DAY 1May 27 2017
DAY 2May 28 2017
The transition into Lisbon was smooth as smooth can be. Now that we're a few months in we updated our housing preferences and picked our own roommates. I went in with two friends, and the three of us ended up in a six (!!) bedroom apartment. I was skeptical of living with such a large group at first, but having seen the size of the place and spending the day exploring, grocery shopping, cooking, and watching Game of Thrones as flatmates, I'm now really looking forward to it.
The workspace is brand new and only about a 7 minute walk from home. It's the second WIP coworking space (after Croatia), and we're the first group to break it in. It's cool to see how our feedback on the previous spaces trickled in to the making of this space. There are additional conference rooms, quiet rooms, and an unfinished, but still amazing rooftop.
It's fun to slowly become experts at settling into a space for a month. When living abroad there's always some degree of improvisation which I'm loving. Things like finding substitutes for post it notes, pot holders, blenders, ladles, kettles, laundry bins, and televisions. Safeguarding important commodities like birthday candles (think back to your last vacation. Now try and figure out where to buy birthday candles in that place). Giving each other haircuts. Figuring out which groceries you will and won't use in a month, and calculating exactly how much cash to take out before travel day so you run out of that currency at the airport. Timing your laundry so it will dry outside long enough for the sun to hit correctly but short enough that birds don't start nesting in it. Sometimes it's silly and sometimes it's a pain (like right now when I'm in desperate need of antibiotics and have to jump through hoops for a prescription), but overall it keeps you very much on your toes.
Oh. And Lisbon. I've always been happiest on the water, so from the minute I stepped off the plane to that humid, salty sea air, I haven't stopped smiling. The city is gorgeous in a different, older, more authentic way than Prague. There are so many hills and alleys and I can't wait to explore every inch. I bought a ukulele and am teaching myself, with some help from some musically inclined Remotes. I hope by the end of the month to be decent at both that and at surfing.
We have all our side trips for the next two months locked in, but will have three full weekends in Lisbon slated for beach and sun and exploration. Can't wait.
DAY 6Jun 01 2017
On surfing and shoulder pops; a bimonthly report on the state of Emergency Rooms abroad.
I went early this morning to the beach at Cascais for a surfing lesson. The waves in Portugal are world famous and one of my stated goals for the month was to be able to stand up on the board.
The water was perfect and we had about two hours of surf and play. I managed to get up a bunch of times which was such a thrill.
Towards the end I was paddling ahead of a decent wave and my arm got caught in the current. I remember it moving backwards, hearing a crack pop and knowing instantly, even though it had never happened before, that I'd dislocated my shoulder.
The instructors and my fellow remotes were great and got me to the beach and helped me keep my arm propped while we called the lifeguard / ambulance. I desperately wanted them to just pop it back in and get it over with but they insisted that I go to the hospital for X-rays.
What a cultural difference from Croatia where I had to convince them that I needed to be seen. Here I am on the beach pleading not to go and them insisting that I be taken care of properly. And I'm so glad they convinced me. I arrive at the hospital to find a beautiful, modern facility. You take a number at a kiosk and get called up via a monitor which shows you how long your wait is down to the minute, varying based on the severity of your triage. I was called in pretty much immediately, took some gnarly X-rays, and was treated gently, carefully, and professionally by the doctor and staff. I got a repeat X-ray and was done and paid (€110) in under an hour. If I was Portuguese it would have been 100% free, which they apologized for and gave me insurance reimbursement forms along with detailed instructions on how to get some money back. This was even the public hospital in the little beach town, meaning it's way less state of the art than the typical healthcare facility. I'm thankful for how easy everything was, especially given the pain haze, and am even more thankful for DDR who practically carried me to shore, translated Spanish/Portuguese to the EMTs, and distracted me with stories the whole way to the hospital and back.
A side note on my copious injuries. I'm developing a reputation for being accident prone and clumsy, but this is only partially true. Injury has always seemed to find me regardless of what I do or don't do. The way I see it, I have two options. I can live my life carefully and stay relatively healthy, or I can do all the things I want to do and milk every last experience out of life, even if I come out the other side scraped and bruised and full of X-ray radiation. Call me an idiot or try and wrap me in bubble wrap, but I will choose to keep living my life 11 times out of 10. This may have been my one and only surf experience in Lisbon, but at least I killed it. Hang tight, dudes 🤙🏼
DAY 7Jun 02 2017
Had the greatest evening rocking out to Guns N Roses with this team of bodyguards and friends. There were over 50,000 people at the beachside venue in Alges and they cocooned around me making sure I didn't get bumped, or even touched, the entire show. 🤘🏼🌹❤️
DAY 8Jun 03 2017
The only thing better than exploring the Portuguese coast by car, I'd say, is exploring it in a sexy convertible.
