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28th November, 2016

Mystery Cruise. Port No.11

And finally, in the darkness of the pre-dawn, we entered the mighty Tagus with the piercingly bright red leading lights showing us the way. By the time the sun came racing over the hazy horizon we had just about secured alongside, the new passenger terminal for Lisbon in its final stages of build just across the quay.

The shore excursion took passengers on a panoramic tour of this wonderful city ending up at Saint Jerónimos Monastery where there was an exclusive visit to the National Maritime Museum which occupies one wing. In true Saga style the whole experience was concluded with a wine tasting experience, no wonder the folks were all smiles on their return.

We took an hour or so around lunchtime, it was quite delightful in the city as the sun was high and the temperature pleasantly warm after the chilly start. Watching the world go by from a street side café we saw all manner of comings and goings, including some poor lady whose three wheeler had broken down right outside the front. By the time the Portuguese equivalent of the RAC had secured the hapless vehicle to the truck I don’t think even Houdini could have freed it. Street sellers were everywhere and one chap came up to me with a stack of fake designer dark glasses. After I shook my head he furtively extricated something in a plastic bag from his pocket. I shook my ahead again and smiled when he gesticulated that the contents of the said bag may help to increase the number of our children. A miracle indeed.

We continued, strolling through a few streets away from the main drag, passing fountains glistening in the sun, traditional old shops, including one that only sells ladies’ leather gloves. One façade had been covered in fake snow and even had a broom and shovel outside. Lisbon is delightful and, although it is unlikely I shall ever take a ship there again, I’m sure we will fit in a mini-break sometime in the future. 

As sunset came and the sky darkened, we waited for a suitable finale to this last port of the Mystery Cruise. Three small barges just off the starboard side suddenly erupted with a magical fireworks display. A blaze of colour and some impressive explosions carried on for ten minutes. We sailed soon after, turning in the river and passing by Praça do Comércio, known to the British as Black Horse Square. The three main arteries reaching straight up towards the hills were brightly lit with Christmas decorations, a wonderful memory as we headed back out to sea.

A calm Biscay is in the forecast, but a distinctly chilly Southampton for our arrival on the 1st. The log burner in Cornwall will be getting hot before the end of that day, all things being equal.

Captain Philip Rentell

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