The Short Connection
In all of the years that we’ve travelled, the number of times our flights have gone wrong has been pretty small. Lost luggage or missed connections have been so few and far between that it’s hardly ever mentioned. When we were planning out this trip, we really should have not ignored our instincts and chosen flights with the riskiest of all travel choices: the short connection.
As we were travelling with British Airways, one of our favourite airlines I should add, that you always go through London flying from Vancouver. Getting to Lisbon, Portugal as our final destination, our flight had about a 90-minute connection between flights. Making this even riskier is that London Heathrow Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. But we ignored all of this and went ahead with the booking, telling ourselves the arriving and departing flights were at the same terminal. What could go wrong?
The short connection was doomed to fail even before we left Vancouver. Our departing flight was delayed on the runway because another plane hit a bird and we had to wait until the ground crew removed the bird off the runway, taking about 20 minutes. When we finally arrived at LHR, the jetway that allows people to get off a plane apparently was broken. Barb and I were looking at our watches every 30 seconds. This was the final straw and we missed our connection to Lisbon before we even got off the plane.
The good news is that we still arrived in Lisbon around midnight last night, about 7 hours later than planned and pretty exhausted. But we’re here and we had a good night’s sleep. Our luggage that needed to be re-routed onto a different airline arrived in time. More on that later.
It’s about 7:30 AM as I write this section and we had booked a hotel close to the airport for this first night. Barb is still sleeping and eventually, after breakfast, we’ll check out of our hotel and pick up our rental car to start our Portugal trip.
I’d mentioned earlier that as we missed our connection in London, we were diverted to a different airline and we were told that our checked luggage would “automatically be rerouted”. I use the quotes as Barb and I were a bit skeptical if our luggage would actually be there when we arrived at the Lisbon airport, which would not be almost midnight. But we were barely off the plane and we had certainty that our luggage had successfully made it to Lisbon. How so? A few trips ago Barb and I started putting an Apple AirTag in our luggage. Using the app, we can immediately see that my luggage was at the Lisbon Airport. If the luggage was still sitting at the Heathrow airport, or anywhere else for that matter, it would show us that immediately. One less stress to worry about.
Getting Around Town
After picking up our rental car, we left Lisbon and drove about 130 km east to the small town of Evora which would be our base for the next 4 days. Our plan was to spend a few days exploring Evora, a nice medium-sized town and then a few other days exploring the surrounding region.
The temperatures here in Evora might be the warmest of our two weeks in Portugal, with highs of about 34 and very pleasant at night with both of us wearing shorts all of the time. We expect it to get slightly cooler in the other parts of Portugal we plan to visit but by no means is anything approaching cold like it was starting to get when we left Vancouver four days ago.
From our hotel, everything in Evora is walkable and within a 15-minute walk, we’re in the main shopping/restaurant areas. The warm temperatures definitely lend themselves to outdoor dining, especially at night. The central part of Evora easily has 50-75 restaurants so finding a good place to eat is a very simple process.
The photo of the orange tree at the top was taken on our first day when we had lunch at a small cafe right across from our hotel and the orange tree was in the courtyard where we sat.
The hotel we’re staying at has a swimming pool and we plan to make good use of it while we’re here, especially with the higher temperatures. We discovered that the swimming pool had the coldest water imaginable and was fully in the shade which never allowed the sun to heat the water, not making for a pleasant swim.
It’s the Food, of Course
What would one of our Excellent Adventures be without me discussing the local food that we’ve experienced so far? As of this writing, we’ve been in Portugal for enough days to get a sense of the local cuisine. Pork is always on the menu in most places we’ve been to and it’s typically referred to as “black pork” or “black ham”. Why? It’s because it all comes from the indigenous Iberian Black Pig that is found in this part of Europe. While the pork is very good, in case you’re wondering, it’s the regular pork colour and not black. One of the other local dishes we’ve tried is called bacalhau which is a salted fish dish dish, ours served with rice and onions and was delicious.
Dining out in restaurants here in Evora has been very inexpensive, perhaps the least expensive we’ve seen in all of Europe. As a general rule, if something is on the menu in the high teen of Euros (about CDN$25), the serving will be so big it will easily serve two people. We’ve already made this mistake more than once and gotten a huge serving of food that neither of us could finish.
Today we decided to do a road trip in the car to explore the countryside. The weather was still 34 degrees so wearing sunblock and our wide hats was still needed. Within an hour’s drive, there are about 20 castles and easily the same number of wineries. All along the highway are kilometre after kilometre of grapes growing in rows. Also seen far in the distance are many hill towns with a unique castle at the very top. Getting near the top of the castles often meant driving through ancient villages, in many cases leaving inches to spare between narrow streets and the sides of our car. Also, most of the streets around these castles are made of small, irregular stones embedded in the ground and walking on them requires careful attention.
I’ve started to upload most of my Portugal photos to my photo website which I will continue to do for the rest of our trip. Tomorrow is our last day in Evora after which we’ll then drive to our next destination where we will be based for a few days.