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welcome to portugal.

August 27, 2012

I arrived in Portugal in early June with a bang…or perhaps more accurately, a thud. I had spent a miserable ten hours traveling by train from Madrid to Lisbon and walking into the Rossio Train Station I was disheveled and nearly incoherent as I made my way toward the hostel. [As I am a “budget traveler” I refused to spend the extra 15€ on a sleeper car, because, well, that’s the equivalent of SIX frozen yogurts…with toppings.] Carrying the weight of a small elephant in luggage I made my way toward the escalator. A smiling gentlemen pointed me in the direction of the elevators, though in my state of delirium I assumed that reaching them was a more daunting task than hauling everything onto the deceivingly simple moving stairways just ahead. Deluded by Matilda, I was convinced that by sheer force of will I could mentally direct my mountain of personal items to the top.

What happened next can’t have been pretty. Or at least, it definitely didn’t sound pretty, my large suitcase thunk-thunk-thunking on the rising stairs left to block the entry, while I, clutching as one might while hanging from a cliff to the rest of my belongings, paper-weighted to the escalator under my thirty kilogram backpack let out an agonizing moan on my continuation upward. To ice my “Welcome to Lisbon” cake, waiting for me on level two was a woman who must have been in her seventies asking [in Portuguese, mind you] if I needed help…

What was I supposed to say? “Why yes, actually! Here—if you wouldn’t mind, could you take this bag that weighs twice your body weight up to the hostel? Yes, up that next Mt. Everest of an escalator on the top floor. Thanks.”

A level of humiliation falling second only to having my whole Kindergarten class listen to me sing “My Country Tis of Thee” from within the confines of our classroom bathroom, I realized while scrambling to arrange the items that had made the journey upward and collect my remaining baggage, still thumping away at the bottom as a persistent reminder of the strength of my spaghetti arms [or my lack-of-sleep-induced overconfidence], that things in this new place could only get better.

Now, despite my best efforts to continue the Lisbon saga beyond hour one, and regale you with any number of stories, I’ve failed. Maybe because I’ve been happy; it’s been difficult to focus on writing, to keep a story moving, when I get lost in the memories. So, with that, I give you this: everything in the past two months [picture gallery style] that has not only been better than public humiliation, but also edges out a new pair of overpriced shoes, a home-cooked meal, or a freshly made bed…and perhaps even trumps coconut gelato, but of that, I can’t be certain.

A two-week visit from your best friend who you haven’t seen for more than an hour here or there in over a year…

do not feed the animals.

best friends forever and a day…and a half.

conquering beaches worldwide.


followed immediately by a three-week visit by your brother…

if law school doesn’t work out, he has modeling to fall back on.

sexy? creepy? we’re still deciding.

praça do comércio.

eating his way through portugal.

and his girlfriend…

the consultant and lawyer power couple.

intermingled with visits from friends from Spain, friends from festivals, and friends from high school…

mirror, mirror, on the wall…

all of whom have come together for big family dinners, time and time again.

mac&cheese night.

preparing enough stuffed peppers to feed a small army.

bringing friends together through the art of cooking.

New friends, who I may or may not ever see or hear from again.

before he proposed.

photo credit: filipe ganilho


Beaches: white sand, cold water, waves. Beaches, beaches, beaches.

my year of sunshine.

exploring adraga.

Being mermaids on beaches.


haircut, anyone?

Fighting on beaches.

karate chops.

roundhouse kick.

good hands, bad hands.

Jumping on beaches.


Drinking on beaches.

white sangria.

mark flexing.

Naps on beaches.

couldn’t be happier.

sleepy nina.

Hula hoops on beaches.

blissful beach day.

Hula hoops…

…and beach tours!

This bar.

These double mega gulp mojitos and capirihnias.

[Oh wait; I’m always too drunk to photograph them.]

Discovery of this bookstore.

ler devagar.

Three charming hostels, where I have taken up residency and found employment.

lisbon destination hostel.

beach destination hostel.

playing alice in wonderland on the rooftop terrace.

Mariana’s cooking.

since when do hostels serve sushi? ohmahgawz.

we are spoiled.

These people. All of them. The whole lot. I love ‘em. [Tejo—the cat-like dog who is deeply loyal to his owners and has no regard for anyone else.]

one-third of staff <3.

volunteers and friends.

A city, which after only a few weeks time, I already came to call home.

golden gate’s little sister.

In an email dated June 28th, my mother wrote:


You must be loving what you are doing because we have heard very little from you.

Love you lots. Momo”

Mom, you couldn’t be more right.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rachel permalink
    August 27, 2012 12:36 am

    this is awesome

  2. Adán permalink
    August 27, 2012 1:52 pm

    Awesome Awesome Awesome 😉

  3. Laura V permalink
    August 27, 2012 4:34 pm

    This warms my heart Maddy!

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