I rented this bad boy as a thank you to DDR, Daniel, and Emmy for taking care of me and my busted shoulder. We left early and cruised to the historic town of Sintra not far outside of Lisbon, up the windy cobblestone roads to the brightly painted, 19th century fortress before continuing on to meet the broader group in Porto.
DAY 9Jun 04 2017
After an evening of exploring Porto's weird music festival and weirder bars, we got up and spent the morning touring wineries and sampling Port.
It was the most perfect droptop day, so after our tastings we pointed the convertible in the direction of the beach at Nazaré, home to the world's biggest waves. Even on a non-breezy, off-season day, the sea did not disappoint.
Headed back to Lisbon after dark, hair full of wind blown knots and feeling in love with this beautiful country.
DAY 14Jun 09 2017
Finding balance on Remote Year is an interesting thing. I spend so much effort trying to live like a local that sometimes it's easy to forget to be a tourist.
Today I was out looking for a physical therapy place and buying eggs and sun tan lotion, the most mundane activities possible, and while I was waiting to cross the street I "noticed" this church.
It's one block from my apartment, and I'd passed it dozens of times, but never actually acknowledged that it was there.
I went in and was blown away by the frescos on the ceiling and the detail of the altar.
Upon Googling I learned that the Igresia de São Paulo is a top sight to see on Trip Advisor and hosts one of the most famous masses in Lisbon, which is saying something for this heavily Catholic town.
Lesson of the day: fewer errands, more sightseeing, or at least a healthier combination of the two. Some bonus photos from the rest of the evening once I started trying to be more of a tourist:
DAY 19Jun 14 2017
Two days later and I'm finally recovered enough to write about Santos Populares. We're living in Lisbon during the June festivals, which are essentially a month-long Fourth of July to honor St. Anthony. The streets and balconies are decorated in garlands and lights and every evening crowds spill onto the streets, singing and dancing with sangrias in hand. Grilled sardines are the food of choice, and I'm told that the country consumes the equivalent of 13 sardines per second during the month of June.
The height of the festivals falls on the 12th of June, with a parade at 8pm from outside my apartment a few kilometers up the hill to the castle, followed by an all night party throughout the city. Every street is shoulder to shoulder with people. There is music, dancing, drinking, and general merry making. The shops bring in kegs and write prices on a sheet of paper, declaring themselves bars for the evening. We were advised by our local city team to take Tuesday off, a national holiday in Portugal anyway, and I'm glad we did. We celebrated on the streets with the locals until the wee hours of the night (err, morning). Here are some photos.
I'm loving how wild and free the culture is here compared to Prague and Split, and what I imagine Bulgaria to be. Portugal, you crazy.
DAY 21Jun 16 2017
Heading to New York for Father's Day weekend feeling lucky to have just yesterday accepted an incredible job that will allow me to continue this lifestyle. The interview process these past few months has been grueling and stressful, but looking out this window and recognizing that this is as close to an office as I'll get for the long term is an indescribable feeling.
DAY 26Jun 21 2017
Eight years ago I was living in the south of Spain and planned a trip to Morocco for myself, what would have been my first solo international trip. A day before leaving I was urged strongly not to go alone as a woman by some people at school and ended up going to the Algarve in Portugal instead.
Fast forward to now, back in Portugal and with a group this time, and there is nothing that was going to stop me from exploring the country to the south.
DAY 27Jun 22 2017
We woke up early and drove to the city of Chefchaouen, the blue pearl of Morocco.
The hues of blues of the city were breathtaking and we wandered until we were lost, unlost, and lost again.
Even though there are sections that are touristy, life in the alleys felt real and raw. We're here for the last few days of Ramadan and that afternoon heat had all the locals somewhat on edge from the fasting. We witnessed a street fight break out -- some guys grabbed sticks and ran down the streets shouting, and one came back a few minutes later with bloodstains and a shank in hand.
DAY 28Jun 23 2017
After breakfast at the Riad we drove three hours south to Fez where we were guided through the labyrinths of the Medina. We visited a mosaic shop, a loom worker, the tanneries, and the 9th century mosques, universities, and hostels.
Fez was just as on edge as Chefchaouen, if not more. Emmy and I were instructed to be mindful of our dress so as not to attract the attention of men. We were also told not to be on the streets between 7-8:30, because the locals are all indoors breaking fast at that time and the only ones left out of doors are criminals. Fortunately we were staying in a stunning Riad and were able to entertain ourselves during the hours of the "purge."
