One of the funniest things I've ever seen occurred at the Lisbon Airport, in the middle of something of a monsoon, for lack of a more appropriate term. My Transavia flight was delayed 1.5 hours and we could not board, tucked like sardines in an outdoor, makeshift holding chamber with gale force-like winds threatening to tear all the screens. RyanAir, with a new plane pulling up just in front of us, could NOT have cared less and sent their passengers into the ring. From the sidelines the other passengers and I watched as these poor people ran, hunched over by about 90º, across the tarmac, screaming as the horizontal rains pounded them. There were a few attempts at umbrellas, but they were completely ripped to shreds and turned inside out. It reminded me a bit of one of my favorite movie scenes of all time: The tornado in the Wizard of Oz, when stuff is flying everywhere and a woman on a bike casually rolls by in the air. What's more is that just seconds after this happened, RyanAir sent a few buses, presumably on their way to pick up passengers, but at that point everyone had boarded. Hilarious.
Kind of a metaphor for my recent 12-day trip. It rained every single day. We made the most of it for sure, but it was almost funny how all odds were against us.
I started with a solo-weekend in Switzerland. I went to Bern to see an exhibit, and boy was Bern strange. Right away, I had a cringe-y AirBnb experience. Not sure why I thought AirBnb was a good idea for solo-travelling. I cut my AirBnb stay short and posted up elsewhere. But anyway, the exhibit was a collection of artwork recently uncovered that had been stolen by Nazi authorities. The exhibit blew me away; a lot of it being sketches, BauHaus and expressionist works never seen by the public before!
Next was Geneva to visit my college friend. Very very cold. It is quite a pretty city but also very small. My favorite part was going on the lake at the "Bains des Pâquis" where we had fondue next to a fire chamber. It reminded me a bit of Cape Cod. Because it was like, frigid temps and I was not prepared, I didn't do a whole lot there. I actually only had about 24 hours. Also, people always say that Switzerland is expensive but I was not prepared for just how many moneys are involved. Let's say, for example, that you order a chicken breast with potatoes or something for dinner. In the states, I would guess that would be maybe $12-17. In Paris, probably $18-25. In Switzerland, probably $28-40!! What on EARTHHHH. So essentially I had to sell some organs to eat.
Then I flew to Lisbon to meet up with my best friends. We forged ahead through the hills and rains to explore the city and its attractions, then took a day trip to Sintra, and then explored a bit more. I had initially been told that Lisbon is everyone's favorite new spot in Europe. I see the appeal: Narrow cobblestone streets in every color imaginable, colored tiles, warm air and the smell of fish and pastries wafting through the air... But at the same time, I didn't find that there was a whole lot to do. It's only in recent years that tourism has surged. I tried shopping, with minimal luck. I tried eating, with even worse luck (not liking or having an allergy to seafood really becomes a problem here). But on the bright side, everything is extraordinarily cheap, especially coming off of Paris and Switzerland. But it has its own charm, of course. And we visited one gelato place basically every single night we were there, to the point where the workers knew we'd be arriving. There really is no late-night hangout other than a friendly gelato shop. Many laughs to be had. (Though I still argue that kebabs are pretty killer late-night meals, and don't even try to fight me on that one).
And finally, we spent our last days in the Azores Islands. Haven't heard of them? I hadn't either. They're these tiny specks on the map in the near-middle of the Atlantic, just off of the coast of Portugal. In fact, the islands are closer to the United States than to Paris, which was eery. We rented a little Smart Car, named Little Smartie, and trekked around the entire island. Even through forests and fields and mountains and mud. The weather wasn't amazing but we hit all the best spots when it wasn't raining. My friend really wanted to hike and swim and go hang gliding...etc. Honestly wasn't a huge fan of those ideas, à cause du thunderstorm, sorry again M. But in the end we had the best of everything: Lovely road trip just like the PCH, one moderate hike to a waterfall, and some time spent in thermal baths. The hike was particularly amazing because for about 0,75km a group of chickens and roosters followed us. Initially we were terrified when they approached us because, if any of you are well-versed in Vine, you know that roosters do not shy away from attack. And then I loved the thermal baths because, other than being amazing and relaxing, for a while it was hailing and down-pouring. Your bottom-half is being cooked like a lobster and your top half is being pummeled with ice.
One final comment about this island (Sao Miguel): There are SO many people who live there. For being remote, they have many towns and so many young people. Additionally, their food is AMAZING. And quite varied, unlike what we found in Lisbon, which is another oddity. But anyway, I digress.
I'm overjoyed to be back in Paris. The skies are blue today, the weather is warm, and I feel the comforting senses of love and familiarity and curiosity that overwhelm me on a daily basis. Every street welcomes you into its arms like they have been waiting for you all this time.
Overall, loved my trip and exploring new places and seeing old friends. But twelve days away was far too long.
I'll be posting again soon!