Friday, 24th

Today was our last stoking up breakfast. We had planned last night to pack ready for this morning but decided at the time to have another Portugese brandy instead! So it was quick showers and down to breakfast at 7:30. Breakfast over we then got packed in 30 minutes and headed for Reception at 8:30 where I paid the bill for the extras. It was half what I was expecting (and less than twice what we had paid at the Crown Plaza at Manchester Airport) considering we had dinner in the hotel each of our four nights, with a good bottle of wine; Vinho Verde and drank at the bar three nights. Our taxi, booked for 9 am the evening before, was waiting; in fact it was the taxi I’d spotted from the window at 8:30 am when we got back to the room to pack. The journey was much shorter and cost only ‘‚¬10, stark contrast to the ‘‚¬25 journey of the unmetered cab when we arrived on Monday.

So we arrived at Lisbon Airport with loads of time to drop the bags off, the Fast Bag Drop being carefully ‘policed’ by a charming young man. We then had time to do shopping and finally get a cuppa. Boarding was smooth but we were ‘pushed back’ about 15 minutes late due to loading standby ticket holders. We then were held on the taxi way before take off and got put in the Heathrow ‘stack’ for 20 mins. Then to top it all the buses from the plane to the terminal took nearly 20 mins to turn up! In all we were nearly an hour late at Heathrow. Good job we had nearly four hours between the flights as we needed most of it. We got the bus from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 without any real problem but at Terminal 5 we hit the full weight of the Government’s Homeland Security. We had to queue three times to get onto the Departures concourse. Can’t remember now what the first one was for? The second was at big signs stating “Border Control”; there were four desks for EU passport holders but only one staffed so the queue grew and grew. Then we got to security: obviously the security you go through at Lisbon Airport is not good enough. You have be be security checked before you can be allowed onto a British domestic flight. The queing system was actually quite effective but the security staff at Heathrow Terminal 5 are appalling. Rude, abrupt and dismissive. They wanted everyone to take off their shoes and belts off (even thought the sign says only belts with LARGE buckles) I challenged them that at Manchester Airport I was not made to do so and I was told it was national policy, to which I asked “then is Manchester breaking the rules?” A most unpleasant experience and one to make me want to avoid Terminal 5 at all costs. We decided as it was still holiday and about seven hours since breakfast that we’d have a proper meal in the terminal and the café called Giraffe were very good about Lynne’s needs so it was a very pleasant and welcome meal. The flight from Heathrow to Manchester only took 40 minutes compared to the one hour ten minutes on the way down and was over in a breath! So it was call MAVP and wait for the car. We were sat down in the Club at 8:10 pm starting our first drink. Our holiday was over.