I never really understand why hotels charge so much for breakfast. Our hotel charges €18 per person for breakfast. We walked down the road on route to our appointment this morning and all had breakfast for €10.35. I am not sure how it is possible to even eat €18 of breakfast. The only challenge really was once we found a place to have breakfast was to figure out how to order. Many people just seemed to stand at the counter and have their pastry and coffee. Best coffee I have had this trip so far and it only cost €0.55!
The reason we came to Lisbon was to renew our residency permits for Portugal. We had to do biometrics and also sign some papers at the lawyer’s office who is handling all this for us. On route I also visited our Portuguese bank which went bankrupt since I opened the account but subsequently re-opened as Novo Banco (meaning new Bank). The previous incarnation was Banco Espirito Santo (which means Bank of Holy Spirit). Seemed it wasn’t too Holy. Or maybe it was ‘holey’. Even though it went bankrupt it didn’t affect my accounts at all. Our banker had not changed, the branches seems unaffected, my money was not affected, the website still worked the same. My only reason for visiting was that I had never managed to get my ATM card working. The banking service is very good though in Portugal. Even though I have only dealt with my banker once face-to-face when I opened the account, she still remembers who I am and in about 2-3 minutes she had issued me with a new PIN and the card was working.
We then headed to the lawyer’s office to sign the forms we needed signed and then one of their staff took us down to the Home Affairs department to do our biometrics. It pretty much looks like Home Affairs in SA – they even have exactly the same queuing automated system (and yes I really mean exactly the same one). Last time it took us about 2 hours and the queue’s looked roughly the same so we were expecting the same wait. As it turned out when we got our number we were actually next but it took about 30 minutes for us to get called. We were later told the reason was that the system crashed. All we really had to do was have an updated photo taken (they have very fancy digital photo taking machines) and then we were done. Unfortunately they say the renewals now take 3-4 months to process. The reason being that they discovered corruption happening in the issuing of these permits and so now they are very thoroughly looking over all the details before approving them.
It was lunch time so we started our walk back to our hotel and on route stopped in at Burger King for lunch. I discovered that the girlfriends apparently don’t eat Burger King. Just wondering what they are going to do for meals next year when they travel with us … we might need to get the sons to start training them.
We had a few hours in the hotel and then headed out up the hill (my Fitbit said I had climbed 59 staircases at the end of the day when I had really only climbed about 5) to visit what was billed as the best Mall in Lisbon. What always surprises me in Europe is how people parallel park on a steep incline with very little space between the cars (see photo – not the first one that was trying to illustrate the run down buildings). How do they get their cars out of those spots without scrapping on the other cars?! After working about 30 minutes and again noting the derelict buildings right next to the brand new ones, we came across the mall which was right next to an abandoned golf driving range now covered in graffiti. After experiencing Dubai Mall, this Mall was pretty poor. Even comparing it to any of our Malls at home would have been unfair. The Portuguese really need to learn about what a decent Mall is. There must be a business opportunity in Portugal in that regard. The only people to actually buy anything was Stephen and Michael who both bought some really cheap clothes. Michael got a ski jacket for R420 (€30) – marked down from €100 – pretty good deal and he didn’t even have to bargain for it.
We then walked back to our hotel to rest our very weary feet. At that point my Fitbit said we had walked over 15000 steps already, 59 stair cases and almost 12km. We agreed to eat dinner in the hotel but when we went down later we discovered that the restaurant didn’t seem to be operating and so we had to find another place to go to. We had originally been recommended to stay at the Tivoli Hotel in Lisbon and it was quite nearby to where we did stay (we didn’t follow the advice because the hotel was 3 x more expensive than the one we ended up staying in). However, we did go there for dinner tonight. We realised that it is actually our last night together until 30 January and so it seemed fitting to eat a nice meal together in a better quality restaurant. And it was a good quality restaurant though the prices were still quite reasonable by European standards.
The kids all tried something new. Stephen ate guinea fowl for the first time (Michael and I also had it but we have eaten it before). The guinea fowl also came with chestnuts as the vegetable (not really sure it is a vegetable in my mind) and none of the kids had tried them before. It is safe to say they won’t be rushing back to have them again either. I eat them but there quite honestly are better things to eat. As it was our last night we all also had desert. Most of you know I don’t really eat desert but I make exceptions for a few things and one of them was on the menu – Crepe Suzette. When I see it, I generally always have them and they were right up there with the best I have had.
Back to the hotel and 17804 steps, 13.3kms, 62 step floors and 2953 calories burned today from all the walking around Lisbon.
S (because my Fitbit fell out of my pocket today and Stephen spotted it and it would have been lost for good otherwise), P, H, M & C