Port for breakfast

Trip Start Oct 18, 2007
Trip End Nov 20, 2007

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Day 15 Lisbon - 1 November 2007
Wake up and we are already docked in Lisbon just below the April 25 (??) Bridge. Watch from the verandah as Royal Clipper comes in to dock astern of us; an amazing five masted clipper and flagship of Star Clippers.  Today is our Ensemble shore excursion that came with our booking. 
Meet in the Queens Room and we're last to arrive.  Straight down to the bus.  I can see the walking part of this tour might be a problem as some of the people are hardly mobile and even getting down the stairs is a struggle for some of them. As we board the bus we're handed a bottle of water by a beautiful young guy in the costume of the prime minister of Portugal from the year in the 1700s that a devastating tsunami hit Lisboa.  He is giving away the water that inundated the city. Our guide is great and her accent fantastic.  Takes a bit of effort to work out some of the things she is saying but lots of fun. 
Lisbon is beautiful!!!  It's All Saints Holiday so most of Lisbon is closed.  The plus is that there is virtually no traffic.  Drive round the city before being dropped off to catch one of the famous little trolley cars.  They go up each side of the city.  Maybe called a funicular?  Something like that.  The carriage we go up the hill in was built in 1905.  Terrific. 
Get to the top and the first set of steps are already a problem.  Luckily our first destination is about fifty yards away.  The Institute of Port!!  And we're not talking shipping.  It's not even 10 o'clock.  Our guide tells us that port is the cure for all ills and there's nothing better than port at 10, 12, 2, 4, 6... you get my idea.  So we down a good sized glass of very nice port.  No wonder the Portuguese are so friendly.
Once we finish here (I hold the group up by buying some port) we head down through the town.  It is just beautiful.  Tiled facades everywhere.  A large part of Lisbon was destroyed by a tsunami in the 1700s and our guide points out places and areas that were devastated.  We end up in a square and are told we have an hour to shop.  Takes a bit of explaining for those with no brains (mmm... that would be the elderly Americans who want it all spelled out in REALLY BIG LETTERS, sorry to our American friends reading this but you know the people I'm talking about) as to where our meeting place will be. 
"At the end of the street in front of that entrance." 
"Which street?" 
We head off in search of the railway station.  We have read that it is spectacular.  We have no luck with our search.  Take some pictures of an amazing building with keyhole arches for door ways and go in to ask for directions.  Guess what? We're in it!  But the main part of the station is closed for renovation.  Oh well. 
Back to the meeting point and then up the hill to the restaurant.  The hills are a  huge problem for a number of these people.  Half way up and luckily for half of the group we're at the entrance to the restaurant we're having lunch at

It is a beautiful restaurant.  Vaulted brick and paster ceilings.  Our pictures won't do this place justice.  The meal is great.  Our table mates fantastic.  One couple who have cruised on Star Clippers five times and recommend Star Flyer big time.  They've recently cruised Tahiti and the Cook Islands on Tahitian Princess and get the feeling although they liked it, not all was well.  Also at the table are Ginny and her husband who are fab, and a German couple who have lived in Canada for thirty years and who keep Al enthralled throughout lunch with their travel tales. Service is very good, our glasses are never empty.  Waiters not bad on the eye either.  Latin men, gee. There are a lot of very good looking men in Mediterranean Europe.
Finish up lunch after and hour and a half.  Continue up the hill to some groans from the oldies but it's not too far and down hill all the way after we get to the top.  Wander past lost of great looking little local bars and cafes.  We could spend a lot more time here and I think it's my favourite place so far.  That's saying a lot after how much I loved both Venice and Rome.  Al won't cast his vote quite yet. 
Sadly lunch has taken a bit too long so the rest of the tour is rushed.  We head across to Belem and the Belem Palace and tower.   Stop and Belem Palace and our guide asks if anyone wants to get out.  Some up the front say no but as youngens up the back shout out yes, so we do.  As we get out we're given a Belem cakes (??) and it's a delicious little custard tart just like you get at yum cha.  Snap a couple of quick pictures.  Don't even stop at the tower.  I'm very disappointed about this as it'll be dusk when we sail and the chances of any good pictures from the ship as we leave are slim.  Go past a whole row of great bars and restaurants along the waterfront right under the bridge.  You could have a really good time here.
Although the tour was lots of fun, it could have been better planned, explained and executed, but it was free so we're not complaining.  Yet again, we met some amazingly interesting and well travelled people. 
Back on board and our shorex tickets are in the letterbox.  I'm so excited but no Marrakech.  Lifeboat drill just after we get onboard.  Tell Karen and Mary about Marrakech and they're fine.  Karen has been to Marrakech before and can understand why we have to go if we can.
Go up to sail away party in t-shirt and shorts but soon realise it's a little too cool for that.  So we drink sail-away cocktails in silly glasses to numb the cold.  Stand and talk to Hank and Suzanne and tell them about Marrakech as well.  They can totally understand.  Attempt to take photos of Belem and the city as we sail past but they're hopelessly blurred.  Ah well, next time!
Head down to dinner and Sue is waiting for us.  Tells us that she and Edith have had a row and tells us what was said.  Al had already been told the same thing by Edith last night when they went to the Crows Nest.  This five at the table thing could be horrid.  Might end up at the Lido if it deteriorates too badly.  Dinner ends up being fine.  Women!  Tonight's show is an Australian acrobatic duo.  IT IS TERRIBLE.  REALLY TERRIBLE.  Along with quite a few others we walk out.

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