The word ‘strenuous’ is defined as ‘requiring or using great effort or exertion’. That was how the cruise line qualified our excursion today. Although the narrative of the tour to Sintra and Cascais (pronounced ‘Cash-kay’) didn’t SOUND too difficult, it was still labeled by the ship as being a strenuous activity. And they define their strenuous activity as being ‘highly active’. Who am I to question them? After all, it’s my first trip to Sintra and Cascais and their umpteenth.
In spite of the classification and warnings, there were 5 bus loads of people heading on this excursion. Five bus loads of people with various ailments and afflictions. Five bus loads of people with canes, walkers, slings and braces...and those were just the things we could SEE. How many were toddling along at a snails pace because of hip replacements, knee braces and arthritis?
The large part of the day was spent in a bus for 40 minutes of driving TO Sintra, then 30 minutes of driving from Sintra to Cascais, and finally another 45 minutes from Cascais BACK to Lisbon. So what about that warrants a classification of ‘strenuous’? Well, for one thing the entire area in Sintra where we visited was all hills and cobblestone stairways. Very difficult to maneuver for a nimble person, and let me tell you, there weren’t too many “Jack”s on this trip. Secondly, we only had 1 hour on each of our stops, so you really had to motor if you wanted to get around to see things and make it back to the bus on time. And no...it was no great shock when an old guy with a cane and his hobbling wife were late for the bus in Sintra. Thankfully only by about 5 or so minutes...not too bad.
Then it was Cascais which was pretty much a flat little place. Again only 1 hour. Again someone was late. But this time 2 able bodied folks were 15 minutes late. No explanation offered, even though someone in the back of the bus suggested they should apologize. They didn’t...they were of a nationality that offers no apology...and no, they weren’t our country’s neighbours.
The best part of the tour? A lovely drive along the coast with the huge waves of the Atlantic Ocean beating against the beach. Just amazing. Too bad a photo stop wasn’t offered up. That suggestion will be going into my critique at the end of the cruise!!
Now, if that story doesn’t prove to you how little people read on this ship, then this little gem will. Once back onboard, I ran up to the Salty Dog Grill for a few french fries to hold me over till meal time. I DID miss lunch, ya know! A woman who must have been in her early 70’s is getting a hot dog and fries. She gets it and proceeds to the condiments area where the 3 containers are CLEARLY marked from right to left ‘Ketchup’, ‘Mayonnaise’, ‘Mustard’...and for those that can’t read, they’re even colour-coded on plaques of red, white and yellow, respectively. She puts the ketchup on her dog...first one end, then turns the dog around and squirts in on the other end. I’m quietly waiting behind her...well, quiet on the outside, although I’m screaming on the inside of my head to hurry up. Then she goes to the mayo and hits the pump...and...curses a very mild expletive. She moves on to the mustard. I have to squeeze in by her just to get some ketchup for my fries cause she’s got the whole area blocked up. As soon as I reach in to hit the ketchup pump she says “Be careful there cause that’s confusing...they’ve got mayo there.” How does one respond to THAT??? One doesn’t. There are sooooo many things that one COULD say...but one bites one’s tongue. One just quickly gets one’s ketchup and walks away...shaking one’s head.
Tomorrow is a sea day...should be a good one!