Northants Nutters at Sea (2024) – 4th July (Day 6)

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Here we are aboard P&O’s Ventura, part of the Northants Nutters ‘on tour’ group aka Geoff & Rhonda, Paul & Sue, Richard & Nicki and us two! It’s now Day 6 of our 10-dayer where we’ve arrived in Lisbon, Portugal – and we’ve got a sleepover as we’re here for TWO days. 👍

P&O’s Ventura: 3,078 Passenger Capacity, 1,205 Crew and 8 Nutters!

Northants Nutters – Previous Tour Dates (double-click here)

Missed a Post?

Day 1 – Setting Sail

Day 2 – Sea Day 1

Day 3 – Santander, Spain

Day 4 – Sea Day 2

Day 5 – Vigo, Spain

Proper Scorchio! 30°C at 3pm!!! 🥵🥵

It looks like a great day ahead weather-wise! We’ve got plans for city tour and later tonight, we’re off to a highly-rated restaurant in the city – Alfama Cellar (more about them later).

10.45am: We, ‘Nutters 6’, met up at Costa onboard and discussed rough timings and then headed for midships and the gorgeous weather that Lisbon had on offer. Geoff & Rhonda left the Ship earlier as they’re elsewhere on an amphibious vehicle adventure! 👍😀.

Hello Lisbon!

Neither of us recall much about our last visit to Lisbon (turns out it was 12th September, 2004) – it was the final day of our Windstar Cruise before disembarking and flying back to Heathrow – and I don’t think we explored the city at all.

⅝ths of the Northants Nutters – Sue, Paul, Richard, Nicki, Mrs P

By coincidence, today is also Liberty Day – a public holiday here in Portugal, so we’re expecting the capital city to be busy.

What are we doing in Lisbon? For us six, we followed the tried and tested (and somewhat comforting) ‘Red Bus Sightseeing Tour‘ option – what better way to get a feel for this (and any other) big city? At the time of writing there are a number of options – The RED or the BLUE Route. Online there’s talk of the PURPLE Route too as well as a GREEN one – signs of confusion yet to come? Read on! 🤔.

So, our most important decision of the day? Do we take the Red or the Blue? Or both? I’ve ignored the ‘Purple’ option as the online feedback wasn’t particularly good, and information about the Green route was sparse. Tickets started at around £23 and that (according to their website) gave us access to both routes within 12 months – or, as the staff, today, suggested: “today and tomorrow only” 🤔

Great value! 👍

A red bus for a red route – what could possibly go wrong?

In the end, we chose the Red Route with thoughts that we might take the Blue Route afterwards. Each is around 80-90 minutes long, so we’d easily have time for both. In the end though, it didn’t matter, but I’ll leave that explanation for later! 😮

11.02am: It all began so well: plenty of staff on hand to advise and provide free maps, a sparkly clean bus with comfy seats, an open air section upstairs with some shade up the front if needed and finally, proper, professionally produced commentary in a variety of languages – sounded and felt perfect! 👍👍

11.10am: So far, so good. We’re on the official Sightseeing Bus and heading for the Red Route. As expected, the Bus was super-busy, but we got our choice of seats upstairs. After a short delay getting through the initial traffic jams, we hit the ‘sights’.

Lisbon is certainly a pretty city, where the brightly coloured buildings complemented by externally tiled affairs made it all very easy on the eye. It’s a real mix of buildings – in age, style and construction. Portugal’s capital also seems to sport more statues-per-square-metre than anywhere we’ve ever visited.

And amongst all the old architecture is many NEW buildings too – mostly a mix of commercial HQs and Hotels.

Stately looking constructions as well as large and more modern interpretations all seemed to get along very well – and for the shopaholics, there’s a broad mix on offer to cater for purses and wallets of every size – from small supermarkets and soft-drug suppliers (😮) to super-shiny bling establishments for the super-rich.

There seems to plenty of open green spaces here too, close to the hustle and bustle of the shopping scene.

In spite of the major earthquake in 1755, where a resulting devastating fire pretty much destroyed everything and killed in excess of 40000 people plus a French occupation and then a tsunami; Lisbon has managed to completely rebuild itself. To our eyes, this city has bounced back… and some! 👍. But unlike Vigo, yesterday, the traffic was manic – it’s a typical capital city, I guess! Full marks to our driver then, who managed to manoeuvre our bus around/in/out of some very tight spaces, avoiding important obstacles like other cars, the plethora of tuk-tuks (really!) and the all-important pedestrians!!

I wasn’t expecting to see one of those!
Lisbon’s most famous monument: Monument to the Discoveries (erected 1960)

So far so good? Err…

Tick-tock! The Tour should have lasted no longer than 90 minutes but the traffic had been heavy and we put the overrun down to nothing more than congestion. Poor innocent fools! I think we were about 85 minutes in when we all came to the same conclusion – something wasn’t quite right. After 90 minutes, rather a penalty shoot-out, we played an equally stressful round of ‘Spot the Cruise Terminal’ (that was nowhere to be seen – in fact, we couldn’t even see the sea!). I should have taken more notice of the recorded commentary that I first heard earlier… about an hour ago… that was now replaying the same information. Surely that WASN’T a good sign? 🙁

It seems we weren’t the only ones who were more than slightly confused as to what was going on. Various discussions with fellow travellers revealed a confused state of affairs including the weirdest one of all, according to another couple from the Ventura – we would have to change buses!

