Train to Portugal

Sunday, December 16, 1928

After a jolly good night of warming the bench, I reached the border at nine. The country was hilly and rocky. Sort of a plain of low hills between two ranges of higher ones. Eroded fragments of rocks projecting from the earth everywhere, very few trees if any. The country was very desolate and devoid of inhabitants. The little towns were few and far between. These towns are rather interesting. They seem to be mostly walls, for each house is surrounded by a big high brick wall. This country is very unlike that near Madrid. This city is on a great plain, 2,500 feet above sea level, with the Sierra de Guadaramas a few miles to the north. At the border, financial setback No. 2. I tried to get the duty back for my bike. At first they wouldn’t listen to me about it. Next they said the Duanes was not open on Sunday. We argued around for several minutes till somebody got a gentleman out of the train who lived in South Africa and could speak English. Then we could get more understanding. They finally said I only had a receipt for money paid and not an order to pay back the duty. The only thing to do was to go on and see the American Consul at Lisbon. No. 3 came in now. As I was the only 3rd passenger left, they dropped that car. Maybe they do it anyway. The result was that I had to finish 2nd class and the difference I had to pay was about $1.50. I was sure fed up by this time! I decided right then and there to wage war on everything.

Got to Portugal about 3:30PM. After leaving the border we came to the Tago River in an hour or so. From here on the character of the country changed, being hilly but fertile. Many olive trees and a number of picturesque villages on the river bank, the white houses and walls in sharp contrast to the green hills. Near Lisbon it began to get foggy.

I got off to a good start by getting a decent room in a nice hotel for 60ยข. It is an inside one, but the ventilation is good and I can sacrifice a little to save. Went back to the station to try to get my bike before Monday when the Customs opened, but it didn’t work. As I had only slept 3 nights of the last 7, I turned in early. In Madrid, and especially here in Lisbon, I was unfortunate enough to wear my knickers. Nothing like attracting attention. I told the American Vice-Consul about it and he had a big laugh. Seems as though here they go in for dark colors, mostly black; lots of black capes, etc. When I came parading down the Rua with my nice light knickers on and fancy socks, they all thought I was crazy and didn’t conceal the fact. Guess most of them never saw any such things before anyway. It was funny for a while but then got to be a pain. They would stop to watch me pass. If walking in front, would slow up to walk behind me. If a group were talking on a corner, they would all turn around and look at me like I was nuts. Lots would smile and some laugh. Gosh, what dumb people over here! $2.39.

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