This was the flight back from vacation; I described the outbound flight here
The report begins in the subway of Lisbon, which was not crowded on a Saturday morning in summer. It was spotlessly clean, with at most some windows scratched with graffiti.
Arrival in the terminal
I left my wife in the line for the luggage drop for Skyteam flights
… and went to these machines to obtain our BPs (AF had checked us in automatically, but I had seen no justification in spending a few euros in the hotel for printing the files received by e-mail)
AF must have been satisfied of our physical condition and mastership of French (read again the outbound flight's report if you did not catch this insider joke), because they had assigned us the very same seats 10A and 10B, on the overwing exit row.
I did not try to determine which seats could provide me more comfort than a window seat on exit row on the side away from the sun tested with satisfaction on the way in, and that AF proposed for 15 EUR each.
I quickly joined my wife in the line. On our left, this was the Skypriority line which did not seem to be faster, because only one counter was open and the J/Elite passengers seemed to maximize the use of their more generous checked luggage allowance. The staff in the center was directing the passengers when needed.
I did not understand this restriction "Internet/mobile boarding pass only". My BP printed by the machine did not seem to be a problem.
There was a crowd of kids in sportswear at the groups counter
They would have a long trip home, most probably via another European airport and HKG: these kids from Macau were a reminder of the historic ties of Portugal with this tiny colony restituted to China in 1999 with the same “one country, two systems” status as Hong-Kong.
The corresponding line quickly vanished when a second counter opened to handle the Skypriority passengers.
The only anecdote about the luggage drop is that the employee asked to see our two pieces of hand luggage (without weighing them) and placed these tags recommending to place them under the seat before us… only that our exit row seats forbade that during take-off and landing.
No fuss at the security check, apart from the requirement to remove all cameras from their casings, even compact ones, like laptops and tablets.
The escalator leading to the Departures level provides a panoramic view of the security check area if you look back. There was a tax-refund counter which was not relevant for us.
I did not try to understand the difference with this other counter.
LIS is one of these annoying airports which have passengers navigate through a duty-free shop area before they can reach the gates.
The difference between a pack of cigarettes for passengers staying in the European Union and those leaving the EU is that it will be a cheaper way to die a long and very painful death, because of the tax difference.
This picture resulted in a non-aggressive sign of a staff : no photos ! It did not matter; I had already taken the ones I wanted.
Arrival in the rotunda in the center of the terminal where the FIDS displays our boarding gate which was still unknown when I obtained our BPs (refer to the BP issuing machine). It was somewhat crowded there, but there were enough empty seats remaining for passengers waiting for the gate to be displayed.
Gate 14 is towards the southern end of the terminal, which resulted in a longish walk past passengers taking a rest on seats which had been designed for this purposed
… or which hadn’t
We arrived just as the AF A319 was reaching the gate
Windows’ firewall refused to let me access to the internet here in LIS, like in AF’s lounges in CDG and in several Portuguese hotels. (It was after the return from this trip that I finally understood what the problem was).
My level in Portuguese is minimal, but I got the message
This provided me access to a well-known website
There were going to be three UMs on this flight
The boarding room did not look like it was full (it should arguably be able to handle the capacity of an A321, instead of this A319), but the flight was going to be full, or nearly full.
A good point for LIS : there were well identified power ports
They were below these seats left and right
The second good point was that these were multistandard plugs, which it quite unusual outside airport lounges and Mainland China.
This passenger found another place to feed his ultra-flat toy.
He put it at the foot of this advertising screen device.
It doesn’t show from a distance, but most of the terminal is plane spotter-unfriendly, because the wide windows are covered with black dots to reduce the greenhouse effect, and taking pictures is made impossible when you get closer. But thanks to the Flight Report Meet Up of December 2014, I knew that there were a few dotless windows around Gate 12, at the far end of the terminal. It was very empty at that time.
The catering was being loaded in our A319
On the other hand, the checked luggage had not reached the plane yet.
It was therefore time for a pause for these tarmac staff looking for cooler air in the hold.
These are the planes I saw Euro Atlantic B777-200ER
A330-200 TAP, in Star Alliance livery
Departure of a Ryanair 738
And arrival of another one, next to Terminal 2 which is dedicated to the LCC. The passengers use this terminal when departing only; arriving passengers are bussed to Terminal 1.
An Air Transat A310. This type of aircraft is becoming rare.
Arrival of a Norwegian 738., also heading towards Terminal 2.
That was when a PA call (in Portuguese, English and French) announced the boarding of our plane, and it was time to return to our gate where my wife had been patiently keeping the hand luggage. There was a decent offering of Portuguese and French newspapers in the jet bridge.
The FA was amused to see me take a picture of the registration number, but forbade me to take a picture from where I was of the cockpit whose door was open. I do not know what would have happened if I had taken the picture without asking; I answered with a joke on the highly confidential nature of an A319 instruments board. There was a little jam here as often, but the FAs did not need to use the loudspeaker stored there ^^.
The front rows were identified by red antimacassars.
