Thursday, 8 February 2018

Tangier, Morocco (Tangier Hilton)

Was not feeling well this morning. Definitely did not eat breakfast, but had a cup of coffee in my room. Got packed to get ready for my flights today (Tangier to Madrid, then Madrid to Lisbon). Concerned that I’m still making fairly regular visits to the bathroom so don’t know how that’s going to work out with flying – but each leg today is short, so maybe I’ll be okay.

During checkout from the hotel I started to feel very warm and it felt good to get outside and wait for my driver. Turned out my driver to the airport was Nezar, who drove me to Asilah on Sunday Рso was good to see him again.

Once at the airport, made it through the airport’s security okay – though while waiting in line I was not too steady on my feet. Our takeoff was delayed and was concerned about making the connection at Madrid to Lisbon. No worry, I’ll figure it out when I get there. At least in flight to Madrid was no need to rush to the restroom.

As I arrived in Madrid, I knew it was going to be iffy to make the connecting flight to Lisbon. But I found no departure boards to tell me the departure gate. So, I just followed where everyone else was going. Eventually, I boarded the train that took us to the main concourse and I found the departure gate. At this point I think I went into “high travel alert mode” and rushed to the gate. Though, by the time I arrived at the gate, the plane was en-route to the runway.

At the gate I was directed to a nearby information station to resolve the situation. Not sure what that entailed, but I stood in line with everyone else. While in line I started talking to the guy waiting behind me. We had plenty of time to talk because it seemed that everyone before us had some complicated issue that needed to be resolved. Eventually we were served by the counter staff we received a ticket for the next flight leaving for Lisbon at 7:40 p.m. and a voucher for a sandwich and beverage. My new friend from the line was waiting for me after I got my ticket and voucher. He was kind to help translate, by asking several people, where we could redeem our voucher. He was Portuguese but his English was very good and was also fluent in Spanish.

After we found the place where we could have a sandwich and some water, we talked for nearly three hours. So we didn’t miss the next flight, we thought we should confirm our flight and boarding location in the main concourse. At this time I found out his name was also Philip and he worked as a Quality Assurance Manager for an automotive company and traveled extensively, mainly in Asia. He said he was 57 and was glad to have this new position because after his last company went out of business, he wasn’t sure if he would get another job because of his age. Apparently, you can be asked how old you are when you’re interviewed and age discrimination can be a factor when looking for a job.

During the four hours or so we had been talking, being a native of Lisbon, he gave me many ideas on what to see while there. I was very grateful to have found the right person to visit with to pass the time. He sort of took care of me and I didn’t have to do much else but follow him around since we were going to the same destination. He mentioned that recently he had to wait in a plane for 5 hours because of sudden snow storm at the Madrid airport. Probably my worst nightmare.

We learned our flight to Lisbon was now delayed by nearly an hour because the plane needed to be changed out. So we talked some more. By this time I realized I was feeling much better, though I only ate half the sandwich earlier. Still no appetite for food. At least no more quick visits to the men’s room while at the Madrid airport.

At last we were able to board our flight. He said he would wait for me after we de-boarded the plane so we could say goodbye. Even thought he didn’t have a bag to pickup in baggage, he walked me to the baggage area and we said our goodbyes there. I said, once he retires, he would make an excellent travel ambassador for Lisbon. He smiled and said that many people from Lisbon are proud of their city. As he left to return to his family, I thought this was another remarkable situation where I happened to meet the right person at the right time.

It was a quick trip from the airport to the hotel. The taxi driver was very helpful when we arrived at the hotel and the hotel reception staff were efficient in getting me checked in. I was given one of the rooms in their new extension of the hotel and one of the reception staff gave me a tour of the room to help be get settled in. I had to call later to ask how to lower the shade to darken the room, since these shades were controlled by motors connected to wall switches. I couldn’t find the one that operated the main shade in the bedroom. The person assigned by Reception to help me couldn’t find it either, then looked behind the bed’s headboard, and there it was.

It didn’t take me long to be in bed. I was very tired by this point. My only thing that I must do tomorrow is find a laundry to wash my clothes. And if the weather is good, I’ll try to find a place to view the city after dark – a recommendation by my new Portuguese friend Philip.

 

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