Day 30 - September 30, 2013
It's our last day in Lisbon. We have to leave the apartment at around 8:00 PM to catch the Tren Hotel (night train sleeper) to San Sebastian. We packed up early and then headed over by ferry to Farol's at Cacilhas for a last lunch. Since it was raining, we ate inside this time. Terry ordered the octopus in olive oil that I had previously, and I had the veal cutlet in garlic olive oil. Both meals were fantastic and loaded with garlic that we both felt later in the day.
When we arrived back at the apartment, we took a nap since we were leaving later that evening for the train. The hours seemed to drag a bit just waiting, but then it was time to leave. Off we went for the last time on the metro. With our luggage on our backs and pulling our carry-ons, we also had all the left over food in grocery bags and our beach umbrella. It was somewhat humid and when we arrived at the metro we both were perspiring. We had to switch trains and had a long walk between trains all the while carrying all our gear. The last train was very warm and we could feel the heat. Once we arrived at the Oriente train station, it wasn't too bad to find out where we ultimately had to go for our train. We had done a "dry run" earlier in our stay in Lisbon so we had an idea of where to go. We were both soaked from carrying everything and it being very warm. The train was scheduled to leave at 9:25 PM and we were really looking forward to our first experience in a sleeper car on the train. The anticipation was exciting! We would arrive in San Sebastian around 11AM the next morning, October 1st.
We boarded the train and after squeezing through the first car, we arrived at our home on the train. Where is the rest of it? We had to back out of the room because it was so small we could not turn around with our luggage on our backs. Took everything off in the hallway which was also very small. Finally went inside and passed the luggage in and then there was nowhere for us to go. It was also very hot in the room. Off Terry went to find a conductor to ask him where we put our luggage and how to turn air on to cool off. The conductor arrives at our room and says "you have a lot of luggage" DAH! We ask if there is somewhere to put it and he says "I don't know". Ask him how to control the air, he shows us how to turn heat down and says it will be cooler. I ask him where does the air come out and he points to where our luggage is and says behind there, What? We ask several questions and all are answered with "I don't know". I am just about to ask "What do you know" but before I can, he walks away.
After rearranging all our stuff, we are able to sit and have a bottle of wine that we brought with us. Julie likes a little ice so off I go in search of the bar. There doesn't seem to be anyone else on the train. I ask the bartender for some ice and get a strange look. He puts 2 small cubes into an even smaller glass and hands it to me. I ask for more and get another strange look. Boy, this train trip we anticipated is so much fun so far. Back to the room and with the door closed it's very warm in the room. Terry is not good in heat. He gets the conductor again and asks if something is broken with the air, "I don't know", WHAT? He then tells us that as the train gets moving, it will cool, yeah, right.
We finish the wine, step outside at one of the many stops for a smoke and then head to bed. It's very warm in the room so we leave the door open and it's better. Julie lets me have the lower bunk because it will be cooler, gotta love her for that. We drift to sleep, sort of. After several hours of sliding back and forth whichever way the train rocked, we drift off. I wake up when new arrivals get on and have the room next to us. Remember, we have our door open and I am only wearing undies. Can you imagine what they thought when they saw us? Julie then tells me she is sweating because it is so hot on the top bunk. We switch and try to drift off again, not happening. We stop somewhere in Spain and they take part of the train off that will head to Madrid, noisy.
We slept very little and went into the dining car to have the 5 star breakfast that was included in the price. The 5 star BF was 4 croissants, a glass of orange juice, yogurt and coffee. WTF?
Needless to say, our much anticipated train hotel was a disaster. The only advantage over flying is that you can actually lay down while traveling. You won't be stationary but you are prone.
October 1, 2013
Finally arriving in San Sebastian, we are so relieved to get off THAT TRAIN! We stop and have a smoke, and start to head for the exit. Well, we couldn't get out because of the pay entrances and exits. No one around speaks any English. So we see someone point to go down further and we still don't see an exit. Then we spot a worker and he opens one of the exits for us. Whew, out of there!!
Called our rep to meet us at the apartment.
The walk to the apartment was simple enough and as we turn on the street where it's located, construction welcomes us. Oh well, we get to the apartment and she's not there yet. After about 10 minutes, she arrives and up to the 5th floor we go. Walk in, everything seems to look great and modern. Living area was spacious with a leather sofa and chaise.. Walk to the terrace and it was as big as we expected. Very nice outside space, accessible from both the living and master bedroom areas. Proceeded into the master bedroom which was nice, big closet space, a little narrow walking room around the bed though, and a very nice bathroom. Second bedroom was really small, but good to have for extra storage space. An added bonus was a small powder room off the living area.
We walked into the kitchen, and the joy immediately was wiped from our faces. The appliances were VERY old with the exception of the refrigerator and dishwasher. The stove was so antiquated, it had one of those clock timers where you pull out the knob and set it. The built in microwave was broken, and the replacement one, even though it worked, didn't look much better. The rep who was very nice didn't know how to operate anything. The coffee maker looked like it was from 1970. We thought we could manage with this stuff so we didn't say anything. She left after going over the rental details and the wifi info. We forgot to ask her about how to operate the TV but soon figured it out somewhat. The problem was that the picture was "freezing" and the audio was cutting out. It was aggravating, but we were so tired from our travel experience from hell that we put that on the back burner. Decided to go out to the store to at least get a few basics that we needed until tomorrow. Terry decided to shower and was greeted with no hot water. He goes into the kitchen where the hot water heater is and gets lucky by pressing the reset button and gets it to turn on. It was in Spanish and could have been anything but it worked.Went to bed early that night and slept pretty well. No "elephants" walking upstairs to keep us up.
Get up and after coffee we try to get the TV to work. First we change the language to English and after several tries we are successful so that when a show comes on that was originally in English it plays accordingly. The success of changing the languages quickly goes away as the TV starts freezing. The sound would go on but the picture would stop. Then it goes dark and we figure out it says "no signal" and starts to count down from 5 minutes. When the 5 minutes are up, the TV shuts off. We are aggravated. We can figure out the TV later. Time to go food shopping. We stock up on basics, beer and wine and meats for dinners. We carry everything back to the no air conditioning apartment and are exhausted and slimy from the 85 degree temperatures. The construction below is in full swing and we shut the doors to hear each other but then realize it is getting warmer in the apt so the doors reopen.
Dinnertime and we are going to make our calamari deep fried with curry mango sauce. Turn on the ancient stove and wait for the oil to get hot. And wait, and wait. Finally we grab the only cover in the cabinet and it is broken. SHIT! Use a plate to cover oil and finally it's hot enough to fry dinner. It turns out to be delicious as usual but it took twice as long to make. We are complaining to each other about the apartment but we know alcohol will make it better. We drink.......................and fall asleep.