear the Lama, who was about to visit the town heard me screaming my heart out. I can usually tolerate high levels of pain, but this was beyond what I could handle. I started to cry, the blood from my ear was dripping on the ground and Tara was screaming at her husband for causing this mess. When I finally calmed down, a few young girls from the village showed up to help. It was funny because when they came over they still had pieces of dry dough on their hands from making rotis. I think they must have heard me screaming and crying and came to the rescue. One of those girls, with her tiny hands very quickly removed the earrings one by one. The relief was almost instant.

The Indian girls also put small pieces of neem wood where my piercings had been. That way the holes would not close. Neem wood has natural antibacterial properties and it is widely used in medicine. They also told me to apply hot oil with turmeric. For the next few weeks my ear was oozing with puss, blood and crust, but it finally got better. This time for good!

I seriously don’t know what I would have done without the help of these girls from Mudh. I felt like maybe they saved my life and my ear for sure!

Simply Sintra

What if we told you that there is a magical place with lavish green hills covered in flowers and dotted with countless old palaces and castles? This place really exist in Portugal and it is called Sintra. This is not a fairy tale and you should check it out yourself. So keep saving your vacation days and for now you can see beautiful Sintra here!

Sintra is a small touristy town near Lisbon. Going to Sintra from Lisbon by train only takes 50 min and it is an easy day trip.  There is a lot to see in Sintra, so you have to decide how packed  you want your day/days to be. The Tipsy Gypsies visited Sintra two days in a row and this is what we saw:


The Moorish Castle

This medieval castle constructed by the Moors dates back to the 8th and 9th Century. The castle is situated on top of a hill and it served as a defensive fort for the surrounding agricultural population. It is mostly ruins nowadays, but you can imagine what it was like during the days of old. The castle has amazing walls that look like tiny replicas of the "Great Wall of China".

Pena Palace

Pena Palace built in the Middle ages was originally a quiet monastery occupied by a few monks. The monastery was destroyed in the 18th century, first by lightning and then by an earthquake before crumbling into ruins. It was King Ferdinand II, who finally decided to purchase the monastery and turned it into what it is today, a magnificent palace. 

The interior of the Pena Palace is extremely well preserved and you should definitely see it. Each room has the beautifully intricate ceilings and arches. 

...and below are some details of the furnishings. 

Once you are done with Pena Palace you should walk around the nearby park. One of our favorites was the mini "castle" floating on a lake full of fish and ducks. 

Quinta de la Regaleira

This is a very romantic site with a majestic palace, impressive gardens where you can find hidden grottoes, wells and benches to rest. The whole estate is full of symbols related to alchemy, Masonry and Knights Templar. 

The chapel is another beautiful architectural statement worth visiting in the park. The interior is very well preserved with frescos and paintings that adorn the walls. The stained glass windows are best to see when the sun is setting and the colorful lights change the mood of the interior. Even though this is a Roman Catholic chapel this place is full of non religious symbols like pentagrams and "the all seeing eye". These symbols mean that people can be spiritual and enlightened at the same time.

The best part of the Quinta da Regaleira is you can spend hours walking around the huge property, learning about the symbols and finding hidden tunnels. You really feel like a happy child running around playing. 

One of the most popular and fascinating places to visit in the park is the Initiation Well. This well is 27 meters deep and it was build in the form of a spiral staircase with small landings. The number of steps is connected to Tarot mysticism.  Like everything else in the park this well for designed for ceremonies like Tarot and never served as a water well. 

There is another smaller well on the Quinta de la Regaleira estate which is worth visiting. This the "Unfinished Well". 

The Tipsy Gypsies loved Sintra and we hope we convinced to you visit this magical place. Let us know if you have any questions!


Lisbon is simply sensational. Whether you are a foodie, music and art lover, or someone who just likes to wander, this city has something for everybody.  Here are 10 things The Tipsy Gypsies loved most about Lisbon.

1. The Streets of Lisbon

Colorful alley ways with small stoops and painted doors. When you walk through the small windy streets you will be constantly amazed by what's around the corner.

2. The Tiles

Portugal is known for its production of the most amazing ceramics in the world. Many old exterior buildings are covered with these beautiful and colorful tiles. Tile making is still considered a very prestigious job and the artists spends decades perfecting their craft.

While walking through the city we stumbled into a small tile studio.  The artist/owner welcomed us in to watch her process.

Tile Shop and Studio: Cristina Pina



3. Transportation

When you visit Lisbon make sure you ride the famous graffiti covered tram Elevador da Glória (picture below) or the historic Tram 28.

4. Pastel De Nata

This egg tart pastry is the most popular dessert in Portugal. They are perfectly golden-yellow in color, with a crunchy outside and soft buttery center. If you can, try to get a fresh warm Pastel de Nate straight form the oven. Enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee. 

5. Sidewalk cafes

Summers in Lisbon are beautiful. The trees are green and the flowers are blooming. The city is buzzing with tourists from all over the world. It seems like every street and ally is decorated with colorful garlands or some sort of artwork. Endless cafes and restaurants fill the city with menus and smells that you can't resist. Sitting in a charming side walk cafe while sipping on chilled sangria is a nice way to take a short break from exploring. 

6. Time Out Market

This is probably the best spot in Lisbon to meet friends for lunch and drinks. The Time Out market brings the best chefs from the city together to deliver gourmet food without the stiff attitude of high-end restaurants. This place has communal tables and a fun atmosphere. Even the most picky eaters can find something delicious to eat here.

7. Bifana Sandwich

One of the best and cheapest things to eat in Lisbon. Bifana is a simple pork sandwich served with mustard and chili oil. At a cost of about $1.50 you should have enough change left over to wash it down with an ice cold beer. And you know it's damn good if Anthony Bourdain says he can't get enough of them.

Where to eat it: O Trevo restuarant

Address: Praca Luis de Camoes 48, Lisbon

8. Fado Music

Fado is more than just music for the Portuguese people. It's been referred to as the Portuguese blues. It's tragic, it's emotional and even if you don't understand the words you will feel it. The best place to eat some hot, flaming sausage and listen to live fado singers is A Tasca de Chico. Make sure to make a reservation. This place gets crazy crowded. 

Where: A Tasca do Chico                                                                                                        Address: R. do Diario de Noticias 39, 1200-333 Lisbon, Portugal

9. Ginjinha

A cheery liquor served in a regular or chocolate shot glass. Need we say anymore? If so, click here

10. People

Portuguese people are the most friendly and open folks you will ever meet when traveling. The Tipsy Gypsies believe this country is beautiful not only because of the scenery but the people's hospitality. Btw, this man's real name was Casanova and he lived up to it too!!!


Get Tipsy on: Ginginha

Like Port wine is famous in Porto, Lisbon has it's own alcohol which it is famous for. It's Ginginha (Ginjinha). A sweet cherry liquor. The Tipsy Gypsies have a lot of respect for traditions, especially the drinking ones, and we were told that it would be rude not to try the Ginginha, while in Portugal.  

Ginginha is hard to pronounce, but luckily for you Lisbon has many little bars, where all they serve is Ginja. Simply walk in and say how many you want.

How to drink Ginja? You can choose to drink Ginja from a frozen chocolate shot or a regular glass. With a cherry, or without. It's up to you! 

The verdict? One of us liked it, the other didn't. It's VERYYY sweet. It tasted a bit like the cherry liquor my Tipsy Gypsy grandma used to hide in her pantry.

We suggest indulging in a glass after dinner. The sweet little shot makes for a nice dessert and night cap. Whether you're a fan of sweet drinks or not, you must try it to insure a true Lisbon experience!