Portugal: It’s Not the Destination, It’s the Voyage
After a long and relaxing breakfast al fresco on the hilly cobbled street in front of our hotel in the Alfama area of Lisbon in Portugal, we decided to traipse down to the train station to pick up our tickets for tomorrow’s trip to Porto, where we’re picking up rental cars and heading to the villa we’ve rented on the outskirts of Barcelos.
Along the way we had to stop for everyone’s various needs: Ricann wanted to show us the hotel she almost booked us (always dicey – you don’t want to stoke any feelings of “hotel envy” once you’re already ensconced somewhere else). Steve and Ricann’s last name is also the name of a popular local beer, so we had to stop while we took pictures of him posing in front of the signage, which was everywhere, it seemed. Jim, as always, needed a snack, just to fortify himself for the trip down the hill. And Yao Yao just wanted to know if we still had a destination in mind or if we were just meandering. It was the biggest, most hilarious “waste” of time you can imagine – but that’s the pleasure of spending time with people you enjoy: the everyday becomes extraordinary.
That kind of barely controlled chaos is the way we roll, as friends and travel companions. And on travel day, the chaos continued. We got on the wrong train and then had to move all our bags off one car and on to another halfway down the train. Jim had to be restrained because his seatmate was doing high-finance on his cellphone at top volume, one of his pet peeves. And once again, we were hungry. Not hungry like, “I need a little something to tide me over,” but hungry like, “Oooh, these cookies look good, I love gingersnap!” “How ‘bout some chocolate! Make sure it’s 70% dark cocoa!” “Chips! I need chips!” “Uh, I said chips! Chips! Pringles are not chips!” I’m not sure what happens to me (and, frankly, everyone else on this trip), but when I get confined to a car, train, or plane, I become ravenous for things I would ordinary never touch. And yes, Yao Yao included. By the way, she got her beloved Pringles. I may have had one or two . . .
We arrived in Porto, Portugal, full and thirsty from the sodium content of our snack choices. We picked up our cars and were on our way. We paid a little extra for GPS.
Unfortunately, we caravanned, and that’s a recipe for Keystone Kops style mayhem. Yes, we’ve traveled together to Africa, Italy, Costa Rica, Spain, and other points of interest, yet we seemingly couldn’t figure out the Portuguese GPS. We were within 200 yards of our finaldestination in the little village of Panque, yet an hour and a half later we were still driving loops through the hills and hinterland. We actually drove past the villa twice during that time.
In all fairness, it was dusk, not well signed, and our reason was clouded by the excessive consumption of salt and sugar. On the way, though, we did come upon a little market and stopped to get some “essentials” for the house. Wouldn’t do to starve, would it?
Anyway, the villa and surrounding countryside were wonderful. Our Portuguese host couldn’t have been more congenial. And we ate very, very well. Stay tuned for more details.