The Introverted (& Grateful) Traveler, 2019 Edition

There’s a great quote that goes, “You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.” I’m wondering if Robbie’s and my recently cancelled flight to Portugal somehow saved us from even worse luck. I’d like to think so, but even if that’s not the case, there were actually a few good things that came out of this two-day delay. It turns out there were a few things that I had initially forgotten to pack, and it gave me time to reconsider a couple clothing choices. Small details, yes, but still things that could make for a smoother-running trip. I’m also using one less vacation day due to the shift in trip dates, but on the flip side, we were penalized the cost of one night at the hotel due to the last-minute change. After considering the above, plus a few other logistical changes, I remain grateful – mostly because we have the opportunity to go to Portugal in the first place!

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Sunset view of Lisbon

Fast forward a week later. On a scale from 1 to 10, I’d give this trip a solid 8. I can also safely say, even though it was very enjoyable, and Lisbon and the neighboring towns of Sintra and Cascais are worth the time to visit, I probably wouldn’t put Portugal back on my list of places to revisit anytime soon, partly because there are so many other places I’ve yet to see. But let’s just say, the secret is out about Portugal. As with most travel destinations that gain in popularity over time, so does the “touristy factor”: restaurant waiters, store owners, street vendors and tour guides persistently, and at times aggressively, competing for the tourist dollar (or in this case, euro), and nearly impossible to get a window seat on “Tram 28” unless you go right at the crack of dawn. Sintra, which was once the home of Portuguese royalty and the site of a Moorish castle, among other notable sites, is beautiful. But it’s also where you’ll see one tour bus after another, long lines (some of the longest I’ve ever seen), and crowds of people (and we were there in the “off season”). As we walked around, we couldn’t help but imagine this town the way it was before it was “discovered”: a quaint, sleepy, picturesque village. The locals are probably at the same time mortified by their town being overrun with us tourists, and grateful for the economic boom we help create.

Now on my Introvert Scale, I’d give the overall trip a 6, mainly due to the crowds and the numerous hectic and hot days of traipsing around the city, seeing the sites and crossing things off our list. Our hotel had a very nice rooftop pool/restaurant, and lots of different areas to just hang out and lounge around. Our last full day was dedicated to just that: hanging out, lounging, and swimming on the rooftop: a nice change of pace and scenery, but more importantly my chance to recharge and come home a little more relaxed.

In closing, I’d definitely recommend Portugal to anyone looking for ideas for where to go on their next vacation: a lot of fun, interesting history, beautiful scenery, nice people. For our next trip, however, I’m thinking a slightly quieter, maybe less “discovered” place where recharging my introvert battery may not even be necessary, and where I can raise the “introvert score” a couple of points at least!

– JR

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