Friday, July 3, Lisbon

2015-07-03 10.40.36The view outside my window. I’m sharing a nice apartment via Airbnb, 25 Euro’s per night.

I’ve been extremely lazy the past two days. I arrived (with a tiny adventure, below) late Tuesday night. I stayed up till 3am watching the World Cup game then did a walking tour of the city Wednesday, Yesterday i did a guided five hour bike tour of the riverfront. That’s about it. I’ve had time to read, which is great but I have little to report of interest.

The plane from Dublin gave me my only story, and it’s a typical one for me, i.e. my lack of common sense gets me in trouble but somehow luck or the kindness of strangers/friends pulls me through. All seemed uneventful till we began our approach to Madrid Airport (from whence I was to get a connection to Lisbon). The engines were cruising quietly when mysteriously the pilot revved the engines as if he were worried about losing altitude. Hardly anyone took note until a few moments later when there was an announcement in Spanish, then in heavily-accented English. We were not going to Madrid after all, we were diverting to Valladolid, a tiny airport nearby. Was it the plane or the airport, I couldn’t exactly tell. I heard the word ‘fire’ in the announcement but had no context.

Then I heard another passenger say something about a grass fire near the airport with helicopters in the air to fight the flames. That seemed plausible, but still, there was that odd acceleration. I wondered it the pilot was giving us a subterfuge to lessen any worries. I saw Valladolid Airport off to the north of the plane, a very solitary patch of concrete (hardly long enough for a jumbo jet, I thought) on the Spanish mesa that includes Madrid. The landing went placidly. As soon as we got down the pilot announced the fire was out and we would soon refuel and get over to Madrid. But I would miss my connection. That was now my worry. Would I need to stay overnight in Madrid?

To Iberia’s credit they quickly assigned me a new flight three hours hence. I set my task of finding Wifi so I could notify my landlady of my tardiness. That took awhile. For some reason Mac computers have a hard time picking up these airport Wifi systems–this has happened to me before–but finally I learned I could get 30 minutes free. I sent off a missive to Lisbon and started on a leisurely stroll back to my gate. I had 90 minutes till the flight was due to take off.

But when I got within sight range of the terminal I noticed a bustling crowd pushing forward into a boarding ramp. “Last Call” was on the board. Was this another flight? There were two contiguous gates so I assumed this was another flight.

Except that it wasn’t. It was my flight. Madrid is one hour later than Lisbon (or Dublin). Fifteen minutes later and I would have missed my flight, a danger to which I was calmly oblivious.

2015-07-02 11.28.00
recognize this bridge? It’s an almost exact duplicate of the Golden Gate Bridge….built by the same engineers in the 60’s at the behest of the Portuguese dictator, Salazar.
2015-07-02 11.49.16
As with every nation I’ve visited there is a monument to the time when the nation was larger and more important in the world. In Portugal’s case that is the 15th and early 16th centuries, the time of Prince Henry the Navigator (he’s leading the group pictured here) and Vasco de Gama (3rd in line).
2015-07-02 12.31.18
Members of our bicycling tour group. They were all from one Israeli family.

Galway, Ireland was dull, a tourist theme park. Expensive shops, streets crowded with outlanders. I had only one day there and spent it walking.

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Jerry Heverly

I'm a high school English teacher from San Leandro High School in California.

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