D-day is here.
The day that we have been excited for a long time. The day when our big adventure begins – St. James way (Camino de Santiago).
“We do it because we can. We can because we want to. We want to because others told us not to do it.”
The hardest part for us is saying goodbye to our kids. Well, kids. Our older 19 years old and younger 16 years old daughters don’t make it as big of a deal as we do, which is ultimately maybe better. At least we don’t feel guilty about leaving them at home. It’s morning and we’re getting in the car with packed bags and we’re heading in the direction of Cheb with Honza (father-in-law), who returns our car back home afterwards. The road to Cheb is basically limit on every corner, including one closed road, which costs us a good 20 minutes extra on the detour.
When we arrive to the bus stop in Cheb, the yellow bus is already there. Time is on our side in this regard. We lay aside our bags in the bus’ trunk and then find our seats as the bus starts heading in the direction of Prague.
The travel goes well thanks to the interactive screen in the seat backrest and so we soon get out on the Prague airport feeling slightly drowsy. We pick up our bags and go for a wake up walk where we find one pre-solved geocache.
After finding the geocache we go to the departure hall. We are quite hungry so we think of eating in a restaurant (buffet), where we ate with the girls before the departure to London. But somehow, we end up in the check-in queue and it’s too late. Jitka says we can surely go eat after the check-in but I have doubts…
We lay our bags and sundries on the conveyor belt and after passing through the detectors we pick our stuff back up. My attention is caught by the security monitor, when it encounters manicure scissors in someone’s bag. What a dork, I’m thinking. Do they not know they can’t bring this to the airplane? When I tell Jitka, she also shakes her head incomprehensibly.
The airport check is now done and we’re looking for an entry to the restaurant. We’re not successful so Jitka makes up a different solution – she buys a big Mexican tortilla (or whatever it is) filled with a quite spicy meat, beans and other delicacies. After the vanquishment of this Mexican volcano, which hopefully won’t erupt, we go to the bathroom to fill drinking water to our bottles and then we move to the spot that our fly ticket tells us to go to.
It’s already quite full here. We still manage to find two free chairs though. We watch the surroundings and I am becoming worried about my bag. After all, it is bigger than the permitted measure for carry-on luggage for our cheapest fly ticket. Well hopefully it will go well, I’m thinking as I hear the announcement: “Dear passengers, due to the full occupancy of the aircraft, carry-on luggage will be re-measured”. This announcement gives me a minor heart attack. I try to hide my baggage behind my legs and it is actually kind of working. At this moment I personally feel smaller than the bag. The staff occasionally passes through but fortunately they don’t seem to pay attention to my bag. But when I see all the bags and backpacks that didn’t pass the measurement test, I get a compulsive need to peach on myself.
Jitka tells me that I’m an unnecessarily honest fool and holds me back so long, that it’s too late to go and confess and so we line up for the last check-up before boarding the plane.
And of course, I’m getting checked by a stewardess who was uncompromisingly checking the bags just a minute ago. I come up to her with my bag in my hands and all she says is: “thank you and have a nice flight, sir”.
The initial shock that I passed shakes off when I’m sitting down on my seat. Jitka sits at the window and I sit on the middle seat.
Fortunately, we’re on an airbus where there’s enough room for my feet and therefore there is no wedging of the knees into the seat in front of me and thus an unwanted back massage of the passenger sitting there.
The last passengers are coming and I’m rejoicing because the seat next to me is still empty. I’m rejoicing prematurely though. An Arabic looking man is suddenly taking the seat. Yay. Compelled by the TV, I immediately scan him with my sight, but at that moment the captain starts welcoming us on board and informing us, that we’re taking off in a few minutes. Then we’re told to buckle up and not long after that we hear the voice of the captain again saying that the flight will unfortunately be delayed, because we didn’t get permission to take off and that it’s going to take 45 minutes. The stewardesses immediately start retailing water as a snack.
