Jun 24, 2019

Home at last with one mishap

Again I did not sleep well as I worried we would sleep through the  alarm. This was taken at 5:15AM, through a Toronto airport hotel window.  Gosh, my second sunrise in as many days.

The flight from Toronto to Vancouver was approximately 4 hours and 45 minutes.  It was a nice flight with a wonderful flight attendant and we enjoyed it. I even had a glass of champagne and orange juice after take off.  We were allowed to delay our meal until up to an hour before landing.  We asked to wait two hours at least. Such a privilege to chose your mealtime.

Dessert was a baked on board (I actually saw it happen ) chocolate chip cookie and vanilla ice cream.  Being as it was my last ever flight on this type of service I asked for a Baileys to pour over the ice cream.  Decadent and fun.

Getting off our flight from Toronto in Vancouver, we had a tight connection to the final flight of this trip to our home in Kelowna.  We were very surprised to see announcements in Chinese. The flight was delayed by 20 minutes.

A 50 minute flight from Vancouver to Kelowna.  Love my iPad, perfect for reading a book.  This is a tiny plane and we are sitting opposite each other on aisle seats.

Our home is one inch to the right on the lake.  Colin was in an aisle seat and it was difficult to judge where to get the precise shot as it was a blind point and shoot. Nonetheless, special  to fly over our home.

Happy to be back home in Kelowna.

Thank you again Inger for picking us up.

Once again we were missing a suitcase.  We only had one at this point and it did not show up.  Was it missing from Toronto or from Vancouver?  What are the chances of two bags being lost in two different cities, one in Europe and one in Canada?  Fortunately my bag was lost in Vancouver and I received it just after 7PM.  At least I got to unpack something.

Colin’s bag, lost in Lisbon, arrived today just after lunch.

We are finally home, despite losing our luggage, but at least one did eventually arrive several hours later and the other appeared today ( Monday ).  We were and still are tired and jet lagged.  I suddenly realized that for the first time in six weeks, that I would have to cook dinner 😯 We have been home 48 hours now and are ever so slowly getting back to normal.  The last two nights we went to bed at 9PM and tonight it will be 10PM.

But we are home and already talking about where to next  😀

Comments(6)

Jun 23, 2019

25 hours of airports and airplanes

Day one of a two day trip to get us home began yesterday, Friday, June 21st when we awoke at 0330/3:30am.  Neither of us slept well, both worried about sleeping through the iPhone alarm or the possibility that I had set it incorrectly and that it might not go off. Final items were locked into the suitcases and stowed into our two personal items.  I had prebooked Uber and that was another worry as to whether the car would show up. It did and was only a few minutes late. Good deal for 14.4 Euro and a thirty minute ride.

Lisbon airport was chaos at that hour of the morning.  They have implemented a new self serve check in system where you need to figure out how to use the machine and print your luggage labels and then load your bags onto a conveyor belt a bit further along. That machine is supposed to automatically scan and read the luggage tag, only ours would not work. So we then had to move our bags to yet another counter where there was a human being who also had trouble scanning our luggage.  He finally did it manually and we were off walking and walking and walking. According to my Fitbit we had a 5,000 step workout.  It was very good that we checked in a full ninety minutes ahead of time. By the time we got to the gate the aircraft was boarding.

Sunrise as we left Lisbon @ 6:20AM.

Adios Lisbon, we will be back in a few hours.

Now this is where it gets somewhat complicated. We were flying to Madrid (where we landed in Spain once we left Greece) and once there we had to collect our luggage and trudge through the airport and go up to the departure level. Here we checked in to travel back to Lisbon 😯 Yes we were flying directly back to Lisbon from Madrid where we had  close to a six hour layover before boarding our flight to Toronto, Canada.

Returning to Lisbon midday.

The original aqueduct which is no longer in use.

Last summer I booked us on our free business class points tickets from Kelowna to Vancouver to Montreal to Istanbul and to our destination in Athens.  Four flights that took two full days. After five days in Athens and our one week cruise we flew to Madrid where we began our five city ( Madrid,Toledo, Cordoba, Granada and Seville) tour of Spain. We traveled by bus and train and flew from Seville via Lisbon to Marrakech and later back through Lisbon to Porto at our expense and finally by train to Lisbon, our final destination. However we absolutely had to board our return flight home from Madrid. There was no way around it, believe me I tried every trick in the book to get around it. There was no way we could stay in Lisbon where we already were and board there. One of my three careers was working with Air Canada so I knew that we had no choice. We could not have both an open jaw and a stopover on the same ticket. Fortunately the one way fare between Lisbon and Madrid was only 60.00USD/80.00CAD each.

