26th September 2021 by emmadurnford

26th September 2021

1 year, 182 days since the start of the 1st lock down in March 2020

The day of our return to the UK. We had done most of our packing last night so it did not take too long to sort ourselves out in the morning. We left the cases just inside the house and went together to collect the car. Colin drove and it was certainly easier than ur arrival and we made the ninety degree turn up a steep hill. Needless to day, despite being a very quiet road (namely as it is one way and so narrow), a Mercedes turned up a few minutes after we had arrived so he just had to wait as there was no way we were going to move the car again.

We finally left and drove onwards towards Lisbon. We have managed to avoid tolls for the entire of the trip but it was not possible for this part of our journey. A bit of a spat as I through Colin had found a place to stop for lunch but he had not and it was a challenge to search while he was driving. We stopped at a service station and fund a little place called Alcochete on the map just half an hour from the car hire place but near the nature reserve on the south bank of the river Tagus. It was a lovely little historic town with some great fish restaurants next to the river but sadly we did not have time to wait for a table. We found a beach side cafe and enjoyed a pizza and salad there - really nice. It would have been good to have a beer but we were driving. Bad point - Colin felt a crack in his teeth and thought he had bitten on a bit of crab shell but unfortunately I think it could be more serious.

Back on the road for the last part of our journey up to the car hire place. I had been dreading this bit of the journey as we have to cross Europes longest bridge (17kms) and then negotiate 3-4 very large roundabouts within the motorways. For once the SatNav did it’s thing and we managed the entire half hour drive without a single wrong turn. It was chaos at the hire place but as they were so anxious to get the cars back in it was a quick turn round. The car was signed off in earths on no additional damage - I was thinking of Evora and my pencil towel saving the day at that point! Colin’s economic use of the accelerator also meant we did not have to fill up again and the petrol matched that when we picked it up! now we just have to wait for the final round of the amount taken for tolls as we have paid the only two we passed through.

The airport was amazingly quiet and despite warnings we had just a minutes wait to check in. The chap looked at our tests certificates and also our online UK Passenger Locator Forms and then issued paper boarding passes. We went through passport control and got a very pale exit stamp - a tiny benefit of Brexit is that we will not get passport stamps!

All went very well until we came to board when chaos ensued. A number of people did not have paper boarding asses which indicated the additional checks of paperwork and some people had Portuguese tests certificates which is also not allowed. Eventually we got on at the head of our queue. The flight was full but due to our speed we got overhead lockers and despite being in the middle seat (full flight unlike the outbound flight) it was a nice guy sitting next to me so not too arduous.

Goodbye Portugal with plenty of fuel, fully stocked supermarkets and people who always wear masks anywhere inside. At least it was nice having a pick-up by Chris in his impressive Tesla to get us home.
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