Friday, January 27, 2012

Traveling to Faro, Portugal

Our last trip out of the country was to Faro, Portugal. The destination has several things to recommend it. It's a lot warmer and sunnier than Britain in January. It has lovely seafood and trees full of oranges, even in the dead of winter. And we found cheap flights from a nearby airport. Driving less than half an hour to catch a flight is pretty nice.

RyanAir is one of the famous cheap airlines in Europe. They try to make up for their cut rates by charging customers for some of the regular amenities you might expect. Do you want to check a bag? There's a fee for that. Do you want to board early,  e.g. you have small children or have some injury/infirmity? There's a fee for that. Forget to print out your boarding pass four hours before flight departure? There's a fee for that. You want beverage service during the flight? There's a fee for that. And not just beer and wine. If you want soda, coffee, or water, you'd better have some money on you. They also try to sell various items during the flight, including RyanAir lottery tickets. The extra announcements of all these sales are a little annoying, especially when a child (or two) is (are) sleeping on your lap or shoulder (possibly both).

We did buy one checked bag (we opted for 15 kilos rather than 20 kilos, which proved to be a problem on the way home) and the early seating so we didn't have to fight crowds to get four seats near each other. We packed our own snacks, which worked to a certain extent. Unfortunately, we carried on the jar of peanut butter. I mean, we tried to carry it on. At security, they claimed peanut butter is a liquid and is not allowed according to the rules. We explained it was for our four-year old to eat. The security officer checked with his boss to see if an exemption could be made under the "children's food" category. No luck. Since we had already checked our bag, we couldn't pack it in the checked bag. Luckily, we were able to find peanut butter at a supermarket in Faro.

Once at the gate, we had a long walk from the terminal to where the plane was parked on the tarmac. Jacob and Lucy walked rather slowly and we almost lost the advantage of our early boarding as others were able to walk around us. Interestingly, the plane had stairs in the front and the back, so you could enter on either end. We went for the closest stairs, i.e. in the front. On the plane, there was still plenty of space. We took the aisle and window seats of one row, hoping no one would have or want to sit in the middle seats. Our strategy worked like a charm!

The flight went fairly smoothly. It lasted about two and a half hours and the children were entertained by videos on the laptop and games on my new Android cell phone (in airplane mode, naturally). I read more than half of the book I brought with me since the children were swarming Mommy. Poor Mommy. They were more attentive to me on the return flight.

Deplaning at Faro wasn't too complicated. We had another long walk from the plane to the terminal. People passed us left and right. We were the last to go through customs. The agent had some problem with his stamp and had to restamp our passports with the right date. We met him again on our way home several days later.

Since we were only staying two and a half days and our hotel was in the middle of town, we eschewed a rental car and took a taxi to our hotel. The ride was fast, maybe fifteen minutes. The hotel was charming, though arriving after 9 p.m. meant we just went to sleep with visions of an early and full day tomorrow, coming in the next post!

1 comment:

  1. It's fun for me to imagine the zombies (I mean kiddies) swarming all over Mommy on the flight.
    - Nate