21.04.2013 - 21.04.2013
I arrived at the train station in Falun shortly after 9 am. The train hadn’t arrived yet, so I had a few minutes over for some philosophizing. The sun was shining and did warm up a little even though the temperature was modest - 4° Centigrade. It is now you start second guess yourself. “Did I remember the passport? The tickets?” After checking my bag like three times the train finally came in at the station. Well onboard I surprisingly discovered my pre-booked seat was an aisle-seat and not a window seat which I had booked. Hmm… shame on you SJ! I had paid for that! And while I’m still talking about SJ… my ticket said this was a fast train. What does that mean, exactly? Looking closer in the train schedule this “fast train” took just as many hours as a regular intercity train at the same distance Falun C to Arlanda C. Misleading marketing?!? Seems like it!
So even though it was a fast train (SJ3000) it took just as long as an inter city train to get to Arlanda.
Even though I arrived hours before my flight departed I placed myself in line to the check-in. I could easily stand for a while since I soon had to be sitting on the flight for several hours. Quickly I realized I was lucky to get in line early because the line went up to 40 meters long pretty fast. I felt pretty lost in line surrounded by middle aged people and their golf bags. I bet they were pretty curious why I didn’t have a golf bag too. I checked in my baggage, passed security check and felt it was time for some lunch. The food offering was limited and still they wanted 159 SEK but it was one of the greatest fried pieced potatoes I’ve ever eaten Time went by pretty fast and soon I boarded the flight. Delayed with a few minutes the flight took off for a total of 4 hour and 25 minutes long flight. I plugged my ears trying to listen to my mp3-player and tried to get some rest when I suddenly heard all this noise… what now? Oh right! Meals were included! I had forgotten that. Since I already had eaten at Arlanda I wasn’t really hungry but I ate some of it. I was impressed that they used real silverware forks and knifes and not those in plastic… it’s the small details that makes the difference! And the lavatory onboard was one on the cleanest lavatories I have ever used, no sanitary inconvenience at all! A big plus to TAP – the flight company!
During the very last hour of the flight I was sick and tired of flying that I almost died but eventually I arrived at Lisbon Portela Airport. I got off the plane as fast as I could and hurried up to pick up my baggage. The cab driver and my Norwegian friend were already waiting for me at the Official Meeting Point. Oscar, the cab driver, didn’t speak much of English. He spoke French better though and lucky me that my Norwegian friend (who lived in France for a while) spoke French and could act translator. So we started on our 40 minute drive to Quinta do Archino where we would stay for the entire week.
Quinta do Archino overlooks the city Ota in Alenquer and has been passed on for generations in over 300 years. The manor is beautifully situated in a calm and unspoiled countryside of cork oaks, eucalyptus and Pine trees surrounded by quiet watercourses lined with bamboo. For over 30 years D. Francisco de Bragança has been breeding and educating Lusitano horses and did practice classic dressage for the master Nuno Oliveira. Since 2003 Francisco has received riders back home at his manor Quinta do Archino and teaching classic dressage for the experienced and the un-experienced rider.
We arrived at the manor by 7.30 pm and got a warm welcoming by Maria (Francisco’s wife) and their female cook. They showed us the guesthouse where all the guests stays and later walked towards the stable. We found out that the other four guests had already arrived and that they were also from Sweden. A nice surprise! The stable aisle was covered by a plastic rug and was well cleansed. We saw this small man, Fernando, the stable keeper and groomer. The stallions (and a few geldings) stood in their loose-boxes along the aisle and ate their hay. Each loose-box had its own window so they could overlook the nature outside. We walked into the tack room and Francisco spoke warm-hearted about the Portuguese saddle and how easily you would learn the correct seat by using it. Maybe we were able try it out during the week?
We got out in the stable aisle again and Francisco introduced the horses one by one and told us about their strengths and weaknesses. He finished the tour by saying it’s so important for us to believe in ourselves and have an open mind. Suddenly Francisco asked us if we believed he was fully skilled. I thought immediately “Of course not”. He then explained learning is like a pyramid that gets narrower and narrower but never really ends… because nobody is totally skilled! Not even him. All six riders got back to the guesthouse and we waited for dinner that was served at 8.30 pm. During dinner we all riders got to know each other more and it felt like we would get along great during this week A three-dish course and a locally produced wine were served by the cook. My friend and I went to bed at 10.30 pm.