Day 16 – Lisbon to Madrid to Mexico City

We said goodbye to our host, Kies, and got on the road to Lisbon, about 2-1/2 hours away. The Algarve is always sunny, according to the people there, with only 30 days of rain a year. And yet, it is very green most of the time thanks to excellent irrigation systems.

The hills are beautiful and the toll road is wide, well maintained and a pleasure to drive. Jim elected to have me drive the entire trip while in the Algarve and I enjoyed it. Our little FIAT 500 hardly used any gas (at about $6.00 EU/gallon), with only two fill-ups the whole week. and, we drove a lot. It is tiny, however. The cup holders in front couldn’t accommodate my travel mug (maybe an espresso cup?) so I used the one in the back and it just about fit.

As we cruised at 140 kph, we were being passed by cars that zipped by in a flash. They had to be going at least 160 or more. Were we on the German Autoban??

We arrived at the airport, turned in the car and then had to wait almost two hours for someone to come to the Iberia desk to check in our luggage. At the Lisbon airport, there is almost nothing to eat and it is probably one of the ugliest airports. When it was built, it was far outside the city of Lisbon. Now, it is practically in the center of the city, only 20 minutes away. If you can avoid going to Lisbon’s airport, all the better. There is talk of building another airport, far outside of the city but with finances an issue, it may not happen for quite some time.

The one hour flight to Madrid (which is one hour ahead), gave us another four hours until our next flight to Mexico City. The difference in airports is striking. Madrid airport has a plethora of eating choices and the shopping is amazing. I know you will not believe me but I am totally shopped out! We each have some Euros left and won’t be using them any time soon. Maybe we should spend some? Instead, we had dinner and will see if anyone traveling to Europe in the near future needs Euros before they leave.

The flight from Madrid to Mexico City was the least enjoyable of any flights in recent memory. We thought that the American flight to Madrid from Houston was bad, with some of the worst food ever. However, we had a whole row of three seats to ourselves and could lay down to sleep, thankfully. The Iberia flight on the return trip (partners with American) was ten times worse.

We had two of the four seats in row 48 in the center, aisle and next. That wasn’t too horrible. The row in front of us practically hit our knees when the seatbacks were upright. When they reclined, the video entertainment screen was inches from our faces. That was not the worst part, at least for me.

After a duplicate dinner as the one on American (just awful), Jim took a sleeping pill and was out almost immediately, snoring. The man next to me had a girlfriend in the seat in front of him that he had to pet and touch endlessly while leaning over taking up my space. When he finally fell asleep, his leg twitched and hit my leg the whole time, not to mention taking up the entire armrest! So, for 10-1/2 hours, no sleep for me. Traveling in coach is getting worse and worser! One of these days, we will be able to upgrade. Until then, more travel and less comfort.

Okay, next issue… We were not able to get our boarding pass for the flight from Mexico City to Guadalajara because although it was an Iberia flight, it was operated by Interjet, an excellent Mexican airline. With only a little over 2 hours in Mexico City and long lines at immigration, we were able to ask folks to let us get in front because of the limited window of time. They were very accommodating.

Getting our bags to transfer them to the flight to Guadalajara wasn’t difficult, just time-consuming. Next, we had to go to the Interjet counter in the domestic part of the airport to get the boarding pass. The confirmation number wasn’t recognized. We were told we had to go to the Iberia counter in the international part of the airport, at least a kilometer away, with limited time left. So, we huffed and puffed to get from domestic to international desks.

Once there, no one was manning the Iberia counter. With a stroke of luck, there was an Interjet office nearby and they found our reservation, gave us good seats and a boarding pass. Of course, we had to go back to the domestic departure area, another kilometer away, to board that flight. We missed our original flight at 6:40 AM but got on the 8:00 AM flight. The Interjet planes are spacious, flight attendants helpful and you actually get a full bottle of drinks at no charge!

We were ready to be home, especially after the debacle in Mexico City. As much as I thought a long, drawn-out trip might be interesting, I am now in agreement with Jim that 2-3 weeks is plenty. We miss our house, our dog and our routine. The next travels will be a week at the beach in November and a week in Phoenix to celebrate my uncle’s 100th birthday and aunt’s 90th. It definitely will be a celebration. No blog for those trips but next May – Japan!

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