Unforseen Complications

Since Friday last week I have been suffering from the after effects of what most likely was heat exhaustion. On the night of Thursday the 27th of June it was very hot and at this point in time I had not yet adjusted to the prevalent heat conditions currently in Portugal (as I am writing this, they predict temperatures of up to 40 degrees celcius for the day). I was sleeping in a closed room with no air-conditioning and it was essentially like sleeping in an oven. I believe I woke up potentially dehydrated, dripping with sweat and with a headache. Like a boss I proceeded to work out and drink a lot of water and actually felt pretty well after that (retrospectively working out was not the best of ideas). However, for the next couple of days I felt overly hot most of the time. I would have a mild burning sensation on my skin that would come in waves. My symptoms were very deceptive as it was also hot outside, so when I would ask people whether or not they thought it was hot and that I thought I might have a fever, they naturally agreed and dismissed that I could be feeling hot due to sickness. Also, during my sessions of poker, I would feel as though I was tilted due to the heightened sensation of feeling hot and it would also correlate with my results. 

Over the years, I have learned to think that I am fine and that I don’t need medical assistance most of the time. I believe this is due to experiences I have had with doctors when I was growing up, with them telling me that I am fine when I thought I was not. In any case, after seeking input from friends and family, I came to the conclusion that I may be suffering from heat stroke, which can be fatal and lead to brain damage. Brain damage was all I needed to hear really, so I phoned up the hospital CUF Descobertas near Parque das Nacoes here in Lisbon and arranged to see a doctor. They couldn’t get me in soon enough though, so I ended up going to the ER to get checked out. I was sort of dreading this, because of having to speak Portuguese and dealing with my health insurance which I have never used before, but I really didn’t see any other reasonable option. It turned out well in the end, I was able to speak to a doctor that could speak English. His initial diagnosis was that I may be suffering from heat stroke, but that I wasn’t dehydrated or had a fever, which were good signs. They did some blood analysis which showed up okay, as they were considering giving me some nutrients per IV that I may have lost due to excessive sweating. I ended up being prescribed electrolytes that can be taken orally, dissolved in water and Paracetamol to deal with the feeling of excessive heat. I am also to avoid heat and strenuous exercise for the week to come.
A funny side note: The doctor said muscle enzymes in my blood would indicate that I am suffering from heat stroke, which I guess is a medical way of saying: “Do you even lift bro?”. To clarify, muscle enzymes in the blood are common in people who practice weight resistance training.
All this being said, this definitely made me think about planning for the unknown. You really need to plan for the randomness/misjudgement factor. What I’ve had to deal with is not something I was able to anticipate. I feel as though I am above average resilient to heat (by standards of the countries that I have previously lived in) and have been in very hot climates before (chiefly Nevada and Dubai). I have however always had sufficient air-conditioning in those regions, so I’ve always had that escape from the heat. In my apartment I sort of have to endure the heat. I even have some air-conditioning in my place. There is an A/C unit in my living room and I have a reasonably strong table fan from Rowenta. Due to this, I am considering looking for a new place at the end of my current renting contract, which ends at the end of October. I need at least a place with solid blinds if I plan to block out the impact of direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day.
Another effect of the heat and my living situation is that I am sort of forced to alter my sleeping rhythm. It makes sense for me to be in my apartment during the coolest hours of the day and to also work during these hours. I believe the lowest heat is at 3 am and I should sleep with my windows open due to insufficient cooling, but also to allow the heat to dissipate in my apartment. Doing this will lead me to waking around sunrise, which is currently at 06:19. If I go to bed around 1-2 am on average, this could leave me tired on some days, so what I will then do is take 20 minute naps as I see fit. This may not be ideal for me, however I am happy to sleep this way as things currently stand. I’d much rather sleep 5 hours well than longer and poorly.
All in all, I am starting to feel a bit better again. The burning sensation has gone and my overall perception of heat seems to be improving. In a way I am happy to have made these experiences and am grateful to have learnt something in the process.
Daniell

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Early Summer Update

Time to sneak in a blog post while we are still in June. I’ve been playing and socializing a lot this month, which is why I haven’t gotten round to updating my blog. I’ve been having  a lot of fun meeting new people and experiencing new things, even though this has lead me to frequently working off of five hours of sleep. This is not ideal as it increases volatility in my results and also decreases overall efficiency, but it’s still better than not working at all and I believe it is simply something that you have to accept if you want to maintain an active social life, at least when that involves night life activities.  

