Friday, April 29th: Out of Lisbon and into….
After our stay in Lisbon it was time to head out and see more of the country. Phase B of the trip included a weeklong road trip making our way south from Evora to Tavira.
The start was not quite auspicious. We tried to hail a taxi close to our apartment so that we could go to the airport and get the rental car. They drove by but would not take us! Finally a taxi stops and we had a most pleasant chat along the way. As we approach the airport other taxi drivers start cussing at him. Suddenly I remembered a sign I had seen on a cab the week before. They were on strike! Uber is in the process of entering Portugal and all taxi drivers were having a demonstration.
The guy charged us 7E for the trip (as opposed to the first ride which scalped us for 37E!). He could have charged whatever he wanted because he was breaking the strike and there were no cabs to be had anywhere in Lisbon. We got really, really lucky because getting to the airport from where we were would have involved a bus ride and two metro changes carrying all of our luggage. Manageable but certainly not desirable.
So we go and get in line for the EuropCar rental car (actually they handed out numbers) with our voucher in hand but we still had to queue along with all the desperate people trying to get a last minute rental. The line for the Aerobus was beyond belief and people were trying to actually walk out of the airport. I don’t know if the metro was also on strike.
Finally our turn comes and it still takes forever to get the papers so that we can go to the parkhouse and get the car (this will become important in a few minutes). After the guy goes over every single item on the contract with DH, twice over, we get the papers and make a beeline to get the car. Tick toc, tick toc, tick toc.
In the parkhouse, we find the place and sure enough, another long queue of very unhappy and displeased people (ha!). We finally get our keys and are in the process of inspecting when we realize that the noise level outside the parking was increasing. Sirens and horn blowing everywhere. Yup. The actual ‘stopping’ part of the strike had started.
We made it as far as the exit ramp, with maybe 15 cars ahead of us before everything came to a screeching halt. Hundreds (very possibly thousands) of taxi drivers stopped their cabs in protest against Uber and paralyzed the airport. After a while people just turned the cars off, got out and looked on in total dismay and growing outrage.
It is funny (not really) to see cultural differences on how people react to this kind of situation. I’m Puertorican, we get angry but then we just accept these things; DH is Swiss but has lived enough in PR to just go with the flow (on most occasions). But the Nordic folks in front and behind us in the parking exit were just about to have an apoplexy.
About 45minutes into the stoppage, the EuropCar lady comes along and tells everyone that they can just lock the cars where they were (in the exit ramp!) and go for lunch as they were expecting the blockade to last for at least another 2 hours. Luckily no one in front of us took her word because ‘only’ an hour later the protest moved to downtown Lisbon and we were ready to go.
Our first destination for the day was Sesimbra. It felt wonderful to be out of Lisbon and into the open road! We just love driving trips. Well… I love planning them, I navigate (rather well most of the time) but I don’t drive stick shift so all the driving is done by DH. He does not mind driving a few hours through hairpin turns (most of the time) as long as the views are nice.
The delay in Lisbon meant that the town-visiting part of this day was cut out, so we just drove into the Sesimbra village by the water and then back up to visit the very nice castle on top. This is a very easy and fairly worthwhile daytrip from Lisbon for anyone with a car.
One of my favorite sources for the crazy drives I come up with is the Michelin Green Guide along with its companion map, and it so happened that the drive through Serra da Arrábida was highlighted. This turned out to be what we call a ‘good value’ drive: excellent views with fairly easy driving. The sights onto Sétubal and the Península de Tróia was remarkable. Overall, highly recommended. We opted to bypass the town of Sétubal as it was getting late and we wanted to start making our way to our destination for the night.
The drive to Evora took just over an hour and was surprisingly pretty considering that is all highway. Or maybe we were just happy to enjoy the open countryside and be out of the city. But the cable towers were all crowned with stork nests (with babies!) and the rolling hills were dotted with yellow wildflowers.
I had selected Hotel Moov for several reasons: location (within the old town but close the entry road), excellent price and great reviews in Booking.com and Trip Advisor. Very minimalistic and basic but is suited our needs perfectly. We are not really resort people, so our demands are not really high.
I had neglected to make a parking reservation and their garage was full so we had to park outside the wall for the first two nights. On the third night we moved it back to the hotel for easier departure.
We checked in and took off to explore the city. The Praça do Giraldo was lively on this Friday afternoon and most of the outside tables were occupied so we continued our walk past the Cathedral and the Templo de Diana before we sat down in a small place to have a little bite to eat (ohhhh….those wonderful Portuguese savory pastries are going to be the end of me!!!!) and soft drinks. We were still taking it easy after our almost week-long bout of either food poisoning or just a viral stomach bug.
Having pre-treated our bellies we were now ready to head out to where we really wanted to be; back to the Giraldo where we plunked down on a table and spent the rest of the afternoon sipping wine and people watching (under a heater, it was still cold!).
We were just loving the quaint and cozy feel of Evora. Maybe we are just not big city people…
Eventually we set out to find a place for dinner, DH took a liking to a little place and since it started raining the decision was almost made for us. We sat inside Docas Gourmet and there were some locals there but in hindsight they might have just gathered there to watch the big soccer game, everyone else eating in the restaurant were tourists. Not a great sign. DH had a Secreto de Porço (this is a wonderful lengthwise cut of pork loin that is butterflied to make a steak) with homemade chips (he asked for a second helping) and I had the Porço a la Alentjana (Pork stewed with clams) served with roasted potatoes.
I cannot say that it was bad, it was good but it was tourist fare. No big flavors in here. However, given the still-sensitive state of our bellies, this might have actually been a good thing for us. Maybe if only DH had not had that second helping of chips…
Next: The Highlight of our Stay in Evora
Anyone interested to read in obnoxious details about our Lisbon Stay, this is the TR link:
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From Evora to Tavira: A Week of Wildflowers
Friday, April 29th: Out of Lisbon and into….