Lisbon

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Everybody has a bucket list and Podge & Tubbs are no different. Their bucket list mainly centres around places to visit and nearly all by cruise ships. One such item on the list was to visit Florence and Pisa and they surely would have done so had Tubbs not gone and gotten herself poorly the day before they arrived at the port of Livorno: The suspicion is that this was down to excess lager, wine and Italian ice-cream while in Rome so, much to the dismay of Podge, who had to write off £100+ in lost excursion fees but, because His Podgeness loved Tubbs The Duchess he took it on the chin and stayed in the cabin to look after her. And so, Florence and Pisa had to remain on the list, un-ticked.

Another entry on the list was to do two cruises back to back: they harboured this ‘evil’ desire to stay on the ship and watch all their fellow passengers, with sad faces😦 , disembark.:-)

Can you imagine then their faces when thumbing through the P&O cruise brochure, a favoured pastime of theirs, when they saw a cruise sailing from Southampton (on Easter Sunday) to Genoa calling at Livorno immediately followed by another cruise again calling at Livorno (two chances go seeing the sights) and finishing in Venice. “Cripes” exclaimed Podge and Tubbs in unison, “this was made especially for us”. And so, as they were already on a cruise ship, they went to the future cruise sales desk and booked themselves a place and, as they were already on board a P&O boat, they got extra spending money included; Yay.

After many months of waiting, Easter finally arrived when they would board the Oceana and set sail for better weather, lovely ports and of course the opportunity (twice) to visit both Florence and Pisa. Unfortunately, their departure coincided with the arrival of Storm Kate, or is it Katie? Who knows, who cares? The fact was, Kate was on her way and she was in one seriously bad mood.  The forecast was for Kate to arrive on Easter Monday and cut across the south of the UK and away to the east. Well, if that was the case, and if Sunday night was anything to go by, Kate wasn’t so bad after all but, when wasn’t realised was that Kate had a nasty sting in her tale that would follow through the following night. As Monday came and went, yes, the sea was less than smooth, in fact it was downright rough and when the Captain said that the trip along the English Channel would be ‘interesting’ everybody knew they were in for a rough ride and , rough it was. In fact, the restaurants on board were less busy than normal and, the obligatory ‘bag’ holders (for those less able to deal with rough seas) were strategically placed around the ship. This pleased His Podgeness greatly as [to date] he had never felt untoward effects of sea-sickness. and so, Podge & Tubbs, having enjoyed a relaxing 1st day and a feast in The Plaza followed by much wine and Prosecco, etc. retired for the night. And then, the tale of Kate lashed out. The ship went up, the ship went down, the ship went up and leant left, the ship went down and leant right, the ship went up and leant right, the ship went down and leant left. Basically, this ship went every which way but loose.

Loose was the right word, sun chairs and tables were moving about, all banging about on the balconies, the screen between balconies were banging and clattering and generally everything was either moving or banging about. Every now and then, every 7th wave according to His Podgeness, the ship would crash down on an almighty wave make an almighty cracking sound. Tubbs, often referred to as The Duchess awoke on numerous occasions complaining how it was disturbing her sleep (this worried Podge greatly). She even declared the whole thing as ridiculous as if it was somebodies fault (this worried Podge even more as it was surely his fault by default).

And so came the dawn followed by The Captain making his 9 0’clock address to all who would, or could, listen. The was when he announced that the naughty Kate had been through wreaking havoc upon the ship to the point than many cabins had become waterlogged as the seas had come over onto the balconies and seeped through the doors, such was the ferocity of the storm. His Podgeness mused for a moment and thought well, if you’re standing on the balcony on deck 10, as he was at this time, and spray is higher than that then yes, I suppose it was, and still remained, a bit choppity but he was more worried about the fall out from The Duchess’s broken sleep and her inevitable grumpiness. The Captain then gleefully announced that we were about to enter, wait for it, THE BAY OF BISCAY. Notorious for its rough seas. He did however reassure all who were listening (many weren’t as they were still suffering the effects of Kate) that the weather would ease off and the sea would calm down.  And, it surely did.

The day went by and the sea got calmer as we approached ‘La Coruna’ corner and Cape Finistaire (the end of the world as the Romans would call it) and down the west coast of Portugal (thinking about it, Portugal only has a west coast) before entering the River Tagus and onwards to Lisbon, their first port of call: Landfall at last. It was here that Podge and Tubbs had booked their first excursion: They had already seen Sintra; they had already seen Obidos; they had already seen the town centre but, they had not visited The Monument to the Discoveries or the Belàm Tower. and so with an advertised excision to these places, the tour was booked and embarked upon also visiting the Jeronimos Monastery Church.

The coach driver / tour guide took everybody on the coach, including Podge & Tubbs around town eventually dropping them off outside of The Monument to the Discoveries with the guidance that it will be possible to walk to the Belàm Tower in about 10-15 minutes but they had to be back for the coach in 45 minutes after which they would be taken to the Jeronimos Monastery Church. So, as quickly as poor old Podge’s lungs would allow, the rushed around both sites to take the obligatory photos getting back just in time for the coach to depart. For those that live in or know Lisbon, they are probably in a state of wondering ‘Why?’. Well, after a 10-minute drive, the coach arrived outside the Monastery which as many will know, is across the road from the Monument: Everybody agreed, they could have walked there quicker. Still never mind, His Podgeness and Tubbs ‘The Duchess’ made their way into the Monastery, were [genuinely] filled with wonderment, came out and made their way along the road to the nearest custard tart shop after which they sat upon a park bench and gorged themselves. Hunger sated, the next, and final stop was the Black Horse Square, the largest square in Lisbon although the guide insisted it was the largest in Europe.  Lots of pickies later, it was back to the coach for the ride back to the ship which was actually only 500 meters away from the square. But Podge and Tubbs were happy and they retired to the bar for some well earned grape juice, of the Pinot variety.

Random Pictures

Next Stop: – Gibralter

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