That couldn’t possibly be right, could it? COULD IT??? 😮

It was correct! 🤔. By now, the Bus had parked in an area we’d seen before – Stop 1, Marques de Pombal – only this time, the company representative urged us all to get off and switch to the Bus parked next door.

If this journey had a theme tune, it would have been ‘Hotel California’. If it were a geometric shape – a triangle. Forget Bermuda, this was The Lisbon Triangle, where we seemed to have completely disappeared from the official listed route. Consulting the freely supplied map didn’t help much, as there was nothing there to suggest that a change of Bus was required. It was all very strange! 🙁.

Eventually, seated in our new transport, we took off at speed. A quick glance at the official map showed us that we were now on the Blue Route and heading in the right direction! Phew! It’s perhaps slightly ironic that (according to Encyclopedia Britannica) Lisbon was once considered: “a remote outpost on what was thought to be the farthest edge of the known world!” I know the feeling!

2.15pm: Three hours later, we arrived back at the Cruise Terminal – double the original estimated time! We still don’t know where it all went wrong, but, on a positive note, mile-for-mile, we certainly got our money’s worth today! 😀😂. It could only have been funnier if our Driver was a descendant of Portugal’s “Henry the Navigator“. 🤔

Hello Lisbon! Our actual route: Well, we certainly got our money’s worth!

That was an adventure! And like all adventures, a degree of unpredictability can keep you sharp. We must be some of the sharpest Nutters around! 👍

“Sardines, Chips and Mushy Peas please! Oh, and what was your dad’s name?”

Lisbon revisited?

Providing it’s not by Bus!!! Seriously though: We really liked Lisbon and feel a return visit is on the cards, where we can spend longer just looking around. The fantastic weather obviously helped, but it ticked a lot of boxes for us two…

  • Plenty of old buildings
  • A mix of architectural styles
  • Plenty of green open spaces
  • Old shops and new ones too!
  • Museums & Art Galleries

2.30pm: We’re all ‘bussed-out’! Some of us found a Bar whilst others headed back to the Ventura to put their feet up. Holidays can be SO stressful! 😂

7.15pm: We met at Costa before heading ashore to find a Taxi for our evening meal.

Evening Meal – “Alfama Cellar”

As we’re on an overnighter here in Lisbon, we thought it would be good to see the local area at night. We’d booked a table at nearby Alfama Cellar, a short walk away.

7.35pm: It wasn’t the largest of restaurants, but they were big on hospitality, where our hosts took time to answer all our questions to help us make our decisions about what to eat. Language wasn’t an issue and it’s the first eatery where the ‘wine list’ was literally the wines on display around the restaurant. 👍😀. They were happy to let us try any that we thought we’d like.

Northants Nutters doing what they do best. Rhonda opted for ‘no publicity’

Gosh! It was warm inside though. Even with the AC doing its best! I think we all lost half-a-stone before we’d even ordered (which was probably a good thing, given what was to come!)

Again, what the restaurant lacked in size, it was big elsewhere – TASTE. We all enjoyed our respective choices, and I’ll be the first to admit that even though I’m a serious chocoholic, I needed help with my Dessert. The photograph above doesn’t really do it justice, but tonight, size WAS everything, and fortunately, some of my fellow Nutters helped me out! 😋😋😋😋😋😋. Thanks Nutters! 👍

9.36pm: Wow! What a fantastic experience – especially for our tastebuds! The Restaurant had a very cosy feel about it and we were all made to feel very welcome. The bill was wallet-friendly too, working out at around £76 per couple – that included 3 bottles of wine, 5 beers, 6 bottles of water, 3 Starters, 8 Mains and 3 Desserts.

9.44pm: It was good to be outside, even though it was still very warm at around 30°C!. As we took the slow wander back to Ventura, I was wondering how the Election had panned-out at home… and then 2 seconds later, I’d forgotten all about it – they’ll be time enough for that later and ‘holiday mode’ had rightly kicked back in! Most important of all – what a beautiful evening to be out with a group of Nutters!! 😍😍

Hello ‘Home’! 👍

10.30pm: Back on board, we all did our own thing. Whilst some returned to Quiz Night, a few of us headed for the Havana Lounge to enjoy Dean Richardson as Freddie Mercury.

YouTube player

Obviously, no filming allowed, so here’s ‘Freddie’ performing on P&O Azura around a year ago. For me, he didn’t look like Freddie Mercury or particularly sound like him, nor have his idol’s mannerisms, but what did shine through was his showmanship. And that carried the evening with 101% audience participation and support, I’d say he had us right where he wanted us! And with three shows under his belt tonight he was clearly very, VERY popular. It’s worth mentioning the musicians too – Pulse – who demonstrated their ability to mimic Queen’s back catalogue with immense precision! A good show and a perfect end to the evening. 👍😀


Friday is our second and final day in Lisbon. Ann and I have a walking tour booked tomorrow that’ll take most of the morning!

11.35pm: What a couple of lightweights – an early night! Nighty night! See you all tomorrow!

Meanwhile, back in reality-land! 🤔

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