Lisbon has me in a very happy place. With seven travel days to go, I’m having the best time yet because a) I’m finishing the trip at or under budget, b) I didn’t lose my three-month Eurail pass with two unredeemed months to go, c) I’ve had two head colds and no other illness this entire trip, d) I haven’t gotten pick pocketed, e) I haven’t broken the camera or any bones, and f) if any of that happens now, it’s not going to ruin the trip.
How happy? My Lisbon hostel is the best yet. Apple pancakes in the morning, they handed me a shot of Portuguese liquor on the way in the door tonight, they apologized for moving my clothes off my bed – “We wanted to change your sheets since you’ve stayed with us so long!” (Tonight is only night five). And house mom (grandma, really) just poured me a bowl of soup for dinner then rolls and pate of sardines. She watched me eat the second part to see if I liked it.
How happy? I got to Skype – with webcam! – college girlfriends last night I haven’t seen since May. The squeals were insanely preteen girly and I loved every minute. I saw mom for the first time since September. I got to Skype boy for the first time in two months, second in three.
After four months away, Skype eye contact is simply the best.
After I got off the computer with the girls last night, I was writing my blog and a girl at the hostel giggled.
“You smile alone. You’re funny.”
Very happy place.
That picture was taken just after getting to Sintra, Portugal, a forty-minute train ride from Lisbon. I took an older couple’s photo and they offered to take mine. After some camera issues (lens error, my dad’s camera has hated me since I took it in underground caves in Turkey), she still wasn’t taking the picture and after a few seconds of confusion (with a complete language barrier), we all got a good laugh. She’d been hitting the power button instead. On, off, on, off.
Ah, Sintra. Remember when you were a kid and king/queen of the playground? Found a castle. Paid to enter. Loved every minute of castle playtime.
While looking out the tower of the castle, I saw… Another castle. Way higher. Way cooler.
And the first thought was that the climb is going to kill me.
The walk up was rough. Steep, cobblestones the whole way… I was beat, but the walk had fun surprises along the way to keep it worth it.
Sometimes I wonder why I made climbing my theme. I’ve probably added years to my life heart-wise, but I’ve used up years of my knees. That said, I made it!
At the very top were three men who asked me to take their photo. One was clearly a photographer and he handed me a very nice piece of equipment, telling me the camera was already focused and informing me exactly how he wanted the photo framed. I assured him I kinda knew what I was doing and I’d take multiple shots.
It didn’t stop him from asking between every shot for me to check the exposure, check the focus, check the framing. It was pretty humorous. I asked them what they were doing. With their translator, one guy was a writer and the other a photographer for a magazine. I said oh that’s so neat, I love writing and photography. I’m kinda trying to be both of you.
“Well, it’s difficult to be both of us.”
Whatever, man. Your writer is wearing Ray Bans and you’re carrying what I estimate to be $10,000 in equipment. You’re right, I can’t be you guys.
But watch me try.
They asked me what I write and if I have a following. I told about the blog and my 75 WordPress + Facebook followers – “I mean, it’s 120 hits a day, not 10,000, but not bad for a girl writing home. Plus, I write for 65 people I don’t know. I feel like I’m throwing a party for a bunch of people I don’t know – I hope they’re having fun.”
The writer – “Hah yeah. It’s like you’re serving appetizers.”
I don’t know why that line made me laugh so hard. One, I thought it was terribly lame. And two, I mean, I was hoping this blog was the kind of party at least with a buffet and open bar.
I hope you all are enjoying your mini quiche.
I climbed back down the hill, took the train back to the hostel, and ended up with a bowl of soup in the kitchen of my new home with the owners and some new friends. The common language of the night’s group was Spanish, and it was great fun.
On my way down the hill from the castle, my senses were already on high-alert because the only people around were three young guys following the same path behind me. I figured I’d be fine but I’d slipped my memory card in my pocket in case I might momentarily lose my purse.
The guys were fine, but these dogs barked and scared the junk out of me.
Seven travel days to go.