Thursday, January 03, 2013

A new adventure

If all goes well, the next time I update this blog, it will be from Lisbon, where we are all going for a vacation.  Extravagant, I know.  I am truly grateful that we have this opportunity and we will need to be thrifty and sensible for a long time after we get back to make up for it.

Everybody is asking, "Why Portugal?"  Well, why not Portugal?  We've been planning this trip for a year and considered locations all over the world.  Our first idea was Argentina (same time zone) and we also considered Peru, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Dublin, Athens, and Barcelona. Indeed, we were really set on Athens for awhile, but vague worries steered us elsewhere.

I love to travel, but big trips like this cause me to have a lot of anxiety which melts away as soon as we get to our destination. And really, what is expected of me except to sit on my ass in various places for eleven hours or so? My big worry is flying.  I comfort myself by reading the arrivals page at the Amsterdam airport, where we have a layover.  All those flights, safely arrived are reassuring.  I wanted to nip out of the airport for a quick dip into Amsterdam--I even bought a map of the city--but all our friends who've been there say NO to this idea.  My brother and his wife did a layover tour of Amsterdam, but they had twelve hours to play with.  We have four and a half.

I'm worried about the taxi from the airport to our apartment, as I've heard that Lisbon airport taxi drivers are notoriously dishonest.  Apparently, you're supposed to insist that the meter remain on, and also print a map ahead of time so you'll know if you've being taken on a circuitous route.  Unfortunately, arguing with foreign taxi drivers in a language I don't understand, while demented with jet lag is not my strong point.  So if anyone has experience with Lisbon taxi drivers, please share!  If I were traveling alone, I'd totally take the subway, but I can't imagine getting onto public transportation with six people and all our luggage.

Getting back to the airport is another worry, as our flight leaves at 07:15.    I've booked a car service, but what if they don't show up?  How did people ever travel before the internet?

There were home worries too, for example a very stern past due notice from the city about our gas and water bill.  Pay in person within ten days or have your service cut off.  I was positive I'd paid the bill and verified that by checking my online bill paying records.   Then our neighbor let us know that the city had accidentally mailed these letters, and posted a notice on their website.  Even so, I stopped at City Hall yesterday to be absolutely sure that our heat wouldn't be shut off while we were in Portugal.  "That letter went out to 5,000 people," the clerk said, somewhat sourly. (Who can blame her?)  Apparently the monthly bills were accidentally printed on past due forms.  I don't care, I'm just happy our payment wasn't lost in the ether.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?


  1. I got that "past due" gas/water bill, too. Panic at the disco!

    I hope the plumbing at your Portugal rental is better than the one in Rome.

    I think I'd like to visit anywhere warm right now. A friend is in Ireland for 3 months with room to spare, but Ireland in winter, plus the usual financial stranglehold equals another time and another place.

    Have a relaxing and fun time!

  2. Today I would choose somewhere warm with sand. Safe travels and take xanax...then you won't care if the taxi driver rips you off.

  3. This sounds so thrilling!
    Right now I think I'd head to Greece or Italy--someplace full of blue sky and water.

  4. It would never occur to me to travel to Portugal but now that you mention it, why not indeed?

    Hope you have a fabulous trip and I can't wait to read the trip reports!

  5. if you're frightened of flying try reading Erica Jong's Fear of Flying...should take your mind off it....have a fab trip happy new year!!

  6. I'm visiting from the great derf blog roll and wanted to say hello and that I am exceedingly jealous of your trip to Portugal! Looking forward to reading all about it. I have friends who have been there and they all rave about their trips. Safe travels!

  7. Oh, and if I could go to Itlay, I'd be packed in 5 minutes.

  8. I would go to Australia. If I could not go there I would go to Ireland.

    After a lifetime of mistreatment from cabs I always take the subway if possible. I just take my time and accept that the luggage will be awkward. It has always been fine, doing it that way.

  9. Oh, totally back to Scotland and Britain. But in the summer --at least there's a chance of good weather then.

    Other than that, I wouldn't say no to some warm sand beaches right about now. Maybe an all-inclusive island resort. I'm a terribly anxious traveler as well, so that "all inclusive" thing always sounds so relaxing.

  10. If you come back through Amsterdam and you have a decent layover, do visit the city. The airport is very close to downtown. My (26 year-old) son and I had a layover of about 5 hours coming home from Florence last year, and had a nice visit to Amsterdam. We saw a prostitute in a window, had french fries in a cone with some lovely sauce, and he smoked a legal joint in a coffee house. It was a jolly jaunt in a beautiful city and made me want to go back and spend more than 5 hours there.

  11. Sounds like a fabulous adventure!

    So many places I'd like to go. Definitely Italy. And Paris. and a beach in Thailand for starters.

  12. We're leaving for the airport in a few minutes (2 hour drive to Dulles in Washington) so I don't have much time, but thank you so much for all your comments!

    Swamprad, lucky you to accomplish that layover tour! Alas, we have only 1.5 hours on the way home, so it's out of the question. I really think with our 4 hour + 40 minute layover on the way there we might be able to do it, but Jon is dead set against it.

  13. Flying scares the bejeesus out of me, but I'd probably go back to England. Spent a week in London when we were newly married. It was wonderful.