A very brief glimpse of Portugal
We flew into Lisbon on Tuesday at 11:30am. We had planned an extended 8 hour layover so we could explore the city a bit, grab lunch, find the Rua Cor-de-Rosa or "pink street" take a bajillion photos and then head back to the airport for the third and final leg of our journey into Paris!
Unbeknownst to us and about 700 other international travelers, the customs line at the Lisbon airport is hell on earth.
There were about 5-6 flights that arrived at the same time as ours and although the Portugese know how to cook, make beautiful buildings and beautiful people, they do now know how to man a customs line. There were 2 agents working the line of at least 700 people and at one point had withered away to 1 lone agent checking the passports of an increasingly grumpy group of people trying to make connecting flights or stroll down bright bubblegum pink roads.
We waited in line for just over 3 hours until one of our compatriots heading to Rome decided to take matters into his own hands and start an "ATTENTION EVERYONE" Speech to the hopeless group of lemmings just desperate to leave the airport. After some hullaballooing some shouting back and forth and a few expedited guests pushing forward to their connections, the Lisbon airport folks decided to use the two additional agents who were reserved for the handful of "priority EU passengers" that had come and gone hours ago for ur large group. The last 30 minutes saw us through much faster than the first few hours waiting in line. Because we were there so long, my phone battery waned to 1% but the wonderfully cheery Australian man we had passed in the serpentine line several times let me borrow his portable charger so I could pull my boarding pass up on my phone and actually make it into the country! Success!
After this harrowing journey we weren't in the best of spirits to explore, the 30 euro cab fare to the restaurant just added insult to injury. But, we made it to the cabbies suggested restaurant-Cervejaria Ramiro with apparently the best "frutti de mar" in the city.
Although our cabbies broken english and my non-existent Portugese (and accidental spanish) was tough to navigate, he left us at a pretty great spot. Again, let me reiterate, the Portugese have some beautiful people and to watch the hutzpah of the kitchen and waitstaff was like watching an Italian family on Christmas-a lot of bright, passioned shouting, long bellowing chuckles and laughter and the fastest moving hands and feet I've ever seen. We sat down and grabbed the crustiest bread with the meltiest butter and I had the garlic clams. Bethanne was still a little too miffed to eat so we ordered the best espressos and sparking water and headed out to the bustling city street.
Again, because of the length of our layover, we didn't get to explore like we wanted to so we just walked up Rue Palma and took pictures of some of the bright, pastel painted buildings and tiled facades that gleamed in the afternoon sunlight.
We made our way back to the airport, suffered a short line in security and had 2 more espressos waiting for our flight to start boarding in the beautifully appointed central area of the airport equipped with lots of shops, restaurants and people watching for days.
When we arrived at the gate 45 minutes prior to boarding we were the only ones there save for a family who left promptly after our arrival. We sat at the bank of chairs that had chargers so we could muster up enough juice to make it through the 3 hour flight and waited for the rest of the passengers to arrive.
Funny enough, 20 minutes prior to our boarding time there was still no one in sight. After the 3 1/2 hour customs line we sensed something was wrong and Bethanne went to double check our gate hadn't been changed without our knowledge, adding to our Portugese luck. She came back saying the gate was still in fact the same and about 15 minutes later, people started to trickle in. Turns out hanging out in the airport lounge is a much more attractive option than waiting across from the vending machines in the cold terminal.
We boarded our flight (and accidentally slipped into a higher boarding group) and had a relatively non-eventful trip to Paris in which I watched the "Verry Murray Christmas" special on netflix. I started to watch some True Crime documentaries but I felt critical eyes watching me so I switched back to lighter-hearted things for the remainder of the flight. While we didn't spend nearly enough time in Lisbon, I definitely want to revisit in the future. Perhaps with a longer planned stay and maybe going through customs in another EU country to avoid near riot conditions.