tom911 goes to Barcelona and Lisbon (includes World Swimming Championships)

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  1. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Hello this Saturday morning from Barcelona, Spain. Landed here late yesterday morning and today will be my first full day in the city. This is my fourth visit to Barcelona. I'm here with the Coughlins to see Natalie compete in two events at World Swimming Championships.


    WEDNESDAY

    Took Benicia bus to Pleasant Hill BART station and then BART to SFO. Shuttle to Hyatt SFO where I had an award stay for the night. Was in bed at 10 for a 4a.m. awakening Thursday.

    THURSDAY

    Went through the TSA pre-check line (get to leave my shoes on and laptop in the daypack) and had about 20 mins in the Admiral's Club before boarding for the 6:15a.m. flight to Miami. Made my way to the gate about 35 mins before departure and the plane was fully boarded already (well, sort of, as there were 20-30 people still on the ramp to the plane, and it was odd seeing an empty gate area--clearly started boarding earlier than normal). Didn't need overhead space as I had checked my rollaboard for this trip due to some liquids over 3 ounces. In coach I was able to select a free food item and I had some grapes and cheese to start the day.

    Arrived in Miami around 3 and my first stop was at Versailles to get a hot Cuban sandwich. It was so big I didn't finish it. Seem to recall it had layers of ham, turkey and cheese. It was very good and it made up for the dismal meal on the way to Barcelona (chicken pieces and rice—pretty sad looking). Been a long time since I've flown coach international but didn't have a choice this time due to booking my award ticket about 4 weeks out (and giving up double miles for any available seat).

    Hard to sleep on the 6:25p.m. departure to Barcelona, a 9 hour flight, because it arrives at 10a.m. Barcelona time which would be 1a.m. in California. Watched some TV on my tablet including two episodes of Prohibition that aired on PBS. I had a window seat in the first row of coach (bulkhead) which had extra legroom so very comfortable there. Breakfast was a croissant, yogurt and juice.

    FRIDAY

    Once again I picked the line in passport control that had all the folks with entry issues or problem passports. Just about everyone from the AA 767-300 had cleared before I made it through in about 30 mins. Grabbed my bag and made it outside to the airport express bus (10.5 euros/$13.60 round trip) for a 20 min trip to Plaza Espanya.

    [​IMG]


    From there into the train station below and three stops to Europa Fira where my hotel, the Renaissance Fira Barcelona, is located. I checked in early at 11:30 and was upgraded to a larger room with a sofa (newly acquired Marriott Gold status comped because of my UA status—this also comes with free continental breakfast). After working on some photos and e-mail, time for a 4 hour nap.

    [​IMG]

    Back out at 5:30 for a look around the neighborhood. First stop was some city photos from the rooftop pool area, including Gaudi's Las Sagrada Familia basilica off in the distance and the stadium at Palau Sant Jordi where the temporary pool is located inside.

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    There's an IKEA right across the street. Two blocks down there's a shopping mall with an assortment of restaurants outside and on the roof and a supermarket on the lower level. There's a McDonalds across the street that looked very popular.

    [​IMG]

    Got the 8:26 train to Plaza Espanya and waited for the Coughlin's arrival. They were on a UA flight to Frankfurt with a connection on Lufthansa to Barcelona. Flights both left within 15 mins of scheduled departure time (I was tracking them) and they pulled up at Plaza Espanya at 8:45p.m. Back on the train to our hotel and they were checked in by 9p.m.

    Off to the mall for dinner at 9:45p.m. We went to the Salzburg Cerveceria and had burgers (Tom and Jim), tuna salad (Zennie) and a chicken plate (Megan). My burger had walnuts and goat cheese mixed in and was one of several special burgers on the menu. Pretty reasonable at 7 euros ($9) and an Estrella beer was 2.25 euros ($3). We were back at the hotel at 11:30p.m. We made a stop at the rooftop pool to take in city sights and I headed to my room where I was sound asleep shortly after.

    Hotel photos:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Hotels/Ma...elona/30745528_LfcrLS#!i=2657892348&k=VWB7vqF

    Barcelona photos (not many yet):
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Europe/Spain/2013-Barcelona/30759873_Mbsb2v#!i=2659419981&k=xmTFL6t
     
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  2. LAM

    LAM Silver Member

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    That hotel is way too white for my taste but I always enjoy your trip reports.
     
