Thursday, July 15, 2010

Charge it to Experience

When life gives you lemons, don't just make lemonade. Cut the damn things up into wedges, bring out the vodka and shot glasses, make lemon drops, and party on.

I've decided that's how I'm gonna approach life from now on. Yesterday I hit the first major catastrophe on my little 30 Before 30 Project. I went to check out the procedure for obtaining a visa for Spain and found out that it takes SIX BLOODY WEEKS to get an appointment at the consulate and 15 DAYS to get the visa processed. What kind of f*ckery is this?!

I wanted to bang my head on the wall because I should have seen this coming. I'm from the Philippines for godsakes. I know that travel documents can take a looooong time. But I guess living in New York and having no trouble at all getting visas for the last few years made me too lax. I also put applying for this visa on the backburner since I had to hold on to my passport to get  my US visa renewed and to apply for my New York State driver's license. I never thought in a million years that working on my visa seven weeks before my trip would be too late!

I should have known to cover my bases though because I have the worst luck ever when it comes to traveling. I've been stranded in Prague, Japan, and Amanpulo (that last one's actually more of a stroke of good luck, but whatever). I've bawled in the German Consulate in Prague to get my way. I've had numerous flights get canceled on me. I should know by now that when it comes to travel, I'm Murphy's Law's favorite victim!

So for a few desperate moments there, I thought all my Ibiza dreams were swirling down the drain. Thank god for Ludette, who got me thinking of a gorgeous country I've been meaning to visit, which is incidentally located near Spain, part of the Schengen agreement, and with a consulate that'll work with me ...

... yup, I'm going to Portugal! See, the rule for Schengen countries is that you need to apply for a visa from the country you're staying the longest at. So I cut out a few days from my Ibiza trip and added a full Portugal leg to my vacation. It's gonna put an annoying little dent on my finances because I had to pay a rebooking fee plus a penalty for making a long stop in Madrid rather than flying straight through. But thank god for cheap European airfare because I was able to get a roundtrip flight from Madrid to Lisbon for just about $75. It's not entirely terrible because I was thinking awhile back that I should've combined my Ibiza trip with a visit to another place since I've already paid for the trip across the pond. So here goes. An unexpected trip just popped up in my already complicated life. There's never been a better use of that expression, "Charge it to experience" than this.

It was sheer agony wracking my brain about this yesterday but now that I've figured out what to do, I'm pretty excited! I haven't gone on a trip on my own in awhile, so I'm looking forward to it (stragglers are welcome though, if anybody wants to join me). The last time I went on a trip completely alone was back in 2003, when I spent a long weekend galavanting in Florence. The thought of exploring a new country at my own pace and time is kind of thrilling.

It's a strange twist of fate too ... My last attempt at visiting Lisbon was in 2003 but I completely missed the trip because of my Prague visa shenanigans. Seven years later, here I am, finally getting to Lisbon—this time as a remedy to a sticky visa situation. The travel gods sure have lengthy memories and wicked senses of humor.

Special thanks to Ela Paje-Leh for letting me use her gorgeous Portugal photographs and for making me a million times more excited about this little adventure!


  1. Oh man. The perils of being a third world citizen :( {I don't want to admit it, but it's true}. I am a victim of visas, too, no stranded stories but I hate it when I have to line up and be asked why I want to go to so and so country. :|

    But I salute you for being able to turn a nasty situation into an even more amazing one. Cheers! And I wanna visit Portugal, too {Madeira specifically}.

  2. There is a reason for everything! And your Portugal adventure sounds even more amazing than Ibiza! :D Fly free, Cel! You truly are one of my icons for the spirit of adventure!

  3. Tara - I know! I LOVE being Filipino, but that damn passport is a pain in the butt!! You're the second person to mention Madeira to me. I should go! Cristiano Ronaldo is from there, maybe I'll meet a hot distant cousin?! Heehee

    Monix - Aww I feel the same about you! You are living my dream life, in paradise with your hubby and son, doing yoga and surfing to your heart's content! What a life!


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