June 24, 2009

Lisbon and Lagos via London

Our brief return to London was a refreshing change from our three-month existence in South America. For starters, we spoke the language fluently, which meant I no longer had to rely on my now-honed miming skills, it also meant we could finally flush toilet paper. Best of all, we enjoyed two days of Scott and Karl's amazing hospitality, including home-cooked gourmet delights.

With only one full day in England's famous capital, and a long list of 'to dos' that had accumulated over our time in South America, our brief stopover was all about business. First on the list was a much-needed shopping spree in Oxford Street's ultra-cheap Primark– I scored two tops, a pair of shorts, five pairs of undies and a small across-the-shoulder bag for just £17! Then there was a toiletries stock-up, a mass printout of various bookings we had made, and the all-consuming search for a new bikini (er, for me, not Craig.)

An essential curry was enjoyed with Scott, Karl and Julie (my super-cool pal who was joining us in Portugal) in Islington. And before we had a chance to get over the jet-lag, our London stop was complete.

What came next was a series of public transport bungles. First, we missed our EasyBus to Luton Airport – turns out it wasn't so 'easy' to spot the bright orange bus when they dont tell you you are s'pose to get on the green one instead. Then, once in Lisbon, we found out that the bus that would usually take us straight to our door couldn't take us that far because there was a festival on and the streets were blocked. We were then forced to bus to the metro and then cram in with hundreds of festival goers.

Transport dilemmas aside, Lisbon itself was pretty damn stunning. We tasted the legendary Portuguese custard tarts, tried to solve the mystery of the abandoned cherry*, visited the Discovery Monument, admired the many tiled buildings, and hiked up to the castle only to decide we didn't want to fork out the €5 entrance fee.

After just one short day in Lisbon, it was time to get our beach groove on in Lagos, three hours south of Lisbon. We arrived expecting a cheap and cheerful dump, but we were pleasantly surprised by the chic, streamlined hotel we were greeted with – Julie hit the jackpot booking this place, which had only been renovated a month prior.

We quickly slipped into holiday mode, heading straight for the hotel pool as soon as the sun broke through the vacation-dampening clouds. All was hunky dory until the Killer Milkshake struck...

Having been deprived of decent dairy products for so long, Craig indulged in a milky treat. He complained that it was warm, but drank it anyway. That night, the milkshake struck, causing Craig to vomit and then rendering him bedbound for most of the next day.

With Craig out of action, Julie and I took one for the team and kept the holiday spirit going with plenty of book reading on the beach – Julie was finishing off Atonement, while I took the slightly-less literary route with Schapelle Corby's No More Tomorrowsinterrupted by the occasional breath-stealing dip in the icy cold sea – them waters in Portugal are a tad nippy.

Luckily, Craig was back in action for the momentous occasion of his 26th birthday. The weather really turned it on and we awoke to a glorious, sunny day. The day was spent on the beach and by the pool, and Craig was treated to a massage at our hotel, by an Aussie named Roy of all people!

That night we dined on local seafood delights, with Julie opting for salmon, me for calamari and the birthday boy getting his wish of a fish hotpot.

After four great days of sun, bikinis, boardshorts and the without a doubt the worst pool performance in history by yours truly – Julie did not believe how bad I was until she saw it with her own eyes. I suck! – it was time to say our final 'ciao' to Julie as she got set to head to the States and we continued on our journey across Europe...

* Personal joke involving a rogue cherry in the hall of our hotel.