Apparently, I'm fond of countries where they hang their underwear out on the street.
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?