Amidst all the bustling about I had to do prior to setting off on my summer of back-to-back Iberian Peninsula residencies, I managed to get my left foot slammed in a heavy metal shop door four days before I needed to leave. I had it X-rayed to make sure I hadn't fractured or broken anything - the results thankfully came back that it was just swollen and bruised - and then tried to ice and rest it as much as was possible during those intervening days. I flew out on Friday, May 19th from MCI connecting in Philadelphia to then go on to Lisbon. I had decided when scheduling my flights to spend two days in Lisbon before heading on to Cerdeira Village since it's my first time in Portugal.
My foot was still not really ready to attempt all the various stressors of airports, so I requested wheelchair assistance in the airports. Everyone who helped me was very kind, and though at the beginning I felt guilty for requesting it, by the time I saw how many lines I got to bypass, I was grateful; one of the hazards of lines beyond the obvious of having to stand a lot is other people blindly backing luggage/themselves into your feet and I really didn't fancy taking another hit to my wounded foot. Plus the request came with the ability to request aisle seating on the right (putting my injured left foot into the aisle), which meant I could avoid seatmates from bumping me and stretch it out to rest it in the aisle during non-service periods.
My first flight from MCI to PHL went off without a hitch; the plane was bare bones but functional (no inset TV monitors, sadly, but I don't expect them on domestic flights - they're more of a rare perk). My second flight from PHL to LIS, as is often the wont at PHL, was delayed by slightly over two hours. It did mean I was able to eat something at an airport restaurant, though, which was good because though my second flight was international and came with dinner and breakfast, I discovered that American Airlines does somewhat weird vegetarian meals (I signed up for the special meals ahead of time to accommodate my vegetarian diet). They collapse all the veg*n meals together, which makes sense to maximize utility, but then don't actually make the whole meal vegan - they randomly pick and choose what will be vegan and what will be vegetarian in ways that seem to maximize taste issues. For dinner, there was vegan pasta in marinara sauce with a not-great fake cheese but an accompanying dinner roll had milk as an ingredient and we were just not given the separate cheese slice that accompanied the dinner rolls for other diners. There was also a salad and fruit, which I appreciated, but I think everyone got those. For breakfast, the whole standard meal was vegetarian (blueberry muffin, granola, yogurt, and some form of healthy-ish dessert/granola bar). The veg*n meal instead came with yogurt (still with milk), a vegan cookie, and a small dish of fruit. I did appreciate the fruit, but wasn't sure why we didn't also get one of the other options for a similar quantity of food items.
The time really stretched on during the second flight, too, because unlike every other international flight I've taken in recent years, this airplane also had no individual tv monitors in the seat backs. I was really, really thankful I had decided to buy a Kindle Paperwhite in anticipation of being mostly disconnected while in Cerdeira Village because that was my only entertainment. To be fair, the plane did have a few overhead monitors scattered through the plane and you could try to watch those, but you obviously had to watch whatever was on (from afar) and had no ability to pause it while service was happening or you went to the restroom. I just ignored that option and read (or briefly, tried to sleep - it's very hard for me to sleep upright, though, so I think I caught about 15-30 minutes). My seat was also in the very back (no recline) and directly below the flight attendant's overhead storage, and they kept rummaging through it.
Toward the last few hours of the flight, I also noticed both my feet were swollen to the point that my sandals and my compression wrap on my left foot were really uncomfortable. I assume it was due to the pressure change, though I have to say I've never noticed this side effect before. I knew I wasn't really in a position to redo the wrap properly if I took it off, though, and I needed it to walk even a little, so I ignored that problem and just loosened my sandal straps.
When I got off that plane, my left foot was basically numb and I thought that it was really very good that I asked for wheelchair assistance. It was especially nice because it also let me skip the long customs line for a much shorter staff-and-disabled line, and then the very nice attendant also got my luggage off the baggage claim for me, stuck it on a trolley, hailed a cab, and got it put in the taxi for me as well. (She asked if someone was picking me up and I answered that I was going to take a taxi; the Lisbon airport is surprisingly central and most people can either walk or take the subway to their destination but my foot was alternately numb and throbbing and my luggage is, even when both my feet work, not a joy to navigate the subway with.) Even though I knew how close the airport was to my AirBnB, I was still pleasantly surprised that the ride only cost 8.5 euro (I gave the taxi driver a 10 and she helped me get my luggage into the building proper).
I then rode in the archaic lift (with manual door guards) up to my host's place, and thankfully was immediately let in; though that's how it ideally goes, I had to wait for around 20 minutes to get access to my AirBnB in Paris. The first things I did were to take off the compression wrap and get the ice pack I put in my suitcase into the freezer. Then I took a short nap - around an hour and a half. I rewrapped my foot and went out to see if I could catch Tram 28.
Before my foot incident, I had plans for what I wanted to do during my two days in Lisbon, but due to my foot (and also due to the delayed flight which together with the short nap ate up much of the first day), I decided to significantly curtail my plans. Luckily one of the tourist attractions is done primarily sitting down: Tram 28. It's an old-school single car tram that takes passengers through the Alfama district and past a number of famous sights. Waiting in line for the tram was a little rough (I regretted not tossing my sunscreen into my bookbag even though it was already 4:30pm - the sun was still fierce!) given all the tourists who had the same idea, and I had to wait for a tram with available seating due to my foot, but I eventually got onto an empty tram and snagged a coveted window seat. While waiting in line, I also briefly befriended a nice Canadian couple who let me in on the best side to sit on and that my attempting to walk much of the Alfama would be a bad idea due to its numerous inclines, declines, and straight up stairs.
The tram ride was nice, though it was also surprisingly fast - we zipped by a lot of places that I would have liked to explore, had I had the time and a better foot. When we came to the end of the line, since we were kicked off anyway I chose to take a small exploration before returning and also snagged a bite to eat at a vegan-friendly waffle place and literally the only place open that served food at that hour. I was a little sad that my attempts to order both a savory and a sweet waffle were lost in translation and ended in only the sweet one being delivered; that being said, though I would have preferred the savory one once the sweet had been placed at my table I realized there was no way I would've been able to eat two of them and Europe is not a doggy-bag culture. So what I ate was a strawberry-greek yogurt-granola topped oat waffle; it was really quite good and very affordable even though it wasn't quite what I had in mind as a meal.
I got back on the return tram, and got off in the Alfama district near the Arc de Triomphe. I wandered around for honestly probably way too far before deciding I was pretty thoroughly lost, it was 8pm, and my foot had started to complain a while ago and was getting pretty insistent about it - so I just hailed a cab. That ride ended up being only 5.5 euro (rounded to 6 euro with a tip), and I decided it's affordable enough to rely on taxis if my foot is hurting.
I do have to say I keep spending cash in Lisbon so far; I'm surprised but the taxis, metro, and restaurants so far did not want to accept credit cards. I brought some cash along, though, so it should be fine.
Back in my AirBnB, I met one of the other people renting a room here - she's a Spanish professor at the University of Lisbon who is almost done with the semester and will then return back to her home near Galicia, Spain, when it's over. We briefly chatted and then I got ready for bed and turned in around 9:30pm.
I woke up at 12:30am, and try though I might, I could not go back to sleep. Jet lag is annoying! After just lying in the dark for 45 minutes, I decided to journal instead. And now here we are, and here I will leave you to hopefully return to sleep shortly in order to wake rested and at a semi-normal time on Sunday!