Day 0: Introduction: Perfecting My Trip to Europe Using United Miles
Day 1: LAX-YVR on Air Canada, Vancouver, and YVR-LHR on Air Canada
Day 2: BD Number One Lounge at Heathrow and London to Lisbon on TAP Portugal
Day 3: A Day of Sightseeing in Lisbon
Day 4: An Unexpected Extra Day + New Years in Lisbon
Day 5: 12-Hour Bus Trip from Lisbon to Algeciras, Spain via Seville
Day 6: Monkeying Around in British Gibraltar + Ferry to Tangier, Morocco + Overnight Train to Marrakech
Day 7: My Five Star Hotel Room in Marrakech
Day 8: Bartering for Mont Blanc Pens + RAK-MAD on Royal Air Maroc
Day 9: City Tour of Madrid on Foot
Day 10: Escape to the Madrid Airport Hilton
Day 11: MAD-FRA-CPH on Lufthansa
Day 12: CPH-IAD on SAS, IAD-PHX-BUR on US Airways
Day 4: An Unexpected Extra Day + New Years in Lisbon – 31 Dec 2009
I arose at 0645, grabbed a quick bite to eat downstairs (fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh baked breads, and cereals), and hopped on the Metro to get over to the bus depot in time for my 0800 bus.
At the bus station, there was a special counter to purchase international bus tickets and only one person in front of me. When it was my turn, I told the woman at the desk that I wanted to buy a ticket for the 0800 bus to Algecerias. She looked up and at me and said the bus had been cancelled today. No further explanation. It was New Year’s eve, but the bus station appeared to be in full swing. She confirmed that the bus would be running tomorrow and I purchased my ticket. Thanks to my ISIC card, my price dropped from EU95 to EU50. Still a high price for a bus ride, but much cheaper than flying.
With an extra day in Lisbon, I decided to return to the same hostel and spend the day outlining material for law school. I’m on a quarter system and my Christmas break came in the middle of my quarter. It was a good day. I got a lot done and patted myself on the back for actually taking time to study on a trip.
Late in the afternoon, I went for another walk, this time in the opposite direction. I stopped at a cathedral and also climbed one of Lisbon’s seven hills to get a great view of the sunset. The picture below does not do it justice.
I returned to the hostel where I was accosted by a group who were planning a trip to the New Year’s Eve fireworks near the Jerónimos Monastery. I agreed to join them and ended up having dinner with them in the hostel’s bar. The ringleader of the group was a guy from San Francisco who got himself completely wasted two hours before the dawn of the New Year. The others in the group hailed from as close as Porto and as far as Beijing. Another reason why I love hostels is the chance to meet people from all over the world who share my love of travel. It’s not difficult to start a conversation with a beautiful German girl when you have something in common (and can speak a little German). Sadly, this German girl had to excuse herself every 20 minutes to smoke a cigarette. Huge turnoff in my book.
About 15 of us left the hostel at 2245 to get to the fireworks. The venue was a few miles away so we crammed on to a packed (think Tokoyo) tram and after some idiot pushed the emergency stop button, delaying us 20 minutes, we made it by 1130. There were thousands of people waiting to get into the prime viewing area, so we staked out a place across the street that still afforded us an excellent view of the fireworks.
As the clock struck 12 and Lisbon welcomed in the New Year, my new pal from San Francisco was busy downing a jumbo size bottle of champagne.
Half of the group went bar hopping after the fireworks, but I went back to the hostel and crawled into bed just after 0200—with a wakeup call less than five hours away.
The next morning he was still down in the bar, slumped over with a martini glass in his hand.
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