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  3. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    At 88 euros plus tax ($125 roughly) it is a bargain for Barcelona (and add in my 24 euro comped buffet breakfast this a.m. as a Marriott Gold and it becomes an outstanding value). A lobby bar and rooftop pool/lounge chairs/bar will easily balance out the white rooms. I've read there are all-black rooms, too, but none of our party has one of them. Everyone is very happy here---can't say that with some other hotels we've done for swimming over the last 14 years around the world, starting with Sydney for Pan Pacs in 2009. Just back at 5pm to take a break from heat (90F) and humidity (I look like a sponge again, just like in Hong Kong, with the humidity here, currently reported at 80%).

    I had looked at a Holiday Inn and a Hotel Indigo (have done several of those in London and Edinburgh) but they were pricing over $160 and the Indigo only had smoking rooms and I'd never deliberately book one of them. They were also cross town and quite a distance from the pool up at Palau Sant Jordi. Backup hotel probably would have been Hotel Expo at Sants station which we used 10 years ago here but it has very mixed reviews on Trip Advisor and I remember one of our party had AC issues back then. The Renaissance didn't have a single bad review in the two lowest categories there. We just came in from the foot of Las Ramblas with one train change and it worked out fine.
     
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  4. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    Don't know how it would work out for your specific location needs, but for future I'd highly recommend the Four Points in Barcelona. It has great management, lovely location (tons of restaurants within a 10 minute walk, 15 minute walk to the beach) but out of the main tourist drag. You can get to almost anywhere (Las Ramblas, beach, Gaudi church) with a short walk or a 10-15 minute 1e bus ride (they run really often and like most public transport in Europe are clean and efficient).
    Just looked at the rates for now and it's around 88e, I've been able to book at even cheaper rates :)
     
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  5. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    We needed to be over this way because of the pool. Just back from 4 hours there this morning and getting ready to head back in 45 mins for finals tonight. Those tend to be very long days with 7-8 hours at the pool so we try to limit transit time. We're three train stops away from Plaza Espanya and there's a shuttle bus up the hill to the pool.
     
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  6. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    SATURDAY

    Went up to the 14th floor just after 9a.m for the breakfast buffet included in my stay. They had an assortment of hot foods (scrambled eggs, bacon,sausage, mushrooms, potatoes) and an omelette station. There was also a variety of cheeses, sliced ham and meats, pastries and fruit (I had some pineapple and strawberries), as well as juice and bottled water. This would ordinarily price at 24 euros ($32) but comes with my brand-new Marriott status.

    Walked over to the nearby Gran Via mall for bottled water and SIM cars at the Orange store for two of our party. I'm fine with hotel internet access and didn't get a SIM card this time around (needed one at the Olympics last summer as we were at hotels in different parts of town). I came back with a huge 5 liter bottle that fits perfectly in my refrigerator for 61 euro cents (80 cents U.S.) and no bottle deposit. You have to stay hydrated here as it was 90F (30C) with 80% humidity.

    Back on the train to Plaza Catalunya with one connection at Espanya. Along the way Jim had someone ram into his back as he exited a fare gate. He thought it was a distraction for a pickpocketing attempt on someone in our party but I'm not sure it wasn't just a youth trying to get out for free. At the same station Friday (Espanya) I had some youths wave some euros in my face and ask for money as I was hauling my rollaboard up the stairs but they walked away. You do worry about pickpocketing here and remain on guard. We did have several attempts on our group back in 2003, one at the fare gate where it was jammed by one person and second reached into Megan's purse (team of two—they were working that station as we saw them there later in the day). Hopefully we'll leave unscathed here next week.

    Walked down Las Ramblas with thousands of our friends to the waterfront.

    [​IMG]


    Along the way we stopped at La Boqueria market where they have produce, hams and rabbits, seafood and cold fruit drinks. I bought a basket of strawberries for 1.5 euros ($2). Finished walking down the block and ended up at a mall where we stopped for cold drinks at a McDonalds with outdoor seating in the shade.

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    Back out to Las Ramblas and train back to our hotels. We were back around 5p.m. for a break from the heat.

    Headed out after 7 for dinner and went to Plaza Espanya to the renovated bullfighting arena which now houses shops and has a cluster of restaurants on the top floor.

    [​IMG]

    View from just outside our 5th floor restaurant (National Art Museum of Catalunya at the top):
    [​IMG]
     
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  7. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    We went to Mossa and had a very enjoyable evening. I had sangria and a mixed grill plate with a cold macaroni and cheese salad. Loved the ice cold sangria.