Waiting in the Lisbon lounge.

My cork purse. The coloured parts are indicative of the Portuguese tiles.

We got through the check in process in Madrid with no problem. It wasn’t until a few hours later in the business class lounge when I was trying to nap that it came to me that the Tap Airlines agent had tagged our luggage all the way through to Kelowna. That was not correct as we had to pick them up in Toronto in order to clear Canada customs. Plus we had to overnight in a hotel as we arrived too late to make a connecting flight to Kelowna. I was very tired and feeling weak from lack of sleep so Colin offered to check out the situation of our already tagged bags. Of course I was right and the bags needed to be pulled and retagged to Toronto.  He kept being told that he had to come back in thirty minutes. Almost two hours later he was given our new luggage tags. Fortunately I regained some energy before we had to go to the gate to board our flight back to Lisbon.  In the last two weeks, we had been through this airport four times and spent three of our long layers in a business lounge. This time it was in the TAP lounge which was very crowded. It took about ten minutes to score a place to sit. Fortunately Colin can doze anywhere. I can’t and kept wishing that I was back in bed sleeping in our Lisbon Airbnb. The time passed quickly and soon we were at the gate waiting to board our flight to Toronto.

Dinner menu from Lisbon to Toronto.

Relaxing after take off.

When we were checked in back in Madrid earlier in the morning, I noted that we had the seats that I had requested last July. At check in on the Lisbon to Toronto flight, they handed us new boarding passes showing that we were in Row 1 and not Row 2.  I pointed out the error but was told sorry, there had been an aircraft change and the flight was full and we were stuck with those seats. Yes they were business class but front row seats are undesirable as you can’t have your bag or even your purse at your feet all the time as there is no place to stow them under a seat in front of you. I asked again to be changed and even spoke to a supervisor who would do nothing. I told him that we had booked almost a year ago and specially requested our seats. Last year we had front row seats on the same flight and were not happy. I also pointed out that I had been given a boarding pass that very morning with the correct seats and that we also were one of the first to check in to board. I asked if he could please change us back and to give someone else the front row. He refused and said that if I had asked earlier he would have. Once again I patiently explained that this was the first I had heard of the change and showed him my boarding passes printed out at 9:00AM Lisbon time, it was now 5:30PM.  The only thing he suggested was that we send an email with our complaint once we got home. The thing is, is that last year coming back from Barcelona we were on the same Lisbon- Toronto flight and had front row seats which we did not enjoy.

We were disappointed as this was likely our second last business class flight in our lives, unless we won the lottery. Nothing to do but change our attitude and make the best of it. After the meal Colin slept while I finished a book and started another. Eventually I put the seat out flat and with a very comfy pillow and lovely quilt like cover, napped for two hours.

Sunset as we were landing in Toronto.

The flight landed about twenty minutes early. After another very long walk (despite flying, I, was still getting my steps in) we got to passport control where once again we lost the battle with the machine and had to go through primary inspection. It was not an issue and we headed over to pick up our luggage. Another perk of flying business is that your luggage comes off first. As we approached the carousel Colin was being paged. Turns out that one of our bags was still in Lisbon. Pretty amazing that they knew what had happened before we did.  Next we had to fill  out special forms for Canada Customs and were given instructions as to what to do once we landed in Kelowna.

Once we gathered our one suitcase we had to check in with a special Custom’s agent who wanted to know the total amount of money we had spent and what were the two most expensive items. Her next question was which of the items was in the lost bag. I could not give her a proper answer. Some was in both but possibly they were all in the lost piece of luggage. I truly did not know. At this point we had been awake for 24.5 hours and I, not being able to doze anywhere easily, was close to losing it. I was so tired and now just a bit stressed. In frustration she sent us to yet another Custom’s agent who asked a few easy questions and we were released.

We found the shuttle location and soon where checking into our hotel room. Colin went down to the restaurant to get us some wine and came back empty handed. There was no way he was going to spend $54,00 for a bottle. We are definitely no longer in Europe.

Meanwhile I had opened the small suitcase and done inventory. Colin’s clothes, toiletries and my shoes were all in the missing bag. I later discovered that my nightie and face creams were there as well.  We made the best of the situation, showered and went to bed.

That has to be one my longest travel days ever.  But we were back in Canada. Next post will hopefully find us back home.