After about 35 minutes we’re finally detaching from the ground and gaining height. After a while we see the dirt track of Mariánské Lázně underneath us on the left and then the plane starts heading to southwest. The whole flight is absolutely fine and we are entertained by watching the places that we are flying above. Of course, the most interesting places for us are Spain and Portugal, where both on the screen and underneath us we see the places that we are supposed to be passing through. It’s so intense we’re getting goosebumps. We order a shot of gin and a can of tonic from the stewardess, which makes the flight go even better and so we’re disembarking in Lisbon before we even blink.
Heart – attacking landing
The plane is going down and we’re spinning around the city because we’re landing from the south. We’re going down and are almost touching the runway as the engine starts growling, the tip of the plane goes up and the pressure pushes us back to our seats and annoyingly crashes my hand. The whole plane is shaking and grinding in an unbelievable amount. We suddenly get back to the air instead of landing. I carefully try to break free from the hand hold with the Arabic man and I’m successful after our eyes meet. The shock in everyone’s eyes is very obvious. Except for a few screams there’s a deathly hush in the plane.
When we get high enough again, we hear the voice of the captain who’s apologizing and explaining the situation that just happened. Apparently, the plane didn’t get an approval to land in the last minute and that we have to make a flight around the city. The second landing goes well and so we finally step on the Portuguese ground. The airport is huge and confusing and I’m glad that we have our bags with us and thus we don’t have to look for the conveyor belt with the checked baggage. We see an info stand at the end of the airport hall where they proceed to tell us how and where we can buy the subway tickets. At the ticket machine we first choose to buy cards (€0,60 per each) and then we charge them with certain rides according to the routes we want to go.
We have to check our charged cards when entering the subway. Our accommodation which is in the centre of Lisbon is 9 red route and 5 green route subway stops far. The subway here looks really old and aged but everything is clean. We buy a little magnet of Lisbon in a stand along the way and then we’re finally catching a subway train.
We get out on the station “Rossio” where there’s a square and we start heading to our accommodation called Bons Dias. It doesn’t take long until a doubtful existence joins us and offers us some weed. We decline and walk a little faster. Finding the guesthouse Bons Dias seems impossible at this point. Eventually, we’re finding a door next to which is a little tag telling us that we’re on the right place.
We’re carefully going in and then the lift takes us to the floor where the guesthouse is located. We get out and suddenly we’re standing in from of a door where we’re followed by a security camera. We don’t even have to ring them because we immediately hear a buzzer. We open the door and there’s a swarthy man welcoming us in English in the hall behind it. He leads us to our room, where my worries about the accommodation fade away. They have prepared a nice and clean room with a pretty view on Lisbon for us. There’s a shared bathroom right next to the room but it’s also perfectly clean.
After paying for the lodging and filling a form we receive tips from the receptionist (an Algerian) on where to go and what to see and that we should beware pickpockets. He’s asking why we’re here only for one night and why we have the backpacks. When we tell him why we’re in Lisbon and that tomorrow we’re starting a walking tour to Porto, he rolls his eyes and just like many of our friends and family he asks why, how did we come up with something like this and that if we want to go to Porto, we can take a bus or a train. There are just people you can’t explain this to.
How about some crack?
Nightly Lisbon is pretty but also more dangerous. Instead of weed we are offered some hashish and cocaine by street dealers… We are declining though and going for a quick walk. We buy a Portugal flag brooch for Terka along the way and then we’re heading towards the sound of music on the square to the food stands from which a beautiful smell of many unhealthy dishes emanates. We’re hungry so we can’t resist and buy two sandwiches at one of the stands. We go and find some geocaches on our way back and we make a stop at a shop with sardines where the cover of the can is more interesting than the content.
The cans are actually marked with dates. The first thing that comes to my mind is that only an idiot would buy a 50 years old can, but then we find out that those are gift cans and the date is supposed to correspond with the date of birth of the person who receives the gift.
After that they find out which other celebrity was born in the same year and what important happened in the world that year. We don’t buy the overpriced souvenir and we rather get back to our guesthouse, where we’re planning to eat our sandwiches and decently rest before our walking tour.