Day 0 - Lisbon

and you can keep your symbols of success
then I'll pursue my own happiness
and you can keep your clocks and routines
then I'll go mend all my shattered dreams
maybe today, yeah, I'll slip away

I'll Slip Away - Sixto Rodriguez

Somehow a song from Sixto Rodriguez has been featured in my travel playlist for the past years, so I thought it's good to start this year travel post with him. Still haven't watched the documentary Searching for Sugar Man though :( This year's pilgrimage to see the world took me to Lisbon and Seville. The following 3 paragraphs were written on Sunday, April 22 and lightly edited today.

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On the day I left for my trip, it was a usual Saturday. Went to class then went to pray. Making time to pray is something that I always do since my first alone trip. Then I had a good soto for lunch and I quickly went back because I wanted to take some nap. I tried, but I didn’t manage to sleep. Woke up, showered, and quickly did my Japanese homework which luckily wasn’t a lot. My room can be quite stuffy so I was getting a headache. By the way the week of my departure started with me being rather sick, also foresighted in the last post. I went to see Dr. Ed, got antibiotics and cough med. Somehow I still managed to get the cough and I was quite weak that first few days of the week. Towards the end I was finally showing signs of gaining strength and feeling better. However that Saturday with the dizziness, I started to get worried. I didn’t get a good sleep the night before because I was kinda freaking out. It’s weird actually. There were less anxiety when I was preparing this trip than usual. So the night before, it felt like all the subdued anxiety just came charging. So anyway back to Saturday evening, I completed packing then called home. Mom wasn’t home, so talked to dad. Then mom got home and called home again and then at 10 something, I went to the airport. Luckily I didn’t have difficulty getting taxi, but I started to feel sick inside the taxi. It could be simple motion sickness, but since I haven’t been feeling healthy I wonder if it’s vertigo :( That thought really troubled me because of the bad vertigo attack last year right after I had to deal with flu and such. Anyways didn’t vomit, didn’t have a blackout, made it all the way to the plane. Lucky because though I was shaky getting out the taxi, I eventually felt better.

First flight was to Amsterdam. I tried to get some sleep, but couldn’t really. All and all I think I had very little sleep starting this trip. Movies watched were: Call Me By Your Name (love Timothée Chalamet!), Loving Vincent, The Florida Project, an episode each of Cake Boss and Young Sheldon. Saw a bit of Claws too, but I don’t like it much. Arrived in Schiphol. Followed the direction, did a security check before passport control and I found it odd because I thought it was passport control first. Didn’t even find passport control until much later that I wonder if I missed something or if there’s no passport control for transiting passengers which would be totally weird and unlike what I've been through before. Then I found the passport control and its in the same location as my first time in Schiphol. The situation was rather the same too - there’s quite a queue and I didn’t have much time ‘til my next departure. I wondered if the same thing was going to happen to me again. I was also nervous with the fingerprinting scan ‘cause I often have problems with that. When it’s my turn, the officer was taking a call. I didn’t pay attention if he called or he was called. Waiting for him and his call, I couldn’t help thinking if what happened that first time was happening again!!! It didn’t though and I breezed through after some simple questionings, didn’t even have to be fingerprinted. Then I quickly made my way to the gate.

What happened next was a first for me. Got on the plane. Plane went to the runway then I realized instead of taking off, it made a turn. Okay I thought at this point maybe it’s giving way to the plane behind us who’s perhaps quite late, but then the plane made it back to gate. Pilot said there’s discrepancy in their system so they needed to get it checked. Okay I thought, good to be safe. I was sitting at the window, I sure didn’t want to get sucked out. We got a refuel and the equipment was changed. Passengers were given cookies and water. Then okay finally we’re good to go, only that we’re not. Pilot said the equipment just didn’t work so we needed to go back so that tech can just remove it and then we’re good to go. By this time I got annoyed. I have finished writing these 3 paragraphs by then. All and all we were seated for 2 hours or so I think. Eventually we made it. Flight time was 2 hours plus. I struggled with my bladder throughout. When you’re lacking sleep and just tired, figuring your way on a new city can be more challenging mentally. At least for the anxiety ridden me. Thank God I found the Aerobus stop easy enough at the airport and got off at my stop and found my hotel easy enough.

