This photo is one of the first I took in Portugal and is by no means the best composed, or even the most interesting image from that trip. The reason I like this photo so much is because of the story behind it and the many things you can't see in this small frame.
At the time I took this, I hadn't slept in over 24 hours, my hair was badly disheveled, and underneath my jacket I was still wearing a day old tank top -that was probably soaked with sweat - from the night before. Alicia and I had been in Portugal for less than 10 minutes but we already loved it. It was the start of a week long spring break during our semester abroad (pretty much a vacation within a vacation) and we felt like rock stars walking down the stairs of the plane to disembark onto the sun baked tarmac...but we nearly never made it there.
The night before, we had gone to see Kaskade and The Bingo Players perform at the legendary Ministry of Sound in London. A Kaskade concert had played a big part in the start of our relationship and going to this show meant a lot to us. So, naturally, we postponed buying the tickets until we actually arrived at the venue, at which point we were confronted with a line that wrapped down the street and disappeared around the corner of the next block. Rather than wait in that mess, we opted to pick up tickets of one of the many scalpers operating near by.
Almost as soon as we handed over our £20 each, we were approached by a uniformed man with a walkie talkie who looked like he very much wanted to confiscate our illegally purchased tickets. Instead, he looked at them, said we were good to go, and sent us on our way, which left us feeling hugely relieved.
Once inside the club, we grabbed some drinks, explored the different rooms, and listened to the openers until the Bingo Players came on...which happened around 2am. A few of the reasons Ministry of Sound is such a famous club are that it has a fantastic sound system and a tremendous amount of amazing shows come through there, with artists who like to play very late into the night on that great sound system. As a result, Kaskade wasn't scheduled to come on until 4AM (which is also ironically the name of one of his songs), and that complicates things when you have a flight at 6:30AM .
We stayed right until we absolutely couldn't wait any longer, hoping to catch at least the first song of Kaskade's set, but at 4:05 AM he was no where to be seen so we grabbed a taxi and went to quickly grab our bags from Alicia's flat before taking the same taxi to catch a bus that would take us to the airport. Here's where things started to get tricky.
Upon arriving at Alicia's place we began fumbling around for her keys, only to find that we didn't have them. So we were now locked out and desperately needed someone to buzz us in at a time when most reasonable people are fast asleep. So, we did what any reasonable person who would do in this situation and repeatedly buzzed her apartment. After about 10 minutes of that, we started buzzing all the other ones until some very confused lady finally let us in. Another 10 minutes later, and a lot of loud knocking on her door, one of her flat mates let us in and we bolted down the stairs with our bags.
Our very irritated cab driver then proceeded to take the most roundabout route possible to the bus stop. We'd pre-paid a fixed rate for the cab so there was no real sense in what he was doing but 2 missed turns, 3 one way streets, and a lot of back seat directions courtesy of Siri finally got us to the bus stop, just in time to miss the bus.
By the time we'd figured out the bus schedule, our cab had left and we were committed to waiting for the next bus and hoping that it would get us to the airport in time to make our flight. After half an hour of anxious pacing in the pre-dawn quiet, the next bus pulled up to the stop and the driver kindly informed us that we didn't have enough cash on us to purchase the two tickets we needed.
At this point, we weren't taking no for an answer. So I ran across the 3 lane road, hopped the divider, sprinted over 3 more lanes, and booked it up the street to a faintly glowing ATM where I was able to withdraw enough money to pay for the tickets. Alicia was a very good sport throughout this whole thing considering that after all the hassles we still might miss the flight.
I don't really remember much of what happened between getting on the bus and getting onto the plane but we somehow managed to make our original flight. And that is how we ended up on the tarmac of Lisbon Portela Airport with the sun rising behind us and huge smiles on our faces. We were so happy to be where we were in that moment and this picture very vividly brings me back to that feeling.
When we got inside the terminal, Alicia got a gelato for breakfast and I snapped a very funny picture of her eating it. Two years later, it's still one of my favorite pictures. Lisbon is amongst the most wonderful cities that we've been to together and I deeply hope we are able to return someday, only this time we can skip some of the travel obstacles.