The end of last week and the beginning of this one were completely and totally insane. Between the month-long festivals in Lisbon coming to their crescendo and Ilana/Sonia coming to visit, I kissed any chance at sticking to/developing a routine goodbye. I also learned that Joaqin was the least of my problems. Due to the festival of St. Anthony on Monday night, Portuguese independence day on Wednesday night, and my apartment LITERALLY being ground zero for all of the city’s parties, my week was noootttttt the quietest one. Glass half full: Party literally right outside my door, cool neighbors that give you beer mugs, dollar beer and sangria 30 seconds away at all times, complete cultural immersion. Glass half empty: A house that was always smoky and smelled like grilled sardines, thundering music going until 3-4 am literally every night, physically not being able to walk up my street because the crowds were so thick, poor wifi and lack of a routine making me feel not as great at getting my done to the level and consistency as I’m used to.
I also think I’ve finally hit the reality point. I’ve been going so hard with cultural experiences(!) and fun(!) and taking it all in(!) the past month and a half and this week I hit a point where I sat there and decided that I’ve had enough. I feel like I’ve tipped a little bit over the equilibrium line and It’s time to get it together and pull myself back to where I should be.
What I did this week:
- Attended THE festival of Portugal. The Festival of Saint Anthony, or Dia de Santo António, is the biggest and most important festival in Portugal, and certainly in Lisboa over the whole year. Chloe and I decided to tackle the festival together and headed over to Ilana and Sonia in Alfama to watch the parade with some wine. We ended up meeting up with a group of Kaizens and eventually made it back through the crowds to ground zero. Aka Bica. Aka our street. Aka our alleyway. There were so many people in Bica that the stairs literally became rivers with currents of people. It reminded me of Marlin and Dory riding the East Australian Current. You just got swept along and when it came to your exit you had to GO for it to get out. Once we hit my alley we joined in the “Bica é Linda!” chants and then retreated to my house where I called it a night.
- Was very thankful that I didn’t have to start work until 2:00pm on Tuesday- my morning may or may not have been spent drinking copious amounts of water and watching multiple episodes of Kimmy Schmidt. (The constant inside jokes about New York also helped ease the loss of Ilana and Sonia leaving.)
- Bounced my way into a REALLY sore back on Wednesday with Jace. Jace was my date for the week and both of us being nutso and gymnastic-y, we decided to go to one of those gyms that’s literally wall to wall trampolines. 100 back tucks, front tucks, back twisting fulls and everything else we could think of (and things we didn’t even know existed) later, we went home hobbling like 90 year olds.
- Crushed my pastel de nata cooking class in Time Out Market. Pastel de natas are THE Portuguese pastry. They’re basically egg creme tarts and they’re adored by everyone here in Portugal and by pretty much every visitor. To be honest, the first two times I tried them I didn’t like them. At all. So when I was sitting in my bed on Wednesday trying to decide whether to go to this class or not I was thiiiiiis close to not going. But every time I’ve been on the edge about a track event so far and have gone, I’ve loved it. (Which now that I think about it is a lesson that can actually be pretty well extrapolated to my life..)
So yeah. It happened again. I loved the class and am so glad I went. The chef talked us through what a proper pastel de nata ingredient list has and does not have (vanilla is apparently ABSOLUTELY NOT allowed) and then we worked on learning how to roll the phillo dough pastry cup and how much creme to fill it with. Then we tossed them in the oven and got to eat the [admittedly] delicious fruits of our labor. Not trying to brag butttttttt the chef may or may not have used the word perfect when looking at mine. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ #baking>cooking
- Attended Matt’s birthday celebration at this super strange, funky, quirky, cool art gallery/collective/commune thing that was celebrating its 10th birthday party. Which was appropriate because we were celebrating Matt’s 23rd. It was chosen because it had a piano and anyone who knows Matt knows that the dude loves playing the piano. Which works out great for us, because we love singing along.
This rag tag band randomly wandered into the room we were in. It was like a scene in a Disney movie. In fact the whole place felt like the scene in Aristocats where they’re singing Everybody Wants to be a Cat and the piano falls through the floors of the house and all of the cats stumble out with broken instruments still playing and singing and dancing off into the night
- Truly treated myself on Thursday morning. I really really REALLY needed a mani/pedi and Jess happened to need one as well so we made it a point to go after our morning workout class. TBH this may have been another turning point for me on this journey. Despite loving it and doing it all the time at home, I’ve managed to resist getting my nails done for three months so far. Now that I’ve done it I’m sure I’m going to keep it up throughout the year because, well, I mean look at them.
