You’ve heard already how impressive the Evolution hotel and its wifi are. Unlike wifi in many places they apparently have a fibre network in Portugal, recent and, wonderful. Honestly, downloading maps, anything, I’m sold on it. And I can’t repeat myself enough. The speed and bandwidth! Wow.
Breakfast yesterday: J and I ate nearby. We walked first and met one local character, with a large pet rabbit he was very willing to have photographed and patted. Yes, yes, the rabbit just ‘sat’ there twitching its nose and was otherwise disinterested. 😁
Then I’m ashamed to say we stopped for a Starbucks mocca. They always have toilets. Except this one. To top it off, no toilets and someone picked up half our order so it all got a bit confusing. Nice mocca in the end. 😄
And then, the group of my fellow walkers. Eleven of us from the USA, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Australia. And most look a lot less fit than I’d expected. Jodie told me it was certainly going to be less strenuous than walking into Machu Picchu. Seems she might be right.
Guides: one who lives locally is French, and the other is the company rep, from the USA. What are they like? So far so good.
After an initial briefing and the same instructions repeated 50 times, as us grouped humans are wont to need, we all headed out. Metro to downtown. Changed lines, something that is easy to do in Lisbon.
Walked along the waterfront, up hills, down hills and then up to a castle overlooking Lisbon . Not impressed by the castle. It’s a 19xx version of a fantasy castle used (and no doubt developed) for nationalistic reasons by the dictator Salazar. There are so many better castles elsewhere in the world.
On the top were a few miserable diggings into moorish dwellings from about 1,000 years ago. Put it bluntly, skip the castle. It’s a ‘politics meets Disney’ version. Lots of battlements, a millions stairs, some archers dressed for the middle ages, and can I say ‘stairs’ again. 😏
Pretty impressive in parts but a very large earthquake in 1755, following one a few hundred years earlier, really means few buildings are very old. Town planning after the second one means big wide streets in much of the central city. Few areas we saw are what I’d call charming. Some, but not my general impression of the little we’ve seen to date.
was the strangest affair. No menu, no buffet but it started with questions as to whether we wanted cereal, fruit, croissants… Lunch? What was to come was never spelt out but we ended up with wonderful local yoghurt, an unsweetened variety, various bits of meat and cheese, croissants etc. Very disorganised. This is the first time this trip has run so I’m guessing it will be a bit clearer next time.
Very nice people hanging around a statue:
After many many hours of walking streets, dinner at about 20:00. Near the hotel, typical type of Spanish menu del dia: first course a rice and fish dish, then meat (not Spanish shoe leather) with potato, dessert and we couldn’t leave soon enough to get back to the hotel. Food was unexciting and it was sooo noisy and echoey in there. Not much fun. J and I had a coffee, briefly chatted to the company guide, and our day ended.
Just as I’ve grown to love the wifi here, figured out the complex master controls for blinds and lights, we are leaving Evolution hotel. Oh well.
First proper walk day started with a protracted lecture aimed at grade 1 walkers, absolute beginners who’ve not even used poles or put on boots previously. A bit depressing that this group might need that level of instruction. Surely everyone has trained enough that they know this! Aggghhh oh hell.
Ok. Now we are onto tying boots and putting on our socks. No kidding. Makes me think of 5 toe socks. They are wonderful. As long as I allow 10′ per sock in the morning. Making 5 distorted little piggies go into individual pouches is almost funny 😂. Keeps excessively friendly toes in their own places. And now the advice has moved to clipping toe nails and I’ve discovered it’s an issue for flight attendants in the USA! As one of the group said, ‘only in america’. Can you imagine it! Clipping your nails on planes. And on trains! Clipping nails in shared public spaces. Ugh.
Oh hell. The lecture is still going. Beam me out Scottie. I am old and cynical. I like our guides, they have a great sense of humour and I have to remind myself that we don’t all have the same level of experience. Still, it was a little protracted as it’s the trip that’s new, not us walkers.
Trip to Sintra
We were bussed to Sintra. What a disorganised shemozzle. A small bus for too many people with too much luggage after more waiting than you’d want. Big luggage from one with one large rolly and one small rolly plus a small back pack through to smaller packs. Crowded, dangerous but ok. 👌😏 Thank heavens a 12th person pulled out. Fitting one more in was not an option.
The trip into Machu Picchu required considerably less mucking around and was better organised. Hmm, and that was probably its 50th incarnation too no doubt and this is the #1 time for this trip. And, a different company. I note the number of repeat travellers on this. Interesting.
Sintra is a very touristy town not far from Lisbon so, on a Sunday, it’s busy.
We saw Disney castles, walked up hills.
We didn’t recognise this guy but he was impressive.
Walked into more heavily visited areas, unsurprisingly given the castles and car parks around the huge park we were in.
Saw the ugliest gingerbread house ever. Unbelievably ugly with its cork finishing touches. Truly unbelievable. Couldn’t face taking a photo of the equally ugly little foot bridge with cork finishing touches. No!
We had a nice picnic lunch, on the edge of one unusually not-very-busy track. Honestly, not a riveting place and it was a busy spring Sunday.
Still, we got a very good day’s walking. Everyone made it and seemed to do it quite well.
Hotel in Sintra
A disappointment at the start after the Evolution hotel in Lisbon! An old fashioned hotel with seemingly only the people who run it and the wifi to recommend it.
Again, an exceptional wifi download speed so I’m happy about that. My room is small, I can’t see in the wardrobe as it’s too dark to do so, but there is nowhere else to keep clothes. No towel racks or hooks as not enough space. No basin plug so you keep water running while you wash clothes.
We got back from the castles a bit after 7, checked in and are meeting at 19:45 for info on tomorrow. Fingers crossed it’s relevant and not general hiking stuff again. 😏
Wasn’t as bad. Was still too waffly and imprecise for my liking as it means sitting around when I could be online, resting and reading 😂😂.
I was tired. And so was everyone else. Who are they? Range from retired folk, to a paediatric dentist, to an HR person, a physician assistant, gerontologist, consultant educator, hydroponic lettuce grower, engineer, and I’ve forgotten what else.
Served by some really great guys, very nice meal including monk fish and broccoli and then profiteroles. Really really nice and it was quiet enough that we could interact and it finished earlier. Still, we didn’t get back until about 21:30. Very nice to go to bed.
The morning after? Nice bed. Breakfast starts at 8 but coffee was available earlier.