Portugal here we come
June 24, 2014

Royal marinesWe watched the football last night and fortunately in the dying seconds (literally) Ronaldo showed a little magic and kept Portugal in the World Cup.  While it may be short lived as the mathematical chances of them making it through to the next round are slim, at least we are now in a country that is still in the World Cup even though it might not be for long.

We did start the day in London and most importantly it was my birthday.  Birthday presents were severely lacking though – I did at least get one from Helen – fudge which I always like to eat while drinking Port.  Now I just need to get a bottle of genuine Port (which I am sure I will do tomorrow). After breakfast Helen and I went for a walk around St James Park. It was another lovely day in London with a predicted high of 26C.  We enjoyed the walk even though we had to dodge numerous tour groups who were all going to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.  We walked past the Palace at about 11am and heard a band playing from the Horse Guard’s barracks.  The changing of the Guard happens at 11:30am every day and so we wondered over to see what was going on.

It was the Royal Marine regiment and they had their band playing while the troops were being inspected.  They normally don’t do guard duty at the Palace so we were not entirely sure what it was about.  However, we later learnt that is was the 25oth anniversary of the Royal Marine’s and so as a special honour they would be taking over the Guard at the Palace for the next week and this was the change over. They went through a thorough check from the CO and then they marched out to much fanfare to go to the Palace to take over.  I have seen the changing of the guard before but this was the most impressive I have seen (we took some video but at 12:46am I am not going to figure out how to upload it now!)

stephen planeWe had to leave for the airport at 2pm. We have a reasonable amount of luggage and so the easiest was for us to take a car to the airport. Unfortunately the flight was from Gatwick and given the traffic in London it took us an hour and 15 minutes to get there.  Check in was relatively painless and we headed to the BA lounge for a quick afternoon tea and then onto the plane (which left from the furthest gate possible at Gatwick). We left slightly early and besides having a baby sitting behind me banging on the tray table for the first 20 minutes, the flight was uneventful.  We flew in Faro (pronounced Far-O) – the flight takes 2 hours 50 minutes.

It is a pretty small airport and everyone on our flight was clearly coming on holiday. We have residency status in Portugal now and so when we arrived we were welcomed home.  Quite strange being welcomed into a country as your home when it isn’t.  The luggage took awhile to come out – we figured they might be watching the football. Collecting the rental car took up some more time and then we had the impossible task of fitting 5 people into a station wagon along with 2 sets of golf clubs, 5 suitcases and 3 backpacks. First attempt to put the golf clubs in the boot (trunk for the Americans reading this) was a failure and we quickly realised the golf clubs had to go on the kids laps.  We put one set at their feet and the other set we slid across their laps but it was clear that wasn’t going to work either as we couldn’t close the door. Eventually we decided on two sets at their feet but Stephen still couldn’t put his feet anywhere.  We worked out he had to sit in the middle so he could stretch his legs through the middle toward the gear shift. We were tightly packed in and we headed to our house in Vilamoura.  (When I have the energy – it is now 12:48am – I will give some more details on this!)

We got to the house at about 9:30pm.  Fcar at faroortunately we had saved the location on our GPS from the previous time we were here in December (briefly) otherwise we might still be driving around looking for it. Helen, Chloe and I then headed out to see if we could find a shop open. After driving around for 30 minutes and finding everything closed, we eventually found a Lidl supermarket open and got some essential items for snacking tonight and breakfast tomorrow. Hopefully tomorrow we will find a better supermarket.

When we got back the boys had decided they wanted to rearrange the beds and so we (mainly them with a little bit of assistance and direction from me) moved two single beds down a floor and moved a double bed up a floor.  Not easy work especially since it is quite hot and humid here. We also haven’t quite worked out how the TV works yet but I am confident that Stephen will figure it out and have the necessary cables to ensure everything is working. At least the WiFi is working and at 33Mbps we are operating at 10 times the speed we get at home (oh wait this is home as well now)!

Tomorrow we will do some exploring.

Until then … P, H, SMC (all squashed together)

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