Time to get a Covid test. I had an Abott test from United but not sure if British Air would accept it. I thought of taking it just to be sure I don’t test positive but none of these tests seem accurate anyway. I went to the pharmacy recommended by the hotel. Had to fill out forms of course. Difficult since it asks for Portuguese ID and health card etc. long story short my test is at 3:48 at a kiosk. Having some brunch and reading. Best cheese ever. Made in cheese cloth. I had to ask the server what and how to eat. Garlic prawns too.
After I saw my share, I started looking for the big red bus. Walked up the hill, attempted to get on another bus, the driver said yes it was the right bus then no. Fun times. Walked over to where the taxi dropped me off. Maybe a tuk tuk? I negotiated with a nice man he said he was very embarrassed to tell me that it would be 20 euro to the next place. I agreed, knowing that this trip was adding up! Next stop Monserrate. At the entrance I showed my skip the line ticket, there was no line. I started down the steep hill. Don’t forget I am not feeling 100%, hopefully not covid, but starting to wonder. This palace was started in 1540. It had the look and feel of Hearst Castle in California, complete with tram to the ocean.
Down, down, down means up,up, up. It was so beautiful and worth it.
Made it to the top. Again no big red bus. And then I realized that I never did see a big red bus the whole time I was there! Ugg scammed? So then another tuk tuk can by with a energetic young man. He asked if I wanted a ride? When I asked how much to the train station, he replied free for you or 5 euro. So I hopped in. He was very entertaining. He stopped and picked some native fruit to eat and explained how to brush off the dirt, bite off the end and spit out the stem and eat the rest! He offered for me to drive his “ Ferrari” and then he asked me out for dinner. Instead I allowed a kiss on each cheek. Back to the train, arriving just in time. It was a 30 minute ride but I missed my stop by two stops. At first I thought that I could just run over to the other side of the tracks and go backwards but no signs, no maps, no internet. It’s amazing how much we depend on having access to the Internet. I went to the underground station, still nothing and nobody. Finally saw a sign to the street and taxis. No taxis. I am really tired by now. It was siesta time not only for me but for the whole city. I got my bearings and looked for something open. At a busy intersection I stopped into a dirty cafe, and asked a grumpy man if he had internet and a glass of wine. He finally smiled, poured me a thimble of wine from a dirty unlabeled bottle and put the codes into my phone. Easy! Ordered an Uber, sipped the wine and a brand new Tesla drove me back to the hotel.
Driving back I noticed a restaurant near my hotel that was serving. Went back to the hotel, cleaned up a bit and went back to the restaurant. It was called Wood and had these salmon things. Maybe the best taste in Portugal rice crackers and lots of lemon zest
Time for reading and a long nap! Time to eat again. The thing with eating snacks is that you can eat again. I decided to go across the street to The Garage, the place I tried to go to on the first day here when it was ok to eat inside, but not ok to eat outside, now because it was cold it was ok to eat outside but not inside. Same crappy service not only to me. Also for the ladies next to me. It was really funny to watch how much the service changed for the couples.
Then I realized that it was a chain. Ugg hate those, but the food looked great! I ordered a gin and tonic. Why are these so much better in other countries?
I ordered a couple things, porcini, arugula and prosciutto brusketta, tuna vittale and oven mushrooms. True to my sad single service woes, they brough me the wrong things and same with almost all of the orders around me. Was this a Chinese Dim Sun place, where you just take what looks good?
I love porcini mushrooms! These were fresh and perfect! Why don’t they grow in the USA?