Since our seats were in an exit row, I asked the FA who happened to be there if she could give me back my laptop once the cruise altitude would be reached, so that I would not disturb the passenger in Seat 10C. - No problem of course, you know that this is an exit row ? - Yes, I am a frequent flyer [without mentioning that I nearly never fly on an exit row] The FA presumed that she did not need to make the “exit row prep talk” to passengers assumed to be know it well, and forgot to deliver it to the other passengers in row 10.
A 738 Ryanair was taxiing before us
Same seat as on the way in, and therefore the same royal seat pitch due to the emergency exit.
37 cm from the back of the previous seat to the limit of mine was very generous.
This was the same seat as on the way in, with the same emergency exit indications.
The same bans on hand luggage during take-off and landing phases, too
And the same window shade which is raised, not lowered.
A view of the LCC Terminal 2, with two Easyjet and Norwegian aircraft. No jet bridge, of course.
The plane spotters’ favorite location in LIS, at the level of the threshold of Runway 03. Note that there is space for parking your car.
Take-off at 10:52, i.e. on time, and even somewhat ahead of schedule.
We promptly reached the cloud cover and there would not be much to see outside during most of the flight. With due respect to the inhabitants of Lisbon, this suburban landscape is not fascinating (but you’ll nevertheless have it)
The wing and the wingtip fence that AF did not car to decorate
The safety card both sides
The carpet was clean
The best manners of the passenger seated in 11A behind me.
We reach the cruising altitude : I wait a bit, see that the FA has disappeared in the rear galley and with some acrobatics manage to recover my laptop without asking the passenger in Seat 11C to stand up, because the seat pitch allows me to stand in front of my wife seated in 11B.
Only after forty minutes of flight did I see the FA come up the aisle hurriedly to offer her excuses for not returning my laptop. Her smile mixed with embarrassment felt genuine (she obviously suddenly thought “S***, I forgot about the laptop of the passenger in exit row”). A fault confessed is a half redressed, and was going to be completely redressed later on.
Five minutes late came the meal, or rather AF’s notion of a meal in 2h30’ flight in Economy.
- The tag is still there ; so much for the presentation [this was not exactly what the FA said, but it meant something like that] A short look at it, and : - Oh, but it is not past its "Use by" date, so at least honor is intact ! [with a wide smile which meant that AF would of course never serve expired food]
This typically Portuguese cake should have been warm but wasn’t, was undoubtedly edible, but with a 7 cm diameter and a total weight of 70g, this food supply would not have a durable effect.
It was ridiculously insufficient for a flight at lunch time and both of us regretted to have eaten less than usual for breakfast : trusting AF’s catering was a newbie’s mistake, and we were hungry when we reached our home.
The FA had been intrigued by my request of taking a picture of the cardboard tray for the catering, and when she came back after she was done distributing it, I explained why I had wanted to take this picture. Yes, she knew about Flight Report, and made laudatory comments about the website (“a very good website, it helps us make progress”). I then had an interesting conversation on AF’s product. This FA obviously liked her job, and this episode more than compensated her initial minor mistake.
Descent towards CDG. I asked to the other FA going down the aisle with some used cups in a hand if she would mind putting my laptop back in the overhead bin for landing. Yes, but she had only one free hand? No problem, I proposed to hold for her these cups (she obviously did not want to ask me to do this) meanwhile. An exchange of smiles and thanks later, I was convinced to have drawn the winning ticket on the AF FA lottery this time.
Without laptop, but with my camera, these were the first buildings of CDG. The passengers on the right side of the aircraft had a good view of Paris, but in adverse lighting conditions and I think that any pictures would have been very disappointing.
Terminal 1 (lots of condensation had formed on my window during the descent, which only left a small unobscured area).
The same terminal
This does not really count as an air-to-air picture, but a DL aircraft was taking off from one of the north runways.
An AF 77W taxiing to the runway
Touchdown at ETA-29’ : the plane was indeed well ahead of schedule, as promised by the captain in a rather verbose PA announcement.
There were many AF aircraft at Terminal 2F, but there was also an MU A330 which would fly back to PVG.
The AF 77W was going to cross the runway behind this Easyjet A32x, but we would have to wait until three aircraft had landed before being allowed to cross it.
Now was the turn of this AF 777
It would have deserved a better camera, but I was pleased with this picture.
It was the turn of this MEA A330 to take off
Arrival of a DL A330 in the old livery
What is better than an A380 parked at Terminal 2E ?
Three other A380s parked at the same terminal, maybe ? This was maybe sufficiently rare for our really verbose captain to take the mike and mention this to the passengers.
An Air Mauritius A340
Final stop next to an AF A321
Arrival of an AF A318
Bright sun in CDG, which light effects on the jet bridges’ windows
I do not know if this is advertising or art
Internet access by wifi is free in CDG, so I could check my e-mails and a well-known website while waiting for our checked luggage.
The priorities were not fully respected in the luggage delivery : in the midst of pieces of luggage bearing yellow priority tags came our own which had received a favor for mysterious reasons.
