Slow, Anxious Start


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Europe » Portugal » Northern » Covas do Douro
October 15th 2019
Published: October 15th 2019
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Friday, Oct 11

Well, we were all out front with our baggage waiting for our driver at 9:30 am. At 9:48 still waiting and then sent a text to our driver making sure it was a 9:30 meeting time. At 10:00 when there was no response I sent another text. Very unlike him not to answer immediately. 10:15 the group is still waiting so I had reception in the hotel call the travel company to see what was going on. They said they would call back as soon as they found out. Getting concerned for the driver who has still not responded. 10:38 still waiting so decided to try emailing the agent myself who had booked our group and tried phoning the van rental company but their help line didn't work. Actually got an email response at 11:00 that the agent was trying to find the driver. 11:30 the driver called - panic in his voice - he would be there in 20 minutes. At 11:48 we were finally in the van and heading for Lisbon. Thank goodness he was fine and we didn't have any specific schedule we had to follow. Super quiet ride for the first hour or
view while I tried to write the blog view while I tried to write the blog view while I tried to write the blog

then just as I went to hit save the satellite internet went out.
so. The driver had apologized profusely for being late. He had gotten up early and washed the van, cleaned the interior, filled up with gas and bought water for the ride. By then he was still too early to come and get us so he had gone back to his room, turned on the TV and directly fallen asleep. He had explained earlier that he had weird sleeping patterns and that he could sleep for 2 days straight after long sessions of road trips.

At a comfort stop along the way, unknowingly, we had each gone up to him and told him not to worry that things happen and we are all fine. He was despondent and said he felt he had stolen 2 hours of our holiday. Back in the van he finally started to relax a bit and began his usual banter telling us about the surrounding countryside and then taking us to a great viewpoint overlooking Lisbon before delivering us to our hotel.

Now we were in Viking River Cruises' hands!

Saturday, October 12

Up early to catch a 9 am bus tour of the Lisbon. Saw Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery and other sites were pointed out as well. Lisbon seriously needs more time. Maybe another trip! In the afternoon Ross and I walked and found a great restaurant called Zenith. We were the oldest in there. Everyone else was 30 years younger at least. Food was great and it was the best cappuccino I have had since leaving home - so I had another. We continued our walk to the Alfama area where I did a sketch and then I limped my way back to the hotel. Had a nice rest. Dinner at the hotel bar - soup and salad.

Sunday, October 13

Bussing to Porto began at 8:30 am. Stopped in Coimbra - a neat university town and visited the amazing library from the 1500's. Had lunch where we were entertained with Fado music. One 12 string guitar player, regular player and the Fado singer. It was tempting to buy their CD but I never use CD's anymore. Arrived at the ship in the rain (we stopped the drought - yay). Unpacked, nice dinner, and welcome and then bed.

Monday, October 14

One of the group has lost one of her bejewelled sandals. No idea where. We'd last seen them on her in Evora but now one is gone - how do you do that! You usually pack shoes in pairs. Excursion around Porto seeing the sights and hitting a pedestrian shopping street. Another town I could spend more time in. And could actually spend more period. Lunch on the ship and then a port (the liquid) tour of the Ferreira cellar. Interesting info how to keep and handle vintage port etc - my bottles usually aren't the $3000 ones nor the $300 ones but the $39.00 ones and you just drink them. Good generous samples complete with cheese and crackers. Careful walk back to the ship where I took yet another glass of port up unto the roof deck and sipped and read! Had a lot of trouble falling asleep that night - not sure why.

Tuesday, October 15

Leisurely morning taking photos as we sailed upriver. Beautiful vineyards, quaint villages at a nice slow pace. Travelled through a few locks and then had lunch. Docked at Lamego and had an excursion to the Mateus Palace and Gardens (yes the extravagant wine from university days). Ross had accidentally left his wallet on board so no purchases. From there we went to Sandeman vineyards and after a short tour we all had small samples of port. No wallet remember. Back on board for a bouffet (Portugese pronunciation of buffet) of many fish dishes, duck, wild boar, and luscious desserts. Seems our retired dentist is making up for lost time as 3 desserts or more a day is his norm for the trip so far. Back to the room early to try and catch up with this blog. Good night.


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16th October 2019

We missed you by a week!
So glad you sent this! Glenn and I left Lisboa on October 9th for home. We spent time in Lisbon, Porto, Evora, Coimbra--went to the library! How funny we should miss each other by such a short time. We really enjoyed our time there. Send more blogs! Hugs to the two of you. Lori

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