    [​IMG]

    After dinner we watched the dancing fountains between Plaza Espanya and the National Art Museum of Catalunya on the hill below Palau Sant Jordi where we go for swimming.

    fountains below the museum:
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    view from our restaurant at Plaza Espanya towards Montjuic during fountain and light show:

    [​IMG]

    Caught the 10:45pm train back to our hotel.

    That covers Saturday. Short update that Natalie did swim in the 4X100 freestyle relay Sunday morning and Team USA is seeded first going into finals tonight. As decisions about the makeup of the team for finals is not made until hours before, we do not know if she will be swimming tonight in finals. I'll get the pool photos up in the next day or two and update swimming results.

    New Barcelona photos start here: http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Europe/Spain/2013-Barcelona/30759873_Mbsb2v#!i=2661594783&k=8rmF9vV
     
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  8. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Team USA Wins Gold!

    Natalie was selected for the relay event tonight, swimming the second leg. Team USA wins Gold! I understand NBC was providing some midday coverage in the U.S. so let me know if it aired and how it looked if you saw it. Photos will hopefully be up tomorrow as it's after 11pm here and I'm just back and ready to turn in.

    USA Men not as fortunate in the same event and won Silver (France won Gold and it seemed like everyone in the stadium knew the words to the French national anthem but me---quite exciting for them with French flags throughout the stands and celebrating outside the pool).
     
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  9. tom911
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  10. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Hello this Monday morning from Barcelona Very exciting night last night as Natalie Coughlin was selected by the team coaches to swim a leg of the finals in 4 X 100 freestyle relay (2nd leg) and Team USA brought home the Gold!

    SUNDAY

    Nice breakfast here at the Renaissance. Megan Coughlin joined me and we were the only guests at 7:30 in the morning, though by the time we left at 8:15 the place was starting to fill up.

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    Left by train at 8:39 (we've been paying attention to schedules to avoid waiting) for Plaza Espanya and then to the street there for a bus up to Palau Sant Jordi which is the stadium holding the temporary pool. Natalie was competing in the preliminary round of the 4 X 100 freestyle relay which would qualify the top 8 teams to advance to finals Sunday night. Great swim and Team USA is seeded in first place heading onto finals on Sunday night. Her event was towards the end so we were at the pool from about 9a.m. until 1p.m. Had to arrive a little early to pick up our tickets. The competition itself began at 10a.m.

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  11. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Back to the hotel after for a break, and then back out at 4:30pm for finals. Arrived at the pool about 5:15 after taking a jam-packed bus up the hill to Palau Sant Jordi. Finals began at 6p.m..

    As I mentioned before, we did not know on arrival if Natalie had been selected to swim in the finals of the 4 X 100 relay as the coaches make that decision only hours before. When they introduced the team, it was pretty clear she was there (second from left in photo).

    [​IMG]

    When the event started, USA swimmer Missy Franklin was behind a very fast Australian swimmer in the first leg, and Natalie was able to make up some of that ground on the second leg, but not enough to to pass Australia. Team USA fell a little bit behind on the third leg, but when the fourth and final leg came around we surged into the lead and won the Gold. Very exciting night with every swimmer in the relay making a contribution. This is Natalie's 19th medal at World Championships (goes along nicely with her dozen Olympic medals).

    Natalie on the blocks (second leg) waiting for Missy Franklin to hit the wall:

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    From the big screen at the pool after the win (Natalie and Missy Franklin), a sign of relief:
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    Natalie second from right, awards ceremony:
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  12. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    [​IMG]

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    From the big screen at the pool:

    [​IMG]

    I walked down Montjuic with Megan to Plaza Espanya to avoid waiting for the bus and met the rest of our party there. Back to the same restaurant we were at the night before (Mossa) for a celebration dinner. I had a chicken and lamb brochette (kebab). Back at the hotel at 11p.m.

    New Barcelona photos start here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Europe/Spain/2013-Barcelona/30759873_Mbsb2v#!i=2663223712&k=TPGTpML

    Denver Post has a dozen photos here that are worth viewing, too:
    http://photos.denverpost.com/2013/0...wins-gold-medal-in-world-championships-relay/
     
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  13. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    off to Lisbon...

    Hello this Tuesday afternoon from the Iberia business class lounge at the Madrid Airport. We're in transit to Lisbon, Portugal, waiting for our connecting flight at 3:45p.m. Megan Coughlin has joined me in the lounge (only allowed one guest) while Jim and Zennie search the airport for a lunch stop. I just had some small tuna wraps and a Diet Coke and have moved into some red wine. Have about an hour here before we head to the gate.