It was ETA+6’ when we recovered our suitcases : there was obviously a margin built in the schedule, but this flight was nevertheless flawlessly on time.
This is the end of this flight, and also of this flight report ; what follows is a tourist bonus which starts with a great leap back in time.
The French are proud of their standing stones, located mostly in Brittany, but few know that there are many more in Portugal, where there have been dated between 6,000 and 4,000 BC, i.e. many centuries before the French Carnac stones (3,300 BC).
Map of the megaliths in the Iberian Peninsula (Museum of Castelo de Vide) Some are not very impressive, like Dolmen 2 of Coureleiros (above), but Dolmens 3 and 4 a few hundred meters away in the same site are much more obvious.
The Medea Menhir is the tallest in the Iberian peninsula, at 7.15 m.
The metallic structure which protects the dolmen of Zambujeiro is really ugly, but it is nevertheless worth seeing
Aerial views are probably the best for grasping the layout of the cromlech of Almendres, where 92 standing stones form a double ring.
The Almendres menhir is a kilometer and a half from there, along an axis which corresponds approximately to the direction of the sunrise at the winter solstice (by chance or design?)
There are in the fields not far from there structures like this one, spaced regularly about one hundred meters from each other, alongside a sinuous course. There is no connection with standing stones, but what are these?
They follow a contour line, and that is no chance.
These are the accesses to a nearly buried section of the Silver Waters Aqueduct, whose 18 km total length was completed in 1537 to feed the city of Evora. It passes here under National Road 114-4.
It is much more impressive in the immediate vicinity of the city.
There are many fortified towns fed in water by aqueducts built at that time, like Obidos …
… where the best view of the aqueduct is from the top of the city walls
Or Elvas, where the Amoreira Aqueduct, started in 1537 but completed in 1620 reaches a 31 m height.
These aqueducts have been built long after the Spanish threat on Portugal’s integrity had weakened: it was in 1385 that Nuno Álvares Pereira’s military genius allowed his 6,500 strong army him inflict a crushing defeat to the 31,000 man Castilian forces in Aljubarrota (and again in Valverde two months later despite an even more unfavorable force ratio).
The remarkable museum is especially didactic ; there is in particular a scientific analysis of the wounds identified on the bones which were found there, like this skull with the exit hole of a crossbow bolt.
And this other one bearing the traces of two deadly sword blows.
In recognition of the divine intervention to obtain this victory, King John Ist, who was present in this battle, financed the building of the Batalha (“battle”, in Portuguese) Convent, which is one of the treasures of Portugal’s architectural heritage.
All of Portugal’s history is not that glorious. The church, the pillory and the crosses on this house are reminders of painful memories
These crosses betray the house of "new converts”, i.e. Jews who had been converted by force to Catholicism when the Inquisition settled in Portugal from 1496.
The "Cat’s House" in Trancoso is called this way because of the low relief on its facade
But it represented actually the Lion of Judea.
… and similarly this other sculpture represented the Temple of Jerusalem.
There was in the small local museum an infinite saudade, this feeling of melancholy which is part of the Portuguese soul, in front of the remembrance of some of the 671 victims of the Inquisition in this very small town, sentenced to death, life terms, deportation or the wearing for life of infamous clothing. They had already been deprived of their identity, as all Jews had been forced to adopt Christian names and surnames.
Incredibly so, it was only in 1917 that a Jewish community which had survived during four centuries, practicing their rites in total secrecy, and marrying only between themselves. A modern synagogue was built in the village in 1996, materializing their return to open light.
The alheira, a sausage made of meat other than pork and bread (without crust) for texturing, was created at that time by Jews in order to make believe that they had indeed abandoned the Jewish ban on pork meat to whoever would come and check their cellars.
It is often served like this in Portuguese restaurants nowadays. I was amused to find that most of the ingredients in this plate were unknown in Europe before the Great Discoveries where Portugal played a major part : turkeys and potatoes come from North America, tomatoes from Central America, rice from the Far East.
The Portuguese did their duty of remembrance, installing five centuries later this double monument to the victims of religious intolerance on the site of the first pogrom in their country which took place in Lisbon on 19-21 April 1506. This one was financed by the Jewish community,
… and this one, a few tens of meters away, by the Catholic Church. Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it : this maxim which has been attributed to many different people remains valid today. Thanks for reading me all the way to here !
Lisbon - LIS
Paris - CDG
LIS is above average, with a number of caveat which moderate the overall picture : served by a clean subway (but there was an endless line to buy tickets when arriving there, with the bonus of a French passenger who aggressively and wrongly accused me of jumping the line), plane spotter-friendly only if you can find the window s without black dots, with clean toilets unless it is a peak traffic day, with a free wifi internet access but incompatible with Windows’ firewall.
The flight was ahead of schedule and the crew was flawless, but the catering was minimal, and the passenger on seat 10C noted that unlike on an LCC, you could not buy extra food on board if that served was not enough.
It was an error by the luggage handlers, but our luggage has been delivered as if they were priority. The rail link to Paris remains the weak point of CDG, but the RER-B on a Saturday afternoon was no ordeal.
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