Friday, July 28, 2017

Day 7 & 8: Marathon to Lisbon

What to write about what was almost two non-stop days of travel? Well, actually, it was basically one really long day, but it was also a long haul, and definitely knocked us for a loop.

On the morning of our departure, Otto and I slept in a little, had some breakfast at the hotel and then got started packing while Sarah and Stella ran to Mood, the fabric store famously depicted on Project Runway. (I'm sure they can provide you with more details, mom!) Maybe Sarah will chime in with more details, but the one thing I do know is that they didn't see Swatch (I asked).

They returned to the room, and Sarah and I finished packing, then it was out front, to hail a cab, and off to JFK. Despite some minor hiccups getting our baggage checked, we boarded without issue, and -since I sat next to Stella on the flight to New York- it was Otto's turn to sit next to me. This was the first time (that he can remember, at least) that he had an in-flight screen imbedded in the seat in front of him, and, well, he was thrilled.

Awaiting our flight at JFK. Everyone in tip-top shape!

Our flight departed JFK after 4pm, so we were flying through a truncated night, and landing in Paris around dawn. After a few hours of TV and video games, I started suggesting to him that he try to sleep a little... but he wasn't having it. So, after a few more attempts at arm twisting, I basically shrugged: "Well, we don't have anything planned in Lisbon, so he can be tired, I guess."

We landed in Paris, and went through immigration smoothly enough and had a little over an hour till our flight to Lisbon. And that's when Otto started to fall apart, rapidly shifting from playing an app on Sarah's iPad to listlessly complaining about his legs hurting (he's telltale sign of being overtired). I basically carried him onto the plane, where he proceeded to crash against Sarah (who was trapped between both now-sleeping kids) and "awoke" only once or twice to cry, complain about being uncomfortable, and then crash again.

Awaiting our flight to Lisbon... Otto looking a little rough. Sarah holding in there. Stella in overtired spaz mode.
On our flight... Otto is definitely looking rough.

At this point, in addition to the kids being asleep, Sarah and I were both moving from "punchy" to "exhausted."

We arrived in Lisbon, and while Sarah led a bleary-eyed Stella, I carried a sleeping Otto (in addition to both our carry-ons), and deposited like a corpse on the airport floor, while we collected out luggage from the baggage claim.

Otto, sleeping on the Lisbon airport floor. Perhaps not our proudest parenting moment. But, he's here, and alive.

We emerged from the airport, and began searching for the driver we'd arranged to take us to our apartment, but he was not to be found. Thankfully, after 10 minutes of increasingly panicked searching, he arrived, and helped us load our stuff.

Next thing we knew we were zipping into town, with two kids trying to blink themselves awake. "Your spot for our apartment is a good one" Our driver assured us, "easy to see things and get around." Winding into the Alfama old town, he pulled into a narrow street, and unceremoniously deposited our baggage on the curb.

"Your apartment is here. The woman will come. Just wait for her here."

And then he was gone.

We stood swaying on the narrow street, watching Lisbon's famous street cars miraculously squeeze down it, and past us.

After about 10 minutes a woman came walking down the street. When she got within a couple paces of us, she stopped, surprised. "Are you the people renting the apartment?" We nodded. "They were supposed to call me." Too tired to feel put out, we shrugged, and she led us in.

Our apartment on the 2nd (read: Amerian 3rd) floor was happily what the pictures led us to believe, and she gave us a quick tour, punctuating he comments with a quick "click, click" out of the side of her mouth like a noir film gumshoe. (Or, maybe the Fantastic Mr. Fox.) Then, like that, she was gone and we all promptly collapsed from exhaustion.

I forget which of us napped, or for how long, but the rest of the day was a daze. It was before 10 when we arrived. So, at some point, we made our way over to a view point, and had a overly large meal at a touristic restaurant there. (I ordered a pork dish that was easily enough for 2, plus we had a whole bevy of side, appetizers and food for the kids.)

A first view of our neighborhood in Lisbon. Seen from a viewpoint 5 minutes from our apartment.

At another point Stella and I made our way down to the little corner grocery store to grab some basic provisions to get us through the afternoon and next morning. While this store was far from what you'd call a quaint corner market, the owner has (a week on) probably become our best friend in Lisbon: Cutting us deals on food, giving us advice on services and introducing us to his wife who just arrived from Bangladesh a week ago herself.

Then, finally, we made our way down into the maze-like roads and staircases of the Aflama district. I'm sure Sarah or I will go into more detail about the Alfama, but it definitely makes a surreal experience trying to navigate the warren of pathways while seriously jetlagged.

Wandering the Alfama neighborhood... oh no, I think we are loosing Otto again.

Eventually, we chose a restaurant (more of out of fatigue then anything) and set down for dinner... only to have Otto curl up and fall asleep before we even ordered. Sweetly, the ladies running the restaurant brought out an extra cushion for him, and we continued on with out meal.

...and he's out again. (Don't worry folks, by the next morning he was back to his normal self, as were the rest of us.)

Finally, still exhausted, but at least full, and close to what one would call a reasonable bed time, we made our way back to the apartment, me carrying a crashed out Otto uphill the whole way. Safely in our apartment, we all followed Otto's lead and slept.


(As always, a little caveat here: Describing the difficulties of travel, and the difficulties of having kids always seems a little self-serving, and -I imagine- is easily met with the world's smallest fiddle because, ultimately, they are both decisions Sarah and I made. Navigating travel and navigating parenting are both things we chose to do. And both are things we love. So, hopefully, an entry like this is seen not as a "woe as me" but with humor and self-depreciation. Because, with both parenting and travel, the worse it gets, often the better the story is after the fact.)

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