From Lisbon to Portland: A Long Travel Tale

The first thing to take care of in Portland was the obligatory airport carpet shot!

Yeah – we are in Portland! Getting here took three days of travel filled with ups, downs, twists, turns and some nice surprises too. We still have massive head colds although they thankfully did not make us uncomfortable on any of our flights other than having to constantly blow our noses. The coughs are mostly gone.

The journey back to the U.S. began when we went to check in for our flight from Lisbon to Madrid and discovered Iberia had changed us to a completely different flight, one that departed four hours earlier than our reservation. Also, we no longer had nice seats up front, but had been moved to seats in the far, far back. Hmmm. Neither Expedia nor Iberia had ever contacted us about any sort of change, so this caught us completely off guard and we had to scramble to get our transportation to the airport changed, and finish our packing. We also had to pay extra to check our suitcases; they had been included in our earlier ticket. Thankfully the additional fee was quite small.

The Iberia flight to Madrid was extremely uncomfortable though, with no leg room whatsoever. Neither Brett nor I are big or tall people, but we were squeezed into our seats and couldn’t move our legs – I can only imagine how uncomfortable it was for people taller than us. Thank goodness the flight was just a little over an hour long. We also never saw a flight attendant the entire time except to greet us as we boarded and say goodbye at the door as we got off. We vowed never to book with Iberia again no matter how enticing their low prices appeared (the flight was ridiculously cheap, just over $100 for the two of us and our suitcases – a similar flight in the U.S. could cost around $150 – $200 dollars per person).

We had an overnight hotel reservation in Madrid, at a place located less than two miles from the airport, and supposedly just a 10-minute drive away. We got a taxi at the airport, and twenty minutes later our driver had us at the hotel! We’re still not sure whether he  didn’t know where he was going, or if he was just trying to rip us off or maybe a little of both, but we were not happy when we arrived. We normally tip but this guy got nothing. Check-in at the hotel was easy and our room was comfortable, although the walls were quite thin – Brett joked he could hear the woman next door scratching her leg. We showered, got our clothes out for the next day, and went to bed as we had to get back up at 4:30 a.m. to be at the airport by 6:00 for our morning flight from Madrid to London. The hotel had arranged an early morning taxi for us, and this driver was on time, and made it to the airport in . . . eight minutes!

We entered the Schengen Zone in Madrid back in September, and exited through Madrid as well, with a beautiful sunrise both times.

Madrid’s Barrajas airport is its own particular hell. I’m not sure who designed the place, but it really is not customer friendly at all. The taxi driver took us to Terminal Two to check in with Norwegian Air (there are four terminals), but after that was done we had to walk over a mile and a half to get to our gate in Terminal One! There are no shuttles or trams between terminals – everybody walks and there are signs up overhead reminding you of how many minutes away you are from your destination. We found our gate, had a cup of coffee and a pastry, but when it was time to board the plane passengers were put on shuttle buses and driven out to the plane, which was parked out on the tarmac outside of Terminal Two!

Look what we found when we were at the Gatwick airport!

Our flight itinerary gave us a l-o-n-g layover in Gatwick airport (seven and a half hours), but the time there actually went fairly quickly. There were shops galore to check out, but we only hit up Boots for more tissues, some maximum strength Sudafed, antibacterial wipes for our hands, and a few bars of Cadbury chocolate to enjoy on our flight over to Boston. There were also loads of restaurants to choose from, and after looking at all the menus we settled on Wagamama for some good Asian food. I got two yummy filled buns and a plate of pad thai, and Brett ordered a big steaming bowl of chicken ramen.

As I was chewing on a pad thai noodle I bit on something hard and when I looked to see what it was discovered it was a big piece of my back tooth! Surprise! That little chip I had when I left Kaua’i and that had been bothering me a bit had developed into a crack and the soft pad thai noodle was apparently the last straw. I was initially very upset, but then realized that if it was going to break it had actually happened at a good time because we were heading to Portland where we would be staying long enough that I could get a dentist to take care of things before we left for India. Also, the broken tooth does not hurt at all, so I am not having to deal with any pain whatsoever. But still, this was not something we wanted or needed to happen.

