Monday, June 2, 2008

a quick note from Portugal

Another quick post to update you on where we are and what we've been up to. Josephine (at Quinta Moenda, for which I'll be sure to give you the link later) has kindly let me use her computer/internet setup, but after checking my e-mail, etc., I really don't want to hog the spot for too long. Plus it's brilliantly sunny outside, and there's a pool here, and wine, and . . .

We did manage to get our tickets for the trains from Paris to Lisbon several days before we headed out, so we knew we had the comfort of a 1st-class lit-voiture (sleeper) for our o/n portion from Spain to Portugal. Just as well, as the next option meant bunking side by side and ceiling to floor with 4 other sleepers -- I'm just not that young anymore! The train travel was efficient and uneventful, with the TGV as impressive as you might expect for speed! Tiny, tiny legs are required to be comfortable in 2nd-class, which is what we'd opted for this portion -- and opposite us was a young fellow about 6'4" -- Paul's 6' so it's a good thing no one sat in the fourth seat, and the young man slung his legs across his seat rather than play kneesies with Paul.
At the Spanish border, where we changed at Irun to another train, we all had to form a queue and work our way through a Screening Machine that had perhaps seen its best-by date, so some of us had to pass luggage through several times. We were once again really pleased that we'd managed with our carry-ons only.
Once in the train, we were passed a complimentary port, some peanuts and chocolate, and once settled in, we headed down to the dining car for an apparently Portugese meal (bacalhau? -- cod!). Then some snoozing in our bunks, listening to the train stop at various stations, and finally waking for a complimentary breakfast, setting our watches back an hour and waiting to get to Lisbon. There we grabbed a cab --the driver really didn't speak any English, but after repetition, he seemed to understand Airport and Car Rental, and got us to Hertz -- trouble-free pickup of our little Fiat and Paul's driving instincts kicked in nicely to take us up to the beach resort of Figueroa del Foz, then the next morning (Saturday) we had an easy drive following Josephine's crystal-clear instructions along progressively smaller and more interesting roads through picturesque, red-rooved houses always surrounded by marvellous gardens achieved wonderfully on terraces all down the hillside. Makes me a bit ashamed of our own failure to grow food for ourselves.
Anyway, we're settling in very nicely here -- it's truly paradisical, especially now that the sun's out. I've taken hundreds and hundreds of photos this trip, and I'll have trouble sorting through to decide which to show you. Meanwhile, thank you so much for continuing to read and to leave comments -- I do see the comments at my e-mail, and I'm sorry that I'm not answering them all here, but hope you understand. Now I'm back to my glass of wine . . .

4 comments:

  1. This is a great post, but forgive me when I say that the most interesting thing for me is the fact that you put your watches back when you reached Portugal. I guess if I ever thought about it I would just assume that they would be in the same time zone as France and the rest of western Europe. So, you learn something new every day! Enjoy the rest of your trip, make the most of that paradise. Patricia

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  2. Glad to hear you got the train sorted out. It sounds like a dramatically better experience than travelling 2nd class.
    It's always nice when the weather cooperates. I'm sure the beaches are spectacular.

    Take care
    Leona

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  3. Oh the luxury of being able to travel 1st class, lucky that when we get older and less tolerant of things we can (almost) afford it.

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  4. Patricia: We were quite surprised by that as well. Lisbon and London are in the time zone, but Paris is one hour ahead.
    Leona, Cybill: The 1st-class isn't nearly as impressive as it sounds, with the same furnishings, I think, as 2nd class, but with only the two of us as opposed to 6 people stacked in the same space. Skinny bed, functional but worn linens, but clean and private, all we really needed.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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