After sampling camel for dinner at a rooftop cafe we wandered around the streets and watched chickens and turkeys being weighed, bought, killed, drained, and defeathered.
It was interesting to see everyone's different reactions to experiencing Africa, a third world country, and an Islamic culture for what was the first time for most. Apart from my annoyance at not being able to dress freely or wander where I want without male company, I felt fairly natural. I'm sure after a little more exposure the others will all feel more comfortable as well, but it led to some interesting conversation on our relative normals and on living in the "growth zone," and encouraged me to slow down and appreciate their appreciation for how much of the world lives and works and dies.
DAY 29Jun 24 2017
After another beautiful Riad breakfast we drove down through the countryside seven hours to Merzouga. The terrain changed drastically throughout the trip, from dirt roads to sweeping valleys, desert plains, monkey forests, and palm tree groves. At times the road clipped the cliffs and the rocks fell out from underneath us thousands of meters down the dry river valley.
Words cannot begin to describe our 12 hours in the desert. We boarded our camels around 6pm, rode them through the dunes against the sunset into dark and to base camp. After an incredible meal we took out our guitars and ukuleles around the fire and and sang and danced with our guides until the stars were the only light for miles. We pulled our cots out of our tents and slept underneath the canopy of the Milky Way.
We woke up at dawn to watch the sunrise and then took some snowboards and spent the golden morning hours surfing down the dunes before returning to town on camelback. Morocco is incredible.
DAY 31Jun 26 2017
Two more long days of driving with a stop amongst the clay adobes of Dades Valley and some frolicking in the gorges brought us to Marrakech for our final day in Africa.
We were lucky enough to be in Marrakech for Eid. During the day the squares were relatively empty but at night the streets came alive with people dressed in their finest, freshly killed meat on smokers, street vendors, and lanterns. $0.40 fresh juice carts competed for our attention and we indulged in several helpings across one evening.
We wandered the streets to a hammam and spent 3 hours getting scrubbed and rubbed, and then went, 2 lbs of dead skin lighter, to a chic lounge for hookah and our first and last cocktails of the dry Ramadan week.
DAY 32Jun 27 2017
Home sweet Lisbon. For another three days at least.
DAY 36Jul 01 2017
I refuse to acknowledge that today marks 1/4 through, but nevertheless here's the Lisbon roundup:
Average breakfast: Yogurt and granola at home
Lunch: Tarts and fresh OJ from Hello Kristoff, or the taco package (chips, 2 quesadillas, 3 tacos, rice and beans, juice and coffee for €9) from the taqueria downstairs
Dinner: Sushi, tacos from the place downstairs, or kebab
Drink of choice: Sangria. Sold indiscriminately in bars, on streets, or at clothing shops.
Theme song: Despacito!
Most money spent on: Mercedes droptop to Porto
Apartment highlights: Two six bedroom apartments in the same building right on the street where all the festivals took place made for not too much sleep. Crappy wifi, smelly pipes, aggressive pigeons, but so many late nights and laughs.
Workspace highlights: Not used much due to construction and lack of AC, but the rooftop will be killer for future months.
On the locals: Drop dead gorgeous until age 35 when they become haggard looking from too many nude beaches and parties. Very playful, and very forward. Free-spirited with a love of life.
On the krew: Gotten to know each other perhaps too well, accelerated by a few bouts of stomach flu, food poisoning, and naked hamams. Past the familial love and on to the familial banter and bickering. Teasing fully acceptable. Inside jokes abound. Experienced our first departure from the group and in denial that a few more may follow. First couple is now "official" after three months of (not much) secrecy.
Packing adjustments: Bought a ukulele and a hookah, swapped my laptop bag for a skateboard bag with straps for my ukulele, swapped my second monitor for an Ipad using Duet, added some harem pants and scarves from Morocco, and ditched a bunch of jackets in favor of more shorts.
General feeling: Truly sad to be leaving Lisbon, especially with no clue what to expect in Bulgaria. Shoulder getting stronger by the day, and legs and thighs feeling more toned from Lisbon's ridiculous hills and the camel trek. Excited and apprehensive about starting my new job on Monday.
Top five meals:
5. All of the tagine - Every meal in Morocco
4. Nutella FreakShake - PopCereal Cafe
3. Goat cheese tartine - Hello Kristoff
2. All of the tacos - Pistola y Corazon Taqueria
1. Mushroom risotto - LxFactory