It seems that the main places for going out here in Lisbon, at least as far as bars are concerned, are Bairro Alto and Bica, which is where I’ve been primarily going out with the new friends I’ve made here. I believe the main clubs are called Cais and Lux, which I have yet to visit, but are definetly on my to-do list. I’m not a big club guy, but can appreciate a nice venue.
I’ve been squeezing in the occasional sightseeing trip, when I have had time, and have recently picked up a copy of Timeout magazine’s guide for Lisbon, which I think is really good for restaurants and current events in particular, but also has some interesting sightseeing tips.
There are a lot of festivals and festivities during the Summer months here. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Lisbon’s Sardine Festival, which is more formally called The Feast of St Anthony. Essentially it’s one massive street festival with a parade on one of the days on Avenida da Liberdade, where a lot of grilled food is eaten with bread. It’s primarily sardines and bread, but they also have bifanas, entreadas and churros (pork, pork and doughnut-like pastry).
The festivities lasted for three days and were a lot of fun. I would definetly recommend them to anybody coming out around June 12th-14th which is when they are at.
Woman Grilling in Alfama

Woman Grilling in Alfama

Sardine Festival in Alfama

Sardine Festival in Alfama

Alfama rooftops during Sardine Festival

Alfama rooftops during Sardine Festival

I also had the opportunity to watch Portugal play Russia in a qualifier for the World Cup of football in Brasil next year. I feel as though I got a relatively good deal on some tickets, considering how late I bought them. I’m also pretty sure I sat close to the legendary Eusebio.
Russia Portugal Match

Russia Portugal Match

Right now, I believe the next thing on the agenda are Summer music festivals. I’ve heard particularly good things about Optimus Alive which I actually intended to visit last year as part of a sort of scouting trip to Lisbon, but ended up not being able to make it due to a trip with friends to Italy. I might look into it or otherwise just keep an open eye and keep on flicking through my Timeout to see if anything sparks my interest.
I feel like I have a good balance going right now between work, socializing and health and hope to continue to work on all three of these areas. Poker has been good so far, but not great. I hit a bit of rough patch shortly after the Sardine festival, but still wanted to keep playing due to promotions that were running at the time. This was slightly stressful for some time, but I think it was just due to a leak in my mindset that had resulted from running above expectation for some time and deviating from my core mindset that got me there in the first place. I’ve since then corrected these flaws and have returned to a more stable, less results-oriented way of thinking which I believe leads to more happiness overall.
I’ll try and keep these blog posts coming whenever I feel as though I have enough interesting things to write about. I also have some non-travel/day-to-day life related things that I want to blog about, but had sort of put to the side due to time constraints and wanting to blog more about current events.
I’ll leave you with some miscellaneous pictures from Portugal that did not make it into the main part of the post, but I would still like to share. All the best.
Port and Castle in Belem

Port and Castle in Belem

Church in Belem

Church in Belem

Chruch Door in Belem

Chruch Door in Belem

Safety Warning From the Lift in My Apartment Building

Safety warning from the lift in my apartment building

Lost in Esplanda Cafe Lisbon

Lost in Esplanda Cafe Lisbon

Explorers in Belem

Explorers in Belem

Street Party near Anjos during Sardine Festival

Street Party near Anjos during Sardine Festival

Train Station near Restauradores

Train Station near Restauradores

View from Street Cafe on Avenida da Liberdade

View from Street Cafe on Avenida da Liberdade

View from Lost in Esplanda Cafe

View from Lost in Esplanda Cafe

View towards Marques do Pombal

View towards Marques do Pombal

Portugal May Update

I feel bad for not updating my blog sooner. Ideally I would have liked to have at least posted a weekly update about my whereabouts and plans. I think that naturally I have been very preoccupied with finding an apartment in a timely fashion, so it ended up frequently slipping my mind to write up a blog post when I would have had time and energy to do so. Also, when you are constantly engaged in some activity or another time goes by very quickly, so I didn’t realize how much time had passed between now and my last update. 

