30 April 2014
I have been exceptionally laid back about preparations for this new, solo, adventure. Much helped by the fact that I had found another pilgrim who is planning to start from Lisbon on the same day as me. Eli is from Australia and she kindly agreed to me sharing the accommodation she had booked. Unfortunately plans went slightly awry when I realised I didn’t know the number of the street where we are staying and I couldn’t get hold of Eli because she was in transit from Aus. So I made a backup plan and noted some addresses of hostels in the area, and continued to feel un-characteristically unfazed.
As it happened whilst I was waiting to board my flight I received a message from Eli giving me the details I needed, so all was well.
I had booked a direct flight to Lisbon from Málaga operated by TAP airline, which I think is a new service because when I first researched flights this route did not appear as an option. It was cheap and included a piece of checked baggage so I decided to check in my backpack and carefully wrapped it in cling film to keep the straps from getting caught in the rolling mechanism of the baggage carousels. When I checked in it seemed a bit odd that there were very few people at the desk but I guessed I was either a little early or a little late and most passengers had either already gone through or were yet to come. At the boarding gate I counted the passengers to be 18 in number and thought that the plane would be very empty, probably due to it being a new service.
Well, I was wrong. Every seat in the plane was taken – it was an 18 seater, and I couldn’t have been more surprised. I was allocated a front seat which didn’t have a window, although I could have reached out and tapped the pilot on the back through the open entrance to the flight deck.
The last passenger to board was a very disabled woman who could not move unassisted and so I gallantly offered her my seat so that she didn’t have to negotiate the narrow aisle, and I moved back to seat number 6…….where I had a view from a window – so a win/win situation!
It felt rather like a fairground ride and I felt rather like a child in my excitement about this unexpected treat, including a lunchbox of filled roll and water.
When I alighted an hour and a half later I noticed that the passengers who had carried on hand luggage (which was taken from them on boarding because there was absolutely no room in the cabin for anything larger than a small handbag) were reunited with their luggage straight from the hold, whereas those of us who had checked their bags had to go through the normal process of reclaiming at the carousel.
Anyway….I arrived in Portugal at 15:30, and was greeted by blue sky and sunshine with a lovely cooling breeze and I took a taxi to the Bairro Alto area of Lisbon, a characterful quarter of steep hills and narrow roads with buildings dating back to the period after the great earthquake of 1755. We have a very compact and basic apartment booked through AirBandB which is perfectly adequate and very well situated for wandering around this enchanting city.
Eli and I spent the late afternoon and evening discovering some of the charms of the narrow streets and vast plazas, the waterfront views and the beautiful cobbled streets. And as night fell the youth came out to play and the tempo picked up as the city began to party.
All in all, an excellent start to my new adventure.
Hi! I just got done reading your whole Camino de Santiago blog. Very nicely done! I feel like I know you! Ha. I was just in Lisbon in March…lovely city! I look forward to your next trip…glad you already have a travel buddy…even tho you may not stick with her…it is fun to start with someone! I am 99% sure I am doing the whole Camino de Santiago late Sept/Oct. The blogs are addictive and really get me pumped up! Have a great time. Cheers…Kristina
Thanks Kristina. I’m loving Lisbon. Enjoy your planning – it’s all part of the fun.
So Maggie, the adventure begins! Not just for you but for your friends too via this much anticipated blog. So interesting to read about the small plane and to see Lisbon again – many years since I was there. I hope you have a fab time and look forward to seeing you on your return xx
Missing you but feel we’ll be with you every step through your updates. Good luck
What an exciting start to your Camino adventure, Maggie! I’ve looked for flights from Malaga to Lisbon/Porto in the past, too, and not found any – so this new TAP service looks very interesting.
We drove up to Porto and then back down through Lisbon in October last year. It’s a lovely part of the world – but we had lots of rain during our trip. Hope yours is much sunnier 🙂
Now that is the way to start your adventure! Have a fabulous time and I shall enjoy travelling with you each day. Don’t make it to exhausting!!
Great start to your trip. Will be following every update. Good luck. Keith
Good luck Maggie, this is already a good start and a great report. Look forward to joining you virtually this time on your Camino!
Blimey, Maggie, that flight sounds like my nightmare. How great to start with an Aussie, invariably full of enthusiasm and great company. Good luck for tomorrow.
Looking forward to sharing your travelling experiences with you, through your excellent blog again.
Have fun and take care
God Bless you. I’m just catching up on your adventure. 🙂
I’ve just been reading your blog of this Camino (Portuguese), which I find extremely fascinating!
I’d walked the Camino Francés in 2010 and have just finished the Camino Fisterra y Muxia this year in May (2015). The Camino is a very addictive way of life (awol) and so I was thinking that I would indeed like to walk this route too! My feet are itching (& missing the blisters!) and so your blog has inspired me to prepare for next year! Thank you for blogging & sharing your experiences!
Hello Art, thanks for your comment and apologies for the long delay in responding. It sounds as though you have become a camino addict, almost impossible not to after the first one. Enjoy your planning for the next camino – as you know, it is all part of the experience.
Maggie what was the name of your Air B and B accommodation in the Bairro Alto area, Lisbon and would you recommend it?
Eli booked the accommodation but I’ve checked back on forum conversations from over two years ago and found this info…
Rua de Marcos Marreiros, renting from Valerio and Teresa
Eli used the small double bedroom and I slept on the sofa bed. It was adequate and I found the situation good for exploring Lisbon. Give yourself a couple of days in the city if you can, it is a fabulous place.
Thanks for your very prompt reply. Coming from NZ I will be meeting my husband in Lisbon ( he will be competing in World Transplant Games the week prior ) and plan to take 8 days to explore the city and travel up to Porto where I will start walking to Santiago and onto Finisterre and this time onto Muxia
Hi again Cathy. What a great trip. I wish your husband great success. Will he also be walking the Camino with you? There are some fabulous cities between Lisbon and Porto along with a very good train service. Best wishes for an amazing adventure.