    MONDAY

    Headed out after 10a.m. to the Sants train station, which has long-haul trains, to check train schedules for Zennie's parents who were thinking about a sidetrip to Madrid as well as access an ATM for Tom (just nothing around the hotel or nearby mall). From there to Plaza Catalunya for a bank stop for one of our party who wanted to exchange cash (they wanted 3 cents above the exchange rate plus a 3% commission—we walked away—was hoping there was a bank at Sants station but didn't see one), and then out for touring around the Cathedral and the side streets between it and the waterfront., a neighborhood called El Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter).

    [​IMG]

    We popped into a number of shops but our best stop was for gelato at a serious gelateria with about 30 different flavors of gelato or sorbet and an Italian salesperson at the counter who kept providing Megan free samples of gelato on tiny plastic gelato spoons.

    [​IMG]

    Should mention our first pickpocket encounter when a female teen tried to squeeze in between Tom and the subway doors and extract whatever valuables might be available from his pocket. I knew something was going on right away when she didn't enter to my right where the entire doorway was wide open. Jim saw her hand move into my pocket at the same time I was feeling her just a little too close. She was challenged by Jim and she decided it would be a good time to get off the train. No loss here as I have cargo shorts with lots of pockets and the wallet was in a lower pocket without easy access. Imagine it's hard to tell which pocket to pick in those circumstances.

    Down to the waterfront to a street cafe for lunch and the menu of the day, including wine and flan for dessert, was 10 euros ($13.30). Jim and I had steak while Megan and Zennie had paella (not on the menu of the day, 10 euros).We were all happy with our meals.

    [​IMG]

    From lunch back to the Cathedral area and a walk over to the music hall (Palau de la Musica Catalana) which has an ornate exterior and and even more ornate interior and set of staircases (I have visited here with my friend Liz from Seattle before—just stumbled into it this time). Only reason we headed over here was to catch a train as we didn't have time for a tour.

    [​IMG]

    Next stop: Palau Sant Jordi where members of the gold-medal winning USA team were being honored on the “Wall of Champions” for their accomplishment on Sunday night. Three of the four relay team members were present including Natalie. Nice little ceremony with each swimmer autographing the photo on the wall and being presented a copy. We left there about 6p.m. and returned to the hotel.

    Natalie Coughlin:

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    [​IMG]

    Back out at 9p.m. to the mall near the hotel for wine and cheese and then a walk back to the hotel where we enjoyed the purchases.

    TUESDAY

    Checked out of the Renaissance and no surprises on the bill aside from the expected 1 euro a day city tax. Took the train to Espanya, then up to street level for airport bus to the airport. We arrived at Terminal 1 at 9:30a.m. for a 10:45a.m. flight. A little confusion about finding the appropriate counter to check in had us heading over to the 900 check-in desks when we needed to be at the 400 series check-in desks, so a 10 minute walk back (900 desk is for business class, which I can use, but only if you don't have luggage). We were saved here because of my elite access to the business class line as I was severely worried we might not make the baggage cut-off time with things going as they were. The person in front of us was arguing with the agent about checking a third bag for free and ended up leaving with his bags when she refused to do that.

    Fortunately security runs pretty quickly and no need to remove shoes. We were through security at 10:10, about a 10 minute walk to the gate, and we didn't have to worry about boarding closing at 10:35 as we had 15 minutes to spare. Flight was lightly packed around our rows and we switched seats to have empty middle seats between us for the hour flight to Madrid.

    Iberia Lounge at Madrid Airport:

    [​IMG]

    New photos start here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Eur...8908&k=vSDqFcD
     
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  15. egar2019

    egar2019 Active Member

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    Nicely done.
     
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  16. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Can't wait to read about your Lisbon adventures too. A great report, as always, very well done. :)
     
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  17. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    3rd day in Lisbon, back to Barcelona Friday afternoon

    Hello this Thursday night from Lisbon, Portugal. Just after 11:30p.m. here. Warm temperatures continue with highs here around 30C (86F) and a bright sun that we try our best to stay out of. You learn to value standing or walking in the shade here so you don't burn. Right now I'll post about Tuesday and Wednesday and work on Thursday while en route back to Barcelona on Friday.

    TUESDAY

    15 min flight delay on our 3:45p.m. Iberia A320 flight to Lisbon, and then about an hour in the air. Iberia has gone the low-cost route for domestic flights charging for bottled water and soft drinks, so didn't order anything on board. On landing in Lisbon we were put on buses on the terminal and our bags arrived about 30 minutes later.

    Walked across the street to the new airport Metro station and purchased our tickets with a helpful individual with a British accent. You need to purchase an empty transit card here for 50 euro cents and then add funds to it. Mine from a prior trip had expired and he just happened to have a new one if I would give him 50 euro cents, no doubt acquired from someone else that had just left the airport train station that had no need for the card. Loaded 6 euros/$8 on it for a 24 hour pass. He also helped the Coughlins purchase their tickets if they'd help him towards his train fare. Good scam going here. I would have had to buy the new ticket from the machine if not from him so broke even.

    About a 20-25 ride via train to our hotel as we take a roundabout route instead of what would be a much shorter route via airport bus saving about 10 minutes. The airport bus is not included in an all day pass and is 3.50 euros ($4.70) extra. Initially I could not get out of the fare gates and was thinking I had been scammed in some way. Jim had a $1.50 value card that someone had given him as they left the airport Metro station and I used that to exit. Put my ticket in the ticket machine reader where it showed it was expired and was my ticket from last year, so of course it wasn't supposed to let me out. Found my new ticket in my pocket, confirmed it was valid for 24 hours, and we headed to our hotel near Campo Pequeno, an arena and mall two blocks from our hotel.

    [​IMG]

    Checked in at Holiday Inn Continental and were all given rooms on the 9th floor with an option for discounted breakfast due to our Priority Club/Holiday Inn elite status (10 euros/$13.30 instead of 13.5 euros/$18). None of us have elite status due to actual stays. Priority Club gives you status if you have their credit card. We also get free wi-fi.

    Back out by train around 6pm (one hour time change heading east) to the Expo Grounds from 1998 where we went to Orizon for a traditional Portuguese Rodizio dinner ( all you can eat salad bar and then selections of chicken, pork, sausage and beef brought to your table and sliced/removed from a skewer as needed). House red wine only $11 a bottle and the dinner was 19 euros each ($25). Excellent value and everyone happy with the meal. Stopped for cold soft drinks at the mall outside the Oriente train station before our trip back to our hotel by Metro as it was still petty warm.

    [​IMG]

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    Also along the waterfront out here was the Vasco de Gama Bridge:

    [​IMG]

    WEDNESDAY

    Enjoyed our hotel breakfast which was just enough to start the day. They had scrambled eggs, bacon, cereals, custard tarts, cur fruit, as well as bottled water and assorted juices. It was a fair value for what they charge.

    Took the Metro down to the city center and toured about. Plenty of restaurants with outdoor seating under the bright Portuguese sun. Went down to the waterfront and took some photos out towards the 23rd of April Bridge and then back into the city center to grab the #28 tram up through the hills on the east side of town. St. George's Castle is up in this direction though we did not go in and tour.

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

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    We noticed a pair on our initial tram ride up the hill. When it came time to get off the tram the male half stumbled about and was fluttering his map in front of me at the rear exit. I just stood in the tram and watched him as I was not going to go by him. He needed to exit first. Once we got off the tram he partnered with a female and followed us 2-3 blocks, waking very slowly as we were, then when we went back to the tram stop followed us there, too. He still had the map in his hands though wasn't doing any sightseeing (well, if you don't count checking out the tourists). They boarded the tram together. All of a sudden the male exited the rear of the tram, and in a fast sprint jumped into a cab on the corner and took off. We were convinced his female partner, who remained on the tram, had passed a big score off to him and he had to get out of the area before the victim noticed. Off the tram went as we waited for the next one. We hopped on and off other trams and even a bus exploring the area.

    Dinner tonight was at Status out at the Expo grounds at the Oriente train station. It was not our initial choice. We had selected a seafood restaurant, but before we could even order a variety of food appeared on our table, including prawns, bread, butter, olives and some salad. I asked the water what this was and he said “cover”, which was a section on the menu, and that the prawns would be 16 euros ($20 for 8 of them), as well as charges for the other items (each piece of butter was 1.10 euro/$1.50 and I don't recall what the bread was). Our bill was up to about $40 before we had even ordered. We got up and left. I did eat one olive and pocketed the pit so I would not be charged for that.

    At Status they had two-for-one sangria and beer. Tom loves sangria. [​IMG] Our waiter Miguell was just perfect and we chatted a bit about how the economy is in Portugal. He told me that locals do not have the budget to go out for dinner as they have in the past and that the restaurants in the area are struggling. Some of them are now vacant store fronts. His particular restaurant is one that is in the 1998 Expo grounds and at the far end away from the train station, so they probably have to try a little harder (hence the happy hour for some drinks). We all had excellent dinners (salmon, rice and seafood, canneloni) and I had tiramisu for dessert. Prices? The salmon was 10.50 euros ($14) and the tiramisu 4.3 euros ($6). Worth every penny and we tipped well above what is expected.

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    [​IMG]

    After, a short stop at the mall at the Oriente train station for cold drinks, then Metro back to the city center and up the hill to the Chiado district which is full of alleys with cafes and restaurants, as well as hillside trams and a view of the 23th of April Bridge.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We had started the day at 10a.m. and didn't return to our hotel until 11p.m. No time for a midafternoon break today.

    New photos start here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Eur...7083&k=6xmKxTB
     
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  20. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Thanks for the great report and photos too.

    Thieves operating in both cities, especially around public transportation hubs, or taking a bus / tram / train seems to be a real problem.

    Gangs working as couples?
     
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  21. Pizzaman
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    Pizzaman Co-founder

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    Great trip report, Tom. We really enjoyed our time in Barcelona, though it's been about 5 years. Time to go back! We enjoyed the Le Meridien at the top of Las Ramblas during our stay.
     
  22. tom911
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    I wish I knew. The couple in Lisbon were probably in their 40s if not older, and the female teen who tried to get me obviously much younger. When we had the incident 10 years back it was two males around 20 also working as a team. Haven't heard any stories this trip as we're at a different hotel than the package deal most U.S. families purchased for swimming and we're sitting in the Speedo section a few rows below. When swimming breaks they're off to a charter bus to stay on schedule. We go out to dinner and are lucky to make it back to our hotel by 11pm (in at 11:15 tonight).

    10 years back it seemed like everyone had a story, and I had a high school friend over 2-3 months back that had her purse taken on a train in BCN (and she's veteran international traveler now living in London). No one seems to be immune.

    On most of these international events we get much better pricing on our own when I start pricing things out and looking for the best deal/location. One of Natalie's sponsors had a $235 corporate available at a nice property with breakfast but we're paying $125 without breakfast and we're closer to the pool, the main reason we're here.

    Off to bed. Hope to get the last part of the Lisbon segment up tomorrow.
     
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  23. Travelsavant
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    Great reports & pics; thanks Tom.
     
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  24. tom911
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    Here's the longest segment yet....

    THURSDAY

    Left the hotel at 10a.m. with the intent to work our way down to the city center by train with a tram connection to Belem. Had it all worked out and as we're walking to the train station by Campo Pequeno when a bus comes along that says “Belem”, so off we went on a 25 min bus ride to Belem. We were fortunate to board where we did as it became standing room only after the next stop. I do pretty good sorting out trains and trams but buses in Europe still challenge me as I can never seem to tell what routes they take, or they display destinations I've never heard of, but figured it would be a safe bet here as I have been to Belem before and could find my way around there.

    In Belem we walked past the President of Portugal's home, as well as along the waterfront in the direction of the 25th of April Bridge, taking photos if it, a cruise ship nearby, and the Tagus River. Not much activity on the water itself which surprised us with the warm temperatures.

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    Turned back around and visited the Monument of the Discoveries, then a cold water stop before walking past the Belem Castle.

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  25. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Final stop in Belem was the Jernimos Monastery and the church which houses the tomb of Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama. Took the #15 tram back to the city center and then a Metro train connection back to our hotel, arriving at 4:30p.m.

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    Back out at 6p.m. for dinner and we returned to Status at the Expo grounds. Tom had spaghetti carbonara this time while Jim and Zennie had salmon/sea bass and Megan also had salmon. Very good meals all around. Tom and Jim enjoyed two pitchers of ice cold red wine sangria (recall they have a happy hour so 2 for 1) and Megan and Zennie split a bottle of wine. Jim had tiramisu for dessert and the rest of us passed. Total bill: 65 euros/$87 for 4. Also had excellent service here with our new waiter William (though Miguell from the night before was sitting across from us with his wife and some friends and welcomed us back). We really enjoyed it here and were made very welcome.

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    Made it back to our hotel by Metro train about 10:30p.m. and called it a night.

    Metro poster, one of a series with Smurfs, that has caught my attention:

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