Douglas Dices with DisasterOctober 8 in Portugal
Our two days in Porto came to an end all too quickly. We had developed an affinity for the place and would have loved to have spent a little more time enjoying all that it had to offer.
We had arranged to be collected by taxi at 10.30 for the short drive to the Porto Campanha Train Station. Allan and I were ready early and decided to go for a short final walk to fill in some time. When we found a small coffee shop it seemed like an appropriate place to grab a coffee before the long train ride to Lisbon.
"Did you realise that no one has lost anything so far on this trip ?", I asked Allan. Even the two small batteries and fitness bracelet that had gone missing in my luggage had somehow reappeared a coupe of days ago. When you are changing hotels so regularly it is very easy to misplace small items such as plugs and chargers. But so far we had not lost a thing. Well done us.
We managed to find and board the train without mishap and soon we were smoothly and silently gliding towards Lisbon at over 200 kph. Although it was not as fast as the 300 kph Grand Vitesse trains of France, it was a far cry from the 80 kph shaking and lurching rattletraps that we call trains in Australia. I wondered why we are so incapable of building this type of train at home.
The kilometres quickly ticked by and I couldn't help but be glad that it was so much more comfortable than the 5 hour bus trip we had endured two days earlier. We were even served food and drinks by two stewards. The country that flashed by was green and picturesque and the sky had once again reverted to a cloudless blue.
The train first stopped on the outskirts of Lisbon and a number of passengers got off. I checked the GPS and it told me that we were still 7 km from our hotel, so I assumed that we had not reached the final stop yet. About 5 km further on the train reached the end of the line and our journey was over.
Douglas and I had been seated in carriage number one, while another 5 members of our group had been seated further back in the train. After Douglas and I managed to exit the train station there was no sign of the other 5 passengers. It became obvious that they had mistakenly jumped off at the earlier station. At least they knew the name of the hotel, so we knew they would be OK.
Douglas and I climbed into a waiting taxi and made the short trip to our hotel, right in the centre of Lisbon. Just as our taxi pulled up, we were joined by the others who arrived in a couple of other taxis. We all walked the short distance to our hotel, congratulating ourselves on how smoothly the arrangements had gone.
It was only when we reached the hotel foyer that Douglas's face went white. He had just realised that he had left his backpack on the back seat of the taxi. He immediately ran back to where we had been dropped, but the taxi had disappeared into the Lisbon traffic with his backpack inside. We had no idea of which taxi we had just been in. The only thing we knew was that the driver spoke good English.
It had only been a few hours earlier that I had been gloating that on one had lost anything on the trip and now Douglas had seemingly lost his entire backpack and contents.
The only thing we could think of was to ask the hotel for help in tracking down the taxi, but we knew it would be areal "needle in a haystack" search. Douglas decided to try once more and disappeared back up the street. A few minutes later he reappeared with a smile on his face and a backpack in his hand. Apparently the driver had seen the backpack and had come back looking for him. It really was a miracle that could restore our faith in human nature.
With our items missing tally thus restored to zero, we all checked in to the hotel and then spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Lisbon. My initial impressions were very positive and the reasonably priced lunch I enjoyed at 4.30 pm was excellent.
Later I met Mary and Pam outside the hotel and we were all able to catch up on the events of the past few days. They are the final two group members to arrive from Melbourne and it was good to see that they had already checked into the hotel the previous afternoon.
It had been a long and eventful day and I was ready for bed.Read more