Wednesday, November 18, 2009

To Portugal with Portugalia

LISBON - I flew to this busy capital city on my first visit to Portugal on board Portugalia Air, part of a code-share with Star Alliance carrier TAP Portugal. I had not flown on either airline before, so it was all new, and it turned out to be a good introduction. The flight left Barcelona on time, and it arrived on time under glowering, leaky skies. Hey, this is November.

Flight TP745, was on a mid-sized, single-aisle Fokker 100. Another first; I had not been on a Fokker before, either, as far as I remember. The eight-seat business class was cozy but comfortable. The flight crew got their work done while also being chatty and casual. Airline food is frequently derided by frequent travelers, and often with cause, but lunch was good. The main dish was salted white fish Portuguese style, served with a custard tart for dessert - a popular dessert on the ground here, as I was later to discover. Somehow, the fish was moist and flavorful - not a given, considering it had to be heated in a cramped airline cabin.

Lisbon International is a mid-sized airport with a modern arrivals hall. Lots of construction going on, though I am not sure at this point what is being built. Unlike major airports that are far removed from the city, Lisbon airport is just a 20 to 30 minute ride, depending on traffic, from the city center. A taxi costs 10 to 12 euros. The best way to go between airport and city is the Aerobus, which makes a number of central-city stops - identified by recorded announcements - and costs just 3 euros 50 cents (about $5 U.S.) one-way. This is quite a bargain in often-pricey Western Europe, though Lisbon seems on the whole less expensive than Rome, Paris, London.

Glad to be here. Lisbon offers a good mix of history, with its vintage downtown core, and modernity, with the futuristic Expo 98 site on the east side of town, right on the wide Rio Tejo. Good cafes abound all over. Vasco da Gama is the big man on campus. The famous navigator is the namesake of a bridge, a tower, a boulevard and a shopping center.

No comments:

Post a Comment