The Flying Hoppers’ 40th TOUR: Lisbon 2018 (‘Intensamente Lisboa’)

Published: Sunday, 27 May 2018 Written by Walter 'WASABI' Marthaler

For many Flying Hoppers going on yet another tour is really a ‘must do’ matter. It is then and there one meets up with good friends and can update each other on what has happened in the meantime.

Since most of the Flying Hoppers are based in Switzerland, it is logical that the majority of our tours have taken place within Europe. And even within Europe it is always great to discover and explore a new destination.

Having taken part in the first tour in 1996, I am quite certain that most participants then would never have dared imagine that 22 years later the Flying Hoppers would be setting off on their 40th tour!

And this latest tour was taking us participants for the 17th time to a European destination, namely the capital of Portugal, Lisbon.

But before sharing my personal impressions of this Lisbon tour, I thought it might be interesting to list where all these 40 tours have led this bunch of hockey mates – it might trigger some happy memories?! Please find this unique table here. Lissabon 2018 - Country list

Thursday, 12th April  -  First Day on Tour

Swiss Airlines flew me bright and early into Kloten on that Thursday, and I made my way to Horgen in a hurry to have coffee with Stefan. The two of us then returned to Zurich Airport to meet up with all the fellow Hoppers on this first tour in 2018.

A surprisingly large number of Hoppers were assembling, 36 in all, probably the largest number ever going on tour, with the exception of that record breaking tour to St.Petersburg. Our flight to Lisbon got slightly delayed, but nothing could spoil the good mood. The very nice programme planned by Stefan for our first half day in Lisbon got under way as we arrived, executed to perfection, very ably assisted by transport chief Patrick Huber.

Our sightseeing tours around different areas of Lisbon by bus and then especially also by tram through the old part of the town were very interesting indeed.

Finally another bus ride took us to the Jupiter Hotel. There was just time to check in, freshen up, change, then go out for dinner. Food and beverage manager Fedor had carefully selected  the ‘CLUBE DE JORNALISTAS’ restaurant which, in my view, proved a great success. Not only was the food very tasty, but a significant number of bottles of red and/or white wine were consumed – Portuguese wines of course. This was a fantastic opening evening attended and enjoyed by all participants. Many thanks to Fedor for organising it.

Friday, 13th April – Second Day on Tour

Even though the weather forecast had been a touch dire (rain, mainly, and quite cold) luckily only the quite cold part became reality, and just a very few raindrops fell that day.

The morning was used by many for lying-in, but at 11.45 it was time for the majority of the participants to assemble in front of the Jupiter Hotel for a most interesting


I was surprised to find I was not the only one who had no prior experience of riding an e-bike. A very short and precise on the spot instruction course delivered by three young Portuguese guides made matters clear, and we were fairly quickly ready to go… One of these three guides spoke absolutely fluent German and was leading this tour, which was indeed special. I shall certainly remember it fondly. Riding an e-bike is just like riding an ordinary bike, except that it uses a lot less effort. One kind of ‘glides along’ and can enjoy the surroundings and views much more. Our guides stopped at especially interesting spots and gave us nice commentaries and explanations. At one of the stops at the bottom of the old town we even left our

e-bikes behind and due to the really narrow paths proceeded on foot, walking up to yet another brilliant viewing point. On the way back down through another narrow alleyway our guides even treated us to some typical Portuguese sweets. Some of the Hoppers also discovered some special Portuguese liquor nearby!

Our three exceptionally nice guides ensured we all made it safely through the traffic.

Britta mentioned that her bike had had some slight mechanical trouble, and she had simply waited for one of the guides to come to the rescue. Irena mentioned to Willy that the guide referred to as a ‘Circus Clown’ by the German speaker was in fact very good looking. Willy did not seem to be very impressed…?

My personal observation when comparing this e-bike tour with the one we did in Vancouver on regular bikes: As one has to put in much less effort to move the bike, one has much more time to take in the sights in a sort of ‘inter-active’ way. Hence I’d like to suggest that in future city tours should be by e-bike, this being a really great way to explore and do sighseeing. A heartfelt THANKS to Stefan for making this first e-bike outing happen!

The e-bike tour having taken up more time than originally planned, we all had to hurry up a bit to get ready to board the bus which would take us to the hockey ground near the National Stadium (Cruz Quebrada/Jamor).

There, the first hockey game on this tour against the ‘LISBON CASUAL’ team was being played under a fully sunny sky. The Lisbon Casual side put up a lot of resistance against the Flying Hoppers’ onslaught, but eventually the goals came about, and in the end the result looked rather more one-sided than the game itself had been,

i.e. a win of  8 : 0 was recorded.

The hosts were predominantly ex-pats, mainly Brits, but some Dutch and German players, too, and a sprinkling of Portuguese. They treated us to some snacks and drinks in their very pleasant club house.

Around 10 p.m. we boarded our bus which was taking us back to our hotel. Pat was of the view that the driver did not take the best route back – but we anyhow arrived safe and sound.

