Yesterday was a LONG day. We went to a dinner night at the resort on Friday night called “Fado” night. Basically, a five course traditional Portuguese dinner of baked pork, fish, potatoes, tons of food that did not stop coming. Oh, and the never empty wine glass. Fado is traditional Portuguese folk music. During the first part of the evening, we had a saxophone player walking the room playing music for all the tables and then as dinner started finishing, 2 folk guitar players and a female singer arrived to sing for us. I had a bit too much of the local water, which by the way you shouldn’t be drinking, so I didn’t eat or drink much but it was enjoyable. I left early, the alarm set for 3 A.M. so we could drive 3 plus hours to get to Lisbon by 7 A.M. Saturday morning. Our plane didn’t leave until 9 but with all the bike stuff, it is just easier to be there early and handle to logistics. Plus we needed to haul all the stuff down from the room, load the car, find our way out of Albufiera and back to the freeway, get to the airport, fill up with fuel, turn in the rental car and check in. Good luck! First snag, the door out of the parking garage was closed and locked, second snag, how do we get out of town? We drove a ways and stopped at a gas station for directions, I speak English, gas station guys, Portuguese only. Let’s see down this way, turn left, then right onto A2 and away we go. Uh oh, road just bent left, was that our left. Hope so, turn right go a bit more, doesn’t seem right, stop, get the map again, turn around, it’s been 45 minutes and we really aren’t out of town yet. OK, back to the last turn, go straight, there is a sign for A22 and then A2, feeling better, finally onto the freeway, which by the way are very good, better then ours. The speeds on the freeways are posted 50 KPH to 120 KPH. Most driver’s drive over 120 KPH easy. Just stay in the right lane, if you do pull out to the left to pass, look back first before making the move and then get back to the right immediately. Signals, hardly ever used. We got what was supposed to be a VW Passat, and you all know what I think of VW’s. I don’t know what we got, didn’t say VW anywhere on the outside. Did say Exso or something on it but it was a manual transmission 6 speed, TDI diesel wagon that had a fuel range of about 1100 kilometers per tank. The gauge barely moved but when you did need fuel, diesel of course, fuel was about 1.21 Euros per liter. The Euro is worth about .50 more than a dollar, so that means about $1.80 a liter or $7.00 a gallon for fuel. Glad it got great mileage.
It was roomy, all the bike gear fit inside, rode and handled well and had lots of power, rain sensing wipers, dual zone climate control, steering wheel controls for the radio, cruise, etc. The deluxe package, very nice over all.
Anyway, I digress, back on the highway, set the cruise at 130+KPH and off we go. Lisbon, 250 K ahead.
Not much traffic at 4 A.M. on Saturday. We made good time, found all the right turns to get us pointed to Lisbon, stopped for fuel not far from the city and then got on the the Vasco de Gamas bridged that travels over the huge bay that Lisbon straddles The bridge goes on for ever and eventually makes a big turn and enters the city center and drops you almost right at the airport. It took us a while to slowly find the entrance to the rental car area, then find the Eurocar guys, the car checked out good and we were in the airport at 7 as planned. I checked us in the day before but knew there would be over sized baggage issues, so we went through the same routine as coming over, refund some $ and recharge some $. We flew Continental, I refuse to fly NW/Delta every chance I get and don’t even get me started on that discussion. Continental treated us good. Luggage, 2 small carry on per person is OK. No extra money for 1 checked bag. $45 for a second bag, $100 for an over sized item like a bike box, so for $145 each way bike, wheels, rollers, and all the necessary gear made it over. The plane was on time and as we were standing in line to clear customs, who walks up behind us but Norm and Helen, the Canadians we had dinner with a week or so before and the guy who lead out the 3 up race I was in. We talked a bit, got through customs and away we went, us to MN and them to Calgary. The plane rides were uneventful, we switched in Newark again and got back on another express size jet that holds a max. of about 60 passengers but only had about 25 on board. We landed about 1/2 hour early got picked up and made it home before dark but about 17 hours after the alarm went off.
Things look normal here, nice to have some warm days left but I’m sure that will change immediately.
Sunday has been spent unpacking, doing laundry, eating, preparing for back to work tomorrow.
I feel like I am in a daze yet and can’t really focus on what really just happened in the last 2 weeks, it will all come clear and then become great memories of where this track cycling craziness has lead me in the last few years.
Quite a marvelous bunch of adventures that can’t easily be described but I hope can continue and maybe even get better.