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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

How do we get there???….

Day 132/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise. Lisbon (Lisboa), Portugal

We arrived in Lisbon early this morning just as we were waking up around 7am. Lisbon, is known as the city of seven hills. The Romans named Lisbon for its resemblance to the city of Rome which was also built on 7 hills. Built on the Tagus River, Lisbon’s seven hills are: Sao Vicente, Sao Jorge, Santo Andre, Sao Roque, Sant’ana, Chana’s, and St. Catarina.

Arriving into the Port of Lisboa, on the Tagus River.

The large building in the middle of the photo is the National Pantheon Dome which was formerly a church of Saint Engracia which was started at the end of the 16th century and was only completed in the 20th century. The 400 years delay originated the proverb “Obras de Santa Engracia” meaning “any work that never ends.” Some illustrious Portuguese citizens are buried in the Pantheon.

We were meeting Dave, the Ozzie on the pier around 8:30am and the plan was to grab a taxi to the golf club. Steve, the Brit had friends from the U.K. he was visiting in Lisbon today, so we were only 3 people for golf.

We had quite a long walk to get to the Cruise Terminal in Lisbon and we could see that the MSC Virtuosa with 6,200 passengers was docked right next to us. It did not look like anyone from their ship was leaving yet, so we had first pick of the taxis in the parking lot of the cruise terminal. We negotiated 45 euros for a taxi to take us the 38-42 minutes to the golf course in the morning rush hour traffic in downtown Lisboa.

Along the way through Lisbon we could see lots of commuters waiting for the trams which Lisbon is famous for.

Lisbon has two distinct types of trams, the historic “Remodelado” trams which date from the 1930s. or the modern Siemens “Articulado” trams. The Articulado or articulating trams have a higher passenger capacity but are confined to the flat sections of the city. A single tram ticket is 3 euros, but a transport ticket for 24 hours costs 6.40 euros and includes all trams, metro and buses, but the ticket must be purchased from a metro station. The tram has an etiquette system which the locals know. Board only at the front and exit at the rear! We had no time for trams today, since we were heading in our taxi to the golf course

We were following the GPS on our taxi driver’s phone which he had on the dash and we could see we were getting closer to the golf course. Then we saw GOLF COURSE signs in English that were also yellow, on the side of the road. Great, we’re almost there! Or are we?

We came to a gate which was closed and an empty guardhouse. There was no way we could enter the golf course community through that closed and locked gate. Luckily there was a woman out for a walk, so our taxi driver asked in Portuguese where the entrance to the golf course community was located. The woman gave him directions and he said “Obrigado” which means ”Thank you” in Portuguese. We headed the way the woman and told us and we came to another fence, with no entrance to the golf club. Luckily, the GPS on the driver’s phone had automatically updated for another way to get into the golf course community and we could see more traffic on the road that the GPS wanted us to take, so we followed the new directions and we made it to the golf club. We had left at 8:30am for a 10am tee time, so we did have enough time…or so we thought.

Dave, the Ozzie had booked us on the Aroeira Challenge course today.

I went into the clubhouse to check in for our tee time, while Richard and Dave paid the taxi driver and got our clubs out of the taxi. I spoke to the woman behind the counter and since I did not know Dave’s last name, I had to wait for Dave and Richard to let me know what name the tee time was under. Dave arrived and mentioned his name and then the woman says we do not have a tee time at this golf club and instead we are at the other golf club! The sign out front said the ‘Challenge’ course, so where is this Challenge course?

By now, our taxi driver has left. The guys arranged for him to come back and pick us up at 2pm after golf, but we didn’t have his card, so now what? We asked if someone from the other golf club could come and get us. The woman behind the counter said there is only one caddie master per golf club and they cannot leave the golf course. I then asked if we could walk to the other club?? The woman said we could, but it would take us at least 20 minutes to walk to the other club. Now what? I finally asked if we could take two golf carts from the club we were at, which was affiliated with the other club and drive over with our clubs to the other club, even if it meant leaving a deposit on the carts? The woman checked with someone and they agreed that was a good solution, but no deposit was required.

By now it was at least 9:45am and we still were at the wrong golf course! We walked over to the caddie master and asked for 2 carts, he gave us keys (even without paying for green fees at this club, Dave had paid for everything online though), to the carts, instructed us to go down the hill, drive down the 10th fairway and 11th fairway of the golf course we were at; at the WC (washrooms) turn right and go up the hill; when we hit the road, turn left and go down the road until we come to a parking lot. Wonderful directions. Let’s hope they work out!

Richard drove first and I was giving him navigation hand signals as we were driving our golf cart, with Dave following along behind. We ended up perfectly fine at finding the 1st tee of the new golf club, but we still hadn’t found the pro shop for Aroeira Challenge golf course, so we had to back track, and find the small clubhouse, and check in. Luckily with all of this added aggravation and adventure, we made it to the 1st tee at 9:55am, in time for our 10am tee time, and no one was in front of us either!

1st hole selfie!

