Well we finally made it off those crazy airplane rides. Turns out that we also had some extra bus rides in our airport trips. At London Heathrow we had to go from Terminal 5 to Terminal 3. First you take the train back to the main terminal, then you walk a very long ways following the signs to terminal 3. Terminal 3 is a bus stop. So then you wait and get on a bus which then drives through a massive labryinth of “streets” that go beside parked airplanes, behind parked airplanes, out in to the middle of ashphalt, or underneath buildings around ninety degree corners. All on the wrong side of the road! …Or left side, that is.
Eventually we made it to a door that was apparently the start of terminal 3? We then went through security again, this time fast tracked as our flight was within an hour, and then walked an even longer way to the actual departure gate, where guess what? There was no plane. We took another bus:)
These buses carried us all out, in a series of 3 buses, to the waiting airplane, where we got out and went up the stairs. All totaled it took about 45 minutes to get from our landed flight to the actual plane of our next flight. I see why short layovers don’t always work when you’re airport is so massive that you have to have a bus system.
After a 3 hour or so flight, we finally made it to Lisbon. Customs was the easiest we’ve ever had as he didn’t ask us anything. Not a word. Looked at us, took our passports, waved us through. I should have smuggled more contraband:)
We then took our time getting out of the airport, as we know now not to rush and get our bearings. We looked around for some free maps, and talked to information about where the metro and bus stops were. We walked outside past the 100 people waiting in line for taxis and headed over to check out the metro map on the board. After deciding the route would be too long and confusing transfer wise we went over to the bus stop, a few metres away, to catch the bus I had looked up prior. A minute later it rolled over from the arrivals terminal and picked us up.
We ended up taking the 744 to Marques de Pombal (which is its last stop) and then from there caught the 736? (I’m pretty sure), to Cais de Sodre. We hopped off just before the last stop of Cais Sodre instead at Corpo ?. Google said this was a closer walk, but it isn’t. Go all the way to Cais Sodre if you’re heading to Lisbon Calling Hostel, which was our temporary home.
On our first bus we met Nigel, a Brit, who was sitting behind us and saw us fumbling with maps on our tablet and talking to the bus driver. He told us where to get off and what bus we needed to catch next, which did match up with google. It was helpful to know when we had arrived at the right stop on the first bus though as there were no audio or video screens telling you what each stop was. The second bus, (obviously frequented by more tourists) did have a little next stop screen so we had a general idea where we were from that.
Nigel most importantly taught us about how the Lisbon transit system is different than what we consider normal. Most north american transit would involve you getting a ticket that is good for travel and transfers in one direction, or for a 90 minute period of travel time. All of this for the price of one transit ticket. NOT SO HERE. Every bus, tram, train, you get on is a new ticket and a new charge. This makes for a very expensive transit system if you don’t have a monthly pass or something similar and need to take more than one bus to complete your trip. We ended up paying slightly more for our two buses from the airport than the metro would have cost, but at least it was quicker. To compare with back in Vancouver, our transit to the airport from our house involved 1 bus, and 2 trains. It cost us $11 (well would have if the bus hadn’t been free that time as I had cash and needed coins instead). We travelled about 33 km to get there and it took a little over 45 minutes.. In Lisbon our two buses that went for perhaps 10 minutes and maybe 3 km cost 7.2 Euros (that works out to around $11). We rode to the end of each line, so doing little 4 -5 stop rides, would add up quick.
Eventually we made it near Cais de Sodre, got off our bus, and started walking towards where we figured the hostel was. We were paralleling the street our hostel was on and figured we would just cut over and meet it at an upcoming intersection. Well the streets aren’t quite laid out like that and there are random plazas in the middle of things not marked on the little Lonely Planet maps. We ended up going too far and decided to stop before going up-hill. Some backtracking and counting the addresses on the apartments got us to the correct number, 126, which is just a glass door leading into a staircase.
We buzzed upstairs and they let us in. We then got to walk up 6 flights of stairs or so and finally got into the hostel. After a little bit of check in time we were shown to our room, which is called “1827”, as it is supposedly decorated as if it was 1827. I suppose some of it is authentic, either way it is a very lovely room with a lot of space and a great view of the plaza and the church it is beside. The church steeple is directly outside the window with bells almost at eye height. Thankfully they didn’t go off until 11 am the next moring.
We showered, then asked the desk staff where we could get some food nice and close (by this time we were starving and exhausted). He suggested a place just a block away called Cafe Tati. So we went there. It was small, quaint and quite nice. The food was alright, and filled us up. Ryan had the smallest beer ever which was 200 ml in an itty bitty little glass. Very funny.
Then we crashed in our victorian era bed. What a long day, but we’re finally in Lisbon
Woke up promptly 3 hours later! Damn jet lag.