Comments(7)

Jun 21, 2019

Last fun day in Lisbon

Very early Thursday morning Colin went on a three hour plus walk about. He wanted to get out before others were on the street. His primary goal was to check out the three ascensors which are old tram cars that carry people up as well as down very steep hills. The cost is 3.8EUR each direction which is pretty steep  🙄 if you ask me.  Fortunately our 24 hour metro pass covered the fare.  Colin got some great shots before any other tourists were out. We had pretty much seen everything we wanted to here in Lisbon and decided to go out and ride the ascensors.  Sadly Ascensor  de  Bica, the most photographed one, was closed for maintenance.  Along all of them there is a narrow sidewalk or steps beside the steep track.  We noticed that the locals walk up, likely due to the expense.

The next six photos are from Colin’s early morning walkabout.

We walked several blocks before we got to Ascensor Darava. Colin had planned a walking route that was not too hilly. It runs every 15 minutes and when we got to the top there was nothing to see. We walked a few blocks more and just saw residential buildings.   Back to the tram and down we went. The conductor said that he just went back and forth all day long and that he enjoyed his job as it was usually quiet plus there was free internet for him to use. We were the only tourists.

Quite the step up to get into the tram.

Going back down.

We next walked to the Ascensor da Gloria from which another tram goes up a steep hill but in the opposite direction.  There were more tourists here and all the seats on the tram were full. Colin suggested we not bother going up but I said that we were already here so lets do it. We stood and had great views of the walls on both sides of the track.  They were colourfully covered in graffiti. At the top everyone has to get off and get in line to go back down. First we decided to explore the area as it looked interesting. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a sign saying Miradouro with an arrrow. What a lucky find. It was the Sao Pedro de Alcántara viewpoint. It faces the east and north parts of Lisbon. So we were looking towards the Castle that we had been at yesterday. It was too bad that the Ascensor da Bica was closed as it also has a viewpoint. So we have something to look forward to if we go back.

Ascensor da Gloria.

There was an artist from Estonia up top painting as well as selling her art.  She is truly talented but we have no wall space left in our home nor the RV.

There were a few vendors plus many food booths.

A soy hot dog, the perfect light lunch. Those are mini potato chips sprinkled on top.

Our picnic was complete with a bottle of wine.

These poor pigeon has something tying its feet together. It was sad to watch it struggle.

Getting on to go back down.

These fellows were painting over the existing graffiti and then creating their own art.

This lady was deaf and asking for money to feed herself and her dogs. Someone had brought her some dog food and I gave her some money. I was able to explain that it was on behalf of our two girls that had passed two years ago. I loved how the one dog was resting its head on her knee and the other sat in her lap like a small lapdog.

After our late lunch we went back down and walked back to the apartment. It was time to start packing.  Once that and the blog were done we went around the corner to a lovely restaurant for our last meal in Lisbon.

Dinner was linguine negro ( colored with squid ink which we had missed in the transition ) and the salmon fillet was simply placed on top, again not what we were visualizing from the menu description.  The white balls of course were mozzarella cheese.

I found the proper name for this dish, ” Linguini negro com salmao defumado e mucarela fresca.

Next up is a two day marathon to get back home.

Comments(4)

Jun 20, 2019

Lisbon from high up

Yesterday, Wednesday, turned out to be much better weather than the forecast.

These photos are from Colin’s early morning walkabout about.

He really does like these trams.

There are many elevators and escalators to help get up and down the hills here in Lisbon. Some are free as are the ones up to the castle while most of the others are covered by a transit pass. We purchased a 24 hour pass for 6EUR/6.78USD/8.95CAD which is good for exactly 24 hours from when it is first validated.  We started out walking and somehow missed the first elevator but I managed to hoof it to the second elevator. Colin says that I am much stronger than from when I started this trip and faster as well. However by the end of the day yesterday I could feel the back of my calves and the front of my thighs.

From the top of the second elevator there is a lovely terrace with a restaurant to sit and enjoy the views or to simply snap some photos. From there you have a few gently slopping streets to climb to get to the entrance of Castelo de S Jorge, a National Monument.  Fee for seniors is 8.5 Euro each. There were no English information pamphlets but upon asking they reached under the counter and gave us one. It has a great deal of important information and a map. We had no idea that the castle and grounds were so large.

A panoramic view from the castle.

From the arrow and three windows to the right are our French door windows.

A part of the castle wall, with what looks to me, defensive slots in the wall.

That is Colin up there waving to me, I chose not to climb the extra stairs and to take a rest.

Taken from that one level up. Colin also climbed to the top of the tower

The Moors built the fortification in the mid – 11th century. During the 12th century came the transition from the Moorish to the Christian world. From there over the centuries it has been a royal residence, a military barracks, a military garrison and was last restored from 1938 – 1940. There is a lot of see as well as some archaeological ruins but its main glory are the stunning views. However it can be dangerous due to the 2-4 inch differences in height between each stone.  With my track record I was extremely careful. In fact I only tripped once yesterday and easily caught myself. I do spend a good deal of my time hanging onto Colin this trip due to all the uneven terrain.

As we were heading down to leave we came upon a wonderful surprise. Some baby birds.

Peacock chicks.

First time I have ever seen peachicks.

After a few hours we came back down the same way passing all the tourist restaurants until we found a very tiny place on a side street. Colin had spotted a cork shop ( Portugal is known for its cork products) right next door. Once we ordered he went to check it out. He was gone a long time and I began to enjoy another nice Portuguese wine. I haven’t tasted a bad one yet, even those at less than two Euro per bottle.

Guess what he bought?

Lovely lunch. Almost the best melt in your mouth salmon ever.

Later we both went into the cork shop together and somehow even though I did not need anything, I was talked into purchasing a pair of cork shoes and an extremely light weight bag. What cinched the deal was the 10% I got off for tax free spending.

More walking and we came to Tram 12, another famous tram route around the very narrow streets of Alfama. This time we got to stay on round trip.

Colin saw this guitar in a window as we passed. Of course he wanted it but we never did get back there. Thank goodness.

Traffic jam along the Tram 12 route.  At one point we passed a live classical guitar concert that was being broadcast speaker after speaker along the tram route we were on.  How very very special, to be able to listen to this concert, as we passed through the area.

The following photos were taken as we traveled this tram route.

Best sunset I have been able to get.

Colin is down there on the left, between the hotel sign on the road and the turquoise colored taxi cab.  He truly is my hero as well as mi amore.

Again we had a full walking day.  By the time I caught up on emails and started the blog neither of us felt like going out for a large meal as lunch had been very filling. So Colin went out to pick us up something light for dinner.  Only one more day left before we start our two days of flying to get home. That in itself promises to be another adventure. But before that we will have another day here in Lisbon to share with you.

This is a bit late as I forgot to publish it.

 

 

 

 

Comments(4)

Jun 19, 2019

Touring Lisbon

Tuesday morning started off with a power failure. Colin plugged in the kettle and blew all the breakers. We found the electrical panel but it was totally different from what we were familiar with and Colin did not want to play with it. We no longer had internet which was a problem as I needed to contact our host. My overseas international roaming package was over the day we left Marrakech and I figured that it was not worth renewing for eight days.  I had pre researched that I could text for only .75cents CAD and I did. However the host called back and that cost me $3.50CAD per minute. Oh well, it was a bit of an emergency and likely I was under $12.00CAD which was still cheaper than paying $60.00CAD for only eight days use as a just in case situation. As we were going from country to country, it was easier to get the one roaming package rather than set up a new SIM card in each place.  Plus I seldom use the phone for data or texting.

The host arrived within 40 minutes. Meanwhile Colin had gone out to pick us up some coffee and found everything closed until 10am. They go to bed late and start the day late (Starbucks included). The host came, sorted out that the problem was a bad kettle which he was going to replace and got all the power turned back on.  That gave us about twenty minutes to get to our free walking tour. There are dozens of them here and we had narrowed it down to one this day and one the next which we ended up canceling as most of it was covered in this first tour.

Colin chatting photography with one of the tour operators.  I was sitting and gathering my strength for the 3 hour tour.

Lovely painted mural as an homage to Fado. It was fun listening to how it started and what to look for to make sure that it is an event true to the culture.

We walked up and then down and then up again. I did keep up for the most part.

Antonio Ribeiro born in 1520 and died in 1591. He was  also known as Chiado for having lived many years in the Chiado district, on the street still called Chiado. He was a satirical poet of the sixteenth century and today they are calling him the world’s first rapper. He would spend hours rapping about the royal family and how they knew nothing and were doing everything wrong. The King found it amusing and had him entertain at some functions by rapping against the guests. This was the second statue we had seen blindfolded today; our guide had no idea why.

Here sits the poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935)  who had over 35 multiple personalties that he would converse with, asking a question and then moving to the next chair to answer as one of his other personalities. By varying his voice he was able to more easily explore different viewpoints and truths. I think that today he would likely be diagnosed with a personality disorder.

