Flying with 45 people is hard and getting my sparkle on in Lisbon
I'm sorry I haven't updated in forever. Totally my bad.
The last week in Cape Town was a blur trying to squeeze in all the things and going away parties and then packing to move on to Lisbon. And that's a hell of a story...
Atlas had our first transition day and it was the shitshow we expected but not for reasons we expected. Totally wasn't our fault. I mean it.
Firstly, we had two flights from Cape Town through London on to Lisbon. Remember our group is 45 people strong. Flying all at once. On top of that, our connection in London was only 1 hour and we had to pass through security again. With 45 people.
You can see where I'm going with this, right?
Massive panic as dozens of us were held up at security for stupid reasons. About 15 of us made it through after the gate was already closed. The flight staff is pissed. Maryia, our Program Leader, is running around like a madwoman trying to explain the situation that 30+ people are still coming through security and to please wait for us.
Slowly but surely, we each trickled through one by one. Cheers erupted as the final Atlas made it on the shuttle to drive us to the plane, now held up 25 minutes because we were literally half of the passengers.
I guess that's the benefit of traveling in a massive group.
After all of the drama of the morning, we landed in Lisbon. We're standing at the baggage carousel and everyone is picking up their things and heading to our shuttles.
Everyone except me and 6 others. We're waiting. And waiting. And waiting. My bag is nowhere to be found.
I'll spare the boring details, but 2 hours and 1 very nasty baggage claim clerk later, we find out our bags did not make the transition and were put on the next flight set to arrive at 6pm. Oh, and by the way, delivery stops at 7pm so you won't get your bags until tomorrow morning.
I have no clothes, no toiletries, nothing with me except my laptop and my phone. Super. Welcome to Lisbon.
I got my bag back the following day and all was right again in the world. As I'm sure you've noticed, Cape Town was pretty hectic with all kinds of things happening and everything is new and wonderful and look at all the cool people to meet.
Needless to say, work was super slow and fell by the wayside a bit. I've been laser-focused on getting my shit together this month so I really didn't do much Week 1.
Work has been my #1 priority and it's been easy here. Lisbon is drastically different than Cape Town. The vibe is peaceful. I feel much more relaxed here.
Laziness and superstition
Day 3 in Lisbon I joined a really amazing walking tour of the city. I've never been to Europe before, and the architecture is pretty fascinating. Lisbon is older than Rome, so there's an abundance of history and stories to hear at every corner.
We started our tour in the famous Rossio Square. The theme of the tour was twofold to understand the Portuguese: laziness and superstition. It sounds mean, but bear with me.
Firstly the statue in Rossio Square is a farce. It was supposed to commemorate a Portuguese king Dom Pedro IV, but there was mix up with the statue maker guy who carved emperor Maximilian of Mexico.
Rather than send it back to make it right, the Portuguese just changed the face a little bit and put him waaaaaaaaaaay up high hoping nobody would be able to notice it's not the king. Hilarious.
Next we visited "The Cursed Church", otherwise known as Igreja De São Domingos. It's considered cursed because it has been destroyed by either earthquakes or fires 4 times. To the point were the Portuguese were like, "eh, screw it, let's just leave it." So they fixed the roof and left the rest intact, most recently damaged by a fire in 1959. It's super eerie and gothic and a little terrifying.
Then we made our way to Alfama, a neighborhood in Lisbon considered the 'old town' because it was the least affected by the All Saints Day disaster.
Our guide explained that much of Lisbon has been rebuilt many times because shit keeps happening and destroys it all. The most notable was November 1st, 1755. This was also All Saint's Day, and much of Lisbon was in church when the largest earthquake to ever hit Europe erupted -- 8.9 on the Richter scale. Obviously, massive devastation. Buildings crumbled to the ground, people died in roof collapses. Awful stuff.
Then, because everyone was in church celebrating, there are candles everywhere. Then the ground starts shaking, knocks everything over... Yup. Then a massive fire broke out and burned nearly the entire city.
My California friends know what usually happens after an earthquake. Oh yes. Shortly after, an enormous tsunami builds up off the coast and nearly engulfs Lisbon, reaching almost 2 kilometers inland. Anything that wasn't already burned or crushed was wiped out by the giant wave.
Now you can kind of see why the Portuguese might be a little superstitious. That's a lot of devastation for one day.
Getting our sparkle on
Alfama was least affected because it's very high on a hill. (Oh, PS -- the hills of Lisbon rival SF. My calves are jacked right now.) There, street art is legal and the cobbles in the streets are older than Rome. It's a really interesting blend of old and the new.
There, our guide introduced us to a Lisbon-famous drink called ginja (pronounced jeen-JA but with a nasal-y 'shn'). Historically, it was a common cure-all legitimately prescribed by doctors. Now, it's a great excuse for old men and tourists to take a shot at 2pm on a Tuesday.
It's a sour cherry liquor, AKA alcoholic cough syrup. We may or may not have stopped at every spot we found along the way after the first... Our guide called having ginja just getting a little sparkle in your day. By the end, we were god damn glowing. Whoops.
Married to the hustle
I did another event later in the week but otherwise I've been grinding it out which is why I haven't posted much here or on Instagram. I spend a lot of time at the workspace. I'm cooking up a new project with a friend here.
We're both freelancers; she does graphic and web design and I do marketing. So we figured together, we're basically a full service agency so why not partner up?
I've been working hard to put together a business plan and our website and iron out our services so we can get started chasing clients. It's definitely my #1 priority so I've been saying 'no' to a lot of invitations for side trips and adventures. It honestly felt great to do nothing this weekend and just chill.
The relaxed, slower pace of Lisbon is just what the doctor ordered. And maybe some more ginja. ;)