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Okay continuing the story. As mentioned, got on the bus and stopped at my stop, Praça da Figueira. As usual I studied maps a lot before any trip, so I kinda knew my direction and as I got down I saw my hotel. As I set my luggage and started walking, I was like wait is it all cobblestone?!? It's so uncomfortable dragging your luggage through this, which by the way is more properly known as Portuguese pavement. I just wanted to be off as soon as possible. It's kinda fine if you're just walking, but with heavy luggage, not fun. Anyways, got to my hotel. Since the plane was late, I got in late and could quickly get to my room. My room was nice and it offers a view of Praça da Figueira which I didn't take even 1 picture, sorry. After setting things, I went to explore the Alfama area. Initial plan was to start from Sé Cathedral and then make my way to the different viewing points which would require a climb up in this hilly area. Thanks to obsessive studying, I found the 2 elevators that I could use. First was Elevador Castelo which brought me up to another street. In this street, there's a supermarket, Pingo Doce, which has an elevator that brings us up to another street. From here, we're already quite high up and it's not that difficult anymore to explore the different viewing points. The climb is minimal at this point. There's many direction pointing to São Jorge Castle, but I didn't visit it because I think I've visited enough of castles and I have not much interest in them anymore. Walking around the streets and looking at the alleys, it's quite interesting.

There were a lot of interesting graffiti which is something you see a lot in Lisbon. Some of them are really good. So far the streets felt a bit quiet to me and I thought maybe because it's Sunday. Some shops do close on Sundays. There's always people and tourists in the different viewing points of course. The first viewing point I went to was Miradouro de Santa Luzia. I think Miradouro is like a look out or viewing point. There seems to be a similar word in Spanish, but I couldn't remember if there's any in Italian. The viewing point is not very big, but it's nice to see Alfama this way.

Then I made my way to the nearby Miradouro das Portas do Sol. It's a bigger viewing point. Much has been written about pickpockets, so I didn't feel like lingering around too long. Took a few pictures and then I continued on.

Next is Miradouro da Graça which perhaps has the nicest viewing point. I mean it's depending on your preference, but between the three, I think this one and Miradouro de Santa Luzia are the top 2. They show different views with Miradouro da Graça giving you a view of the castle.

In this viewing point, there's a church, Igreja e Convento da Graça. I'm not sure if it's used for worship. It didn't feel like it to me. What I remember from it was that there's a cloister which seems to have some renovation work going in it. The plants seemed to be not kept, they're growing wild. Then inside the hall there's a long table filled with figurines in a procession.


After this, I made my way down the hill. The last place to visit was Sé Cathedral. I don't have much impression of this church. Though it is Lisbon Cathedral, it is not the most beautiful or grand of church in Lisbon. In fact I didn't take many pictures of it, here's a picture of its arches and cupola.

On my way back, I also passed Santo António Church, so I went in. I'm not a Catholic so I don't know who he is. You can visit the site where he was born in the church and I did do that, throughout all feeling a bit guilty because I didn't feel any massive respect or awe. After that I made my way back, passing different streets and getting a handle of the location of my hotel in relation to other places like Praça do Comércio. I went back to Elevador Castelo because I wanted to go to Pingo Doce to get some water. They charged for plastic bag just like they do in Seville, but their plastic is so much thicker than what we have in Singapore or Indonesia. After that I needed to get a proper meal, but too lazy to walk around so I settled with the hotel's restaurant which is quite nice. The thing that astounded me was that the people in Portugal, at least the young people, all speak perfect English. Hotel staff of course, but the people at Pingo Doce and the waitresses at the restaurant was perfect. Perfect in their grammar, nice pronunciation, and all very polite and nice. When I went to Spain and people speak in Spanish, it made me miss Portugal. I never get any problem communicating in Portugal. Things are cheaper in Portugal too. Seville was supposed to be my main destination, but my time in Lisbon was really good that as the days went, I grew to like Portugal a lot. Anyways, dinner, chose monkfish, prawn, and rice. What arrived was in a pot and what we Asians here may call porridge. It was a nice surprise. I kinda like it though I didn't finish it because it's too much for just me and I hated the cilantro and the onion. So I got lazy having to pick those. I had a really good day 0 :) Now about the rest of the posts, I kinda have so many things to do. Seriously coming back here brings me more anxiety than the anxiety about having to travel alone :( So I may not get around to write them fast, not that you're waiting or anything. Just in case you do and you want to see pictures, well they many not be coming for awhile. Okay, hope you guys are doing okay :) Ciao!

:) eKa @ 1:21:00 PM •

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