Boston was beautiful but COLD. This was the gorgeous view from our hotel room!

Our flight from Gatwick to Boston was wonderful from start to finish, and I wouldn’t hesitate to book with Norwegian Air again for a long-haul flight. We didn’t win premier seats in the upgrade auction, but that turned out to be OK because our exit row seats were very comfortable with loads of legroom (and the extra we would have paid for premium seats is now available to cover my tooth repair). The dinner we were served was the best food I’ve ever had on an airline – perfectly cooked chicken breast and wild rice in a delicious sauce, with a lovely salad and wonderful chocolate mint mousse. We could find no fault with it at all. We loved it too when the adorable flight attendant from Spain described the menu to us and ended with “and doesn’t that sound delightful?” So cute! – when was the last time you heard that from a flight attendant? Norwegian’s fares are ridiculously low, but the seats were comfortable and the service superb, even in economy.

We had a happy reunion with WenYu, our favorite middle daughter – she’ll be joining us in Portland in a little over a week.

WenYu was there to meet us in Boston with a bag of hamburgers and fries! We were so happy to see her again, and we spent the evening chatting and catching up. Her boyfriend joined us for breakfast in the morning. They have been together for over two years, but this was our first chance to meet him and we liked him too – they’re a good match in both personality and temperament. He may look unassuming, but underneath his quiet demeanor is a guy who started his own company when he was ten years old which has now become a multi-million dollar enterprise. He’s known worldwide as one of the premier practioners in his field.

With WenYu and her boyfriend after breakfast – so glad we got to meet him!

After breakfast we headed over to the airport to catch our last fight, a non-stop to Portland on Alaska Air. It was an easy trip as we had premium seats with plenty of legroom, and both Brett and I enjoyed one of their famous cheese and fruit platters for dinner (one of my favorite reasons for flying with Alaska!). The flight arrived in Portland on time, we picked up our car and then went to Trader Joe’s for a few things to get us through breakfast before heading to our Airbnb rental. Portland is cold and overcast, with rain predicted for later today, so we have been quickly reminded of why we left for Hawai’i four years ago! The Airbnb is very nice though, a great size for all of us to gather later in the month and celebrate the holidays together.

We’re going back to Trader Joe’s today to do a bigger shop, and then will go to Costco tomorrow for a few things. I will be calling the dentist first thing tomorrow (Monday) morning, and both Brett and I have appointments to get our hair cut on Wednesday. Mainly though it’s now time for us to rest for a while, to get well again and gather our strength for Part II of the Big Adventure. We’ve had a wonderful time so far, but we’re happy to be “home” for a while.


21 thoughts on “From Lisbon to Portland: A Long Travel Tale

    1. We’re happy to be here, although this weather is something else. We have been totally unacclimated to the rain and cold, but we will adjust.

      Hopefully we can get together soon!


  1. Oh my! What a trip. Glad it all ended well and the longest legs were pleasant. How nice to be greeted with burgers and fries. 🙂 And yes to fixing your tooth in a known place. Glad you are able to rest and enjoy your family for a while. Oh, and Wagamama! Yum! We ate there while I was visiting my UK daughter and loved it.


    1. We just kept plugging through, but when we arrived last night and realized what we had gone through to get here, and how long it took we were flabbergasted. It seemed like a good plan when I made reservations, but of course who knew then we would be tired and dealing with bad colds.

      Wagamama was great! I used to have their cookbook, so it was fun for me to try their food, which was very, very good. I can’t believe I broke my took on a noodle!

      So happy we got to see WenYu and meet her boyfriend – he’s a great guy and a good fit for her.


  2. Glad you know a dentist to do your tooth!!! Woo Hoo for it lasting until the trip home.
    We looked at Norwegian for flights to Europe, now I will seriously look at them.
    Welcome home for a good rest and recovery. Hope it is all you wish. Happy Holidays!


    1. I’m hoping our former dentist can fit me in but if not she will recommend someone. I’m very afraid the tooth is going to have to come out though, although they might be able to make a temporary crown. Thank goodness for dental insurance!

