The reason I’m so excited about it is because our scheduled flight got canceled, greatly delaying our return to Portugal.
So why did it get canceled at the last minute?
Because there was a strike at Lisbon Airport. More precisely, flights were leaving Haneda Airport, but the flights to Lisbon from connecting countries were canceled.
Other countries experience airport strikes, and it’s not like all the flights get canceled, so I can only conclude that I’ve got poor luck.
We had already made plans in Portugal, so we contacted the airline and asked them to get us on the soonest flight possible. But the flights were so crowded that the one we finally got was three days later. WITH a longer transit time!
When we got to Lisbon from Haneda, it had already been more than 24 hours, and it took every last ounce of strength we had to get our luggage from the conveyor belt. We were nearly passing out when we finally left the gate.
That said, I’m glad we learned that the flight was canceled while we were still in Tokyo—since it would have been hugely stressful to spend three days in a connecting country with massive amounts of luggage. Not having to suffer being stranded on the way home was one consolation.
The strangest thing I felt a week after we had gotten back to Portugal was the lack of masks. It’s like the world had completely returned to normal. The gap between Japan and Portugal during the two months we were away was huge—it felt as if we had time traveled or something.
I found myself bringing my hand to my mouth and panicking because I didn’t have a mask on, or unconsciously reaching into my bag to look for it—which was embarrassing. Habits are frightening things.
During my temporary stay in Japan, Lisbon also underwent a historical shift.
Kids and seniors can now ride public transportation in the city for free!
Kids 12 and under have been able to ride free since 2017, but starting in August 2022, they opened it further to include all residents between 13 and 18, students up to age 23, and seniors age 65 and over. The plan lets them use the subways, public buses, almost all railways, and Lisbon trams for no charge.
How cool is that?
The initiative is one attempt to ease the impact of high gas prices on low-income residents, but because Lisbon is one of the 100 cities that has volunteered to go climate-neutral, it has gained added importance as a measure to combat urban climate change.
The City of Lisbon has issued the MOVE Lisboa Mobility Strategy Vision 2030 to support more sustainable means of public transportation and set improvement targets. Added attention is also being placed on pedestrian-friendly plans and efforts to improve safety for women traveling in the city.
The mayor of Lisbon has said that he hopes to be able to expand these policies beyond the capital to eventually include the more than three million people living in the entire Greater Lisbon Area (Lisboa Region).
Next up is the entire Portuguese Republic. Then the entire European Union… then a movement that takes hold across the entire world? How great would that be?