Luggageless in Lisbon

Karie on Aug 3rd 2008 04:58 pm

A few weeks ago we were talking with some friends about how smooth all of our travels had gone.  Of all the trips we’ve taken over the last year, we have been blessed to not experience any major problems or setbacks.  I should’ve knocked on wood.

We boarded our 32nd airplane of the year on our way to Lisbon (the last flight on which we will be checking luggage until we move home), but unbeknownst to us, our luggage never boarded.  We arrived in the baggage claim at the Lisbon airport, and took notice that every single carousel had 10 +/- bags left, with no one around.  Most of the carousels were not even moving, but random bags were lying around everywhere.  “Wow,” we thought, “there are probably people all over Europe wondering where their bags are.”  Before long, we were among them.

I waited in line for over an hour to report the lost bag, while Scott continually scoured the terminal, thinking that it must be here somewhere.  With all those bags lying around, we figured there was a good chance that ours just got misdirected and would end up on another carousel eventually.  This was before we learned that it never even left Barcelona.

Unfortunately ClickAir, our favorite budget airline, only has one flight per day from Barcelona to Lisbon, so our bag would not arrive until the next day’s flight.  Also, because this is a budget airline, there is no compensation for lost luggage.  If I wanted that, I should’ve purchased the travel insurance for 15€/person… which by the way, still would have cost more than repurchasing all the basics.

Oh well, whattayagonnado?  We’re pretty laid back travelers at this point, so we just sighed and joked about how wonderful it was to not have to lug our stupid bags through town and up the stairs to the hostel.  “Oh, how nice it is to be luggage free!  We should really travel without luggage more often…”

We were able to scrounge up some toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and underwear, but by then many of the stores were closed so we were unable to find deodorant.  (Or at least that we deem acceptable.  Yes, we are still American deodorant snobs.)

The next day we got ready in a jiffy, and headed out to El Corte Ingles, which is a huge department store with a supermarket in the basement.  After we found suitable deodorant, I decided to test the skills of the lady at the MAC make-up counter, to see what she could do with my bare face.  I usually don’t like to take up their time unless I actually intend to buy something, but this time I was just hoping someone would have enough sympathy to give me some moisturizer and cover up the dark circles under my eyes.  I think the girl was so pleased that someone would allow her play dress-up with them, that within 15 minutes I looked like I was going to the prom… except that my hair looked like crap and my clothes weren’t the freshest.  I didn’t match with my own self, but it was kinda fun anyway.

We spent the entire day exploring Lisbon, and saw almost everything else left on our “must see” list… toured Jerónimos Monastery, sampled Pastéis de Belém down the street at the bakery of the same name, Belém Tower, wandered the Bairro Alto, shopping streets and squares, and one of my favorite activities, Tram 28.  The trams (similar to the trolley in SF) are a normal part of public transportation in Lisbon, so there are several lines that run through the city.  However, Tram 28 is a great tourist attraction in and of itself.  Not only does its route take you by many of the famous sites, but it zooms up and down some of those hills so fast it feels like you’re on a roller coaster.  Good entertainment, for the price of a regular public transit ride.

We were exhausted by the time we got back to our hostel, and super bummed to realize that our bags had not yet arrived.  I made a call to the airport, and was assured they would be delivered that night.  Around midnight, I finally gave up and waiting for my shampoo to arrive, and did the unthinkable.  I washed my hair with bar soap.  Yes, I did.  I could get away with not washing it the first night, with the hopes that our toiletries would arrive the next day.  But now, the next day was over and the shops were closed.  Oh the horror.  I actually considered not washing off my make-up so at least I’d have one thing going for me the next day, but upon further thought I concluded that this would likely not be a benefit.

Sintra, Portugal
Part of the motivation to go non-stop on our 2nd day, was so we could fit in a day trip the following day.  Sintra was referred to us by a friend, and once I started doing some research I read over and over where people said it was their favorite place in Portugal, or even in all of Europe.  It is home to three national palaces, beautiful landscape and views, and is credited for the birth of Romantic architecture.

A round-trip train ticket from Lisbon cost 3.40€, and takes about 40 minutes.  Once you arrive at the train station, everything else is uphill.  Until fairly recently, there was no public transportation to take you to the most popular palaces at the top of the mountain, so if you wanted to see it, you had to hike up the mountain to get there (which we hear takes about an hour for a person in good shape).  Thankfully, now there is a bus.  A 2-way ticket costs 4.50€, and is worth it if you’re short on time and/or too lazy to walk.

We headed straight for the Pena National Palace at the top of the hill – one of the most unique palaces I’ve seen.  It’s often compared to the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria (which is believed to be the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s castle), which we had visited while driving through Germany in March.  For budget purposes, we opted not to tour the inside of the castle, but for 7.50€, you can access the famous yards and the exterior of the castle, including the courtyards and chapel.  Everything I had read was true – it was a truly unique palace with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and Lisbon on the other.

There are plenty of attractions in Sintra, but it can get pretty expensive to visit all the palaces, gardens, etc., so we didn’t even come close to seeing everything.  Even with what we did see, it was a great trip; but I’d imagine it would be a nice play to stay in a B&B for a few days and take your time hiking through the beautiful mountains and exploring all the history.

The Best Birthday Present Ever
We returned to the hostel from Sintra only to be disappointed yet again that our bag had not yet arrived.  It was cool for the first couple of days, but now I was starting to worry that we were going to go back to Barcelona without it.  Scott was more concerned that his body was so attached to these clothes that it might reject new fibers if he tried to change.  Or maybe he was trying to pretend it was still Wednesday, so he wouldn’t have to acknowledge the fact that he turned 31 that day.  (Except that Scott barely even knows when his birthday is and has a tendency to think he’s older than he actually is, so I doubt this was the case,)

We decided to splurge on a birthday dinner (splurging just means eating at a place with a table versus our usual picnics on a bench or lawn) and tried to have some fun to keep our minds off how shabby we looked and felt.  Then, just when we had given up hope, Scott got the best birthday present of all (and so did I) – our luggage.  Granted, it came at 9:00pm, and we had to leave for the airport at 10:30am the following morning, but those last 13 hours we felt more comfortable than we had in days.

We really liked Portugal, so having only one pair of clothes and no skin/hair products for the entire trip really allowed us to use our time for the most important things, like getting out and about, rather than silly things like combing our hair and digging through the suitcase for a clean shirt.  I have reached a new level of low maintenance.  Thank you ClickAir for yet another lesson in patience; cheap flights are not the only service you provide.

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Filed in Photo Gallery, Portugal, Travels | Comments (2)


2 Responses to “Luggageless in Lisbon”

  1. 1
    Mom Says:

    I laughed so hard! All the pictures were in the same clothes! I think I would have showered with my clothes on and let them dry while I walked!

    Love,

    MOM

  2. 2
    Karie Says:

    @ MOM: Thanks for the idea. We’ll try that next time. :)

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