Up at 3:30am this morning for our 4am pick up. Some of us managed more sleep than others. I was rudely awaken to the munching of peanuts at midnight and when I said ‘noisy’ my dear wife replied ‘really’ … Some of us were getting a good night sleep up until that point. Our flight was at 7am and so we managed to have some breakfast in the lounge before we had to board. It was a 9-hour flight with a 4-hour time change. Helen & Chloe went to sleep almost immediately and that was how they passed the first 5 hours of the flight. I managed to sleep for an hour and 30 minutes and then watched 2 movies and 2 TV episodes.
We landed at 12pm and after a short wait at passport control we were back in our home country of residence – Portugal! The passport guy did ask us whether we spoke Portuguese yet and we had to admit no. Helen immediately said she was going to download an app and start learning it. It was a beautiful winter’s day in Lisbon – around 20 degrees C. We are staying at the Eurostars Das Letras in Lisbon (http://www.eurostarsdasletras.com/EN/hotel.html) which is pretty central and near to the centre of town (I think that is close to tautology but not quite … I am sure Josie will tell me?)
After everyone (except me) had an early afternoon nap, we ventured out at just after 4pm and walked down into the centre of town. On the side of the main road (Avenida da Liberdade – my guess at a translation would be Avenue of Liberty) there were various stalls selling antique jewellery, pocket watches, old tiles, old books etc. It took us awhile to get down the road because of the various stops and Helen managed to buy herself a ring as well (or actually I bought her a ring).
Lisbon is a city of anomalies to me. You will find a beautiful old building and then right next to it will be a derelict building with the windows boarded over. They have lovely old trams and then there is graffiti all over it. I am sure that it is showing the effects of the financial crisis and hasn’t yet recovered. It seems that with a little bit of money and renovation it could be an absolutely beautiful city.
In the centre of Lisbon there is a pedestrian only section and there were numerous people performing. People acting statues, a guy walking on broken glass, some musical performers etc. Lots of people walking up and down enjoying the weather and the performers. We walked all the way to sea and then watched the sunset. There were a lot people there all watching the sun going down. Lots of couples making out as well. No issue with public displays of affection in Lisbon. I am sure Stephen and Michael were thinking of their girlfriends (though I definitely hope they don’t engage in PDA of a similar type). Quite a culture shock compared to Dubai. We took various family selfies with the sun setting in the background.
The temperature immediately fell once the sun had set and so we started making our way back to the hotel with a planned dinner stop on route. There are numerous sidewalk restaurants and it is pretty hard to pick. We eventually chose one – an Italian one. We really do need to eat in a Portuguese restaurant tomorrow night. The one thing that was immediately noticeable is how much cheaper Portugal is compared to Dubai. The meal cost us about 50% of what we paid in Dubai (and that included a nice big Sagres beer). In Europe the beer is often cheaper than the cooldrinks in restaurants so I feel obliged to rather drink beer to save on costs.
By the time we had finished eating Michael’s teeth were chattering and he couldn’t eat anymore because he was so cold. Everyone except Stephen and I turned out to be inadequately dressed and so we made our way back to the hotel at a fast pace. The only problem is that the last 300 meters or so is directly uphill. My Fitbit claimed at the end that we had climbed 13 flights of stairs (to give you some idea of the incline). We were all panting by the time we got to the hotel. I am sure it will help us all sleep well tonight (so long as no one starts munching peanuts at midnight again).
P, H, S, M, C (only those last two did any mocking of me today)