Back to the hotel for a port and photography of the centerpiece. Perfect lighting
As I got off the train, I considered the hop on hop off bus. It was only 20 euro. Could save time and money. I bought it and waiting in a line that I thought was the right one, never really saw the bus. After 10 minutes or maybe two, I went to the taxi line. No one in the first two, maybe number 3 in line. Nope he yelled to the other two to quite talking and pay attention. I asked how much to the Peña Palace. He said 10 euro so off we went. Took about 20 minutes through winding, lush forests with flowers all over. It was windy and chilly. When we arrived to the entrance, it was confusing because there were so many people in line. I had bought the skip the ticket lines so where to go. I asked at the ticket office and she just said, go to the front of the line. I was late for my time slot but she said her colleague might let me in. Sheepishly I walked to about 25th in line. Some angry looks but not as many as I expected. It’s was even more windy and more cold the closer we got to the entrance. Another 30 min waiting. The views were blocked by the clouds swirling around us. Finally inside the palace. It was pretty amazing. People actually lived here in the early 1900’s. It was a steep hill to get to the palace, walk or small tram. No idea if I should have paid for the tram.
A restless night. I had found out that an old friend passed away. I met him and his family when I moved to Coronado. They were very kind to me. I suppose this will be happening more and more in my life. I remember my grandfather, Papa telling me that he needed to read the obituaries to see if he was in them. Living a long life means seeing your friends die off, kinda sad. That’s why I take the time now to travel because you never know when your time will be up.
Here we go down another rabbit hole, but I am reminded of a day in the Kingdom of Tonga a few years back. My friend, Megan and decided to travel there on the advice from a patient of mine. She said it was like Fiji but less touristy. On the day we were to fly to a smaller island, a hurricane decided to delay us. Once we realized that it was going to get bad and the third hotel “had no room at the inn,” I told Megan that I was satisfied with my life and could and would die peacefully. She replied instantly, “Well I haven’t!” We survived, stuck in Tonga for a few days without water, electricity nor Internet. Amazing people, those Tongans.
So today is the day to see Sintra. I had purchased some tickets on line and had a general idea how to get there. It was hard to wake up, but finally did enough to get the espresso machine working. Dressed and got my back pack ready. Might rain, might be chilly. Definitely walking a lot. I walked out of the hotel towards where I would catch a bus to take the train. Popped down into a parking lot by accident, then tried to board the wrong bus. Received some gentle direction from the driver and was on my way. Two stops later, I could have walked I arrived at the connection for the train. It’s a confusing spot since it’s called Restoradores, restaurants right? Nope. I wandered in the underground, navigated the ticket machines, walked in and back out of the wrong place and finally found my train. Arrived with minuets to spare. Again watched for the most people getting off the train and I knew that I had arrived at my destination.
Americans are so impatient, especially me. My theme for the year, yes, I have a theme, is “Enjoy the Journey.” My incredible daughter gave me a sign with those words for Christmas. It is in my bathroom and I look at it many times each day, but almost halfway into the year, and it’s still so hard. I am sitting in a very nice restaurant, waiting, waiting, waiting. Nope, no reservations. I walked by earlier and the menu looked great. The reviews perfect and at 9pm, it was not so busy. It’s 9:16 and just got my wine. They misunderstood me re bottle vs glass. I think I want to be a restaurant reviewer for single women! The elegant owner served me a glass, thinking I wanted a glass then, very nicely, I told him that I had ordered a bottle. He then proceeded to pour wine from the new bottle into my old glass! He quickly realized his mistake and took away the glass and repoured the wine. Now I am looking at my estranged glass and wondering who will drink it. Back to the old restaurant days.
Not a great night of sleep, but a lot of reading. Now on to another Chinese historical fiction book interspersed with business books. The Moon in the Palace and Positive Intelligence. Time to explore Lisbon.
My son George and his girlfriend highly recommended this restaurant. I took an Uber. It said it was a 30 min drive and I read that I needed to get there early. No reservations. The driver dropped me off, way to early, so I thought. I tried to tell and show him this on my phone but he just stopped. I got out of the car and walked a little bit to see where my gps was sending me. Wrong way so I turned around. I followed the directions, zig zagging right and left and up and up steps, clearly in a very resident area, thinking that I was wasting time and steps.
