Sunday, April 13, 2008

Morsifer's Travels Part 2: Notes from Portugal, a Mediterannean Cruise and now England

The KEY incident: I must warn you this could have happened to anyone, not just Kate. While I was taking a power nap in the room, Kate returned from a a photography/tile shopping outing and asked the man at the hotel's reception desk for a train schedule to Porto (Portugal's second major city) for the following morning. After they conversed, he asked Kate if she wanted her room key, she said sure and she asked for the key to Room 305. Now, the problems is that I was already in our room, which was Room 310. When Kate arrived, she simply opened the door I'd left open for her without using the key and placed the unused mistaken key on the nightstand. In Europe, hotel keys tend to be large metal objects with humongous keychains - not the kind of things you'd want to take on spelunking expeditions or even a trip to a Transportation Museum because of their size and bulkiness. Kate then tried to nap as I went for a walk. Well, Kate couldn't sleep because a large family was making a huge racket in the hall. I was surprised to find her wide awake when I returned from my successful therapeutic walk to find my mother a collectible guitar pin from Lisbon's Hard Rock Cafe. Upon us setting off for dinner there was a new receptionist at the hotel, and when Kate and I went down to pick up the train information, we each handed in a key. The receptionist said there was no train information for the occupants of Room 310. That's when the chaos began...Only then did we and the receptionist realize that Kate had the wrong key and the family making the racket that kept Kate awake was doing such because they were told they lost their key to room 305 and would have to pay for the locks to be changed and for a new ginourmous gold nugget sized key to be constructed if they didn't find it. Needless to say, the new hotel receptionist wasn't too pleased with young Kate (I'm being fecetious, she's 27) even though it was clearly a harmless mistake.

This was Curb Your Enthusiasm material to say the least...

To solve this problem: 1. Use electronic key-cards (duh!) 2. Hotels: Make sure you give keys to the right people as asking for the wrong room number isn't that absurd as not everyone remembers every little detail of a three-digit number! What's to prevent some bum off the street from coming in and asking for a key to any room?

Things with young Kate and I got no better. Over dinner, something wasn't right. We were those people who were dining with each other but barely saying a word. Isn't that depressing when you see couples out at dinner and they just sit there and make mountains out of mashed potatoes and build Lincoln Log Houses out of carrot shreddings?

By the time nightfall came (after I made a solo journey to the insanely cool Port Wine Institute - where you can try about 9000 Ports and hundreds of them are super inexpensive), Kate and I had two different itineraries in mind. Kate wanted to head as far North as possible to Porto, where we'd spend the next evening, and I wanted to make a pit stop in Coimbra - a picturesque mountain-top town that is home to Portugal's finest university and is considered the Oxford of Portugal....that's probably like saying you're a a Johnny Rocket's in a sea of McDonalds.

After a mildly tumultuous morning, we embarked on the same train, with my seat in plebeian class and Kate amongst her patrician allies of the 1st class. She remained on board to head to a land of more tiles and photography when I stepped out of the train at Coimbra to be amongst my higher-educated peers...

(Note: I questioned how smart the Porguese are twice during this journey. I speak one word of Portuegese, and that is Obrigado which means thank you. I deduced from my nominal romance language skills tha my ticket indicated I was in coach 23, seat 66. During my journey the two individuals who were supposed to occupy coach 22, seat 66 and coach 21, seat 66 both adamantly told me I was in the wrong seat...they took me for an ignorant foreigner, just as I thought they were dumb natives...turns out I was right on both occasions and I was met with enthusiastic apologies.)

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