Monday, July 05, 2021

More Lisbon Touristing

When I do those epic trips, the months-long solo journeys on public transit, I end up having time to really think. About the world, my goals, my own self-analysis, stories to write, even comics to oversee. That’s not something I get to do in my current life, where I flit from online meeting to problem to concern to story point. I get an occasional idea in the shower, but if it’s one I have to execute myself, it’s probably not gonna get done.

I’m not on the road long enough this time to get where I need to be for any rambling insights into my own future or past. But I’m so close. Tantalizingly yet frustratingly close, but we’re not there yet.

Instead, I’ll just account for my last few days, and note that there are still lines outside supermarkets here. People are still masked up inside everywhere. The pandemic is still very real. I don’t know if I’m clever to be out in the world when it’s empty of tourists, or just outrageously embarrassingly privileged. Probably both.

I’ve been double-vaxxed for more than three months now, an indication I’m good with finding my way through online systems, and being in Lisbon is just another example of that. I bought a return ticket to Spain weeks before Portugal opened up, and waited and watched. Within hours of the announcement of Portugal relaxing its rules, I snapped up a discount Ryanair ticket from Seville to Lisbon, then a TAP Portugal cheap ticket from Lisbon to Barcelona on Wednesday. Is all of that privilege? Maybe. Certainly, lots of people are good at ideas and finding loopholes, and this trip was not expensive since I bought the ticket before prices skyrocketed, and there’s hardly any competition for hotels. But the ability to drop everything and zip across the ocean—this is, I think, the privilege of being single and having a job. It’s a privilege that is sometimes a burden, but when it works out, it really works out.

But why Lisbon, anyway? Portugal’s one of the easier places to get residency, and I like to know my options. Would I move here? I have no idea. Lisbon is super-cute, but I’ve only been here 48 hours. It’s certainly a great place to be a tourist.

So what did I do over the last 30 hours? There was the walk down to TimeOut Market, then a streetcar to LXFactory (an industrial area converted to hipster shopping), then the streetcar to the center where I demonstrated no 'I'm cool' fucks left to give and bought a two-day ticket for the double-decker tourist bus, then took the 28 tram all the way up and back, buying some groceries at the end of it, then grabbed the metro back to the hotel. Today was pretty busy too—I walked to a cool elevator that looks like the Eiffel Tower’s cousin, but only if the Eiffel Tower was closed due to pandemic. So I walked down the hill instead, then came back up it on a funicular. Then I had to walk down it again, so I’m not sure what the point of that was. I went to the carnival sardine store, took the second part of the tourist part trip, then caught the tram out to the cemetery to look at feral cats. Oh, and I ate a pastel de nata, and did my laundry.

One full day left in Lisbon! My plan for tomorrow is to go to the castle and work my way through the form to get back into Spain.

Saturday, July 03, 2021

"Restful" Day in Lisbon

My big plan for my first day in Lisbon was to have no big plan. But eventually, I needed food.

The hotel receptionist tipped me off to a good breakfast spot, but neglected to mention it was down a massive hill (which meant coming back up the massive hill). I guess that's because everything here is up or down a massive hill.

While I was walking down the hillside steps, I noticed the famous #28 tram ran alongside, so after breakfast, instead of doing the nothing I'd promised myself, I took the tram to a Saturday flea market, up more hills.

When I took the tram back, I stopped in a Thai massage place for a half-hour foot massage and now my feet are less annoyed with me for being on them for three days straight. Then I had to rush around to pick up a sandwich since Portugal shut down for pandemic reasons at 3:30 pm.

I did go out again to hunt down carry-out at dinnertime, but the streets were mostly deserted.

So far, Lisbon is lovely. I have no idea how different it would be if it were full of tourists, but it's atmospheric when empty.

Friday, July 02, 2021

Alhambra and Beyond

Here’s some photos from my day of going to Alhambra.

I took the 8 a.m. train from Madrid to Granada, stashed my bag at a convenience store, took a bus to the town center, took a minibus up to Alhambra, walked around for 2.5 hours, then took the minibus back to town, the other bus back to the convenience store to pick up my bag, caught the train to Seville, and when I arrive, I’ll get straight on the airport bus to fly Ryanair to Lisbon.

All this on top of a few super-packed days in Madrid while jetlagged.

First thing I’m going to do in Portugal is nothing.


The glorious promise of the morning journey (“I’m on a train in Spain!”) invariably turns into disappointment on a crowded passenger coach.

Hot tip: Spend another moment on the platform, enjoying the anticipation.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Luggage Hangover

My bag looks like it went on a bender. Plus I packed the wrong charger.

Ha ha oh well, I kinda wanted a second one anyway, so I can have one in Burbank and one in JC.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

To Madrid During Pandemic

I can’t even begin to describe the chaos that was international check-in at Newark Airport last night.

Imagine every destination having different and constantly changing rules for admission, and every person having to scramble with various documents and QR codes. 

“Do you have your COVID test? Are you sure they don’t require it in Spain?” 

I mean I literally can’t begin to describe the chaos, because my bag was lost between Brussels and Madrid, so I need to conserve my laptop charge until my bag shows up with my charger, and phone typing just takes too long.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Sunday Night Productivity

 Photos from last night's pottery class.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Friend or Foe?

 What could possibly go wrong? 

Urban Development

There's a decrepit old church a block away which has been sitting empty for years. There's finally something going on—I'm sure it'll be condos. I'm still looking forward to it! 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021