Lisbon: where the magic happens
Quite often, need meets opportunity and magic happens.
Such was the case for me last week when I needed to book a ticket to get to Britain to visit some family members. Going through online options was, at one point, frankly sort of depressing.
Prices ranged from $1,100 for a direct flight from Bermuda to London to $500 for a one-way trip from New York to London.
Then, magically, I saw something that caught both my eye and imagination.
A flight from New York to London via Lisbon, Portugal, all for a grand total of $250 with TAP Airlines, the national airline of Portugal.
After double-checking on other sites to verify the prices, it took roughly ten minutes on the TAP Airlines website to book the ticket.
Simply put, there was no way I could let that opportunity slip by.
Located in Terminal 5 at JFK Airport, the same terminal as JetBlue Airlines, TAP Airlines has about five desk agents to check persons in. After the check-in, you go through security and then into the cavernous Terminal 5.
TAP Airlines uses Airbus aircraft for its long-haul transatlantic flights.
During the six-hour flight, passengers are given two meals, copious amounts of coffee, free TV, movies and music.
The only catch is that you have to pay a pretty price for wi-fi. However, with such a long flight, most people are generally sleeping after two hours, myself included
I must say, waking up and seeing the western coast of Europe was somewhat surreal, as I had never been to Continental Europe.
The Humberto Delgado Airport is the leading international gateway for Portugal. It is incredibly spacious, clean and user-friendly.
You can find just about every service you need in there, including restaurants, cafés, high-end stores and small grocery stores. You can even get yourself a SIM card at the airport.
Most of the persons working at the airport are fluent in several languages, and most signage is in both Portuguese and English.
Outside the airport is where one finds the taxis, which are all-black with green tops.
Mi irmao, Bruno
Once again, need met opportunity. I approached one taxi driver, but he quickly waved me off in favour of an attractive female passenger.
Another driver approached, and I explained the need for a tour within a short window of time. We agreed on a price and away we went.
He introduced himself as Bruno Almeida.
When I told him Almeida was a fairly common name in Bermuda, he was initially a bit shocked. I had to explain to him that a large proportion of our population are of Azorean descent.
Over the course of the next two hours, Bruno took me to see historical sites of Lisbon, inclusive of the following:
• Arco do Triunfo
• Praca do Comercio
• Miradouro da Senhora do Monte
• The legendary stadiums of Lisbon-based football clubs Benfica and Sporting.
Along the way, a number of things stood out, such as narrow cobblestone streets, pastel-coloured buildings, never-ending amounts of alfresco-style cafés and distinct Portuguese architecture.
Without a doubt, what stood out the most was the cleanliness of the streets and the unhurried, genuine friendliness of the people.
Towards the end of the tour, Bruno took me to a café to have a sample of some typical Portuguese food and drink.
At the end of the tour, I almost felt like changing my reservation to spend more time in Lisbon.
It definitely is a city worth visiting.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org