This bookstore, Bertrand Chiado, is the oldest bookstore in the world and was recognized in 2011 by the Guiness Book as the oldest operating bookstore in the world. It opened in 1732 and still operated the day of the devastating earthquake in 1755 and the horrific fire in 1988.

The Camano Convent was destroyed on November 1, 1755 by an earthquake said to be between 8.5 to 9.1 on todays Richter scale. It was All Saints Day and the church was lit with candles which caused a devastating fire after the earthquake. Many fled to the river to get away from the fires, only to find that the water had receded. It came back as a massive tsunami. With three catastrophic events in one day, most of Lisbon and the surrounding area was destroyed.

Next to the convent is a military museum which still has a changing of the guard. The revolution of October 5, 1910, overthrew the Portuguese monarchy and instituted the First Portuguese Republic. The political institutions of the First Republic lasted until 1926, when it was replaced by a military dictatorship. That dictatorship was only recently overthrown on April 25, 1974 by the Carnation Revolution.  There is much fascinating history to this country, including how it remained neutral during WWII and sold goods to countries on both sides of the war.

The tour continued. I think I was the only one taking notes. Another wee tidbit from the war is that Lisbon became a haven for spies to gather.  It was here that Ian Fleming came up with his story ideas and created James Bond, 007.

The Rossio Train station with some unique architecture.

The Lisbon massacre, alternatively known as the Lisbon pogrom or the 1506 Easter Slaughter was an incident in April, 1506, in Lisbon, Portugal in which a crowd of Catholics, as well as foreign sailors who were anchored in the Tagus, persecuted, tortured, killed, and burnt at the stake hundreds of people who were accused of being Jews.  Supposedly this all began during a sermon by a priest in this church.

The church was deemed to be cursed and was almost burned to the ground in August 13 1959.  Basic repairs were made in order that mass can still be said but the pillars and the interior are not in good shape.

The corridor to the commerce district on the river.

Another corridor to the Elevador de Santa Justa which I discussed in the last post.

Our tour guide brought us to what she thinks is the best place to enjoy the famous Portuguese custard tarts called pastel de nata.  She very generously treated each of us to one of these most delicious sweets.

The tour just kept going and going. Here we are in an area on the way to the Alfama district and this street is famous for its various dried cod preparations. I was most surprised to learn that codfish is not caught in local waters but in Northern Europe.  Years and years ago the sailors were mostly paid in codfish which of course was salted and dried.  They would bring it back to Portugal and soon the country was overrun with salted cod which eventually became a favorite of the people here and still is to this day.

The tour continued to Alfama which was not destroyed during the earthquake.  It was where the fishermen lived as well at the prostitutes and the lower class. There is a good deal of thought as to why they survived and not the Catholics and in the end the church admitted that there might be a greater force than God! Way too much for me to communicate the details to you. The photo here is to portray how narrow and twisted the streets are in this area.  By now the tour was at four hours and still going strong.  We were done. I put a nice tip into her hand and said that we had to leave.  The rest were on their way to some tasting of a cherry liqueur. FYI, there is a month long fiesta of sorts in June and hence the decorations.  I could add a lot more but this post is long enough.

We came across a very small Italian restaurant where we shared a wonderful bottle of wine and possibly the best pasta meals we have ever had.  This lunch was one of the highlights of our trip.

Next we wanted to take a tour on the famous Tram 28, there was a one hour wait in line.  We later found out that an accident had caused the delay.

By the time we boarded I was pretty tired.  We just keep going and going. The day had also gotten much warmer and I was overheated. Fortunately I was able to peel off a few layers and roll up my sleeves.

This tram system has been going since 1873 ( pulled by horses ) and in 1901, it was electrified.

Because of traffic, it was almost an hour trip one way to the far end. Do I look like I am fading? As you can see the temperature had dropped again.

At the end of the tram line we all had to get off and line up all over again to get back on in order to get back to where we had started. The wind picked up and it started to drizzle.  Eventually we got onto a tram which was hot as blazes inside as compared to outside.  I think  that I was done at this point. Eventually the lady in the blue shirt got up and offered me her seat!  Do I look that old?

As it turned out, the rain had started again as we were bounced along the tracks. Suddenly we both recognized where we were and rang to get off.  We were only a few blocks from home.  However the sidewalks were treacherous due to the rain and we walked ever so slowly so as to not fall.  It was great to get back inside and to relax with a glass of wine.  We did not go out for dinner but ate leftovers.  That was a long day.  We were gone just over nine hours and spent most of that time walking.

Comments(8)

Next »