Of the thirty or so diners in our restaurant of choice Sunday evening, I think there were only two not speaking Portuguese. This was definitely a local ‘family’ spot and most certainly our kind of travel eatery.
Ordering was accomplished with lots of gesturing and pointing and not too many words The result was a delightful grilled cod drizzled with olive oil for two, accompanied by a mix onions, fingerling potatoes, broccoli and a chilled carafe of vinho verde, a young local wine with just a hint of bubbles.
This completed another fine day in Lisbon, including a quick trip to cemetery, a trolley ride to St. George castle and a stroll around the Ribeira district (Laurel snagged some river bank sand for her collection).
Tomorrow we pick up the car and head just west of Lisbon to Sintra.
Portuguese will tell you there are 365 ways to fix cod; one for each day of the year. Tonight, we sampled one of them.
I’ll admit it. We’re (at least I’m) getting old and concerns re my ability to handle the rigors of long distance travel do arise. On Wednesday, we were on deck at 6:45 AM local time, arriving at our hotel in Porto, PT, around 5:30 PM on Thursday. That works out to roughly 26 hours in transit with three flights, a metro ride and a couple of hours on a train. After hotel check-in, though, it was a pleasant surprise that the idea of a sit-down with a glass of wine in a nearby street café sounded wonderful.
It turned into a couple of wines, a couple of beers, a little food and bed by 10:00. Nothing like hay hitting on a local schedule to help kill the jetlag blahs.
Anyway, Porto is gorgeous—terracotta-roofed buildings climbing the hills on either side of the Douro River, cobblestone streets, churches, towers and, as one would expect, a lot of Port wine. Our first full day in country was spent in 100 percent tourist mode, with tickets for the “hop on, hop off” providing quick transport to a large portion of the north bank.
The port wine cellars seem to be on everyone’s “must see” list in Porto, but we skipped them. Compensating for this shortcoming, we have been drinking our share of this luscious fortified wine.
Porto is where the Douro River reaches the Atlantic and the beaches along area are busy with locals catching rays and cooling off. The surf today was probably running 3-4 feet, but judging by warning signs, sea walls and piers, I suspect the waves get a LOT bigger. When someone says “beach,” I’m inclined to think Kamaole, Waimanalo or Sandy’s. Here on the Atlantic, water temperature’s probably in the upper 60’s and instead of that fine, white sand you find more of a gravely mixture. Still, it’s a beach.
Enough blah, blah… Today, Friday, we’re back on a train to Lisbon for a couple of days.
I’ve moved the Pau Already blog to a new Microsoft Azure server. Let me know if you encounter any issues.
— Update 24 August, 2014
I think all the tech stuff should be wrapped up. paualready.com or www.pau… should work, The domain name you see in the browser and in content links should also show he public domain name.
Laurel builds wonderful travel books that really help to make our trekking smooth and easy.
In what may be a bit of hyper-preparation, I hit the local Triple-A yesterday and acquired an International Driving Permit. Many travel books tell you these are a must for international motoring, but over a span of many years and dozens of international rentals I’ve never been asked for one. I drove close to a thousand kilometers in Croatia in 2012; got nabbed in speed trap and was never asked for an IDP. The speed gun toting Croat cops, while kindly asking for 700 Kuna, never requested anything other than my DL.
On the other hand, we’ve got four car rentals covering about half of the travel days booked for this trip, so I guess it’s best to grease this skid. I must be getting old.
At 56 days to departure, Euro 2014 is starting to take shape. With the exception of the train between Lisbon and Porto and the bus from Faro in Portugal to Seville, ES, all the transport reservations are done. There’s lots of driving in this year’s plan including Lisbon to Faro, Seville to Gibraltar via Cordoba and Granada, Madrid to Barcelona via Spanish and French Basque country and Tangier to Marrakech via Chefchaouen, Fez and Casablanca.
No doubt about it, Morocco is pushing our comfort zone a bit, but I’m really looking forward to it. The town of Chefchaouen, located in the Rif Mountains in the northern part of the country is known for a couple of the things. One is it’s blue-washed walls and buildings the other is it’s prodigious supply of hashish. It should be interesting.
The planning for Euro 2014 got started a bit later than usual, but we’re also beginning the trip a bit later (end of August). Anyway, this year we’re headed south: Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar, French Basque country, Andorra, Morocco and a pau hana wrap-up in Paris. OK, so Morocco isn’t Europe. I use the “Euro” term loosely.
In a nutshell: 35 days, 5 countries plus a British Overseas Territory (Gibraltar), only 3 currencies, lots of driving and no 2-masted schooners—we’ll miss De Gallant. I won’t miss applying for Russian visas.
One cool thing for the aviation geek in me; we’re coming back on an A380. Not as cool as a Dreamliner and not a particularly innovative aircraft, but a VERY large aircraft. I think I’m gonna go check out row 91.
I hate giving Suckerberg the rights to all my pix, so I’m going to try and keep the Pau Already blog somewhat current this year. We’ll see.