Feeling quite peckish still, a group of us, Britta, Lene, Bruno, Patrick and I, took cabs to go to a nice TAPAS restaurant which had been recommended to Britta by a friend at the club house. The TAPAS 47 (Rua do Alecrim, 47 Cais do Soudre) indeed proved a great place for a late dinner with more than enough Syrah wine… We enjoyed chatting across a very wide range of topics (including ‘Buebe-Treffe’ and ‘Spirit’etc.), and I would say we all enjoyed our time together greatly. A most pleasant second day of the tour finally came to an end in the early hours of the next day!

Saturday, 14th April  -  Third Day on Tour

A beautifully sunny day!

But having got to bed very late, many of the Hoppers needed their rest in the morning, yet of course also enjoyed the excellent breakfast buffet at the Jupiter Hotel.

Early in the afternoon our reliable bus driver once again drove us to the hockey ground and we prepared for the second game, this time against Belenenses. Their team consisted mostly of Portuguese players, with a few ex-pats added.

Very ably coached again by the ‘dream coaching team’ of Martin and Retus, our many players tried their best to put the received instructions into action during play. Once again we were successful and won that second game 6 : 0, with some fantastic goals scored by Silvina.

The Flying Hoppers’ young stars, Fabian and Joel, on top of receiving FH caps did themselves really proud on the field. Well done, Silvina, Fabian and Joel! Our team effort was great, and each and everyone contributed nicely to that.

Once again we enjoyed the really pleasant atmosphere at the club house afterwards, with quite a few drinks and with nice gifts handed to us by Belenenses, among them a special tile created by an expat lady member. Certainly, this tile will feature in the picture gallery of this tour and can be viewed there.

It is always a great pleasure to chat with other hockey players about commonly known hockey events or teams; in this instance the talk drifted towards Jakarta and ISCI…!

But eventually, after some more beer from the green watering can, we had to say good-bye to our very accommodating hosts.

Back in the hotel lobby captain Toni gave a short speech, thanking the following trio:

first and foremost a BIG thank-you to Stefan for having once again prepared all the details for this fantastic trip to Lisbon. Thereafter Toni handed gifts to both coaches for having done such an outstanding job in getting the team up to speed. Very well deserved praise for all three of them.

Then it was time again to get ready for a nice dinner in town, and different groups went to different restaurants, but ALL had very good things to report when they met up again at the hotel’s bar around midnight for the famous night cap drinks.

The group I joined for dinner had Benita to thank for her excellent choice of restaurant: IIIMPAR, a ‘turf & surf’ establishment which offers steak or seafood, and in particular a combination thereof. Our group also took full advantage of the massive wine list, starting off with white wines, then trying a number of different red wines which showed us that Portugal indeed produces a wide variety of wines with different characteristics.

Having visited the ‘Wines of Portugal Tasting Room’ in the centre of Lisbon

(Sala Ogival, Terreiro do Paco), and having bought a 93 page booklet there entitled

‘Wines of Portugal – a World of Difference’, I’d like to quote briefly from this excellent reading material.Lissabon 2018 - Wine Region





 Isn’t that interesting?

But back to IIIMPAR and the food on offer. I believe we were all very satisfied with our chosen meals, and certainly had interesting chats, hence enjoyed an overall perfect experience.

As some were hankering after the ‘Schlumi drink’ Lene suggested, i.e. a night cap or one for the road, Bruno mentioned that the Lisbon bars area was just a short walk away. However, this turned out to be a rather extended walk, and we did not really hit upon a suitable drinking place, so we finally jumped into taxis and headed back to the Jupiter Hotel. Seemingly quite a few of our other diners groups had experienced the same difficulty, thus very many Hoppers gathered at the hotel’s bar by midnight and beyond. Quite a few of us opted for G&T, and Bruno was very kind indeed to treat us to these – thanks, Bruno!

The following morning some of us did indeed have mild hangovers, but the main activity on that day was getting ready to leave for the airport towards noon. A last minute collecting of ties took place in the hotel’s lobby to help Grace Tam with her ‘Tie-Journey’ project. Grace promised that she will also create one special collage for ‘The Flying Hoppers’.

And then for the bulk of the group it was off to Lisbon’s airport. And as it occasionally happens, a fairly short trip can become an extended journey!


It was a brief but interesting exercise for me to check who among the participants of this 40th tour had already formed part of the very first Flying Hoppers Tour in 1996.

If my ‘research’ is correct, the following eight qualify, with the lady listed first, and the men in first name alphabetical order:

  • Simone Amman
  • Guido Steiner
  • Martin Graf
  • Reinhard Fischer
  • Rene Schmidli
  • Retus Gieriet
  • Stefan Leuenberger
  • Walter Marthaler

Besides these eight it seems to me there are at least five other participants of this first tour who still join us quite often, but were not part of the Lisbon tour, namely:

  • Carlos Andermatt
  • Markus Ruckstuhl
  • Max Simmen
  • Patrick Stutz
  • Sacha Overhoff

Given the distance from Sydney to Lisbon, Sacha Overhoff of course had an excellent reason for being absent. And Ruckli was at the time of the Lisbon Tour still very, very busy writing the finishing touches to a great German version on the Flying Hoppers’ Auckland Tour experience, which had taken place sometime last year…

Many thanks in advance, Ruckli, for sending that report to Stefan soonest.