      If you decide to book with Norwegian, make sure the flight is on a 787-9 Dreamliner – wonderful airplane. Our short flight from Madrid to Gatwick was OK, but the long flight over the Atlantic was very comfortable. I recommend reserving exit row seats (no extra charge) – you won’t regret it. We had loads of leg room. The flight crew was wonderful too.


  3. Welcome Home!!!! Sorry it is rainy and dark! How long will you be here? Perhaps we can get together for a short visit while you are here. It’s been a long time.


    1. Sandi – I would love to get together! The girls start arriving a little after the middle of month, so any time before then would be fine. Send me an email and we’ll set something up!


  4. Welcome home. Sorry about your tooth but at least you know what to expect from American Dentists. Get some rest. Feel better soon.


    1. I’m not sure the weather in Portland has me glad to be here! Cold, rainy, windy – yuck! Our apartment is cozy though. I tried to call our former dentist this morning but everyone was busy so I’ll try later again today.


  5. So glad you made it to Portland! Hope you have a wonderful time connecting with family (will all your daughters be here?) and friends. And hopefully you will get some of the amazing cold, clear, beautiful sunny weather we had LAST week — the views of the mountains were to die for!


    1. This weather! It was sort of a rude awakening coming back to this, but I know it’s not going to last. We’re enjoying being where we know where to go and get things or take care of things.

      Our daughters will be arriving next week (on different days) – we doing lots now to get ready for them, like wrapping their presents, etc. Can’t wait until we’re all together!


  6. Enjoyed your posts and glad you are home! Looking forward to Part II of the big adventure. I know you are glad that if your tooth had to break it was on your last leg home. One of my biggest fears is tooth problems while traveling: my husband always teases me about researching dental clinics at our destinations. This always makes me feel better knowing my dental history. Enjoy your family time.


    1. We’re glad to be “home” too, even if it’s for less than a month now. I’m so hoping I can get this tooth taken care of before we go. I also have a difficult dental history and got everything checked out before we left, but stuff happens. I’m grateful if nothing else that there’s no pain. I’ll unfortunately be having a LOT of work done when we’re here for the summer.


  7. Welcome back! Sounds like it was quite an ordeal making it back and being sick sure didn’t help, but at least that is behind you. A friend of mine flew Norwegian Air about a month ago from Europe and did not have a good experience. She said there was no food offered and not even any blankets for a long flight, so it’s interesting you had a very different experience.

    It’s great you got to see WenYu and her boyfriend. How did they meet? Is he also a student?

    I cracked a tooth one time right before going on a trip to Italy and the dentist made a temporary crown. I was lucky the crack wasn’t deep and I didn’t need a root canal or extraction. By the time I returned, the permanent crown was ready.


    1. It was a long trip, and we just had to work our way through each step. In hindsight I could have booked more direct flights, but they sure would have cost a whole lot more. We’re getting settled here, I’m feeling better each day, and the girls will be here next week – yeah!

      Re. Norwegian Air: We booked the tickets that included luggage, meals, etc. – it wasn’t much more and worth it. Per person our flights from Madrid to Boston were only $240! All of that stuff is extra otherwise. I did get a bit cold midway through the flight, but just put on my coat and I was fine. For the price I would fly with them again.


  8. Welcome to Portland! What a bummer about your tooth. At least it happened on the last leg of your trip. If you need a good dentist recommendation, I work at an office that does great crowns all in the same appointment! No getting a temporary crown and having to come back 2 weeks later. He’s in Beaverton, if that’s not too far from where you guys are staying. His name is Doug Shafer. He’s great!


    1. Wow – thanks Emilee! I already called our former dentist and am seeing her tomorrow afternoon. I am somewhat afraid right now though that the tooth might not be repairable and that it might have to be extracted :-(. A pretty large piece of it came off. We will be here next summer though so will keep your information stowed away!


  9. WELCOME HOME (for a bit!!)

    Wishing you both better health and a quick fix for your dentist trip…

    Enjoy the time with your daughters and Happy Holidays!


    1. It was quite a trip! I forgot to mention that we landed at Gatwick in the middle of a storm – the rain was pouring, and the wind was howling. The plane came down rocking from side to side, and after we had landed we could see the water being blown across the tarmac in waves. But, by the time we departed the skies and cleared and the rain had dried up.

      Less than a week to go before the girls arrive!


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