I arrived in Lisbon yesterday morning after a long, long day of traveling that started in Durango at 0600. Well, all of me arrived, except my guitar. (((I like William Gibson’s idea of the “Soul Delay” of long distance travel, whereby the soul can’t keep up and will invariably arrive later.))) Guitar had to travel as baggage, because the overheads for international flights are too small and I can’t afford a business-class ticket (((Business Class: no worries, your guitar can go into this closet. Economy: your guitar travels with the other suitcases or you won’t fly.))). I am not too worried because it’s a new case that was recommended by my luthier Keith Vizcarra, who also set the case up perfectly for the instrument. Plus this guitar will stay here and won’t have to travel for a long while. (((Tip: Don’t just buy a case and jam the guitar into it. Either take the time to set up the case yourself or ask a luthier to do it. It can make a huge difference. You don’t want the guitar to move even a fraction of an inch!!))) So I spent a long time at lost baggage in Lisbon which, after 22 hours of travel, isn’t fun. As the man, who created the claim, said: “Most likely you will get a call from us tomorrow and we will deliver the guitar case to your apartment. Most likely.”
Called an Uber to the airport. The driver called my mobile and asked me where I was, because it can be difficult to find the Uber pick up spot at this airport. I replied where Uber pick ups always happen, indicating that this wasn’t my first rodeo. A few minutes later he arrived and another twenty minutes later I was in my flat, or most of me was. Too wired to sleep and too tired to do much. Eventually I walked to a favorite cafe and had lunch. That helped. Went to the store and got a few basics, something to make for dinner, milk for morning coffee. Bought another type of oatmilk, hoping to eventually find something that can replace milk for me. The two milk products I haven’t been able to replace are yoghurt and milk for coffee. I love yoghurt.
I wanted to go to sleep at 1900 yesterday but made myself stay up until around 2200. This morning I feel much improved. While I am still waiting for my guitar, my “soul” must have caught up overnight. I got up and made coffee and enjoyed the light show of the morning sun in my apartment.
Good news: I just received a phone call from the airport. My guitar was found and will be delivered later today…
Venice is cursed. I walked cursed Venice in a cloud of confusion. Why did so many people bring so many roller suitcases? Did they not know they were coming to Venice? Did they not know Venice has a stone-stepped bridge every fifty yards? Sweat soaked beneath the savage sun, they heaved their suitcases — all of which were big enough to hide a dismembered body or two — up and down and huffed and seemed distraught at the amount of heaving required to make headway.
Walking Venice — Ridgeline issue 144
This opening paragraph from Craig Mod’s very enjoyable Ridgeline Newsletter could have been written about Lisbon as well. One hears them from afar, the tourists’ suitcases clattering up or down steep cobblestone streets, their wheels squealing from the abuse while the people get the workout of their lives. Mod calls this noise the Rimowa Thunderdome.
Some cities have cobblestone streets while the sidewalks are concrete or asphalt or otherwise fairly smooth. Not Lisbon. Here many sidewalks are made from a different color cobblestone, a smooth beige stone that becomes super treacherous when it rains. I am still experimenting with different pairs of shoes, hoping to find some that offer enough grip during a rain shower, so as not to break a leg. The experience of walking on snow in Santa Fe for thirty years gave my body the very useful ability to react to a slipping foot without going down. So far so good.
What’s the ideal baggage for travel? I don’t think there is one right way. Jon is in the duffel camp and has carried a Tumi duffel for at least two decades. It’s traveled all over the world and has been repaired several times. I used to be a duffel man but a few years ago I switched to a suitcase. There are times when it is so much easier to push a suitcase with one hand (those wheels have become really great, haven’t they!), with my backpack riding on top of the suitcase and the guitar case slung over the other shoulder, while Jon carries his bass case (not exactly light!) in one hand and the Tumi in the other. But arrive at a cobblestone street and he is the one smiling while I have to put the backpack on my back, hold on to the slipping shoulder strap of the guitar case, and drag the suitcase along pitifully.
A few things I have learned:
– we carry more than we need to and could make do with less
– be aware of the terrain of your destination
– will you ride to the hotel or will you need to walk and carry or pull your luggage
– suitcases, especially hard plastic or metal cases, break like oak trees while duffels can bend like bamboo
– can your luggage be repaired or will it need to be replaced?
Even if a company replaces the broken suitcase, as they did with mine after the frame got bent, it would no longer lock properly, and a wheel came off, it’s a waste of materials and not a good solution.
Back to the clattering suitcases on cobblestone streets and sidewalks… Take heed and don’t start your journey with a long and exhausting and noisy nightmare of a walk.
Early morning view out of a hotel room window, last week. I like this photo because it seems part of a story, like a still image from a movie. There is tension and I can almost hear the music informing us that something is about to happen.
I woke up early and went for a walk. Many trees in town are showing gorgeous autumn colors. Took a few phone snaps. What’s the best camera? The one you are carrying. It was the coldest I have felt in months, but the clear mountain air was a pleasure.