I find it rather silly that the military gives deployed service members 2 weeks of leave after fighting a war, it hardly seems enough for what they’ve done, but who am I to question such rules and regulations? The Viper Pilot and I have been longing to lay on a beach to soak up some rays for over a year now so we decided to take a beach trip during his two weeks of post-deployment leave. Apparently, when you take a trip like this toward the end of pregnancy, it is called a “babymoon.” I can’t handle that ridiculous term so I’m going to call it a vacation.
Our adventure getting to Portugal was, well, awful.
It all started at 3:00 on Tuesday morning. We opted for the discounted airline which flies out of a small airport just 45 minutes from home (versus the big city airport 2 hours away) and saved a ton of money on airfare. Take-off was at 6-something…we were exhausted but excited to be on our way.
This airline doesn’t fly into Lisbon – our resort is located about an hour north of Lisbon. We instead flew for just over two hours to Porto, just a couple hours north of the resort. From there, we planned to train it to the Óbidos train station followed by a short cab ride to the resort. When we planned the trip looking at train schedules, prices, and maps it looked easy peasy.
No. There was nothing easy peasy about this. After a two hour wait at the station in Porto, we rode a relatively comfortable bullet train for an hour from Porto to another station. We waited there for a short while for our next train.
When the train pulled into the station, our jaws dropped. The ugly 1970s-vintage train only had three cars and was covered in at least a half inch of dust. Is this for real?! The Viper Pilot, myself, and 3 other people boarded the Little Engine That Could for the most miserable two hours of our entire vacation. It wasn’t that we had a long ways to travel, it was that we had to stop every 10-15 minutes to either change gears (it was a diesel train) or to stop at some ghost station in the middle of nowhere Portugal.
The seats on the train were similar to what you might see in a city subway. Now, I haven’t had any aches or pains in this pregnancy…until this train ride. My back hurt like a really bad word and at one point during the trip, I was curled up in the fetal position across the two person bench eating my cinnamon graham crackers, feeling sorry for myself and trying not to cry. I tried my absolute best not to be that pregnant woman, because I promised myself from the day I found out I was pregnant that I wouldn’t. I swore to myself and the Viper Pilot that I could handle a trip to Portugal at 30 weeks. I absolutely love being pregnant and fortunately my body has accepted the changes really well but there were a few moments on this train that I was <thisclose> to losing my cool and turning into the wicked baby growing witch.
From what we could see out of the dirty windows, the countryside was very beautiful, but with each nearly third-world-looking town that we passed, my nerves flared…
When the train attendant personally notified the Viper Pilot and I that Óbidos was the next stop, we exchanged nervous glances. This wasn’t going to be good.
The train stopped, we got out and stood there in a cloud of dust watching the train chug away. Then the train was gone and all was quiet. There we were with our suitcase and carry on luggage, all alone at a boarded up train station in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Portugal. I don’t remember if crickets were chirping but there might have been a few. I mean, it would have been very appropriate.
For a moment, for just a brief second, I pretended I was in a movie. I love taking on the impromptu role of drama queen, especially when the opportunity unavoidably presents itself. I’m really good at it, too. I nervously looked at my beloved husband who looked helpless and even a bit sympathetic (though I’m sure he was sick of my complaints), mustered up a few tears, put both hands on my face and walked away. Towards what, I don’t really know. After I had my moment, I turned back to the Viper Pilot (he has the uncanny ability to remain calm in any situation – which is probably a good thing considering his line of work) and asked him what we were going to do. He grabbed the suitcase and started walking down the dirt road and said we were going to walk until we found civilization. I actually laughed because I thought he was kidding. We got to the end of the road and realized that civilization was not happening unless we were up for a really long walk – we weren’t up for that.
I found the hotel’s phone number in my email and we paid the insane European roaming charges to call the hotel who (after putting us on hold…argh!!) called us a cab. We stood on the corner for 30 minutes waiting for our taxi trying to smile and laugh at the situation despite it all. At the 20 minute mark, I think we were both a bit worried the taxi wasn’t going to show.
The taxi arrived much to our great relief and 20 minutes later, we were standing at the reception desk of a 5 star resort being upgraded to a suite with ocean access. I’m pretty sure all of the employees were snickering as we walked in because one greeted us with, “Ahh, our friends from the Óbidos train station have safely arrived!” In our defense, we reminded him, the hotel’s website clearly states that guests can arrive to the hotel via the nearest train station in Óbidos.
We opened the door to our glorious suite at approximately 14 hours after our day began and realized that yeah, it was actually all worth it. The view from our room was unbelievable but we were both starving. Our next stop was the terrace restaurant for a much needed meal to tide us over for the couple of hours before our dinner reservation.
We chowed down on pita chips with hummus, locally grown olives, chicken kabobs, fries, and seasoned pineapple. I re-hydrated my poor body and baby and the Viper Pilot sipped on a local red.