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Lisbon: Day 1 – 22.12.19......Hello Lisbon - we have arrived!

Updated: Feb 29, 2020

It was a very important day for Nifty as Maice had booked her in for her annual MOT and service……nothing like tempting fate the day before you go on holiday! Having forgotten her mobile phone that day, thereby making her unreachable should the garage need to contact her, Maice headed into Dorchester for a mooch around the shops and to kill time whilst Nifty was being ‘examined’. At midday, Maice headed back to the garage only to find Nifty still suspended in mid-air. Apparently Mike the Mechanic had done his best but unfortunately had no option but to give Nifty a massive MOT fail and put Nifty out to pasture, or should I say to the top of the scrap heap. As you can imagine this was a bit of a blow, a very unexpected blow for Maice because a) she had become very attached to Nifty and b) Nifty was supposed to be taking us to the airport on Sunday! What to do now? She couldn’t succumb to a regroup with friends as she had no phone and therefore didn’t have a clue what anyone’s number was so a regroup with Mike the Mechanic was the next best thing. Fortunately Mike had some ‘friends’, Mad Man John and Dave aka Jacqueline, his business partner, who conveniently just happened to have some cars to sell and next thing we know Maice is being chauffeur driven around the Dorset countryside shopping for cars. The upshot is she found one, bought it, but not having her phone with her meant she couldn’t do a bank transfer there and then so sorted the transfer out at home, said car was delivered to her later that day and voila, at 3.15am on a Sunday morning we were driving to the airport in Jingle Jazz (JJ) Maice’s new car! Not wishing to say anything detrimental about Nifty, whose been on many an adventure over the years, I have to say JJ does have a lot of mod-cons and even has a passenger seat mirror so at long last I’ll be able to ‘glam up’ in the car

So, a big Shout Out goes to Mike the Mechanic who showed some true Christmas Spirit and helped a damsel, or should that be a Maice in distress. He really was her hero that day and she deservedly bought him a box of ‘Heroes’ to thank him for going above and beyond his mechanics duties. And of course we must also take this time to pay homage to Nifty, a real trouper of a car, an adventurer, quirky, full of character……the end of an era!

As a passenger this time I got lumbered with SatNav Steve who didn’t want to play ball at first. We were practically half way to Yeovil by the time I’d keyed in our destination. Yesterday evening we’d regrouped over FaceTime to have a serious discussion about the route to the airport. With the recent deluge of rain we’d been having we didn’t think it wise to drive through Cheddar Gorge, SatNav Steve’s chosen route. He wasn’t happy either when we got to Yeovil and we turned left and he kept telling us to ‘go right’ and to ‘hook a unierte’, predictive text, should be a ‘uee’ at a convenient place. But we ignored him and continued on towards the M5 with him constantly wittering on telling us we were going in the wrong direction. At one point we started to doubt ourselves so programmed Bristol Airport into the Maps App on my phone so we had directions provided to us in stereo. But it worked and we made it to the airport without incident, which is quite an achievement for us two!

As we were hand luggage passengers this time and didn’t need to check in we headed straight to the restaurant area for breakfast. We opted for a different eatery than the usual breakfast bar, the red hot chillies on our smashed avocado toast put us off last time so we sat down in this very nice restaurant and enjoyed a very relaxing breakfast. Two men came in and sat just in front of us and I said to Maice I thought I recognised one from my Santorini days. Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather when we boarded the plane and they sat next to me. No way, how is that for a coincidence? It was just so uncanny having seen them in the restaurant and now here they were so Pearl, can you believe that it was Mark from our Santorini and Lapland days. We reminisced about our repping days all the way to Lisbon and it was great to catch up and find out what had happened to everyone. Us Reps worked some very long hours and some long days back then and we did say they don’t make Reps like us anymore! In between reminiscing I was keeping an eye on Maice, hoping she wasn’t going to try another fainting episode like she did on our previous flight to Cyprus, but all was well in the seat opposite, so I left her to her own devices and continued to reminisce with Mark. Pearl, he says ‘Hello’!

