Whew- I spent months planning a special trip to Portugal for my husband’s birthday. After reading local news in Portugal for weeks, and getting great information on the forums, we proceeded with our trip. We know the risks, and opted to go anyway. So how has this trip been different so far? We flew from MSP to Lisbon, with a connection at JFK.
First, we couldn’t check in online with Delta, due to additional forms that had to be checked (Passenger locator request card and negative Covid test). I was nervous as they told us to be there three hours before the flight to get checked in. So we were there and ready to go at the 3 hour mark. Had great help at the MSP airport from the Delta staff. A gate agent reviewed our forms and checked us in. blink, blink, that was easy I was also ready for horrid TSA pre-check lines. All my fears unfounded. Got through both gate agent and TSA pre-check in 20 minutes total. Puttered over to People’s Organic restaurant and had a delightful brunch with my hubby while waiting for the flight. What is it about avocado toast? Anyway….
First connection was MSP to JFK. Due to bad weather systems between us and JFK, it took us an extra 30 minutes to get going. But I had left 3 hours between flights cause, well you know Covid weirdness, so this was a non-issue. Landed at JFK and had to walk about 20 gates in same terminal to get to flight to Lisbon. Had time to get a few snacks, etc. while we waited. After the crazy number of stories I had read about unruly passengers, I wasn’t sure what to expect of my fellow passengers on the flight. Everyone wore masks and complied, and flights attendants were pretty darn delightful. Experience for us was way better than I thought it would be. hmmmm
Flight landed 30 minutes early. We proceeded to go through the entry process for Portugal. I was yet again expecting it to be terrible. They had a dozen agents working and we were through the line quickly. Literally one hour after we landed in Lisbon, we had gotten entry, through customs, and had taken the metro into the city. We arrived and got checked into where we were staying with no issues at all. Everyone was friendly and helpful along the way. The fears in my mind versus my reality on the ground could not have been more different.
After a few hour nap, we were off to celebrate my wonderful hubby’s birthday. I added this to the trip recently, as Covid provided us a unique opportunity. We went to Belcanto, a two star Michelin restaurant, and did a tasting menu. I have never done anything like this, and the lack of travelers meant we could get in on short notice! It was one of the most special food experiences we have ever had. They were able to adapt to my food sensitivities and made a wonderful birthday dessert for my husband. After a delightful taste of many different foods, we sauntered back to our AirBnb in a complete food coma. Yes, we wore masks where we needed to inside, and in crowds outside, but it didn’t matter. The experience was wonderful. Sitting there in the restaurant, I was so grateful we came.
After nap #2 (hey, we couldn’t really sleep on the plane), we then took an Uber over to the marina for a romantic sunset sail. Via AirBnb experiences, I found a two hour sail on the river. It was just my husband and me, and a two person crew. We enjoyed a bottle of wine while sailing on the river and having snacks. With the wind in my hair and a glass of wine, I’m starting to feel the stress of the pandemic melting away. We are hearing from the locals that the tourists are FINALLY starting to come (they all seem very excited).
Portugal, so far I am utterly charmed. More to come as I get time and the trip proceeds.