Today, is the day when disaster strikes. After waking up early at 3am and going to the airport at 4am, we found that our 6.30am flight with Tap Air Portugal to Lisbon has been cancelled. There was no prior notice via email and none of the airport check in counter is open for us to ask any questions. Panicked and stressed, we looked for alternative transport to get to Lisbon, trying to avoid being stuck in Seville again for the night and missing our hotel reservation in Sintra.
Unfortunately, train is not really an option given the complicated route, leaving us only public bus as the viable solution. We were still on the airport trying to buy Alsa – said to be the best provider for this route – bus ticket online only to found out later that we could only buy it on a machine in the bus station. Luckily there was a taxi just dropping off its passengers outside the airport, and we took it to go to Seville’s Plaza de Armas bus station. There, we bought the ticket to Lisbon’s Sete Rios station on a self-serving ticket machine for €55/person – much cheaper than our €185/person flight but took 6.5 hours instead of 45 minutes.
It was not even 5am yet when we got our ticket, and the bus will only depart at 8.30am, meaning that we have to spend 3.5 hours waiting. Nothing was opened yet at that time inside the Plaza de Armas bus station, and there were few sketchy people outside that made me feel uncomfortable with the prospect of waiting there with my girlfriend – probably the only tourists around. Hence, I decided to take an Uber back to our hotel and waited on the lobby until 8am. My girlfriend fell asleep on my lap while I read my Kindle to fill the time. Thank you to the nice receptionist at Hotel America Sevilla! We took advantage of the long sofa in the lobby and bought two bottles of water from the bar.
When we got back to the bus station at 8am, pretty much everything was already opened, including a small café where I bought some breads for our breakfast on the bus. Throughout the journey to Lisbon, all I thought was how lucky we were to be able to buy the few remaining seats on that bus and managed to arrive on the same day despite all the chaos from the flight cancellation. After reading the news related to Tap Air Portugal, we found out that the airline is close to bankruptcy and owed billions of euros to customers for refunds. Never again will I ever purchase a flight ticket from this company! Consider this as a warning. Two out of three flights from Seville to Lisbon on that day (July 2nd) was cancelled, and the other one got delayed.
*Upon returning to Montreal, two weeks later we requested for a refund to the Montreal office via phone call and learned that most of the passengers of that flight was rerouted for the next day flight to Madrid, then Lisbon. We have never received any information related to the flight cancellation nor the flight replacement until today. We were also told that we will get our refund in 1-2 months. One to two months! Can you believe that?
We stopped at four other bus terminals on our way and had a 30-minute lunch break at a gas station, which surprisingly served decent meals. The waiting to order and pay took roughly 15 minutes, shortening our time to enjoy our fish gratin and vegetables.
The bus arrived at 3pm sharp at Lisbon’s Sete Rios station, and we proceeded by walking to a cafe nearby (with our luggage) to rearrange our (ruined) itinerary. Initially we were planning to go with a bus to Sintra Castle that is located at the top of the mountain before heading to our hotel on the beachfront, but given the time and energy constraints, we went straight to Arribas Sintra Hotel with Uber, costing us only €27 for a 40-minute plus ride from the city.
Our hotel is located directly in front of the ocean, with a large swimming pool on the ground level facing the sea. After checking in we went directly to the café’s terrace located at the second floor to enjoy the scenery, before taking a slow walk on the beach. There was not plenty of people on the beach as it seems that there were no other large hotels nearby, and only few locals visited that day.
We were quite hungry after our walk, so we went straight to the hotel’s restaurant for dinner. Both the service and food were excellent, and the whole experience is even better given the sunset ambience seen through the window next to us. After the meal, we watched the sunset on a large terrace built directly on top of the ocean – with waves crashing to the wall below us.
It was a tiring day, and we were lucky that we managed to arrive at Sintra on the same day despite the flight cancelation. When we got back to our room, my girlfriend showered and went straight to sleep while I sat for a bit more time on our room’s balcony to watch the sky turned dark over the water and listened to music. La vita bella.