So on the 2nd of January we (Mr BOTR drove, I can not claim any credit there) undertook the epic drive to Portugal. Mr BOTR’s maternal family hale from that neck of the woods and we were well overdue a visit to his grandmother.
We left home a little late and got to the frontier at about 1130. We got picked up by the shuttle bus which took us to the car hire people (Marbesol) who are based out of the Asur hotel basement car park. We collected our vehicle (a huge Merc, like a van!) and got on our way, well first of all we made a pit stop at the Carrefour in La Linea. A food and drink run before we hit the open road!
The drive was really nice. The weather however was not. I had been looking forward to snapping the amazing scenery. I didn’t exactly get to do that! We took toll roads. I know a lot people resent paying for toll roads, but to be honest they are so empty and easy to navigate we find them to be worth every penny (all the way to Lisbon and back cost about €60, not to bad really!) It was way more expensive in Portugal than Spain, and that goes for fuel as well. If you doing a similar trip, make sure you fill up in Spain before to go over the border!
We made good time, and we were both enjoying the (albeit grayed out) scenery and the ever darkening sky. It spat rain drops for ages, however when the rain came it came with a vengeance. Seriously it was so heavy and for such a long period of time. We stopped at Badajoz which is just on the border and this is where I suddenly developed a delightful headache / migraine. Now I put a slash between them, because I took a painkiller and for about an hour I felt a little better. However the pain began to increase. I really think Worzel Gummidge had the right idea, this would be the exact moment to remove my head for a different one!
Six and half hours after we left La Linea and two hours after my headache decided to try and kill me we got to our hotel. Originally my mum-in-law was due to stay with a friend, sadly she wasn’t able to, so fortunately she was able to stay at our hotel, but I swear I have never been so glad to see her. She took one look at me clutching my temples and wailing like a banshee and went into ‘mum-mode’. Bags were taken, directions to rooms given. Water dispensed. But still I felt horrid. We decided a walk and some food might alleviate my pain, so we met her friend and we all went to a local mall for food.
Now even with the distractions of many glorious shops to peruse my head still didn’t improve. (Mr BOTR did get to the Levis store and got me some bits from The Body Shop.) I actually got progressively worse. I ended up making a swift exit to get fresh air, and once my head had cleared a little I returned to eat my delicious salad. (Green leaves, red onion, tomato, kiwi fruit, orange, walnut and sultanas.) The others had these vegetable fritters and salad, which also looked and tasted very good. (The service was really slow though, to the point where Mr BOTR’s mum’s pal spoke to the manager, whom she is friends with. It was bad I will admit, but I was in the midst of a headache fog and I am almost certain people could have passed our table nude and I wouldn’t have noticed!) After we had finished we walked back to the hotel, where I took some more pain meds and tried to sleep.
Except I didn’t! I started to feel even worse. I kept waking up and wondering if it was at all possible to remove my eyes till they stopped being such spiteful little gits. The morning soon came and we had breakfast. My mum-in-law went to the local pharmacy and got me more painkillers. I had already taken some with my breakfast so I stashed my new bounty in my bag for later. We got in the car and I had a very tough time keeping my breakfast contained within me! Am I the only person who gets even more travel sick with a headache? We drove through the suburbs of Lisbon and out to where Mr BOTR’s granny is living. It has been several years since he has seen her, and my first meeting, so I was really devastated that I looked like something from The Walking Dead. Luckily my mum-in-law explained why I looked like a bedraggled corpse and she gave me a hug and wished me better.
Now word to the wise, even with a map the streets of Lisbon are tough to navigate, and I have to confess our fellow road users are literally the craziest drivers I have ever seen. Cars are dumped two deep in main roads, we saw THREE accidents in less than 48 hours. Mr BOTR’s uncle warned us to avoid certain areas at certain times. It can be a nerve-wracking drive, this is where the sat nav became invaluable. Honestly it was such a blessing to have. Well worth every penny (£12) it cost to hire with the car.
During our visit to Mr BOTR’s granny we slipped out for lunch, whilst she was having hers at her home, and we ventured to a local cafe. I had pasteis de bacalhau, a delicious Portuguese fish cake with an egg salad. Mr BOTR had veal and his mum had swordfish. All was very good. I wont deny though that my pasteis de bacalhau could have been warmer, my mum-in-law was not impressed with their part frozen centres. (She knows her stuff when it comes to this dish!) After lunch I had to lay down. It was a toss-up of kicking granny out of her room or taking a nap in the car, so obviously I chose the car! After an hour or so Mr BOTR came to get me to say farewell, I really didn’t feel human by this point, and was extremely concerned about being sick on myself and others! Gross but true. Anyway after our goodbyes I decided to risk one of the new pain killers.
I only wish I had done this sooner. It was like that scene from Back To The Future, where Marty McFly has all but disappeared, but then his parents kiss on the dance floor and ping he is good once more. There was a ten or fifteen minute wait, but when that pain-killer kicked in, boy did it work! I felt like a new person!
After our visit to Mr BOTR’s granny we drove (minus the headache and travel sickness) to Sintra for tea with his uncle and aunt. Sintra is just amazing to look at. One of the prettiest places I have ever seen. It is nestled in the hills outside of Lisbon and the buildings are just beautiful. It really does look like a post card. We had tea at Cafe du Natalie. Which was just amazing and the cake was glorious!
I am so miffed that our trip was marred by my stupid cranium. I guess I should be thankful that all through our trip the weather was grim. So I didn’t miss that many photo ops. It rained on and off in Spain and just poured down in Portugal. The wind howled. It was very much winter! Yet saying that Lisbon is somewhere I really want to go back to and explore. It is such a diverse and beautiful city. I loved the street art, the contrasts in the architecture and the fact that every single street has a cute little coffee shop or patisserie (which came in very handy as we got half a dozen egg custard tarts for our friend back in Gib!).
Our drive home took slightly longer, the weather was ferocious and we added an extra hour on purely because the rain made it impossible to see at time. Also we encountered a road block in Lisbon, but not because of the weather, oh no the road was closed so a sodding football teams bus could drive through with a Police escort. Seriously, I have never disliked ‘the beautiful game’ more than at that point! But we made it back, safe and sound to lovely Gibraltar, where the next the sun was shining! The pictures that I did get are posted below! The theme is darkness and rain! 😉