When I left London on the 10th of November, I headed to Lisbon, a city I had not been in some 20 years. How, it has grown, but the heart of the city, was still intact. I had to also get rid of some demons from that time long ago, which definitely was done. I had a good meeting with a hotel sales manager, at a meeting I had a month prior in London, followed by an amazing lunch of some classic Portuguese fare. After, I wandered the city, waited until sunset and was not disappointed as the sun set behind the bridge which crosses the Tagus River. Afterwards, I enjoyed some food, where else, the Hard Rock and was treated like royalty, number 74 under my belt. I even ran into a gentleman from the UK, who, I had previously met at another Hard Rock. He remembered me, when I presented my card to him, and that is when he said, I knew we had met. In any case, it was a nice evening. The next day, more food, as I did a lunch foodie tour, my guide was Sara and my guide in Porto, and my waitress at the Hard Rock, Porto, also was named Sara. Popular name I guess. On this foodie tour, we spent much of the time in Alfama, and unlike my foodie tour in Porto, I was one of about 8, not the tour, so it was nice. Again a very pleasant experience, and one I can arrange for you.
My last morning in Lisbon was very special as I was able to reconnect with my friends Maria and Vitor. It was so nice, after so long and the couple of hours we had, enjoy catching up and enjoying breakfast together on a beautiful sunny morning overlooking the city. After which, I departed for Madrid, a short 45 minute flight, but with the turbulence, it was a bit hairy, but hear to tell you.
Once, I arrived into Madrid and my hotel, called the JC Chueca, a very different hotel, but after the stay, I would not do it again. While breakfast is included, they don’t start until 8:00 am and they don’t have a breakfast room, but contract with the restaurant next door. I ate there the first night, had paella and was totally unimpressed. Each morning, and there were two, they packed me a bag of stuff, and while I ate it, being hungry, it really was not edible. Also, the noise level was insane and, yes it was a Saturday night when I arrived, it was raining, but I would not repeat the hotel. Of course, they had a Hard Rock, not a café, but a Rock Shop, so 75 under my belt, and only the third Hard Rock entity, which had BOSTON memorabilia. The first in Boston, imagine that and then, this summer in Verona and now Madrid, so a very nice surprise.
Yesterday, even with everything that has happened this week, was the piece de resistance. Something I had been looking forward to and all based on weather conditions. My first Hot Air Balloon ride, and I was not disappointed. Pepe, the owner picked me up in Madrid ( he was also the pilot), and we drove to Toledo, where his crew joined and I watched the balloon being set up. At 8:00 am, I was joined by about 15 others, some from Toledo and other parts of Spain. The experience was very special and the views, spectacular, and we were between 1 an 1 ½ miles high. After a bumpy landing, and we bounced 5 times in a farmer’s field, we learned the history and as is tradition, enjoyed champagne and some typical Spanish meats and cheeses and toasted a successful flight. Thank you Pepe.
While I had an amazing time, I also received news that clients of mine, unfortunately, had an accident, so had to end their trip to Spain prematurely, so as per my service, I am helping facilitate their return home. It is good for me, as I am in the same time zone, actually, the same country, and as of yesterday, in the same city, but now on the road again. In any case, this is part of the services I provide and it is so important, as it is not when things run perfectly smooth, but when things get out of whack that I feel I am at my best.
Overall, it has been a week to remember and full of excitement, both good and bad, but that is the travel industry, never a dull moment and always something new.
Until next week, and greetings from Spain, for this very nomadic puffin, thank you for your support of my crazy little world and of my small business. It is truly appreciated, and as always, I am interested in your thoughts, comments, questions and adding to the discourse is always appreciated be in on the site itself or on Facebook, Twitter or wherever you read this.
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Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin