Saturday, August 20, 2016

Europe 2016 Trip Notes # 1

Our first "24 hours" was a little stressful and tiring.

We left home ealier than normal since we were not sure how long the TSA wait would take.

Bradley Terminal: There is no "TSA Pre-Approved" area until the very end of the line where business and first class passengers were allowed to go ahead of the other ticket holders!

Something new and interesting: TSA dogs at Bradley (LAX) were sniffing for contraband while passengers were going through security. Also, airport police were visible with machine guns.  Same thing in Paris too.  What a world we live in today!!!

On the way to the Air Tahiti Nui lounge we took a look at the new Etihad Airlines lounge. When passengers wanted to eat something, there were tables formally set up with white table clothes, fancy china and silverware as well as small ornate gold plates used for bread and butter. This lounge is a real "Wow!"

Our plane to Paris was delayed for only an hour which normally would not be a big deal except that we had a tight schedule for a connecting flight to Porto, Portugal and, we had to transfer from Charles De Gaul to Orly.

Had our Paris arrival been on tine, transferring from CDG  to Orly could have been relatively easy and at no cost to us. Transfer buses go back and forth between the airports. In this case, we had to take a taxi that cost $60.

With little time to make our Orly flight, we rushed with our luggage to the Vueling Airline counter and stood in long check-in lines concerned that we would miss our flight. The French airport security lines took a lot of time.

On Our Way To Paris

The First Of Several Courses

Too Many Calories!

Putting aside the long lines, a French security agent was annoying. Jerry's back pack was emptied out and thoroughly inspected. It seemed that a half-used tube of hair gel caused the issue. Even though there was less than the allowable maximum, into the trash it went

Fortunately, the Porto flight was delayed. Still, there was another hour of waiting!

I realized at the airport, that I forgot to my lipstick when transferring things from my purse.  That is a first.  Luckily  I had some in my packed make up bag. 

By the way, Jerry likes to talk to strangers. He noticed that one of the Air Tahiti Nui passengers was getting special recognition. Jerry struck up a conversation with the passenger - asking him if he was some sort of "government official." It turns out that the passenger was an Ex-President of Tahiti. Jerry and the president had fun discussing "American politics," various global social issues as well as sharing some interesting antidotes about Tahiti. The Presidents were on their way to a conference in Corsica.

   *                               *                                *                                               *

Porto Arrival

New Airport: Beautifully Designed

Renting cars in Europe is a lengthy process. Rather than using a computerized system, most of the information is manual inputted. Many forms have to be filled out. It may (only) take "minutes" at home. In Europe, it can take 20-30 minutes.

The rental car at the Porto airport that could handle our luggage was very expensive. We ended up with a new, (small) mid-size BMW.

Once we were (finally) ready to head off to the town of Porto, we had issues with two GPS devices that were brought from home. They did not recognize where we needed to go. Subsequently, we learned that certain parts of the addresses need to be left out of the destination.

Once on the road, there were more issues as one of the devises would not immediately start and when it did, the directions were contradicted by the other device. For instances, one device said to turn "left," the other told us to "turn right." Very frustrating.  Then, when they were both giving us the same directions, there was not enough time to navigate "right" or "left" on a street. Ultimately, we got relatively close to our "Old Town" hotel which was located in a great pedestrian zone with lots of ambiance.

We unloaded all our luggage with the plan for Arlene to sit in a plaza near the Porto river while Jerry searched for a nearby parking lot. A young man working for another hotel came up to us and offered to take the luggage to our hotel. At first we declined until he told us that we were his "Porto guests" and he wanted to help.

*                       *                       *                       *

It took Jerry about an hour to return from the parking structure. He had a few issues!

Putting aside that it was difficult to find parking in a underground facility, he dropped the parking ticket between the car seat and console. It took some special manipulation of his fingers to reach down and to retrieve the ticket. Worst of all, he "lost" the electronic remote car key. Passerby's were asked to help. Nada! Finally, he found the key. With all of the confusion of taking out the luggage and disconnecting the GPS charging cable, the key ended up under the passenger seat. Whew!

*                       *                       *                       *

The boutique Porto hotel opened about a year ago. With only 15 rooms, it is perfectly located with it being near the river, a pedestrian area, restaurants and very close to many ornate churches and historical buildings . It is a great place for walking at night. 

Bridge Behind Us Designed By Gustave Eiffle (As In The Eiffle Tower)

Our first dinner was in a restaurant next door from our hotel. The restaurant started about 40 years ago. The actual building (originally used to store wine) is about 400 years old. The food was simple, typical and quite good. The beer was delicious. The local house wine was good. Service was excellent. Best of all was the price. Two entrees, appetizers, drinks and desert (with tip) was about $40! Even in a tourist area, the inexpensive price was totally unexpected.

Kitchen Staff All Women - Wait Staff All Men

Close to 30 hours after we woke up at home, we "crashed" into bed at our Porto hotel!

No comments:

Post a Comment