Drunk w. Strangers

Sunday, February 27, 2022

I was on the way to the JFK, when I knew I needed to take a nervous shit.

Just a week prior, I had received a call that I was getting laid off, and decided that the following week I would go to Lisbon, Portugal- solo. Did I speak the language? No. Did I know anybody there? Also no. So why go? The roundtrip flight was only $390, and for that, I simply couldn't hesitate. I also just desperately wanted to gtf out of here.

I was thrilled for the deal, and for the chance to explore a new city. But it wasn't until that ride to the airport that I got super nervous. The thing about traveling alone is that everyone's doubts and hesitations start instilling fear in you- because they aren't as confident to both make decisions like this on their own, and actually be comfortable alone. If you go anywhere with the mentality that something bad is going to happen to you- guess what; something bad most likely will. I handed TSA my passport and vax card, and now there was no turning back.

Yes! Hostel- where I stayed for the week. It was super clean, and the staff was hella friendly! 

After a brief layover walking around Madrid (as I missed my connecting flight) - I finally arrived in Lisbon- and it was absolutely unreal to the eyes. Everything about this city was charming and picturesque. From the laundry drying outside of windows, the beautifully aged architecture, seeing the tram drive through town, to the cobblestoned streets. It was all so incredibly mesmerizing and clean. It really felt like being in another world. I walked for hours without aim- emitting main character energy. Airpods in and glasses on- I felt eager to take on the rest of the week.

To be quite honest, I really didn't spend much of this trip on my own. I actually made friends! It all started being drunk with strangers. Dancing alone at MusicBox on Pink Street, I met another solo traveler from Paris (who was ironically also staying at the same hostel.) We spent the rest of the week eating, drinking, and traveling our way around Lisbon and Sintra.

Pena Palace in Sintra (abut 45 minutes via Uber from Lisbon)

Alto do Bairro- where I had the best tapas of my existence!

Simply asking my Italian roomates for the wifi password was all it took to engage in conversation. At the end of their trip- they even left me a bottle of wine and a bracelet- which was such an incredibly nice gesture. Why couldn't it be this easy making friends back at home?

On day 2 of my bender, I approached another guy at a dive bar. With drink in hand I asked, "What brings you here?" The answer- nothing close to what I had anticipated. He had a super successful Etsy shop with over 20,000 sales on one item ALONE. And then you realize that's all it really takes- just one really great idea to live your best life and be able to become a digital nomad.

My theory of Hinge working in Portugal was proven wrong- it still only connects with the US. Tinder, on the other hand does work! And these mennnnn- absolutely divine to the eyes. I really got over 30 messages within a day and a half asking about my experience in the city, if I was interested in going out for dinner- there were even strangers asking if I wanted to blaze haha. (Fun fact- weed is mixed with tobacco there.) Another fun fact- you can buy drugs off the street, but they are placebos/ regs/ not shit you should be taking.

I ended up going out with a native! And was really glad that I did. He took me to try Ginginha ( a Portuguese liqueur made from sour cherries), we went to a few thrift stores, may or may not have blazed in Alfama overlooking the city at night, and went to see a live performance of fado at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. (Fado is musically symbolic to Portuguese culture and tradition. It actually translates to "fate".)

Asides having the time of my life, I saw signs every single day. From "immersive experiences", to "why wait?", to "life is good" , every day of this trip I feel like life was indirectly trying to communicate with me. Prior to coming I was so incredibly burnt out and jaded. Life felt soooooooo routine, boring, and I was going through the motions mechanically, and on auto-pilot. Every day gave me more of a push to continue living on my own terms and to never stop doing so.

(Maybe the liquid courage gave me a little push to be more social, but I would strongly advise DRINKING IN MODERATION when traveling alone! Granted Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world- it's still best to be alert and aware!)

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