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Lisbon: Day 3 – Christmas Eve 2019………….It’s behind you!

Updated: Mar 15, 2020

After another good nights sleep we were up and breakfasted by nine this morning. We consulted ‘the plan’ to see what was in store for today, Christmas Eve to find just three items on the list; Estufa Fria botanical gardens (an expansive greenhouse showcasing gardens with hundreds of exotic plants, plus waterfalls and statues) in the morning, wine tasting in the afternoon and supper at Tapas n’ Friends in the evening. The gardens weren’t that far from us so we got ourselves ready and after securely locking our bags we set off on another daily adventure. The first hurdle was crossing the road. We’re staying by the Eduardo VII park which has the most enormous roundabout with at least ten sets of traffic lights to negotiate. No kidding it must have taken at least ten minutes to cross the road to get to the other side! Having successfully negotiated the lights we walked up through the Christmas market which was already starting to close down, took some photos of the views over Lisbon until we came to the gardens, only to find them closed. Typical. Now what to do? We were forced to regroup on a park bench where we looked at the options. Wine tasting was at 3.15pm and it was now 11.00am so we had just over four hours to kill. We decided to go back to the hotel to a) collect our hairspray and b) so that Maice could get her half slip. After our wine tasting session we thought we’d probably need to titivate ourselves and wanted to look presentable when we turned up at Tapas n’ Friends hence the hairspray and Maice wanted her slip as the lining of her dress was so static it kept riding up her legs despite her attempts to keep it down.

Leaving my phone on charge we set off down the avenue in search of a café with seats in the sun. It was now 18 degrees and the sun was out. We eventually found one, Paul Patisserie in the main pedestrianised street, Rua Augusta. I sat down to order while Maice nipped to the loo only to return immediately having been told there’s a code on the door which you only get when you pay the bill! Not come across that one before! It took ages to get served but our waiter was very jolly, a ‘vision in white’ he was, looking very fetching in his chefs whites, which, it seems is the uniform for all staff. We enjoyed a delicious cappuccino albeit in a takeaway cup as they’d run out of cups and saucers and enjoyed a Pastel de Nata, the delicious custard tarts and watched the world go by. We took stock of the day thus far. Seems we hadn’t really done much and if we wanted to reach our daily 25,000 steps we’d better crack on. It was here Maice realised she’d forgotten her phone and as we had no way of telling the time we referred to the bill. It was 13.27pm…..two hours to kill. We decided to walk down to the big square on the promenade and find out about tram times to Belem, a district we were going to on Boxing Day and asked in the Tourist Information (TI) office. We also asked where the Post Office was and was shown the dome of a building and told to head for that. We headed off in the direction of the dome, stopping off at the TI Office on the other side of the square as we hadn’t asked how frequently the trams go or how long it takes to get there. Now out of the square we kept looking up for the dome but could we see it? No. It seemed to have disappeared. We walked round the buildings looking for the Post Office but to no avail, and can you believe this, we were offered more drugs……marijuana and hash, I mean do we look like we’re on drugs! We did find a square full of bugs, bug statues that is, but the post office wasn’t there either. So we regrouped under the ‘bug’ statues and took stock. Were we missing something! How could we not find the big domed building, or even see the dome? A trip back into the big square was called for, so we walked back to the first TI office, looked up and there it was, the dome. We took a picture of it this time and then retraced our steps back to where we thought the domed building was. It seemed to be attached to the top of the main building in the square where we’d already been, although the dome wasn’t visible from this point and look, there in the corner of the square was the Post Office. I’m surprised we hadn’t seen it first time round as we’d taken photos of the ‘bug’ statues and the Post Office was right there in the background. So in true pantomime fashion…….. “Where’s the Post Office”?....... “It’s behind you!“ Definitely must go to Specsavers!

We got to the Post Office only to find it closed and although there was a stamp machine outside it looked far too complicated for us to operate so we went and sat by the statue, in the sun and tried to determine what the time was. We even got to the point of looking up at the sun to determine if its position in the sky could tell us anything but neither of us were sure how to read the time by the sun so we admitted defeat and went in search of a clock. Of course when you want one you can never find one and in the end we went into the sardine shop. We’ve actually walked past this shop on numerous occasions but never been in as it looks like an amusement arcade but inside it’s full of tins of sardines. Just goes to show, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or in this case a shop! We bought a tin of sardines and the receipt said 14:44pm. Okay, half an hour to kill!

We ended up in another TI office where I bought a fridge magnet, then just as we were heading off to the Wine Hotel for our wine tasting we came across this tiny shop called Eduardino, selling ginghams, no, that’s predictive text….should be Ginjinha, a Portuguese liqueur. I must say it was a bit like going into ‘Kiosk Kev’s’ shack having completed the Dingo Dollar Challenge on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here…..the guy behind the counter was so deadpan, but we got our liqueurs, and had a photo taken which just happened to form our Christmas card to you all. We also met an American lady and her son, who took the photo, and had a little chat with them. They’ve been in Portugal for two weeks and the last few days, weather wise, has been the best as they’ve stayed in places that have been hit by severe flooding. Some parts of Portugal have suffered badly with the weather, with one town receiving a whole years rainfall in just one day!

We finally arrived at the Wine Hotel at exactly 15:15pm for our long anticipated wine tasting with MWNN. First thing we did was to ask his name. ”I told you yesterday” he said. . Okay, well that told us. The fact that neither of us remembered this detail is a bit worrying……must still be jet-lagged!! We sat outside and MWWN (can you believe we couldn’t remember his name) brought out ten large empty glasses and a lovely cheese board. We were so looking forward to this. He conducted the wine-tasting in a different way to Mark at Morrish & Banham (M&B) back home. He poured a sampler into Maice’s glass and asked her to taste it and let him know what flavours she could taste. She’s obviously not a wine connoisseur as she couldn’t identify anything, but then again she didn’t slurp the wine round her mouth like Mark at M&B had shown us.. However when he left us we did a good old slurp and you know what, it makes all the difference. More wines came out, and each time MWNN would advise what to eat with it from the plate of food in front of us to enhance and change the flavour, and you know what! It did. Hey, we’re getting good at this wine tasting malarkey. After five, I must say, large glasses of wine, we were quite squiffy and after a conflab over the Port we felt it unwise to go to Tapas ‘n Friends for supper as a) we were a wee bit sozzled b) would we find the way there and more importantly c) would we make it back to the hotel?

So we decided a mini-market shop was in order, pick up some provisions and have a Christmas Eve picnic on the bed. We entered the mini-market which was packed solid, everyone having the same idea as us so wanting to get out quickly we just grabbed what we could ……bread, crisps, cheeses and look, how did that get there, a bottle of Prosecco!

We walked up the avenue and found ourselves drinking another Ginjinha in another Ginjinha bar, one for the road, or the avenue in this case, and why not. It is Christmas Eve after all. Back at the hotel we changed into our pyjamas, got into our beds and enjoyed our Christmas Eve supper, using our maps as plates. I would just like to point out that the bottle of Prosecco remains unopened. Think that last Ginjinha finished us off to be honest……!

And on that note we hope you’ve all been very good girls and boys this year and Santa brings you lots of lovely gifts.

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