Getting Into EuropePara ler este post em Português: Para fazer a omelete é preciso quebrar os ovos)
I’ve landed Lisbon by 10am and since my flight to London was scheduled for 3pm I decided I had enough time to take a walk. During the flight to Lisbon I met Wanda, a Brazilian girl from São Paulo who was born in Manaus. We both had the same flight scheduled to London so I invited her to join me on my ride. We got directions at the airport from very funny and confusing immigration guards of how to get to the historic center of town and we left to the metro station.
The train was very clean and the seats were soft and comfortable. On the inside there was a man playing Portuguese folk songs in a concertina with a little dog balanced on his shoulder, holding the handle of a small bucket for donations with its teeth – which made the poor dog unable to open its mouth!
On the historic center we saw some nice old buildings and commerce and we ate delicious traditional appetizers from Portugal’s northern region.
Back to the airport I bought a single malt scotch at the free shop (why the hell a whiskey bottle is more expensive here at an European Free Shop than it is in Brazil??? It should be cheaper! I’m in Europe, Scotland is in Europe…!!) – and we took our flight to London.
It’s awesome to have an European citizenship. Queues for citizens almost don’t exist and all you have to do is smile to the immigration guard. ‘Buon giornno‘ and ‘Grazie!‘ was all I needed to say. No questioning, no need to explain where you’re going, where you’re coming from, where you’ll be staying, when you’ll leave. I love it.
Though I have listened a lot of times that the British are not very friendly, my first impressions contradicted this common sense. At London airport I was approached by a man asking if I needed help. Ha – too bad I barely could understand his thick British accent! He offered to look after my bags while I was trying to discover where to buy a GPS, but though he seemed to be very respectable I refused his help on behalf of my security.
I then took a shuttle to Hertz rental office to pick my car. The attendant I met there – Roshan – was unbelievably helpful!! 😀 I hadn’t booked a GPS and he tried his best to get an upgrade for me, but as it’d get much above my budget he got me a mobile GPS from his locker. He draw a map for me and taught me how to get the road to Birmingham. And he taught me how to operate a right-seat English car. He couldn’t have been more gentle!
It was a long drive to Birmingham, and at this point I was awake for more than 34 hours. I think the difficulty to drive in a different manner kept me safe. On the road I overtook two trucks that were spreading a lot of dust, or gravel, I didn’t know. I found it very strange they were riding slowly in the middle lane and it was only when I overtook the 3rd truck that I realized they were actually spreading salt on the road to prevent freezing! It was 2°C outside!! This is the kind of thing you’ll never see in Brazil!
Overall results of my driving experience: Curbs hit by left wheel: 2. Getting into a lane in the wrong way: 1. Attempts to enter the car from the left side: 3. Final score: I think I deserve an 8. 😉