Standing on the most westerly tip of Europe, the "end of the world"
21.12.2016 - 22.12.2016 17 °C
21 December 2016: the final day of our three week trip through the Iberian Penninsula.
We are taking the train from Rossio Station, Lisbon to Sintra.
Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its many castles and manor houses.
Frequent and inexpensive trains leave from Rossio Station. The trip to Sintra is just 40 minutes, an easy day trip from Lisbon.
Right beside the Sintra Station a series of buses can be taken to the various castles.
First we took a bus to Cabo da Roca.
Cabo da Roca is the most westerly point of land on Eurasia. Cape Roca.
It used to be considered the end of the world.
The cape is located 42 km west of Lisbon. The rugged cliffs are over 100 meters above the Atlantic Ocean.
The shoreline is exhilarating - with the wind whipping our hair into spirals and a casual approach to safety along an un-fenced path, we join other tourists happily taking selfies above the crashing waves.
We are glad we came. It seems a wild kind of beauty, a bit edgy. I keep an eye on the other tourists since I don't want some psychopath to give me a little shove.
The mat of greenery is an invasive succulent
Carpobrotus edulis. Native to South Africa, it was introduced to a domestic garden about 30 years ago and has taken over the landscape.
The poet, Luis Camoes' (1524 - 1580) line, "Where the land ends and the sea begins" is inscribed on the monument:
Back in Sintra we take a bus to the most spectacular castle. Wow, the Sintra Mountains are fairly steep, the road is very narrow and twisty. The bus driver honks at frequent blind curves to warn oncoming traffic we are taking up the entire road.
After the majestic Cabo da Roca it is too pedestrian to view a castle. It is heavily treed here, colder, we are quite high up. The road where we line up to catch the bus back to Sintra is so steep it would be easy to topple over and roll back down to town.
There are so many tourists we end up standing on the ride down. This is low season!
It is late afternoon when we get back to Lisbon.
Now the longest day begins as we leave for home at five am - it has come to that point where it is past doing anything but mark time.
We wander around Rossio square, pick up a few souvenirs, have coffee, dodge the homeless who hang around the steps of the National Theatre and one last time walk down Avenida Liberdade. We have been staying near a very posh street, where the rich folks shop.
Right on the corner of our street and Avenida Liberdade is a neighbourhood bar. Rhea has tea and - I forgot to mention I fixed my own dislocated jaw the other night, long story but it worked, I had a sandwich with a nice glass of red.
My suitcase is stuffed, I am also carrying my day-pack and purse now. Souvenirs fill all the nooks and crannies and Rhea has my shoes in her larger suitcase. I threw out my old sandals - (I had planned on this if necessary) since I purchased the espadrilles. Still, to choose a carry on size suitcase, which I check, limits space for souvenirs.
So we are back in the hood, cab fare is 13 Euros to the airport, so much construction or it would have been less.
On one congested corner a lone policeman was directing traffic. It turned out to be cheap entertainment as one driver kept trying to sneak ahead - 4 times the whistle blew and 4 times traffic completely stopped to enable this guy to back up and wait his turn. The cop was visibly ticked off and ignored the offending car when his actual turn came up. The driver did creep ahead again but got waved back.
I flew home from Lisbon 4 years ago and don't recall the airport being so confusing.
We are early for our flight and the KLM desk isn't manned until two and a half hours before takeoff. We have to hang around on the third level common area with other people who are laying on all the seats and using all the charging stations.
I filled out a complaint card as I had nothing to do. My cell phone and tablet both needed charging, Rhea's phone was dead too, boring!!
I wanted to look up a word I read at the information Centre in Cabo de 'Lusitania.'
There was a group of young people monopolizing the three (THREE) charging stations with their laptops ???
Finally I went over and made a general announcement:
"I have to use a charging station."
I may have struck them as a little bit crazy, and who knows if anybody spoke English, but one young man acknowledged the charger I was waving around and unplugged.
I looked up Lusitanians - oh, ancestors of the Portuguese people.
Rhea covered her face with a scarf and tried to sleep while I kept one eye on the luggage and the other on solitaire and before you know it we were last in line for the KLM counter. Lucky we didn't miss our flight.
We change planes in Amsterdam, very straightforward and I spent the waiting time getting rid of all the change in the bottom of my purse. Dutch cookies, licorice and peppermints prove I spent three hours in Holland.
We had changed our seats for this leg of the journey - Rhea had an aisle seat a few rows up and I had a window seat. Why a larger person would accept a middle seat is beyond me. I had not taken my jacket off before sitting down and basically missed my chance.
KLM0677 was held up on the runway for 30 minutes. I sat scrunched in the corner pocket for 8 and a half hours.
If he folded his arms, which to his credit, he did for at least five of those hours, I shared the armrest with his stomach. He had a nap right after takeoff so I surreptitiously snapped a few pictures. I felt sorry for him also by the way, he couldn't have been comfortable either.
I am miffed at KLM. Their economy seats are too small. They crowd us in like sardines.
KLM has enhanced economy for which there is a substantial additional charge. Those seats are the size of normal economy.
Why it is acceptable for me to be sharing my seat with a stranger on a trans Atlantic flight is beyond me. Aisle would have been so much better, I could have moved one leg and arm into the aisle and had access to more air.
When things got to be too much I leaned my forehead on the window and took pictures.
This one is very interesting as it is over snow, not clouds, and I could see, but the phone camera did not really pick up, the lights of a settlement. I wondered if we were over Iceland or Greenland?
The time passed, I survived, it is 12 degrees C in Calgary, we are lucky!
And my sweet three year old granddaughter was thrilled that I was home. She loved her ladybug dress and 👠