Needless to say, we left the house later than anticipated……due to a little dawdling, a little housecleaning, some last minute changes to our packing and Felix’s unwillingness to enter the pet carrier. As soon as Felix saw the carrier, his eyes got big as saucers and he high-tailed it under the bed. It took Craig some coaxing and a LOT of stretching to get Felix into the carrier.
Traffic was light so, as anticpated, it was about a 1½ hour drive to Chateau Miaou. Felix’s “room” was awaiting him. It’s one of the larger rooms…..normally reserved for two-cat families, but Felix gets priority because we always bring his “security blanket” with him…..the space-absorbing 4-level tower. His next-door neighbor this time is a playful 6 month old grey-striped tabby. Hmmm…..we wonder how our “only child” will deal with this rambunctious l’il playmate. Felix, copping an attitude, wouldn’t come out of his carrier to say good-bye. His icy stare letting us know just how unhappy he was with this turn of events. His pitiful attempt at guilt-tripping failed miserably……he is the most pampered of pets and Portugal is waiting.
The drive to the airport in Toulouse took a little over 1/2 hour so we arrived in plenty of time to make our 12:50 flight. Perfect! This gave us enough time to turn the car in, get our boarding passes, clear security and, most importantly, stop in the Duty-Free store for an ambrosial delight that we haven’t found anywhere else in France but I knew we would find it here…..I saw it here before boarding our plane to Munich but I was too pressed for time and space to buy it then. This time, I allowed for both……this jewel would be coming home with me.
We entered the shop, scanning the aisles for our treasure. All manner of goods were there…..calling us, beckoning us…..but our mission was single-minded. We searched high and low for our prize……fearful that it it might have become “OOS”……the dreaded “Out of Stock” We rounded a corner and finally saw it. There it was! On the bottom of a small shelf…..the object of our desire! A shining bottle of smooth, almond essence straight from the heart of Italy….. Amaretto DiSaronno!
To the victor belong the spoils…..a quick credit-card swipe later and this delicious bottle of amber liquid was all ours. Ours to lug through Portugal for two weeks just to carry it back into France. I hope it’s as good as we remember.
Our flight on TAP’s Portugalia airline left on time and two quick hours later, we were flying into Lisbon……which, watching from our window, looked amazingly like San Francisco…… a hilly city on a bay with a bridge that could be the Golden Gate’s twin.
We didn’t know what to expect in Portugal but our first impression was good. If any airport could be described as “happy,” it would be this one…..not a bad way to start a trip. Picking up the rental car was a breeze…..the employees at the counter and in the carpark were all fluent in English so the paperwork was easily completed and we were soon on our way.
As we drove north, we were surprised at how much the countryside looked like the Bay Area……white homes with clean lines built along the hills, eucalyptus trees, attractive industrial parks…..déjà vu all over again.
The similarities ended on the highway……these roads were smooth and in good repair. The drivers, very much like the Italians, drive fast and pass often. Fortunately (for me), Craig no longer feels obligated to speed up to prevent us from being passed…..at least not in Europe…..at least not yet.
Within an hour we arrived in Obidos, a preserved walled city atop a hill, and found a hotel just outside the wall. A charming young woman at the Reception desk asked what kind of room we would like. My priority was “the one with the least stairs” so she showed us two rooms up a steep staircase.
The hotel, Estalagem Do Convento, was originally built as a convent in the 1800’s and, if the rooms haven’t changed, these nuns would have had it pretty good. The door opens to a hallway with a beautifully tiled bathroom on one side and closets and drawers on the other. Past the bathroom is a large bedroom, with built in cabinets and a window to the town. We quickly repacked…..heavy winter clothes in one suitcase, lighter-weight “unwinter” clothes in the other. Now Craig will only need to tote one suitcase into hotels along the way. That done, we took a walk into town.
Obidos is a very old town with cobblestone streets and, being a hill town, lots of ups and downs…..stairs, inclines, rises. A real test for my leg…..these steep lanes bending my ankle at angles my physical therapists could only wish for.
Colorful borders painted along the white buildings mark the property lines. Orange trees, with their brightly hued fruit, are scattered throughout the town. Rose vines line many walls but it’s too early for us to see their red blooms against the white walls.
The young woman at the hotel’s reception desk recommended Restaurante Alcaide for dinner…..it’s an unpretentious restaurant favored by locals for its regional specialities. We had to walk the streets of Obidos for hours waiting for the restaurant to open, but it was worth the wait.
Dinner (Lamb with Peach Sauce for Craig and Pork Loin with Herbs for me) was accompanied with a bottle of a local red wine recommended by our server. For dessert, we shared an almond pudding…..a misnomer since it was more of a tart than a pudding…..sticky (in a good way) and slightly sweet.
Sated and happy, we walked back to the hotel…..taking the longer, but thankfully stair-free, path.
Boa noite…..good night