We rose early to say goodbye to Giulia and her son Milo as they were heading to Civitavecchia to meet up with her parents who were coming back on a ferry from a holiday in Sardinia. At about 8:00 we made our way down to the Metro station just in time to see the beggar lady and her husband turn up for 'work'. He tried it on with us but I had already given her some money yesterday when she helped me with buying the tickets. The train was quick and we were in the main terminal in no time. I purchased some tickets for the Leonardo Express and realised that we were in time to catch the 8:35 train instead of the 9:05 which I had planned on. This was a smooth easy trip worth every euro of the 14 each we had paid. As Giulia had told us it was a longish walk to the departure lounge but nothing as awful as she had made out.
Once inside the terminal it was almost as far to the TAP check-in counter as it was from the station. Since I had done an online check-in I expected that there would just be a bag drop but there was no obvious sign so we joined the queue. After about 5 minutes of slow going I noticed a counter which didn't seem to be getting much action so, leaving Maree with the cases I went to have a look. Sure enough the small discreet sign said online bag drop some left the queue and in no time we were lining up for the security check. My bag didn't come through the security check but was sidelined. When the officer opened my bag there was the offending item my half full water bottle. I offered to spill out the water but she said "no, drink" so I drank most of it and she said "ok you can go". I realised after that she wanted to make sure that it really was water and not some transparent explosive or something.
We were very early so it was about 90 minutes before flight time. As usual they called boarding before everything was ready so most people stood up, formed a line and then spent 15 minutes standing all lined up. Maree and I stayed in our seats until the line had all but disappeared but still ended up waiting to board the plane. Once in the air we both noticed that the guy in the seat next to us seemed nervous. He kept fidgeting and flicking the buckle on his seat belt and turning about. He had a darkish appearance so both of us started to get a bit worried. At one stage he got up and wandered off and I had visions of him coming back with a knife or something. Anyway, we landed safely so I guess he was just a nervous flyer.
At Lisbon airport we were greeted by Cristina from Potugal Bike who led us to the car park where we also met Jose again. It was like old homes week! A short drive into town until we picked Bruce and Gina up from their hotel and a few minutes later picked up four Americans; Bink and Martha and Joel and Theresa. Martha and Theresa are sisters who look like twins so Bink and Joel are brothers-in-law. There was also a second vehicle which contained Rod, Colin, Carlos (from Brasil), Richard as well as Todd & Debra and also Ricardo another of our guides. Bruce happened to mention to Colin, whom he had met in Mt Beauty, about the trip and Lo and behold he decided to join us. He has just spent the last few weeks cycling through Spain on the Camino de Santiago and had ridden down to Portugal. It also turns out that Colin lives in Montmorency, less than 4 kilometres from our place. It is indeed a small world.
It was great to meet up with Bruce and Gina after their trip through England, France and Porto and we had a good time catching each other up on our trips so far. After checking in to our rather swish hotel we did a substantial bit of laundry given that we are here for two days. At 6:00 there was a group meeting with introductions and a general briefing followed by a tasty three course meal in the hotel restaurant. There was no sign of pasta however. Tomorrow is a free day where we will go to explore the town of Evora. I have only included one photo from yesterday as we didn't take any today