Europe 2017, Days 1 & 2: Air Travel, Lisbon Arrival
Note: This entry is part of a 6 week (44 day) journey through Portugal, Spain, and France. I will try to share my adventures a few times a week, so be on the lookout for more entries.
Our first day consisted mostly of air travel and waiting around in airports.
It started with an early 7am Super Shuttle pick-up. This was a very helpful service, and I highly recommend it! At 11pm the night before our flight, I was able to download the app, reserve the 7am pick-up, and pay for the service (gratuity included). This was especially important to me because I didn't want to fuss with payment and gratuity when being dropped off at the airport. Our shared shuttle arrived 5 minutes early, and though we stopped to pick up 2 more people on the way, we arrived exactly 3 hours ahead of our 11:30am flight. Driving from way down south Orange County to LAX, then going through the stress of parking our car and paying for long-term parking, was not something we wanted to do. So this worked out perfectly for us. We even found a discount code that made our total cost about $35 per person one-way.
Due to a mix of anxiety and last minute packing, I did not sleep the night before. I napped on the shuttle, which made the drive go mercifully fast. Thanks to our Global Entry membership, we were able to skip the long security lines and go through the expedited TSA Pre-Check entry. Once we made it into the airport proper, we attempted to find a lounge to spend the 2 hour wait. To our dismay, however, the lounges to which we were allowed access with our Premier Pass were in other terminals too far away.
We settled on grabbing some drinks from Coffee Bean and eating an expensive mediocre airport breakfast. Remind me next time to eat before getting to the airport! Everything is so expensive...I spent $30 on a so-so breakfast and $9 on 3 pills of Zyrtec (to stave off my allergies, as I didn't want to be sneezy and runny nose-y on the plane).
We flew JetBlue to JFK. Shaun watched Logan while I mostly slept. The usual "C" shaped neck pillows are uncomfortable for me. So I bought a Trtl neck wrap/support from Amazon that helps keep your head up (thus preventing painful neck kinks) via a plastic curved insert that rests between your shoulder and jaw. It sort of looks like a scarf once you have it on. I admit I was a little bit embarrassed at first to use it, but it actually helped a lot.
Once again, when we got to JFK we found the 3 airport lounges that accepted our Premier Pass membership were in terminals that were too far from our gate with our short layover. Perhaps we'll get luckier on our other airport visits. We had some drinks and sandwiches at a deli near our gate and boarded our TAP flight for Lisbon. By this point, we were so exhausted that we slept right through dinner service. I woke up long enough to watch the new live-action Beauty and the Beast (I am probably in the minority group that did not like it as much as the animated version...nor did I care for Emma Watson's voice).
Upon landing, we proceeded to a 1 hour line to the passport-check before heading to baggage claim. We spent the wait conversing with a nice surfer named Mason -- tan and of tall stature with long shoulder-length shaggy hair that he tucked into a man-bun to manage the 80+ degree heat inside. By the tender age of 23 he had already been teaching AP courses for the past few years at international schools in Central and South America. Hailing from Oregon and well-traveled, he and Shaun shared stories and tips while I tried not to melt to death in my too-warm airport attire (jeans and a thick tank top meant to keep me warm on the plane but way too hot for Lisbon weather). Shaun mentioned he's heading to Bend, Oregon in August for an AP course training. Mason spoke highly of Bend, and I decided I might join Shaun for that trip when we get back.
Thanks to our unique luggage design, we found our bags very quickly and found ourselves outside in the humid Lisbon heat, waiting 20-30 minutes in line for a taxi. Every time I took a deep breath I was assaulted with the smells of car exhaust, people, cigarette smoke, and sweat. It reminded me slightly of the Philippines and made me smile.
Our taxi driver was a beautiful woman, dark with a rich melodic voice, sporting a light dress and a scarf in her hair. She recommended the beautiful beaches of Algarve and Cascais (the former being the more beautiful of the two). We passed the ocean, old buildings with graffiti and street art all over, and people coming and going.
This is why I endured the long flights and uncomfortable seats. For the handsomely aged buildings, the colorful array of people speaking foreign tongues in lovely accents, the smell of fresh baked goods, the city sounds, and the cobblestones under my feet that are older than my country.
Our AirBnB lodging is a little apartment above a bookstore. In the photo, the dark green door adorned with white graffiti is our entry. It is a fantastic location, in the midst of several shops, mini-marts, cafes, bakeries, and little restaurants. It is walking distance to the ocean and many squares to people-watch from. The interior is clean, well-appointed, and decorated in a simple mix of modern-rustic (white walls, exposed old red brick, shiplap, polished wood floors, cozy furniture, pristine marble bathroom with large shower).
The neighborhood is lively. You can hear folks up and about until the wee hours of the morning. Not an intrusive clamor, but more a murmur of white noise in the background punctuated by the occasional spirited hoot and holler.
Contact me if you're interested in visiting Lisbon and would like information about the particular apartment we stayed in. There are 3 apartments in the building, ours being the loft on the top floor with a view of the ocean in the distance. The management has been very kind, respectful, and responsive.
We napped for most of the day, and didn't wake up until 7:30pm. It wasn't really a waste of our day, though. Apparently in Europe folks don't get started on dinner and reveling until 9-10pm! Being a night-shift nurse and a night-owl in general for my whole life, I am 100% okay with this schedule. We wandered around our neighborhood, and discovered a little restaurant with outdoor seating. My first proper meal in Lisbon was simply grilled white fish with potatoes, salad, and a glass of white wine. The bread, soft cheese, and olives that we started our meal with were already delicious. The meal was even better.
People-watching revealed that whole families even with small children are accustomed to going out to dinner late at night, spending hours at the table together eating, drinking, smoking, and enjoying each other's company. There is something to the unhurried vibe in Lisbon that I appreciate. I feel like Americans are always on the go, in a rush to get somewhere or do something. It was refreshing to sit and enjoy the moment: the tastes, the people, the architecture, the sounds.
After dinner we walked to the Time Out Market, which is a large warehouse full of small eateries, bars, and cafes...similar to places like the Anaheim Packing House. We shared a double espresso (tasty without any added cream or sugar) and an ice cream cone (coffee, cream, and hazelnut flavors...the hazelnut was to DIE for). We people-watched for a little bit more then walked home.
We walked up the steep hill that our apartment is located on, and I nearly collapsed from the cardiovascular strain (I am so very out of shape!). But it was worth it, because we passed a big party happening on the street/steps below our apartment. A thin and squirrelly young man offered us some cocaine, insisting "you try for free, no charge." We respectfully declined, to his dismay. Instead of having a cocaine party, we spent the rest of the evening relaxing and watched an episode of WestWorld until we fell asleep around 4am.
Lisbon is gorgeous, the people are friendly and helpful, and I am so SO glad we decided to go on this journey together.
I am now going to put away my iPad and call this blog entry complete for today...so I can go back to taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of Lisbon. Until next time!
Disclaimer: As of the posting of this entry, I am not affiliated with or profiting from any of the products or places mentioned. All opinions are my own, stated for the sole purpose of sharing experiences and being helpful to other travelers.