Lisbon, Portugal - Polarsteps
Psych! That was a warm-up. We'll eventually hit either the end of our desire to do this, or the end of seven years' life savings; only one continent in, we're not there yet, so instead of hopping home to the west coast, we've hopped the other way to Lisbon, to pick up another road at another Atlantic coast and keep. on. cycling.
We made it (with only one police incident; did you know that dog spray is an illegal weapon in Nova Scotia and if you bring it to the airport with you to ask if you can bring it in your checked bags-- because Transport Canada has vague wording about packing "animal repellant" and there's a 2+ hour wait to talk to an airline representative on the phone-- the baggage staff will look at you like you've just pulled out a revolver and be legally bound to bring the police in to file a report, then send you through security with an escort who makes sure you and all your bags get thoroughly searched? We didn't know, but also aren't sure what we were expecting when we... brought pepper spray to the airport).
Our bikes also made it undamaged, and so did 1/2 of our bags-- which is not bad, considering the state of air travel at this end of the pandemic. But is bad, considering that the missing bag contains our tent and camp stove, bike tools that Kini slowly amassed over the course of years, all of my clothes except the ones I wore on the plane, and Pip and Penny, our little stuffed penguin and puffin mascots (whom we anthropomorphize maybe more than is healthy, and wonder if they're safe or scared wherever they are right now).
On one hand we're somewhat anxious about it, and know that airports are severely understaffed and the lost-baggage situation has been rough in 2022. On the other hand, of all the places we could be stranded, we're in LISBON, and the airline has confirmed that they'll be on the hook for the cost of our hostel room until the bag shows up (or is declared permanently lost in 3 weeks)-- there's an easy case to make that we can't go bike-camping without a tent. We're a 15-minute walk from a large outdoor store that can sell us new camping and bike stuff if that time comes (also at the expense of the airline).
We had, thankfully, the half of the tools that we needed to put the bikes back together at the airport, and all the panniers and enough bungee cords to put everything we had on them and ride the 7km to our hostel. Our first impressions of Portuguese roads are that they're chaotic but that drivers have their eyes open for cyclists and pedestrians, who move assertively, a level we're going to need to rise and adjust to. Roundabouts are common, huge, and a little overwhelming. There are bike paths sporadically through the city, and they're often made of little cobblestones, which make for a bumpy ride.
For now we're waiting and wandering the city with its narrow cobblestone streets, painted tiles, orange trees, palm trees, hot roasted chestnuts sold from street carts, custard tarts, more custard tarts, markets, and historic neighbourhoods winding their way up hillsides. It's 18 degrees here; a group of Portuguese filmmakers at our hostel lamented that we were getting here in this winter weather, and then stopped themselves and said, "Oh right, you're from Canada; this probably feels warm to you." They're right.
We're looking forward to bike-camping again, but this time up the Portuguese coast. And also to getting on a Eurovelo route for the first time; there were times on Canadian roads in the last seven months when we fondly thought ahead to this moment.
Hi from the nicest lost-bag limbo we could have asked for,
We are in Lisbon! In Europe! Woop woop! As Sara mentioned, we have been in a lost baggage limbo for about a week. As far as things go this at most has been just a pain in the ass; not the end of the world or a life altering event. We have both just been getting itchy feet to get out and cycle the Portuguese coast and are tired of booking more nights in our hostel and the switching of rooms every two days that comes with that. We received our bag today and it looks like it had been delayed due to being inspected. We saw a slip stating a harmful substance had been removed; we thought this for sure meant they took our camp stove (that Sara spent a good chunk of time deep-cleaning). It was there..... looked like three Bic lighters were removed... which we had asked about and were told was okay. So fuck, I dunno. We got delayed for a few lighters it seems. I thought maybe because of my... incident in Halifax... they had taken the bag aside. The bag was under Sara's name though, so who knows.
We have made the most of our extra time here , which is on the airline's dime for delaying our essential bag. We have taken our time wandering around Lisbon, eating pastel de nata, drinking sangria and just absorbing all we can. I noticed how unique the cobblestone here is right off the bat; it's called Calçada and it is a Lisbon landmark and a huge point of pride. As are the elaborately painted Portuguese tiles, called azulejos. Walking through the tourist areas brings out really funny interactions and characters; from this guy who was a bit past his prime (Go for it bud! Body positivity here!) dressed as a Spartan from 300 (so, pretty naked) who was super crusty, calling after people who tried taking pictures or commented on his rather naked state (in the case of the former he made kissy noises at said person) to people walking right up to me asking if I (not Sara, me) want to buy marijuana, hash or coke. It just makes me smile as I decline the offer; they aren't pushy or feel unsafe. Sara says I just have that kind of face that says "Drugs!" or 'resting hashface'. I also feel I read as a 20 year old dude over here, so the perfect customer; super dumb and open to doing Lisbon street coke.
We are leaving Lisbon tomorrow and im super excited about that.
🚲 Bike Jaunt 🚲