“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R Tokien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Truer words have never been spoken. Yet, like Bilbo, I don’t see these words as a warning – they speak to adventure. Little did I know when I left Florida on March 1, 2020 to cruise for 2 weeks across the Atlantic that I would arrive in Europe with the world having turned upside down. During those 2 weeks, The World Health Association had declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic, most countries were in the process of closing their borders, and flights were being canceled by the thousands.
So I my 8 month solo exploration of Europe has come to a resounding-screeching-gravel flying halt. Or let’s hope just a delay. As of today, I have been in Portugal for 47 days – my original plan was 6! Everything that was planned through mid-June has been canceled: France, Belgium, Amsterdam, and beyond. There is no place to go other than back to the U.S. and I am not ready to give up and fly back. Despite having to cancel plans that I have been making for over a year, I am still having quite an adventure.
Admittedly, there are challenges. I relocated from Lisbon to a small town called Aveiro. I chose Aveiro because it was on the train route and I felt I needed to leave the Capital before the lockdown. I had never heard of Aveiro. While I feel that I made a good decision, I don’t speak Portuguese, and very few folks here speak English. But that should never be a deterrent to visit a country. There are many ways, some quite amusing, to communicate. And Aveiro is lovely! Well, at least what I have seen of it from the train station to my Airbnb.
Like the rest of the world, we are on lock-down. And if I spoke Portuguese, I could pick up the phone and have food/groceries delivered. Since I do not, I have to go out a couple times a week to shop. Fine with me. I have a 3 mile route I do: to the vegetable/fruit stand, the butcher, the local SPAR (a mini market), and sometimes to the bakery. They limit how many are allowed in the shops, so I feel okay going about. And the food is incredibly affordable. I like buying fresh like the Europeans do.
I keep extending my stay here which benefits both me and my landlord. He has given me a rate of less than $50 a night, the apartment is simple but perfectly fine and a great location for what I need. So here I stay for the near future. What next? I have no idea. And there is something just wonderful about that. And being a solo traveler, I only have to convince myself. Stay safe y’all!