Portugal Trip Report
Each morning it is harder to rise, burning the candle at both ends… But, before we know it the trip will be over, just a distant memory and we don’t want to waste it sleeping in. Having said that — here are some tips from Big Momma while travelin’….Have a pen, are you ready? I will wait – because this is good stuff!
• ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS wear comfortable shoes.
• Always have a camera (or 2) available. You never know when that amazing shot will occur.
• Respect the culture. Sometimes, you cannot believe what is going on, and understood what is perceived as rudeness. But, just remember you are a guest and should act as one.
• Do your research people. Please. Know something. I have made the mistake of thinking Frank will teach me everything. It is good to have a minimal baseline of knowledge. It will enhance your experience while you are there.
• Always bring snacks, tissues, hand sanitizer, band aids and scissors. (For example, on our way from Coimbra to Fatima we stopped at a rest area to use the bathroom facilities. The woman’s “bathroom” was literally a hole in the ground. No TP, no soap. Do you see what I am saying? We are in the year 2014 and we are peeing in a hole in the ground, really?)
• Don’t pack more than you can lift. This can really be problematic when you are going through subways and small hotels with no lift. Keep it simple, plan on laundry, etc.… So, remember me when packing….
These are just a couple of tips that I have learned the hard way…by making all these painful mistakes. I am certain the husband has a list that he could rattle off in a minute. Again, I have learned along the way, but still continue to screw up. Aww, the joys of travel.
So, today was one of the most physically challenging days of my life. I went through every emotion from elation and joy to hopelessness and despair. A see-saw of “I can do this” to “I am never traveling again”. Let’s rewind, and I will take you through the excruciating details, so you can understand….
Crawled out of bed, hunched over like an old man, knees crunching, back spasming-nothing that Motrin, a hot shower and a flaky croissant can’t remedy. After eating, we set out on foot down the many, many numerous steps that descend down into the city. After this, we walked to the metro subway, down the steps (many), and waited in the oppressive sauna- like atmosphere for the cattle car packed to inhumane conditions to arrive. We then propelled ourselves forcefully through the cluster of other passengers. We swayed clinging to anything we could- counting down the seconds until I could exit. I had to transport myself to my “happy place”, as the sweaty, uncomfortable reality was almost intolerable.
We plopped off the train, switched over to another train (last verse same as the first) for one more stop and then more steps, more heat….We then walked quite a bit until we got to our destination Grupo Amigos Museu Nacional de Arte http://www.museudearteantiga.pt/
The museum is an unintimidating gallery with some amazing pieces of art. The art spans from 14th century European works to late 19th century. It goes in order and is based on one floor. We spent several hours there, enjoying the art in silence.
From there, we took a cab to Jeronimos Monastery http://www.golisbon.com/sight-seeing/jeronimos.html- an overwhelming architectural delight that was inhabited by monks of the Order of Saint Jerome in the 1500’s. The line was long and moved a bit slow, but was well worth the wait for the beautiful views inside. A huge open space awaited us, a cloister courtyard with ornate sculpture, decorative details and columns with elaborate carvings. We roamed around as the intense sun bore down on us.
We took a rest and walked down the street to a Starbucks. We enjoyed some delicious much needed drinks and ate some hot chestnuts from the vendor. We sat in the shade, right in the hub people watching. We stayed there for a while getting lost in the activities of the crowd’s pandemonium.
We walked across the street, right on the sea -the Monument of Discovery http://www.padraodosdescobrimentos.pt/ .It is a large monument commemorating all the sea travel that originated from this very spot. At this point- the sun was at its most penetrating; as sunburn began to creep up our necks. We walked around took pictures and eventually found ourselves at a gelato shop. We enjoyed the cold creamy loveliness in sweet contrast to the burning glow of the sun. We savored the moment as well as the sweet gelato.
From there, slowly, we made our way back. Back to the many steps, back to the crowded tram, congested metro and up the elevator. Exhausted and out of the hotel for a total of 7 hours the thought of maneuvering down the hill for dinner was more than this tired gal could bare.
We reached the hotel chatting with the clerks who provided us with some much needed chilled water. They ordered a pizza for us that was delivered to our room. After a MUCH needed shower, we ate picnic style in our room watching the History channel (with Portuguese subtitles).
Now, we rest. We are in for the evening after a rather stimulating, action packed day. After what may sound like a gruesome tale of misery, I will say again-this is all part of travel. If I don’t want to battle the crowds, fight for a subway seat, run to catch a tram, trip like a fool on cobblestone, stand in lines for days, eat strange bizarre “green eggs” (what in the world was I thinking?) then I may as well sit home, turn on my “reality” TV, and let the world spin on by.
So, my point is-after a day of exertion, heat, sweating, hunger and bladder deprivation- there is also the joy I felt looking at a beautiful painting, the peace I experienced as I looked out at the same sea the explorers set out many centuries ago, the absolute gratitude I had for that first cold sip of water, and the appreciation that was felt as the taxi transported me and allowed me to rest my aching feet. Without all the annoying nonsense that accompanies travel, all those high moments would be lost. Make sense?
Tomorrow is our last day and then we leave bright & early, so this MAY or may not be my last entry.
Thanks for sharing the ride
~B & F~