324 yard par 4, 1st hole from the red tees.

Ah yes! A very tight, tree lined golf course with pine trees everywhere. Not a good golf course for people who do not hit it straight off the tee. I made par on the first hole which was a good start!

The second hole, a 450 yard par 5 got my number with my only double of the day. Approaching the green I did not realize the water was so close to the edge of the green and my ball bounced off the green and sunk in the water. Luckily a good chip got me close and I saved a double.

The homes on the golf course were really quite fantastic! There were so many modern homes with flat roofs, and beautiful landscaping with swimming pools and even sculptures in the backyards.

I have never seen so many sculptures in backyards before in my life. It must be the “thing“ to do in Portugal!

We were playing at a great pace with one hole left on the front nine and it was 11:40am.

A better look at the 9th hole.

The golf course had some really strong, positional holes, which I quite like on a golf course. You had to pick your spot, be confident and put your shot where you were aiming. The 9th hole was very positional with a very tight landing area off the tee, left of the pond and not too far left to be in the trees. I nailed my tee shot, but the hole was a tad long and I didn’t get on the green in regulation, so with a two putt, I bogeyed the hole. Not bad, a 42 front nine with a double on 2.

I got some inspiration as we stopped at the clubhouse after nine holes for some snacks.

Birds of Paradise! I will use the photos I took to help me finish my painting tomorrow on our catch up day in Art Class. Seeing these Birds of Paradise live is so much better than trying to recreate something from a photocopy we were given to use as our painting inspiration.

Standing on the 13th tee we could see 4 golf holes. I am not sure I’ve ever played a golf course where I was standing on one tee seeing so many holes around me. It was kind of cool actually, so I took the panoramic shot above.

13th tee box. A par 4. 279 yards. Should have made par, but I 3 putt. UGH….The only 3 putt of the day.

18th hole. A tricky par 5 again with water on the right side. The hole dog legs left at the green with more water in front of the green. I was on the left side of the fairway in two shots. Richard is wondering what I’m doing as I didn’t have a good angle into the green, and the wind was in my face, so to be confident, I went up 2 clubs and hit a 3 hybrid stiff to 20 feet, two putt and made par. Richard on the other hand, missed the green, and chipped up to 2 feet and made par. He has a killer short game, but misses more greens than me, so his putt count is always lower than mine. Today he had 7- 1 putts. I had only 2- 1 putts. Greens I found were slower than Monte Carlo where we had just played, but they didn’t look slow. Anyway, I was happy with a 4 over back nine and ended up shooting 82. I was happy with the round and really loved the golf course. We could smell pine trees on the course, which with the 27C temperatures, and sun with a touch of wind, were perfect conditions for golf!

When we finished it was 2:20pm and our taxi driver was supposed to be meeting us at the other golf course at 2pm, so we drove off 18 and went down the road, turned left and drove down a residential street until we came to the WC; turned right and then left, and drove back down the 11th and 10th fairway and up the hill to the first golf course we had been at. Our golf cart was electric and was running out of juice on the last hole so I had to jump off the cart, so Richard could drive it up the hill to the golf cart storage area.

I went into the pro shop and thanked the woman that had helped us earlier in the day and let her know that we had returned with the two carts we had borrowed. What an odd situation with having two golf courses and no signage indicating which direction each course was at.

We loaded up our friendly non English speaking taxi driver’s car and headed back to the port. It was now almost 2:35pm and our back on board time was 4pm, so we did not have a moment to waste.

We drove right by the “Sanctuary of Christ the King” Catholic monument and shrine dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ at 269 feet high, which overlooks the City of Lisbon from Almada (near where we golfed). The statue was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, after the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon visited that monument. The project commenced in 1949 and was finished in 1959 and the giant statue was to express gratitude because the Portuguese were spared the direct destructive effects of WWII.

We arrived back at the cruise terminal at 3:20pm and had to walk up two ramps, go through security screening, walk through duty free and then walk across the pier, past the MSC ship, to our waiting Viking Neptune. We made it back on board at 3:30pm.

What perfect timing we had today for a wonderful day of golf! Richard has a saying “I love it when a good plan comes together“, and today really came together nicely despite some of the obstacles that were thrown in our way. We figured it out, and no one got upset and we had a fantastic day in Lisbon, Portugal with the short time we had in this city. I have been to Lisbon many times before, so I was glad to be golfing for the first time in the Lisbon area, having previously golfed in the Algarve of Portugal.

We have two sea days now to relax and pack! It seems like everyone is doing the same thing now. Packing what clothes they will need for the last few days of our cruise and getting ready for the big departure home next week. It is hard to believe the World Cruise that we dreamed about and planned for since November 2021 will be over soon, but I am ready to be heading home.

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May 04, 2023

I am sure there are people on your cruise who are going on the World Cruise this December too. Are you going?


Allan Yoshimura
Allan Yoshimura
May 04, 2023

What a full day! The Challenge course was aptly named. It was a challenge to find! Nice round.

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