Reichart Ramblings
The Thoughts & Travels of Shane & Amanda Reichart

Portugal

Oct 5, 2023 - Amanda Reichart

The weather during our trip has been all over the place! In England and Ireland, it was unseasonably cold while Portugal and Spain were having a record heat wave. Due to a delayed flight, we did not arrive in Lisbon until nearly 2 a.m. and were headed out the next morning to catch a train to Porto, Portugal. We arrived at the train station by bus and were unable to get a train until later in the afternoon. This was not a big problem as Shane needed to get some work done after several very busy weeks of exploring! Due to the typically moderate weather in Portugal, however, the train station did not have air conditioning and we were melting! Although Shane needed to work the heat made it nearly impossible until finally, he gave up and we joined everyone around us in eating ice cream bars.

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Squid Ink Seafood Ravioli

We boarded the train and got situated in the perfect spot. Finally, we had air conditioning and the perfect set-up to work and rest as we made our way to Porto. That is until we realized there were assigned seats and we were not in ours. So, we grabbed our very heavy bags and made our way 3-4 cars back to our seats. There only to discover that the one train car that did not have air conditioning held our designated seats! The heat was stifling with no airflow and nothing but hours of riding to go. Shane once again gave up on working, but this time there was no ice cream to distract us and temporarily cool us off. Near the end of our ride, I realized my ankles were quite swollen. It felt as though it was past discomfort and becoming dangerous. Someone finally came and opened the windows but this provided little relief. When we found we had passed the train stop we needed, a kind person helped us buy the tickets we needed, but then we passed our stop a second time! We were overtired, feet swollen, but finally not hot as the temperatures had dropped with it nearing evening. We were so happy to arrive at our Airbnb but then discovered the address was not complete. Addresses in other countries are complicated and not in the same order as we are used to so we didn’t realize we were missing needed information. Shane messaged the host and then we sat outside in the courtyard of the apartment buildings and waited. It was only around ten minutes before our host came down to get us but after such a long day it felt like forever! We ended the evening with a good meal and gelato, and so ready to get some rest!

Porto is beautiful! We only spent a day and a half enjoying it, but it was time well spent. We picked aWine_Tour.jpg simple wine tour. It included a short tour of the city and a tour of the winery where we got to sample two wines. We then headed to a museum about the same winery and sampled another wine. It was interesting to see how the winery operated and a delight to indulge a little after two long travel days. After the wine tour, we wandered around the city and came upon a food market with several local cuisines to dine on including Natas, which is similar to a miniature flan but so much tastier!

Our train ride back to Lisbon was thankfully much less noteworthy. But our dinner wasn’t! We went to a restaurant just down the street from where we were staying as it had still been a long day of travel. We were pretty far out from the city center and despite them not having an English menu we were able to order via Google Translate, the little English our waiter knew, and pointing to the items we wanted. We ordered a meal for two that came with three different types of meat and French fries. We then ordered a carafe of champagne to share. Olives were brought to the table, and then bread. Shane looked at me and said, “I think this is going to be a very expensive meal. I forgot that in some countries if you don’t refuse something they are bringing they will charge you for it.” We were already this far in so with some concern for what the bill would bring we continued enjoying our meal. When we finally called for the check, it only totaled twenty-four euros! We couldn’t believe it!

The train ride to Lisbon turned out to be more noteworthy than it first appeared when Shane realized he had left his Nintendo Switch in the pocket of the seat in front of him. He sent an email to the train station immediately in hopes that either someone had turned it in, or so they could check the seat pocket. It seemed possible it was still there since the color was very similar and the Switch blended in with the seat pocket fabric; part of why he forgot to grab it when leaving the train. And the next day we went to the train station to check with them in person. The language barrier was difficulty to overcome, and it seemed the attendant who “helped us” hoped if he stared off into space for long enough, we would just give up. This meant a long time of wait and much frustration as Shane tried to communicate our situation. The attendant finally got a manager to talk with us and while we doubted the Switch would be found, Shane was satisfied that he had at least conveyed his point and the train car would be checked. That left us with our other goal for the day: finding a cocktail attire dress for the wedding we would attend in Lisbon.

