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One of the reasons we travel is to dive head-first into new experiences, smells, and sounds that open up some part of us we never knew before. You may not feel safe enough yet to journey far from home, but when you are, we can only hope you get to throw yourself into the moment the way reporter Scott Rosenberg does.

Three Days in Lisbon

by Scott Rosenberg, 11/9/2001

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Dear Diana,

I was recently in Lisbon for a mere three days to play in a jazz festival. Here are some things I experienced:

I walked and sweated up and down the broad pedestrian malls, dead tired with jet lag, forcing myself to stay awake until dusk.

I discovered the Euro equivalent to the hot dog (a sausage in a croissant).

I saw men in sandals and women in white cotton pants.

I saw a worker hammering at a cobblestone sidewalk with a large flat stone stuck to the end of a wooden stick.

I took part in an after hours, top volume jam session in a closed bar until 4am in a hidden corner of the Barrio Alto.

I was served by restaurant “maidens” in blue and white striped outfits with bonnets and aprons (like a cross between a nun and a candy striper).

I drank a 20 year old port the color of roasted plums and gold which tasted like creamed almonds and milk chocolate raining from a peach cloud.

The group I played with, performed with? received a standing ovation

I watched nudity on television.

I ate steak covered with an egg, pork medallions sautéed with clams, grilled sardines the size of my forearm, bony slabs of bacalao, the best herb-grilled chicken of my life, lemon and cilantro grilled squid.

And steamed bacon (why?).

A man lent me his baritone saxophone with no hesitation after I’d known him only three hours.

I drank whiskey out of plastic cups on a narrow cobbled street among a crowd that spilled out of a bar.

I struggled through 35 pages of music I’d never seen until exactly 34 hours before I performed it live.

I found a magical 6000 Eescudos that just appeared in my backpack 30 minutes before I left the country (to be hastily spent on cheese and sausage which I am still hoarding miserly).

I inhaled the second-hand smoke of people puffing in airports, restaurants, hotel lobbies, concert halls, elevators, bathrooms, cabs, phonebooths…

All in all, I had quite a time.

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