Taking off from where I last left things in my last blog post, I did end up leaving Oeiras for Lisbon city. I felt very idle in Oeiras, because I wasn’t getting a lot of replies to my emails and I also got declined for one apartment that I looked at, which I am glad of in retrospect, since it would have been a large investment and my interest was partially due to the pressures of finding something in a timely fashion. It was a good place though. Very big for what I would have paid for it and in a very good condition as well as well situated. The downside was that the landlord only wanted to rent for 12 months minimum and it had no furniture or washing machine.
In Lisbon I was staying at Hotel DAH in Alameda (http://www.hoteldah.com/). It had the best price/value at the time when I was looking for hotels in the city centre. All I really wanted was a safe and clean place to sleep with a shower and Internet access. It turned out having those things more or less, but the Internet was not very stable and would cut out for quite some time. This was problematic as it hindered my ability to search for properties and there actually aren’t that many cafes with Internet access here in Lisbon compared to other major cities. What I ended up doing was figuring out areas that I had heard good things about and then taking the metro there and just walking around and looking for apartments with “to let” (arrenda-se or aluga-se typically) signs in the window. I started off by going to the metro station Saldanha as I remembered Sly Caveat on 2+2 posting that he would recommend the hotel VIP Saldanha as a home base for looking for apartments in Lisbon. The area was pretty nice and I ended up walking around Saldanha until I reached Sao Sebastiao.

Map of Lisbon city centre near Sao Sebastiao

Map of Lisbon city centre near Sao Sebastiao

In Sao Sebastiao they have a large shopping mall called El Corte Ingles (http://www.elcorteingles.pt/informacao/localizacao_horarios.asp) that has free Internet access in the eating area. I ended up coming here frequently with the metro to get quick food on the go (Also not as common as you might think in comparison, assuming you want to eat something else besides a sandwich.) and to access the Internet. Another option for accessing the Internet is to look for a hotspot, such as the one I am currently using (The network is called ZON_FON_FREE_INTERNET and you can pay by credit card. It’s free only if you have a ZON Internet contract.).
I ended up liking the Sao Sebastiao area and decided to focus on finding a place in that area. I think it is best to just find something you like and then focus on that specific part of the real estate market, otherwise it can quickly become overwhelming and discouraging. At least that is how I felt at times. At this point I also started figuring out how to game the search engines a little bit. My strategy was to fire up a couple of the main sites and then filter by date released and aggressively target places I liked that weren’t older than two weeks by first of all checking to see if they were listed at multiple prices and selecting the cheapest one and then making some aggressive bids trying to take control of the negotiation and basically saving time in the process by weeding out people that weren’t interested in my proposal for one reason or another. I ended up getting a viewing for a place I was interested in in Sao Sebastiao fairly quickly and ended up taking the place after negotiating the lease contract. The apartment was favourable as the rent was in an acceptable range, the landlord and real estate agent seemed competent and honest and they were ok with me being a poker player. So in brief, that is how my apartment search went and after roughly 12 days in total of being in Portugal, I was able to find a place. I’m pretty happy with my place, though it is not all upside. I’ve been waiting on Internet since the 1st of May. A guy came last week on Thursday, but said that there was an issue with the cabling and sent me to a place that I believe was in Oeiras (Leroy Merlin next to or in Loja de Alfragide), to buy some sort of protective cable tubes. This took a lot of time, but was an interesting trip. Some of the buses here have some serious G-force action going on when you are standing. The Internet guy should be back tomorrow and then hopefully install my connection. This has had a pretty large effect on the volume I have been able to put in as I have been avoiding playing on the hotspot I’ve been using due to stability issues (I’ve been folded holding the effective nuts on the river, just about to put in a checkraise) and have only really been able to play when at a friend’s place that isn’t super far away, but does require some time to get to.
Another issue I have is that there seems to be some smell issue in the entrance of the apartment which I think is related to old plumbing. It smells like rusty water. The landlord said the smell would go once water is running, but it didn’t go completely, it just improved. This might be reason enough to look for another place at the end of my six month contract should I plan to stay in Lisbon. I will have to see how it develops and if there is something that can be done about it.
I’ve actually experienced a lot in the short time I’ve been here, despite having been concerned with finding an apartment. I could probably fill another blog post like this. I really enjoy being here, even though it was stressful at times due to the uncertainty of how long it would take me to find a place and also due to having to deal with a not overly competent bureaucracy in a foreign language (no offence intended to the Portuguese readers reading this  :)). It’s also more motivating to work in an environment that one deems more worthwhile to live in.
I’m going to end this post with some photos of my surroundings and a video from a dance that is popular here called Kizomba and that I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a workshop for. I may be off on some of the picture descriptions as a lot of the times I wasn’t conciously going to places, but wandering around trying to feel out the area and taking pictures of interesting things:
View from hidden cafe

View from hidden cafe

Fountain near city centre

Fountain near city centre

Park in Alameda

Park in Alameda

Port near Cais do Sodre

Port near Cais do Sodre

Fountain near Hotel DAH

Fountain near Hotel DAH

Park near El Corte Ingles

Park near El Corte Ingles

Baixa Chiado area

Baixa Chiado area

Alfma

Alfma