When you buy flight tickets with frequent flier miles you get the worst flying times. When we made the reservations we were thrilled to get free tickets, and thought we’d figure out later how to get to the airport for our 6 a.m. flight in Porto. The reality hit us when we realized we had to be at the airport at 4 a.m., which meant leaving the city at 3:15 a.m., which meant getting up at 2:30 a.m. But that’s not the worst of it! The metro doesn’t run at night. We could take a taxi, (which aren’t expensive here), but how do we call one in the middle of the night in a foreign language? People told us to walk to the taxi stands and catch one. What if there weren’t any waiting in the middle of the night? It’s a lot to risk. If we couldn’t get a taxi we could miss our two flights, and replacing them would be very expensive. Tourist information said there was a bus that went every hour on the hour that we could catch across from the train station. Great. So we did a dry run at 9 p.m. two days before. We couldn’t find the airport bus on the hour. We asked at the train station.The gentlemen at the train window didn’t speak any of my three languages, and I didn’t speak his. But between my Spanish and his Portuguese, we came close. “The night bus to the airport runs every hour in the night, starting at 1 a.m. and stopping at 5 a.m. (Not EVERY hour.) And the stop is at Aliados Metro Station. (Close to the train station, but not across the street.)” Even the simplest activities are so difficult in a foreign language and culture. The hardest part to communicate was that we had to leave on the 3 a.m. bus and the number was 3M. I thought he was misunderstanding me when I asked “What number?”
“I know 3 a.m., but what number bus?”
“No. Not the time. The bus number.” He writes the time and the bus number on a piece of paper. Oh.
The night before we walked to that metro station to see if we could see the bus schedule posted. The metro station had at least three entrances and they were far enough apart you couldn’t just run to the bus on the other side of the street. Oh sweet merciful cupcakes! Why can’t it just be easy?
There are few things scarier than closing the door to your AirBnB at 2:35 a.m. in a foreign country with the keys on the inside. No going back. And we were still uncertain about our transportation. We were surprised that even though it was Monday morning, the streets were full of people, and the bars were open and loud. (Note to self: I hope Lydia and Miriam don’t want to vacation here on some random trip when they are in their 20s.) There were plenty of taxis. Relief. There were 20 people at the airport bus stop. YES! We arrived at the airport with our passports, phones and other personal items intact. The rest of the way home was uneventful. Lots of food, movies, and rest. We are exhausted.