Chapter 27: In Portugal

(Note: As in the previous chapter I think much of this chapter is pure fantasy. For one thing Chris and Maxine were still in South Africa at this stage – they only arrived in Europe later in the year, and certainly had not yet moved to the Moulin, which they only did in I think August of 1973. The description of the arrival in Lisbon and their experiences there are surely from the 1973 trip to Europe, during which my parents helped Chris and Maxine in their move to France. The boat train trip I’m not sure about at all).

After the ship had tied up in the harbour we managed to find a taxi to take us to our hotel. Once there, with our baggage all safely organised, we went off to visit the show-places as described in our guide-books. Lisbon is as full of people, including trippers, as any other city in Europe. It was a hot day and I was wearing a safari-suit with short trousers. I noticed people looking at me askance, but thought nothing of it. Later, when we went into dinner, I was told that it was a criminal offence to wear short trousers in any of the cities and towns!

The Prince Henry monument. Photo by Margery Mcgregor

The Prince Henry monument. Photo by Margery Mcgregor

One of the most impressive sights in Lisbon is the big monument to Prince Henry the Navigator on the banks of the Tagus. The Prince is shown as pointing to the south and, dragging behind him, a group of people including priests, soldiers, university students, farmers, etc.

Next morning we were going by tramcar to see one of the museums in Lisbon and wondering where we had to stop the tram. To our surprise a man sitting in front of us turned round and said in English, “You come from South Africa, don’t you?” We admitted that fact, then he said he would tell us. It turned out that he had worked for a long time in a Portuguese store in Cape Town. He told us how best to use our time, which was very helpful. We were most impressed by the way in which the Portuguese farmers used every inch of their small farms, and by the delightful milk and fruit from these farms which is on sale in the towns.

Trams in a narrow Lisbon street. Photo by Dr G Schmitz 2005

Trams in a narrow Lisbon street. Photo by Dr G Schmitz 2005

When our time at the hotel was up we got a taxi to take us to the railway station, as we were going by train across Portugal and Spain to Bordeaux in France where we were to be picked up by my son Christopher and his wife Maxine. This was to be a night journey and we would have to cross three national frontiers so we got our beds and prepared to go to sleep after giving the conductor our passports. I can go to sleep in most conditions but Margery and Hettie are not so much adapted to strange noises, etc., so I’m afraid that their night’s rest was not very restful. However we all cheered up when morning came and we reached Bordeaux where Maxine was waiting for us. The conductor had given us our passports again so we were all fixed up to ‘go ashore’!

RMS Cape Town Castle

RMS Cape Town Castle

We spent some weeks in the Moulin de la Madone and then left by train to get to Paris. From there we went by train on a train-transport ship, which delivered us to Dover, where our carriage was added to an English train. When we woke up we were haring across the Kentish Downs, with lovely fields full of green, green grass, many trees, several old villages, all very lovely, and so back to Southampton and Geff. Then after a few days, aboard the Cape Town Castle and back to South Africa.

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