One year – July 2015

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Praca dos Restaradores, Lisbon

Our trip to Lisbon in July 2015 was organised at short notice and there were a couple of things we had to take into account.

Caroline was due to attend a family wedding on Saturday 4th July and the second was the early morning check-in and flight departure on Sunday 5th July – from Liverpool John Lennon Airport as that’s where our out and back point was.

Fortunately we got a bit of a deal on the hotel, car parking and fast-tracking at the airport.

The hotel was the Hampton by Hilton and this plus said car park were across the road from the terminal. Caroline had however left the reception early to get home, change and get in the car for our drive to the airport. Arrival time? 11.15pm…

We decided not to go for the very early breakfast option, but it was still 5am when the alarm went off. Shower, breakfast and check out were completed by 6.45 and the stroll across the road to the terminal took two minutes.

Fast-tracking through security wasn’t a problem – we’d already checked in online, had hand luggage only and had already checked that our bags fitted inside the easyJet hand luggage measuring devices.

Second breakfast wasn’t an option as we had noticed the prices at various cafes, but another coffee to wake us up didn’t break the bank so that option was chosen instead.

This was the first time that we’d flown with easyJet and it has to be said that we didn’t have any problems with the airline or the flight on either our journey to or from Lisbon.

Unlike the family seated behind us. The youngest hadn’t let his mum know that he needed the loo before the seatbelt light went on as the plane started its descent and he ended up peeing himself. His father ‘fessed up to the crew about what had happened whilst his mum went slightly balistic about what had happened.

The crew were fine about it, but one question remained – would the seat be a dry one for the potential occupant on the flight home, given the rapid turnaround times on budget airlines?

Once we reached the land side of the terminal, it was time to hit the Metro to get into Lisbon. We’d used a cab on our first visit in 2013 and then we discovered Viva Viagem rechargeable travel cards.

Yes, there was queue at the machines to the left of the Metro entrance, but the wait was worth it and it wasn’t long before we were on a train and heading into Lisbon in search of Rato Metro Station.

With a few hours to kill before we could check into our digs, it was lunch time.

Our salads and cold drinks came with a friendly warning from the cafe owner about pickpockets, something that we’d read up about before our 2013 visit.

We had taken our own precautions as we were both wearing Rohan travel clothing with plenty of zipped pockets and our respective Osprey Farpoint 40 travel bags were both padlocked as a means of keeping thieving barstools at bay. Others we met during the week weren’t so lucky…

Farpoint 40 Lagoon Blue

The trusty Osprey Farpoint 40 travel pack…

Lisbon Dreams Guest House was our home for the week. It’s not on the beaten track, but it ensured that there would be plenty of exercise over the next seven days as we walked into the centre of Lisbon in search of places to visit or fodder for evening meals.

Our minimalist room had a comfy bed, dressing table, a supply of snacks and drinks on an honesty box system plus a very welcome cool air fan, slippers and a rather luxurious bath robe each, handy as the room wasn’t ensuite and accessing the communal bathrooms meant walking through the TV room/lounge area.

Wine or other snacks were available in the hotel reception area or in the mini market at ground level below Lisbon Dreams and there was 24 hour coffee (instant or fresh depending on time of day) available in the breakfast room/resident’s kitchen area.

As it we were pushing the boat out on this trip and letting others do the catering rather than making meals ourselves, the time came to make a decision as to where to go for the first of those evening meals.

The decision wasn’t hard one we’d visited a good vegetarian place on our first visit to Lisbon. Terra is a few minutes walk away from Lisbon Dreams in Principe Real and it offers a good choice of both vegetarian and vegan food in its buffet spread.

You can sit inside or out in the garden area and choose from starters, mains and sweets plus alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks. Caroline went for fruit juice with her meal and I went for the beer option whilst post-meal drinks were Port and um bica (espresso) respectively.

It would have been quite easy to stay in the garden at Terra and linger over more port or coffee, but as it was now  9.30pm and we still had to walk back to Lisbon Dreams, discretion was the better part of valour so we wandered back to our beds and slept relatively soundly, despite the early morning delivery to the mini-market on the ground floor…

In part II tomorrow – Alafama, Belem and why you should always have some small change on you!

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About Keith Rickaby

Fiftysomething writer and occasional photographer who has worked in both the tailoring trade and the outdoor/travel clothing, equipment and footwear game. Past lives include working as an outdoor instructor, managing three bands and doing PR work through an agency or my own contacts. Was a student in the mid-90s and whilst I'm originally from the North East, I'm now firmly based in't Yorkshire...
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