Sunday 8 May 2016Yesterday, we left home around 10.10am. Jess dropped us at the Jolimont Centre in Canberra, and we headed to Sydney on the bus. We flew Singapore Airlines to Singapore, the flight taking about eight hours. We forgot ourselves: the minute we stepped into the terminal, we put chewing gum in our mouths and then Singapore's strict anti-chewing gum laws hit me. We put the gum in the bin quickly. But then, we hadn't actually entered the country, just the terminal.
We boarded another Singapore Airlines flight bound for Milan. The flight took 12 hours, and we both managed to fall asleep for some of the time. All my life, Singapore Airlines has had a great reputation, but I'd never flown with them before. I can tell you the service is pretty good. They never stop serving you food and drink. Jean had a few Singapore Slings. I really liked the hot towels they give you for your face. I like to put the near-boiling towels on my way-too-tired eyes. Feels great.
We eventually arrived in Milan, but remained on board as we were flying on to Barcelona, where we duly arrived a few hours later. With a nod to the old expression about the rain in Spain, the weather was wet in Barcelona. Some confusion ensued as to where we were supposed to clear customs and whether we had to collect our luggage or not. But it all worked out in the end. We flew on to Lisbon, and again changed planes to make the final leg of our journey.
We arrived in Porto around 4.30 pm. Our friends, Neil and Carolyn, couldn't collect us from the airport as they were delayed trying to find our accommodation. We caught a taxi to the vicinity of our accommodation, as we knew Neil was somewhere nearby. The Portuguese taxi driver spoke no English, but I was shocked to find he spoke German! The taxi driver, who looked quite old, must have driven through the streets at 200 km per hour.
We found Neil and Carolyn on the banks of the Douro River, beneath the Ponte de D. Luis I bridge, with what looks like an old monastery perched on the hill above. They escorted us to our accommodation, difficult to find if you didn't know where it was - into a cafe and into its rear shadows and up a hidden path with steep steps.