My last week in Portugal had me like, "oh crap it's the last week do all of the things you haven't done yet before you leave or else you'll never get to ever again for-eh-VER like in the movie Sandlot where he says it really dramatically only this will be worse for sure".
A few feelings set in.
Panic ensued. Why haven't I seen Sintra yet? Why haven't I eaten more pastries? I mean sure I've consumed about 83 so far but the famous one is a 15 minute Uber away. And when will I make it to Barrio Alto again? Will I see Pink Street? When am I going to go shopping? Oh wait, I can't fit anything else in my bag.
Lackadaisical gazes in coffee shops: engage! Am I doing this right? As I looked back and forth from my computer screen to the bathroom door, unsure if four espressos in two hours was a bad idea, I wondered. I'm working, but I'm also working to get work. Putting in work to work is almost as exhausting as working. Actually even more so, since the stress that comes with it involves wondering whether I'll have enough money to make it through this thing. Freelance life is tough, and when it's high it's high but man, when it's low, it is lower than Lil Jon. It's a balance, but I'm learning to embrace it.
Regret made an appearance. Why did I drink until my alarm went off for the 6 AM photography tour? Instead of sleeping in my bed I was watching the sun rise with three other people, beers in hand, laughing at the fact that my alarm is the song, "Two Princes" by The Spin Doctors. Later, I would walk into a bar where locals were getting ready for the day and embracing their morning coffee as I tried to order a Bloody Mary. They didn't have them. More panic. Right after that, I would purchase gazpacho and vodka from the market inside the train station thinking that it's "pretty much the same thing".
I stopped freaking out and just lived. As more time passes, it starts to feel less like a vacation and more like real life. Who cares if I missed out on a few insta pics? That sunrise was amazing. What if I don't have to work every single day? What if I just decide that I'm going to Sintra alone because screw looking for jobs today, I'm okay for now. "What if" became "I will" and I realized that I was losing sight of the very reason I went on this crazy trip.
With those things in mind, here is how I spent the last week in one of the most amazing countries I've visited to date. In my now typical "bulleted list with pictures" fashion, I:
- Ate my weight in dong-shaped pastries for lunch, reassuring myself that I am a functioning adult. They are, indeed, the best kinds of foods.
- Should've been arrested. Because I ate ILLEGAL things. Illegal Chinese is a thing in Lisbon. In a nutshell, you go to the sketchiest hallway that you can find in this particular neighborhood, knock on the door, hope you don't get murdered, and get welcomed into a humble home of a Chinese family waiting to cook for you. I discovered the reason that it is illegal is because it's SO DAMN GOOD. SO DAMN GOOD THAT IT'S ILLEGAL. Annnnnd it had all of the sauce. Condiments Olympics: China, 1, Portugal 0 forever and always.
- Planned and threw a surprise party with a few folks for one of my new best friends. (Yeah, I said the b word.) I thought I recorded it but just had the camera light on the whole time. But we ate dinner at this bomb steak place, so here's a picture of that.
- got a mani/pedi because TREAT YOSELF. Also paid too much for said mani/pedi, but whatevs. My feet and your eyes win in the end.
- Ate more meat and cheese and bread.
- Drank more sangria. (RIP, missing that sweet nectar already.)
- Had an interview and scored more work!
- Actually designed something for the first time in a while. It felt good.
- Said 'screw it' and went to Sintra because PALACES, guys. Work could wait. This was well worth it. And then I ate some weird squid and didn't get sick, so it was a pretty successful day, if I do say so myself.
- Climbed a castle like the princess that I am not. Fought Bowser myself because Mario took too long and obviously I'm stronger.
- Spent my last day shopping like a local (at Zara) buying all things avocado. (Note: I bought it and you will see it in action probably way too often since I'm working with a capsule wardrobe here.)
- Spent my last end of the day at Timeout Market, where Karen and I (a lovable Canadian) ate our way through the best food we ate in Lisbon. Highlights include Octopus Salad with bread, seared tuna with kimchi and sweet potatoes, duck croquettes (no pic ugh), the best spongecake in the entire universe, and amazing gelato. For all the food I didn't eat, this made up for it.
- Visited Pink Street, a giant pink street. It's really self-explanatory minus the fact that it's not just for panthers and serves copious amounts of alcohol.
- Survived an airline strike. The airport workers happened to go on strike in Lisbon the day a group of 70 expats were leaving in a group together. Never have I been hoarded through an airport. I'm just glad I didn't have four espressos in two hours again. Instead I drank beer and took in the sweaty bodies that ruthlessly rubbed against me in a crowd that can only be described as UGHHHHHGHGHGH. What should've taken roughly 5 hours to get to the airport, get through security, and get on a plane took approximately 10. Our group managed to hold up the plane because hey, our program management is awesome and also oh yeah there are 70 of us on that plane no one leaves unless we do thanks. NO ONE CHECK IN! So we didn't. And we sweat some more. And we all eventually made it. Then we ate a questionable meal on board for a 1.5 hour international flight. (I didn't eat it but we did find a bone in Erica's sandwich, so there's that.) Thanks for the wine, and the good times, Royal Air Maroc.
- Left Lisbon and Portugal and the entire continent of Europe in the blink of an eye. (Well, not quite. But you get it.) *Cries into sweaty palms. Wipes sweat from behind knees.* This country was nothing and everything that I expected, and I'm pretty sure this entire trip will be the same way. Comfort is a thing of the past, new is the word of the present, and everything else seems to matter less and less.
Uncomfortable is the new comfortable. I've never been so damn uncomfortable in my life. And I love it.
Oh yeah and now I'm living in Rabat, Morocco. Also:
- there's a delay on my "Drunken Remote Interview" project due to lack of alcohol in Morocco and lack of time in Portugal. Unless I can somehow afford to buy a remote enough booze to actually get drunk, it'll have to wait. But Bulgaria won't know what hit it next month. (Also my liver is currently recovering, but I'm certain it killed any sort of bacteria that may have been present, so thanks, alcohol!)
- Be ready for hormones, cats, and camels as we settle into our new home country.
Bless the rains for me, y'all. Because Mercury is in retrograde and I had to write this blog post three times. THANKS FOR NOTHING, MERCURY.
Professional writer, designer, and do-it-aller. Remote Year citizen/alum. Currently living in San Francisco and probably trying to avoid the terrifying amounts of pigeons.