I love the sound that airplanes make as they take off. My brain can’t wrap itself around the science of flight. It’s absolutely incredible that somehow an object, weighing a rough 75 tons (Bowing 737), carrying hundreds of people, can fly through air – bringing you and everyone else on board to a new place in the world. I love what the sound symbolizes. People going to new places, rediscovering old ones or returning to the comfort of their home. A-may-zing.
As I left for the airport Monday evening, I was filled with a mixture of emotions. I was incredibly thrilled to be heading to Portugal. I would be getting to eat delicious food, drink mouth-watering coffee, lounge on beaches and of course add Portugal as country lucky number 17 to my list of countries I’ve been too.
But I was also quite nervous. I mean I’ve travelled alone before.. well, kind of. I’ve flown overseas by myself, I moved to France by myself (don’t ask me why but I don’t count this as travelling by myself) and I’ve gone on day trips by myself. But this would be different. I was going to be backpacking for a week – as a solo female. I would have no one to rely on but myself. I wouldn’t have the luxury of a cell phone – no google map if I got lost. This empowered me, but equally terrified me. I have always wanted to travel by myself and have always admired those who do. But as I boarded that plane Monday night a lot of questions went through my mind. What was I, a girl of only 19 years, doing travelling by herself? What makes me think I’m capable of doing this? I kept telling myself that I chose to do this, that this is what I always wanted to do, and that experiences like these are what help build and shape a person.
And guess what? The latter (most positive and optimistic side of me) was right. If there is one thing I know how to do, it’s travel. I have a stellar sense of direction, I’m aware, prepared, and super friendly. I have travelled to 16 other countries before, and I was ready to do one completely on my own.
I got off the plane just after 11pm. It was just me and my 10lb backpack from here on out. I quickly found the metro, waited in line for 10000000000 years behind this couple who just couldn’t figure out how to buy tickets, took two metros till I got to downtown Lisbon, got off and somehow managed to find my hostel in the dark, alone, and without a cell phone.
I’m staying at the Old Town Lisbon Hostel (link below) and it is awesome. I’m paying 8 euros a night and I feel like I’m living like a Queen. It’s clean, there’s free wifi, free breakfast and the staff is incredibly accommodating and helpful – as are the other backpackers. http://www.lisbonoldtownhostel.com/pt/
I left this morning around 10 am to discover Lisbon. I was heading to Feira da Ladra which conveniently only runs Tuesdays and Saturdays. Feira da Ladra is a huge market in Lisbon and if you are here on either Tuesday or Saturday I highly recommend visiting it. You can literally find anything there. From old phone chargers, to space cakes, to magazines from the 1950s. I even had a guy continuously come up to me and whisper “iphone six” in my ear. Needless to say, I did not buy an iphone 6.
*To get to this market take the tram 28E and stop at: S. Vincente. You’ll see the market. It’s right by St. Vincent church (which is also really nice and FREE)
After wandering through the market, I started to wander through the city. I followed the tram tracks back in the direction of my hostel and found myself in downtown Lisbon. As I was walking around, a man stopped me and started speaking Portuguese to me. Understanding diddly squat of what he was saying to me I just smiled and looked at him with lost eyes. He laughed and went ‘English?’ Yes, English please. Turns out he was complimenting me. Somehow my backpack, messy hair and tired face had him thinking man this woman is adorable. Well sir, thanks for making my day.
Lisbon is cool and generally something I don’t think you would want to miss. For some reason, when I decided to come to Portugal, I had this idea that it would be similar to Spain – and it really isn’t. The buildings are very original. Lisbon so far has also been really cheap, the food has been delicious and the coffee – well I had two today. I had a perfect day of being a tourist, reading at cafes, exploring markets, getting complimented by strangers, window shopping and wandering.
I’m excited for what tomorrow has to offer as I head to the South Algarve for sun and beaches!