I think I might have said before that I do realise ‘tales from my holiday’ are something close to gloating and should be avoided.
However, unless you want to read my four page seminal work on how to sort and price a donation of books to Oxfam written this afternoon for new volunteers, this is all I have.
Arriving late into Lisbon, we had opted to stay the night there rather than get the hire car from somewhere in the airport and drive three hours across the country in the dark, to a place that barely registered on any map.
Last time, and for that matter the time before, we were in Lisbon we stayed in a lovely, posh hotel which was built into the castle walls. Suffice it to say, it had its own peacocks.
(On one stay there, we had a bodyguard.
Actually, he was guarding my husband, not me, as he pointed out when I said that he must be tired and we would be perfectly alright on our own.
I could, it seems, have wandered across the city on my own risking all sorts but as long as the best beloved was protected to the very door of the very nice hotel, all was right in the world.)
This time it was a chain hotel near-ish to the airport and that -ish later became important.
We arrived to a very polite and friendly welcome and settled into the bar area and ordered a club sandwich.
Now a good club sandwich is a nice thing and the benchmark for us was set by a hotel in Reading, yes really.
We had arrived, do stop me if I have told you this before, footsore, hungry and weary after train chaos on the way back from watching rugby in Cardiff and unable to use any form of public transport to get us further towards Petersfield.
It was about 10pm and we had no luggage, but the receptionist promptly produced a pair of toothbrushes – and that was a very nice gesture.
Room service, she told us, could rustle up a club sandwich, a beer and a glass of white wine.
So we went to our room. It had a huge bed, a good film on the telly and minutes later the best club sandwich (with good chips) arrived – it was all very good indeed.
( I may have overused the word good, but really it was!)
So, back in Lisbon, the club sandwich was fine, but not a patch on Reading.
Now, the receptionist had told us there was a taxi strike the next day but all we needed to do was to call down when we got up and by the time we had showered and got dressed a, presumably strike-breaking, taxi would appear and all would be well.
I did have a moment’s thought about black-legging but I compared that to lugging cases around the public transport system and swallowed it.
Next day, however it turned out there were a lot fewer strike-breakers than would have been ideal in the circumstances.
We were advised by the day shift receptionist that we should take the metro. Now that would have been OK if not for the fact that as we left the hotel there was a airport shuttle minibus about to set off.
The night receptionist had failed to mention this fact and therefore to advise us to book a seat. There were no seats available for hours.
I won’t bore you with a minute by minute account of the Lisbon metro ( it is fine, really) and will just mention that there are signs in all the carriages explaining, in a variety of languages, smoking was prohibited.
But the English translation was ‘No Smokers!’
A bit harsh I thought, and how could they be sure of every passenger’s personal habits. But maybe it explained why in the face of a taxi strike, the trains were surprisingly empty on the last leg to the airport.