Tuesday, June 23, 2015

LISBON - AGAIN...

MORE FROM MY RECENT TRIP TO PORTUGAL...

Hello beasties...

As promised in my last post, this time I am including a diary of my Lisbon trip, as well as some more photos and a prose piece inspired by the staircase in the hotel where we stayed. Here's the diary, first of all...
 

Wednesday 3rd June 2015

On this particular trip I was travelling with my flat-mate, Calum - reluctantly bringing along my bad legs too; but I did kind of need them - so it was inevitable really. I hadn't been well enough for my planned trip to Belfast, but I was determined to go to Lisbon for this potentially more laid back trip. This was my first overseas holiday since Toby and I went to Berlin back in March and thankfully I am in less discomfort than I was then, although still have to be pretty careful. We had quite an early flight, so had stayed at a hotel near Stanstead airport the night before. It was a bit of a cramped flight, but we made it in one piece and - having secured our 3 day Lisboa travel passes - the city, not to mention some of the surrounding towns, were ours to explore. The Metro system in Lisbon is made up of only 4 lines and is easy to use; with escalators, stairs and lifts depending on your preference. We reached our hotel , the excellent Hotel Avenida Palace, by mid-afternoon and soon received the pleasant surprise of a bowl of fresh strawberries as a welcome gift from the hotel. How civilised! We were ready to explore the city a little by late afternoon and ended up taking the 28 tram up the hill in the direction of the castle; not that we quite made it to our exact destination - but it was quite a speedy experience! I'm very glad I had a seat or I'm not sure my poor leg would have been too happy! Having been unceremoniously dumped somewhere in the heights of the city we decided to walk down the hill to the river, where a welcome pint awaited us - as well as a gentleman strumming covers of songs by Snow Patrol and Jessie J, amongst others! Our evening was made... Well, no - but we did find a reasonable Italian restaurant in a nearby square, near a Metro stop that took us right back to our hotel; via my own personal coffee shop - open until 1am. Not that I was ever up that late during this trip; but you can't grumble too much about coffee beverages on tap, now can you? The only thing I did mutter grumpily about was not being able to find the light switch for two of the lamps in the bedroom - I like it to be reasonably dark before sleeping and in the end, around 2am, I finally found it - obscured behind the TV. Calum just dropped off, light or no light, of course! Still, I did start work on my Lisbon blogs in between light switch hunting - so, at least, something was achieved!

Thursday 4th June 2015

Today, began with a leisurely - yet yummy breakfast in the hotel - it really is a very nice place too; hidden light switch issues aside. After breakfast, around ten thirty, we headed off a few stops down from the hotel and took the overland train all the way down to Cascais, stopping for a snack and wandering through the trinket shops down to the beach. After an hour or two we headed back to the station and then went back a few stops to Estoril, sitting in the casino park and later on the terrace of a bar over-looking the sea. The weather was around 25C and the beaches were full, but I had to keep my leg away from all that - it did look very tempting though. After a bit more of a wander we went on to our final stop at Belem and sat in the gardens opposite the station. Fast forward a few hours and we'd had a bit of a rest and then headed up St Gloria's Hill (after a long wait for the venicular) to a viewpoint called Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara which not only looked down on our hotel, but also across the city in the direction of the castle and the river. By luck we stumbled upon a restaurant that had a buffet serving Portuguese speciality dishes which turned out to be a super delicious way to end the day... The gin and tonics were rather agreeable too and helped when I had to totter back down St Gloria's when the trams there were on yet another extended break! Ah well, you can't win them all and at least I didn't break a hip!

Friday 5th June 2015...

Today, I was beginning to wilt slightly from all the walking and partly from the sun - but we used our Lisboa cards to travel to Sintra, an attractive town some thirty minutes or so inland from Lisbon. Sintra has an interesting Palace and a castle high on the hill which would have been interesting to visit - but it was a bit of a trek from the station, so we pretty much just walked from the station to the main palace square, had lunch and then headed back again. Back in Lisbon, Calum did a little more exploring whilst I caught up with some reading and then we returned to the pizzeria that we'd had dinner at on the first night; partly to use the 20% off token that they'd given us on that visit. It was all very nice and this time we avoided the uncomfortable seats and screaming brats! Once again it was another enjoyable day overall.
 
Saturday 6th June 2015...

Not much to add - we had breakfast, took our time getting packed and then headed back to the airport. Everything went well, despite lots of queuing as we reached our flight gate; it was a long day and we got home around 9.30 - in tact but a good three and a half hours after we'd landed! I was bushed for most of Sunday, but glad that I had made the effort to take the trip despite my leg issues! Still, I'm glad my next holiday is closer to home...

My previous blog entry included a number of photos from my first day and a half in Lisbon... We pick up now with photos that were taken on Friday 5th June 2015, on the last full day of the trip...

Well, wasn't that was nice!? Before I depart I also intend to include a new piece of prose that was inspired by the staircase at the hotel in Lisbon... Some of it - the main structure of the piece - was written on the 4th June, whilst the rest was completed once I had returned up until the day that this entry was posted.

Next time, I intend to post a Day In The Life piece about a certain Mr Shy Yeti - either that or maybe one of my new books will be ready for publishing, but we'll see - I'm afraid I'm progressing rather slowly, right at the moment.

Lastly, I should issue you with one or two warnings about Lisbon - for instance please remember to avoid travelling with aliens in lifts...


...not to mention staying out of the way of anything that resemble these beasties!


What's more I'm not too sure that you should trust these guys, either - it all looks a little trashy if you ask me!


Ah well, more soon...

Yeti hugs,

Paul xx


THE STAIRS (MAKING AN ENTRANCE)

She always did like to make an entrance...
That particular morning she did just that;
Processing down those stairs in her wedding dress...
A vision of silk and bows -
Expensive perfume masking the smell of cheap cigarettes...
Smiling knowingly, as if to say...
"Yes, today is my day... Notice me!"
Keen for all the staff, for all the guests to see and appreciate her...
Her father on her arm, bridesmaids following close behind...
The chauffeur watching the clock, hovering expectantly in the doorway;
Eyes darting back to his vehicle, fearful of the yob scene...
Excitement in the air...
If only she had known what was to come...

Later...

Even then she made an entrance -
Even when things were going wrong she ensured people knew...
Crept up those stairs, as if she hoped nobody would see her...
The actress in her still needed the attention...
Even when her world was falling apart -
Even after her girlfriend had failed to show up at the church...
Left to face her family and friends with no real explanation...
Where was her wife to be? What had become of her?
Had there been an accident or was it deliberate?
Had she herself caused it, somehow?
Soon after her own sister was discovered to be missing -
The truth - or some version of it - was soon out; the secrets revealed.
Standing at the top of those stairs, too drunk to think...
Her love lost; without words - without apology...
It was there and then that she had made her decision;
One final career move - throwing herself over the banisters...
Making an entrance to the very last...

THE STAIRS (MAKING AN ENTRANCE) and all contents of this post are Copyright Paul Chandler, 2015

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