Thu 04 May 2023 14:53

Tour report – Lisbon 2023

We arrived at Luton airport ready to go. Normally, we get the earliest possible flight such that it can take a while for us to warm up. This time, the flight was at a more civilised hour – the contents of the airport bar was very uncivilised. For once, we raised the tone.

After we boarded our easyJet flight, the tone was lowered quite quickly. If a double or a triple won’t do the trick, how about a quadruple-triple? Duodecuple? Perhaps we just call it the Bowser from now on.

We arrived at the easyHotel – another Stelios venture. Impressive. Across the road, Stelios long lost cousin had opened a shop that sells everything from razors to kebabs. Which is more likely to do damage to your insides? Reader, I didn’t dare find out.

Our first evening, we went on a walking tour of Lisbon in search of a good bar.  Uphill both ways, not fun. We later found out that the metal things littering the street corners would for a single euro take you anywhere with the push of a button. Up and down the streets we went, like a cobbled Val d’Isere. I think they probably got safer as the night wore on.

Of course, after travelling to Portugal we ended up in an Irish bar. This one was actually full of Irish people too. Most of us went there. Bowser however was busy establishing his Kingdom, aided by a few loyal koopa troopas. 

The next day, after a brief diversion we ended up in probably the most beautiful municipal multi sports facility I have ever seen. A pitch to rival our own was set out. To our disappointment, we ended up playing on one more akin to our hated neighbours – the good pitch is actually reserved for the Portuguese national team it turns out. The other pitch was all plastic blades and sun-baked car tyre fragments. It did not make for the most forgiving playing surface. However - ever generous, we did our best to increase the proportion of organic matter in the playing field, right from our elbows and knees.

Our opposition for the day was Rugby Clube de Oeiras – with a Swan on their logo. Swans v Herons, then.  Oeiras played bravely and tackled hard. The game was played in an excellent spirit, but even with our fly half unable to see properly (too long in Bowsers castle, or at least that what he told us when he tried that drop goal) the game was a little one sided. Max Cat was the clear man of the match, scoring two tries. Ruge, Brandon and Fraser also chipped in with tries. Oeiras scored a try at the death, as we were flagging in the heat of the midday sun. Oeiras never gave up, but ultimately the size and power of the Herons proved the difference and we won 7-34.

The tour debutants then brought cheer to all at the café/bar around the corner from the pitch. The Oeiras boys stuck around, and they bought us 100 (yes) beers. Amazing.

That evening? Oh yes, the Irish bar. Again. Not all of us though – Bowser was all the way at the end of world 8. He was not to emerge for quite some time.

The next day, after a breakfast at the hotel café - which was great, Pastel de Nata for every meal here we went for a wander down to the seafront and found an outdoor bar with live music. A most impressive bar receipt was the end result there.   

That evening, after a few more rides on the magic transportation devices, we went back out into the nightlife district – a historic former brothel this time, now a trendy night club. Someone bumped into a friend. How unexpected.

With a late flight the next day, some of us went to Cascais beach, which was astonishingly beautiful. Others stayed and enjoyed more of excellent local cuisine. Bowser by that point and returned from his fortress.

A late flight home gave us plenty of time to reflect on what a great tour it had been.  Oh, and before I sign off - Wardy has Gout. I knew I was forgetting something.

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