We had a taxi booked on arrival and after fifteen minutes and two phone calls later we eventually hooked up with the driver. Apparently she’d been waiting in the arrivals hall with a sign all the time but we didn’t see it and we’d paraded ourselves past the people with signs three times! Not to worry, we’re ‘going with the flow’ and before we knew it we were at our hotel, the Expo Astoria. As usual we’d been booked a double room despite requests for a twin so they changed our room but unfortunately it wouldn’t be ready for at least another hour. Being only midday we left our luggage in reception and set off to the Christmas market we’d spotted in the Parque Eduardo VI just around the corner from the hotel so off we went to get ourselves into the Christmas spirit. We ate freshly made churros which were absolutely delicious and wandered around aimlessly, taking in the whole spectacle. On the skyline we’d spotted the Ritz Four Seasons hotel so we headed there to confirm our Afternoon Tea booking on Christmas Day. I have to say, from the outside it doesn’t look very inviting and it’s facia is very grubby but once inside it was as expected. Very elegant and posh, just like us two of course! Booking confirmed, we made our way back to our hotel where we enjoyed a lovely glass of Portuguese wine, collected our luggage, checked into the room, changed our shoes, made a temporary ‘safe’ as ours didn’t have one and set off to Rossio Square for our walking tour of Lisbon.

We didn’t have a clue where it was although we did have a map and we did ask reception who told us to walk up the Avenida da Liberdade, so that’s exactly what we did…..we walked up the avenue, yes we walked up the avenue, and we walked up the avenue cause that’s what we like (there’s a song there somewhere). I have to say it was a very, very long avenue, although to be honest we were really walking down the avenue, but on the way down a parade of ‘bikers’ in Christmas regalia drove up the avenue in their hundreds. I must say, it was quite a spectacle. We finally made it to the end of the avenue, into Rossio Square and found Miguel, our guide for our three hour walking tour. We were already worn out what with our early morning 2am start, the flight, prosecco on the plane, wine in the hotel and our walk down the avenue and wondered if we had the stamina for a three hour walk. What we needed was Berrocca (other vitamins are available) but neither of us had thought of that…..must be jet-lagged!

There were thirteen of us on the tour, mainly Americans and Canadians and we set off listening and walking. It’s a very hilly city but Miguel took us round it the easy way, via ‘hidden’ escalators and we saw old ruins from the 1750 earthquake, cathedrals and churches, castles, the old town, the new town, we ate a custard tart ‘on the go’, we saw trams and tuk-tuks, the Statue of Christ, the bridge that looks like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fran (built by the same company) until after two and a half hours of standing and walking we were able to sit down in the local community centre where we had green wine, which was white, and cheese and cured meats, except for us of course, being vegetarians we were brought our very own plate of cheese, a rather minuscule and minimalist plate consisting of six pieces of cheese of at least a quarter of an inch square……and that was between two! But omg it was so nice to sit down and relax, honestly, it may only have been a two hour flight but we were exhausted. The tour ended outside the cathedral where we were left to fend for ourselves. We may have been told where we were but in reality we didn’t have a clue. Our maps weren’t any use due to a) it being dark and b) neither of us could find anything on the map as the letters were too small. Thinking logically on the cathedral steps (must be a bit of divine intervention here) and noting we were quite high up we knew we would need to go down, so down the hill we went, stopping off at a tourist shop for two key-rings to lock our bags with. You see, at the beginning of the tour Miguel told us to watch out for pick-pockets who can easily undo a zip from a backpack without you realising. So as both of us were sporting trendy backpacks we decided to buy these key rings. Honestly they work wonders….even we were having trouble getting into our bags!. Thing was, as soon as we locked them we’d realise we needed something from inside, like our glasses!

We eventually found a shopping street we recognised but in relation to where we were staying it was anyone’s guess so we found a café and enjoyed pizza and a lovely glass of crisp white Portuguese wine, sitting al-fresco beneath the outdoor heater that didn’t work, watching the world go by. What a lovely first day this has turned out to be….exhausting yes, but what a lovely city. Now all we had to do was make a plan for the rest of the holiday and walk up the avenue back to the hotel.

We finally got back to the hotel and were in our twin beds at 8.30pm, full of good intentions to write our daily blog and sort out the photos but we’re so tired and these beds are so comfortable….zzzzzz

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