Left the Sheraton Porto after breakfast, and drove down to Lisbon. Husband had helpfully brought a supply of CDs to entertain us during the journey. There was no obvious CD player in the car.
We stopped en route at a service station. This was later to have great significance. It looked clean, so we decided the food hygiene would be okay, despite the rather disgusting toilets. Portugal has a lot of disgusting public toilets. In my travels, most countries have cleaner washrooms than England, but not Portugal—wear shoes and take your own paper, and try not to breathe in.
Arrived in Lisbon and booked into another Sheraton (Husband gets different perks with his travels too often with work card, so we like them). One perk is the use of the hotel lounge, so we dumped our bags and I sat in the lounge with the boys, drinking free beers (them, not me) whilst looking across the city. David and Rebecca went swimming.
We caught the metro into the city, and walked around. It seems grander than Porto, but not as pretty. We went to a burger and lobster place for dinner. In Portugal, the burgers don’t necessarily come with a bun.
M began to feel ill. Then J began to feel ill. I took them back to the hotel in a taxi, Husband and R caught the metro back. We all made it without incident. There then followed a terrible night for the rest of the family, and one of those days you would rather forget. They all had food poisoning—my bet is that it was from the service station, perhaps E.coli on the salad preparation area. I survived unscathed. Not sure if that was due to taking probiotics (I always take probiotics when we travel, because I have a naturally nervous stomach). It was such a shame.
I went into breakfast on my own the following morning. I took a book to read, for support. I am rereading JOANNA as I never read it after it was published—for fear of spotting mistakes I wouldn’t be able to change. (It really is, rather good!) The buffet was lovely—even better than the Porto hotel. But then I had one of those ‘car-park’ moments—I stood there, with my plate of food, and had absolutely no idea where my table was, and no tall boys to guide me back. Wandered around the dining room, trying to look as if I just fancied a stroll. Spotted my book on the table in the corner, and hurried back to my seat. I don’t think anyone noticed.
As the family were all too ill to leave the hotel, I set off on my own for the prison, which we could see from the lounge, and a park. (If I am honest, the prison interested me more than the park.) I found a building that looked like a church, and walked all round it, trying to find a way inside. Someone came out, so I went towards the door, but was shouted at by three policemen, so am guessing it wasn’t open to random tourists.
Walked through the park. There were Olympic wreaths atop tall pillars, and a fountain, and a view right down to the river. At the exact moment I went to take a photo of the fountain, it stopped running. Bizarre.
I made my way to the prison, unsure if it’s against the law to take photos of a prison wall. Next door is the court house, a huge building, with some very cool pictures in tiles all around it. They depict scenes from the Bible, and the scales of justice, and are not particularly friendly (but perhaps a courthouse is not meant to be friendly). As I walked around the outside, a man appeared, on a bike, with a backpack that was blaring very loud opera. He circled the courthouse a few times, the music fading and growing loud again as he passed me. It was very strange. Was he signalling to someone inside the prison? Was this a weird tourist attraction? Was he a security guard, surreptitiously spying on me? After about 6 loops of the courthouse, he cycled away.
I walked back to the hotel, but it had gone. Tried to find it on my phone, but the map had also gone. Sent text messages to the family, who told me to turn on data-roaming. Managed to find hotel.
Family were well enough to eat at a local Pizza Hut. It was surprisingly very nice. Especially the sangria.
Thank you for reading. I will post of more of my holiday diary soon. Take care.