I was finally on the European leg of my trip. There was one glitch in the program, though. Well, two, but I'll explain that later. When I was booking my flight to Portugal, there was a connection in Miami that had a very short layover. This was too close for comfort for me. I could not risk getting to Europe without my glider and all of those cookies! So in a moment of self-proclaimed genius, I booked two separate flights with a longer layover: DC to Miami and then Miami to Lisbon. This meant that I had to fetch all of that checked luggage, wait around Miami International for a few hours and then recheck and go through security again. Yes, my moment of genius was squashed when I arrived in Miami, exhausted from a week of little sleep and a lot of traveling. I stood in the airport, castigating myself for booking travel during a Mercury retrograde (no comment from the astrology naysayers)! Since the counter wasn't open for TAP yet (remind me never to fly them again), I headed to Au Bon Pain for a pastry and some OJ. As I went to pay for the mostly nutrition-less breakfast of non-coffee drinking travelers, the cashier offered me a red rose and wished me a happy mother's day. I did not bear children in this lifetime but I do mother. Often. Daily, actually. So I accepted this rose with gratitude and found my smile again. This simple, kind action from a stranger gave me the energy to get my tired ass out of the US. Thank you kind stranger.
Hours later, I was given a pat on the back by the loudspeaker informing us that we were delayed because the flight that would have brought me in had I booked with the connecting flight was late. The passengers made it on but I doubt their luggage did.
It hit me. I was sitting on my transatlantic flight to Portugal! The excitement waned as quickly as it came on. This was a rather uneventful, uncomfortable, eight hours of my life. Though we were flying through the night, I didn't really sleep. I arrived in Lisbon airport early. It was 5am. This is where the second caveat came in. Nina, my best friend from Germany was also flying into Lisbon. Like my family in DC, we had not seen each other in seven and a half years (Skype doesn't count.) She had booked her flight before mine and unless I wanted to spend 800 bucks more on my one way flight, I had to wait in the airport for seven hours.
The immigration officer barely grunted at me. What would one expect at 5am? He literally looked at my passport, glanced up at me for a split second and stamped my book. Not a single word. Well, that was a cakewalk. My luggage took a bit longer, so I chatted with two American women who were traveling around Portugal for a couple of weeks. A note for travelers: the luggage carts are free in Lisbon International :) After grabbing my 100+lbs of luggage, I headed to the exit greeted by a crowd of onlookers, some with signs seeking passengers, some eagerly awaiting a loved one; not me. And so I waited for 7 more hours, pacing, sitting, posting pics on Instagram and barely staying awake. When Nina finally arrived, it was a homecoming filled with tears and deep hugs. We quickly retrieved our rental car and, finally, I was actually on my way to Nazaré. It was all too surreal.
Paragliding, birthdays and yoga...to be continued...