I was sure I was lost but the directions were pretty accurate. It reminded me of the time years ago, in London with my Mom, who truly has limited amounts of steps, was the gps off? My Mom and I were searching for the Ice Bar for a long time, but it was worth it, right Mom?
The directions were accurate and I found it!! There was a line as expected. I waited about 45 minutes, I didn’t take the first table available because it was too central an I knew that I would hate sitting in front of everyone in line, feeling like a loser, alone. Lol, I just wanted a table with a better view of all of the people. This restaurant was outside only, on a bit of a slope, tiny tables. I ordered some white wine, got red, but went with it. Bread, olive oil, olives, octopus salad and some amazing shrimp and crunchy rice. All outstanding! Worth it. Thanks George and Grace.
It was now after ten. Hmmm how to get back to the hotel? Walked a bit and then ducked into a hotel and asked them to call a taxi. Quick trip home to the hotel, went to the bar, empty but asked for a port. Time to sleep.
Day 2. I arrived at the train station and grabbed a taxi. I didn’t know it then, but I would be having dinner very near to the train station later.
I have many reasons to stay at a place or not or where to stay. I typically want to stay where there are funky restaurants, boutiques and galleries. This started long ago with my favorite ex, Mike. We loved going to San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district. We stayed at the cute Hotel le Richelieu.
Ever since then I look for places like that. My first night in Porto, I stayed at an Airbnb and it was a small efficiency with windows. It had an interesting shower and kinda stinky pillows but everything else was perfect. I would have stayed another night, but they were booked. The room was also situated in a place that was hard to get to by Uber/taxi. Hilly and cobblestone. So I left. Decided on the train. I tried to Uber to the train station, but internet stopped as I left the apartment, so I walked up the hill and then down a bit. I remembered the taxi driver telling me to go into the train station to see the tiles. I looked at the map and could see the station was close by. I found it, bought a ticket and the train was leaving in 20 minutes. I had a second class seat. I picked. A seat and knew that I had to transfer relatively soon. There were other people with luggage so I watched them. My ticket was pretty vague. When the “people with luggage” got up to leave, I followed. Yup, they were mostly young people, which I still think I am! Lol. I asked a girl with a backpack if she was going to Lisbon. Yes she was and she and her boyfriend weren’t sure where the platform was either. He went on ahead and I found out she lived very close to our friends in northern Germany. Small world, but it got smaller…
I stood at the platform and saw a worker point someone towards the end of the platform, indicating second class. My new German friend asked if I had a seat, I said, yes not really knowing if I did. Again vague ticket. Later I realized my car and seat was on the ticket. I moved back toward the end. The train arrived, looked for car numbers, there were none. I boarded, because there were a lot of people with a lot of luggage. There were a couple of young girls near me and they couldn’t figure it out either. So I sat with them for a minute, until we were told that we were in the wrong seats. They were from San Diego! I moved back further, they were actually in first class! I tried to sit again, wrong seat. Finally, I found the right seat, so I thought. The train departed and I was happy. It was three hour trip.
Well that was down the rabbit hole. The whole reason for the diversion was explaining why and how I pick places to stay. So as I was contemplating that yesterday, I thought that I would add to my must haves, was a place with a pool, it’s going to be hot, a bar/ restaurant so I can be more social. I am single! And maybe I am getting lazy, but staying in one place sounded attractive. So here I am in a 5 star hotel, Iberostar Selection hotel. It’s very nice. But, a little stuffy.
It was about three and I needed some food. A beautiful day so I wanted to be outside. First place was open but not outside. Next place was open but had to order inside and they would bring it outside and they could only serve pizza. I remembered the siesta time in these areas. The very sweet server sent me outside and my amazing pizza arrived soon.
Great food and Aperol Spriz! After a bit, I wasn’t feeling well, dizzy, tunnel vision, so I paid my bill and went back to the hotel. Jet lag? Not sure. Took a two hour nap and felt better.