To all of you premotes out there- this is an example of truly living life abroad instead of just vacationing. You’ll do the same things you do at home..just in another country. If you get eyelash extensions monthly, you’ll find a place to get them abroad. If you get keratin treatments every other month, you’ll find a place abroad. You can find the same service (or something similar) almost EVERYWHERE you go, you just have to look for it.
- Worked on my assignments AND my tan on Friday from a rooftop pool in Alfama. *Pro tip* If you walk through the lobby of a hotel like you know what you’re doing, people assume you know what you’re doing #fakeittillyoumakeit
- Walked around Lisbon on Saturday morning listening to grannies talk about how Lisbon used to be. Yep, literal grannies. There’s an organization that our RY workspace has a relationship with that works with local grandmas- utilizing their sewing skills to produce pillows, tablecloths and other textiles for sale. The grandmas get to use their skills and socialize (and get a cut of the profits of course) and the organization makes money to put back into the neighborhood- talk about a win-win.
- Found myself laying on my bed at 3:30pm on a 117 degree Saturday afternoon in a really really down mood. I didn’t want to join the group that was at the beach, but it was too hot to do anything around the city without turning into a pile of ash. And on top of all of that, I legitimately felt GUILTY for not doing something. A Saturday in Portugal and I didn’t want to do something? Explore? Find a new restaurant? Make friends with some locals? Back home I would have been totally fine with a Saturday of Netflix..or sleep..or literally lounging around doing nothing. But not taking advantage of this amazing opportunity to be in another country just seemed irresponsible to me.
- Rented an little white Audi A3 for DDR and I’s trip down to the Algarve on Sunday morning. Named her Jenny because..well she seemed like a Jenny. And every vehicle deserves a name. Little did I know at that moment that Jenny and I would become VERY good friends. *cue dramatic music*
- Drove straight down to the first of three beaches I picked out for the day- Benagil. I chose this beach because there is an awesome sea cave right next to it that I wanted to see. And see I did. except not via the boat tours that were offered. Which brings me to my next bullet point.
- Swam in the open ocean to a Portuguese sea cave. Was it as scary as it sounds? Kinda. Was it recommended? No. Was it worth it? 100%.
- Got stuck in said sea cave for about an hour and a half because DDR was having flashbacks to the time he almost drowned while surfing and was (understandably) frightened of the swim back. We worked through it though and eventually employed the strength in numbers technique by joining a group of others making the swim back.
- Drove to Lagos, the largest town in the south of Portugal in an effort to fill our tummies. Unfortunately we didn’t time it right and got there before any of the restaurants opened for dinner service. So what does one do in a beach town to kill time? Yup. Got some Matkot paddles and YOURS TRULY drove to the beach. In a stick shift.
PAUSE. BACK THAT UP.
Yup. DDR had been teaching me stick all day in preparation for this moment. Go time. Would it be enough? I understood the theory. I had practiced telling him when and what gear to shift into. Heck I even shifted for him as he was driving. But this was the main event. Me behind the wheel.
I’m happy to say I’m currently STILL ALIVE (!!!) and at the end of the day Jenny was as well! 4 roundabouts, 3 legitimate stalls (two of which were actually before my lessons so obvi they don’t count..), 2 minor panic attacks, and 1 uphill scene that we just won’t talk about… yo girl is officially confident enough to drive manual.. in an emergency.
- Yours truly used her newly acquired skills to drive us back into town for the best fish tacos ever. We even ran into a bunch of Kaizens that happened to be eating at the sushi restaurant next to ours and entertained them with our saga of a day #seacavesoapopera
- Raced the sunset to a beach on the Atlantic ocean. Made it just in time for last light and god was it beautiful. I’ll definitely be traveling back to the south of Portugal at some point to give each beach along the coast the attention it deserves.
- Drove us 75% of the way home. In the dark. Up and down mountains. On a Portuguese back road. For several hours. #krushedit
- Made it back way past when we were supposed to turn Jenny in but didn’t have to pay any overages #doublekrushedit
- Crashed into bed for a well deserved sleep.