And We’re Off!

At the Davis train station, on our way!

We’ll, I’m backing up and, as Inigo Montoya (Princess Bride) would say, ”when you don’t know where to go, go back to the beginning.” I’ve been struggling with figuring out how to use Word Press and ”all in a sudden” (from my father-in-law, Wolfe, German Brazilian by birth), I can do it! So, everybody, here is the first photo I took, anticipating that this would open my account of our travels in Portugal, with a side trip to visit our dear friend, Chantal, in southern France. At some point, I will also insert our travels over the past two years in the United States with our tiny trailer, @rchy, but for now— here we go!

We had a very relaxing time at my sister and brother-in-law, Allyson and David, lovely meal, appetizers in front of the fire with sherry beforehand, an early to bed for the 3 am wake-up call the next morning….. wait, that’s not how it happened! Well, it did, conveniently leaving out that the company we paid to conduct our pre-flight COVID test did not come through with Bob’s test results on time. We paced, e-mailed phoned and hovered on the brink of not making our flight for an unbelievably stressful hour and a half until we got his negative result. My advice to future travelers: 1) we could have presented ourselves at SFO and found out we needed EITHER the test results OR proof of vaccine BUT, I still recommend getting a test within the recommended 72-hour period for peace of mind I would just do it earlier in that time frame to avoid any delays in getting the results or— horrors— having to repeat the test if not completed correctly.

The trip was 29 hours from Los Altos to Lisbon, encompassing two layovers, the first in Dallas-Ft. Worth and the second in Philadelphia. My second piece of advice: don’t use American Airlines Advantage points for European travel. An agent messed up our booking and what should have been a direct flight to London and quick connection to Lisbon turned into this odyssey in cramped seats. Once in Lisbon, however, we forgot all this in the charm of an afternoon espresso at an outdoor cafe before taking a leisurely Metro ride to Alfama, the neighborhood where we stayed for our first four-day sojourn here.

Up two stories of cobblestone stairs, appropriately named, Alley of the Little Stairs, to….
The door at Number 7…, figure out how to unlock it, heft your suitcase up a very steep and narrow flight of steps, wrestle to unlock another door, and…

You are now looking at our entire apartment, about 250 ft. sq. The bathroom in the back has a tiny shower, the kitchen is very well-appointed with cooking utensils, the bedroom has a large bed— and little else except hooks and a closet about 2 ft deep. Bob’s feet would touch the front door if he stretched out!

This location was excellent as an introduction to Lisbon! It’s the only neighborhood that was not rebuilt after the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami and fire of 1755, so the streets are crooked and cobblestoned, shops are tiny and stuffed, people are friendly and neighbors chat with each other from upstairs window to window. We’ve walked 5-6 miles each day, exploring, getting lost, and enjoying outdoor cafes and learning about the city. This is the life!!

Our first traditional Portuguese meal.

5 responses to “And We’re Off!”

  1. Winifred Bellido Avatar
    Winifred Bellido

    Thanks for the link! I love the photos. How does Brazil Portuguese compare to the Portugal variety?


    1. Winifred, how nice to hear from you! Bob is having an interesting experience: he has been immersed in Brazilian Portuguese through his work translating the novels of his grandfather and talking to the agent of the publisher of his grandfather’s books in Brazil (and who is talking with him about publishing his translation in the US). Here, he at times has trouble understanding what people are saying. We hear that Lisboans tend to slur a bit and that up north in Porto, they speak more clearly. But there are clear differences in vocabulary, much the same as British English (“boot” of the car) as opposed to American (“trunk”). Good question!


  2. Looks great! Thanks!


  3. Great pictures and descriptions, Michele! Thanks for sharing. Love, Shari


  4. Thanks, Shari! It’s good to be home (don’t love the 105 degree weather, I must admit). Still have two more posts from this trip, so stay tuned! Michele


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