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Lisbon’s streets and sidewalks are beautiful! They are made of mosaic tiles in many different patterns. While they are very pretty and unique to look at, the steep hills make them slick and incredibly difficult to walk on! I kept making Shane hold onto me so I wouldn’t slip. Thankfully there were beautiful views and we made our way on foot to find a dress using Google as our means of finding a suitable store. It was comical trying to explain what “cocktail attire” meant to Shane. He was so sweet to help me look for dresses and would even point some out and patiently wait as I tried them on. But as it got later and later in the day I could see he was fading. I think most women can relate that when you are looking for something specific you can never find it and when you are broke you can’t stop finding things that look perfect on you. With this in mind and wishing I would have used the space in my travel bag for an appropriate dress, we headed to one more store. Thankfully it had what I needed! And then we quickly found a pair of shoes that not only went with the dress but were actually comfortable heels. It felt like a miracle. And so, on our six-month anniversary, we spent the day in sacrifice for each other. I had patience while Shane tried and track down something important to him and he had patience while I tried to find something important to me. It actually is a pretty good picture of marriage. Exploring together, laughing together, and sacrificing for one another.

And Lisbon was full of adventures and misadventures most often involving travel. You may be noticing a trend! Trying to catch the metro so we wouldn’t have to wait for the next one we hopped on looking everywhere for somewhere to pay, but we didn’t see a place to buy tickets. On arrival, we realized we couldn’t exit the metro without a ticket so walked into the police station to tell them we still needed to pay. Maybe this was the beginning of my homesickness or maybe it was due to this being the longest I had ever traveled or maybe it was due to the language barrier that was worse than any country so far. Whatever the cause, it hit me hard! We found ourselves back at that same station a couple of days later having a conversation with an attendant who told us getting to the town of Sintra was, “not possible” as we looked at a metro line named “Sintra”. I ended up breaking down. I was so frustrated as we had just had a conversation with him the previous day when he kept saying, “It is simple, you are clever.” It was not at all simple. The problem, we finally discovered, is that you can buy trips or you can put money on a card but you can’t put them on the same card. The purchases, however, are saved on the exact same card, so you have to mark which one has money and which has trips! You also have to know how many zones you need to go if putting trips on your card. All that to say… we never made it to Sintra. That day we simply went McDonalds. We were out of Euros, the local restaurants wouldn’t take American credit cards and, well, we just needed something familiar!

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There was also the time Shane and I almost got separated on a train and had to form a game plan as we realized we would have had no way of contacting each other if truly separated. And the time we tried to get into the wrong apartment and I’m sure scared the poor lady living there to death!

My favorite misadventure, though, occurred on a walk to find a grocery store. Shane and I passed a small shop and saw a man dressed in all black, with a black hoodie pulled up over his head sprint out of the shop’s door. I turned to Shane and said, “Do you think that guy just stole something?” Just after that comment the store owner came running out and pointed him in the direction of the man we had just seen. As we walked further, we came up a hill and there eating a bag of chips was the same guys we saw make a quick exist from the store. Shane walked towards him and said, “You need to take that back. The guy said, “Sorry, I don’t speak English,” in perfect English. Shane turned to me and said, “I’m not sure where we go from here.” We walked away shocked by the man’s audacity.

While our Portugal trip held travel challenges, beautiful landscape, mosaic tiles and homesickness it also held one more thing. A wedding! But that feels like it needs a post all its own.

 


(2) Comments:

Jill Stutsman - Oct 7, 2023 at 9:07am
Aw Girl! I love your blog. What a contrast between the BEAUTY and the FRUSTRATING. I can so appreciate your real struggles that go with this type of travel. I also love your analogy on the give & take that makes a good marriage work. Blessings to you both as you keep looking forward!
Amanda Reichart - Oct 16, 2023 at 4:47am
Thank you Jill! It certainly is a contrast! But we are building beautiful memories I know we'll continue to look back on over and over!

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