Monday, 23 January 2012

Arriving in Portugal

We have been in Portugal for three days now and it has been fabulous minus one snafu.

Travel has never been smoother. We drove to Stansted airport Friday night with no traffic. We booked our hotel on one of those secret deals and expected parking to be offsite, but it was on hotel property. We could see our car from the emergency exit. The hotel has a shuttle to and from the airport and although it cost £2pp it was fast and easy.

When we arrived at the airport I had to check in because I travel on an American passport. We were convinced after waiting in line for about 15 minutes we would be told we did something wrong, but no, checked in with ticket stamped, good to go!

We were there so early we had tons of time to go through the lounge, have a leisurely breakfast, and play some games on the iPad before getting our gate assignment. We strolled to the gate with people running past us this time instead of us doing the running. When we reached our gate we determined it was well worth the £6pp/per flight to get priority boarding. We flew with Ryanair, which is first come seating. Worse than Southwest ever was, they don't even have boarding groups, just priority and everyone else. There were only about 4 people in front of us out of a full flight, money well spent.

When we landed, customs was a breeze. I have a new stamp in my passport and received it with a smile. I could even say "obrigado" upon return of my passport.

Upon arriving in Portugal we wanted a 3G sim card for my iPad. We saw a vodaphone kiosk and stopped. There were 2 people working, both with customers. My husband was ready to walk out based on our previous experiences (it took over an hour to get one going in the States and about 30 minutes in the UK). I am glad we stayed though because one employee finished with his customer, went to the computer for a second, asked if we needed help and 5 minutes and €14,90 later I was on 3G and walking to the car rental kiosk!

We picked up the car and made a few circles around the airport before getting on the correct motorway. Had a lovely drive down to the Silver Coast from Porto.

We arrived at the villa just before sunset. We easily got the key from the lock box and suitcase from the car to walk into our lovely, freezing villa. Bare in mind this is typically used in summer where heating is far from the issue. We are here in January because we have no bookings. It was however, warmer outside than it was inside. We looked at the guide for the underfloor heating, did exactly as the instructions indicated, and went out for some groceries and a meal. All indications were the house should warm up in about an hour so we figured it would be better when we returned about three hours later. We were wrong. We called our friend back in the UK who comes down at least once a season to make sure everything is running smoothly. He could only suggest resetting and then reiterated the instruction manual to us. So we did as we were told and went to bed under 3 duvets and several blankets, wearing numerous layers of clothes.

We woke up to not much better. However, today we are much more comfortable. We built a fire in the wood burner last night and i only needed one duvet and a blanket! We are still not quite as warm as we would hope (I am under two blankets as I write this, but that is fairly normal for me). We think the house was just so cold, it took a bit more to get it warmed up...

Loads of sights to see around here so more posts to come soon!

The photos are:
Our pool, don't think it will get used on this trip, but I might do some yoga on the deck if we are here on an afternoon

Some of the firewood we collected from the woods behind the house. A little bit of pine and some eucalyptus.

Our fire! We were nice and warm with that going. Should get one going again tomorrow night :)

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