. Making it to the hotel in perfect timing, we checked out and headed to the train station where we made a few switches (with a couple of near misses) to get to our final destination, Southend Airport. It’s a new airport, we’re assuming it’s been specially constructed for the Olympics. Everybody there is under training, and were all very nice. Being a small airport, we walked to our plane across the tarmac and climbed the stairs to our first Easyjet experience. It was very pleasant! Clean plane, on time, nice flight attendants... no frills for the price, but the airline serves it’s purpose well. I can’t leave Southend Airport before I tell you that I saw a British dad giving his toddler Budweiser after the little guy bumped his head. Apparently the kid already has a taste for beer and I wish desperately I could have snapped a picture because I’ve never seen anything like it... 2 years old guzzling a bottle of beer. It seems they really don’t care about drinking ages in Europe. Finally, we arrive in Faro... the airport is perplexing. It’s under construction/ renovations, so when you make your way to the arrivals area, you find it’s actually just a big tent in the parking lot. We spent the next 30 minutes looking for the car rental place, which turned out to be a Portuguese woman standing in the far corner of the lot with a little binder and the company’s name on it. After some formalities and signatures, she escorted us to our “car” - a manual, colorfully decorated step up from a smart car
. If you sneeze you might blow the blue and white swirled trinket over. Seriously, I couldn’t have hoped for better! Julia was quite impressive with her manual driving skills, managing to make it out of the parking lot in one go. Very proud of her... we somehow made it around a couple of roundabouts and over a narrow road crossing the water to the house. Jose (pronounced “Joe-say” in Portugal) promised to be there within 30 minutes, so with nothing else to do, I decided to give driving standard a go for only the second time in my life. It went rather well until I needed to reverse - don’t ever make me reverse. I think I stalled the car in the middle of the - thankfully deserted - road no less than five times before I managed to back up and turn around. It was as entertaining as you might imagine. Jose’s 30 minutes turned into an hour, but I figure this is something we should get used to being in Southern Portugal. After finally arriving and giving us the tour of the very spacious apartment, as well as some groceries he bought for us, he bid us farewell. We raided the liquor stash leftover from the many previous airbnb’ers and settled on a nice Portuguese wine. It went well with the bread and cheese Jose brought for us. After a make shift dinner in our new home of four days, we ventured out to the deck that overlooks the ocean to meet our German neighbors. Several glasses of wine later, a few blankets, and many hours, we said goodnight to our German buddies and retired to the day beds in the living room for some reality TV. Julia woke me up at 3:35am to let me know it was time for bed. Tomorrow, we try driving into the city...
Today we head to Portugal! Before that, I decide to leave Julia at the hotel and pop over to Harrods to see what all the fuss is about. It’s massive, and I quickly get lost in all of the designer clothes and shoes and bags and and and... I was so taken by a pair of shoes that I neglected to notice the perfectly polished glass shelf in front of me and gave myself a solid bump in the head when I leaned in for the shoes. True story, I have the goose egg on my forehead to prove it. I then realized the time and in my daze tried to make my way out of Harrods. I’m not sure if it was the bump on the head, the maze that is the massive department store, or both, but I couldn’t seem to find my way to an exit for nearly 20 minutes. Officially running behind schedule, I decided it was the perfect time to have my first london cab experience and climbed on in to one of the curious looking cars. They look deceptively small from the outside, but it turns out they are quite smart inside, with intercoms and buttons, and plenty of room to comfortably seat 4-5 people