As French as Striking

Remember Joelle? She wrote that Where in the World post about living in Zurich. Well, in August, she and her boyfriend, Sebastian, moved to Portugal. So, over the October break, I went out to visit them, having never been to Portugal before.

The only flight I could get from Zurich to Lisbon was an evening flight, leaving at 7pm and arriving around 9:30. At first this was annoying, because it meant I would get in late and would basically miss the whole day. But when my actual flight day rolled around, I changed my mind. It was nice not to have to wake up super early, rush to make sure everything was in order and then run out the door. Instead, I woke up late Saturday morning, hung around all day, went for a walk, packed at my own pace and wandered out the door in the late afternoon. It was great.

Given all that free time I had during the day, I’m not sure how I ended up in Lisbon without my toothbrush, hairbrush, cold medicine and sunscreen. It was literally the worst packing job I have ever done – minus that time I forgot my passport, but that doesn’t really count (re: I was very ill). Apparently, I need to be in a huge rush in order to pack well.

Luckily, there was a grocery store near the hostel so I was able to get my stuff the next morning. I spent two full days in Lisbon and it was very nice, however it’s one of those cities (like Barcelona) that I don’t particularly need to go back to. I think the weather was the best part. It was mid-twenties with a constant breeze from the water. Nearly perfect. All it needed was a little cloud coverage (but what can you expect from the sunniest capital in Europe?).

I spent most of Sunday with Joelle and Sebastian, and their friends Rachel and Hillel, who were visiting from New York at the same time. We walked around the city a bit and along the water. It’s always nice to get a personal tour 🙂

On Monday, I wandered the city on my own for a bit before getting a bus tour around (you know, one of those hop-on, hop-off things).

My flight on Tuesday was supposed to leave at 1pm. Upon arriving at the airport, I found it had been delayed 5 hours. In fact, nearly every flight was either delayed or canceled. I texted Joelle to see if this was normal for Lisbon, but she said no. We finally got on the flight at 6pm (almost 3 hours after I should have landed back in Zurich), and we were subsequently told we would need to wait on the tarmac for what could possibly be a further 3 hours inside the plane. I experienced a few brief but intense moments of panic, thinking about the last time this happened, but it was amazing what a difference a larger plane can make (plus, I had some downloaded videos on my iPad to distract me). It actually wasn’t so bad sitting on the plane at all, just waiting. We ended up only being out there for about an hour and 45 minutes before we were able to take off. I’ll say it again – larger plane = more manageable, much less panic-inducing.

The flight itself took an extra 30 minutes because we couldn’t fly over French airspace, as we normally would. This is when I discovered the cause for all the delays. Apparently, there was a general strike in France at the time which had caused, among other things, delays to virtually every airport in Europe.

NOTE: This strike is where I got the title of the post. It’s a reference to Season 4, Episode 5 of The Great British Bake Off, when Sue Perkins, while describing a French dessert says, “…it’s as French as smoking, striking, and shrugging.”

However, I finally did get home and still had a few days of holiday before school started again. And while in Portugal, I found out Joelle and Sebastian will be moving to Seoul in January. I’ve never been to South Korea, so there’s my Easter Break sorted 🙂

Lisbon 2017

Hillel, Rachel, Joelle, Sebastian and Me


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