A Travellerspoint blog

And That’s All Folks

Homeward bound

sunny 22 °C

We fly to London tomorrow and home the next day. So this will be my last blog entry for this trip, unless something spectacular happens.

I feel so fortunate that we have had the opportunity and means to spend this year travelling (although the means are far less than they were when we started). Over the last 330 days we have been away from home for 198 days travelling. We have been to 3 continents, 13 countries and 56 cities, most of which while living out of a backpack.

I am so thankful to Bill for his countless hours planning and scouring the internet for hotels, flights, apartments etc. For driving in unfamiliar countries and cities. For not throwing me off a castle or pushing me off a cliff. I have had an amazing time travelling with him and I can’t wait for our next adventure. But for now it is time to go home and see my kids and family, my cat, our friends, sleep in my own bed and eat my own food.

Here is a summary of our adventures. Thanks for reading my blog. I appreciated your comments and questions. Until next time..

In the fall we visited the following:
Scotland: Glasgow, Fort William, Orkney Islands, Inverness, Aberdeen, Londniddry, North Berwick, Edinburgh
France: Montegnac, Pezenas, Carcassone, Nime
Spain: Barcelona
Austria: Vienna
Croatia: Zagreb, Plitvice National Park
Italy: Venice and Rome

In November we went to Cuba for 2 weeks.

In December and January we travelled to the following:
Mexico: Mexico City
Panama: Panama City, Sabonitas, Maria Chiquita, David & Bouquete
Costa Rica: Liberia, Tronadora, Monteverde
United States: Phoenix

This spring we have been on “the road” for 82 days. We have taken 6 flights, 3 car rentals, 3 ferries, countless busses and trains. We have been to 3 countries and 30 cities.
England: Salisbury, Cardiff, Conwy, London
Italy: Volterra, Monterosso, Mercatale , Florence, Sorrento, Pegerola, Maratea, Taormina, Ortigia, Argrigento, Erece ,Monreale , Rossano, Matera, Martano , Albarrobello, Rome
Portugal: Lagos, Lisbon, Tomar , Porto, Viseu , Evora, Portomao, Lisbon, Sao Martinho

Firsts this trip: eating sea urchin and barnacles, making Sicilian pasta from scratch and taking a guided bus tour.

Most memorable: castles of Wales, St. Paul’s cathedral in London, Greek ruins at Paestum, St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, and how amazing Sicily was in every way.

Posted by Basebrown 05:34 Archived in Portugal

Last day of the bus tour

sunny 28 °C
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Today is our last day on the bus tour and we finish back in Lisbon. Before we got to Lisbon we stopped at a tile factory (cottage industry for sure). They only make 30 000 Tile’s a year, all by hand and painted by hand. Quite interesting process and very beautiful result.
We had some time in Lisbon when we got back, so we went to the Gulbankian Museum.
Calouste Gulbenkian (23 March 1869 – 20 July 1955) was a businessman and philanthropist of British nationality and Armenian origin. He played a major role in making the petroleum reserves of the Middle East available to Western development and is credited with being the first person to exploit Iraqi oil. Gulbenkian travelled extensively and lived in a number of cities including Constantinople, London, Paris, and Lisbon. Throughout his life, Gulbenkian was involved with many philanthropic activities including the establishment of schools, hospitals, and churches. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, a private foundation based in Portugal, was started at his bequest in 1956 and continues to promote arts, charity, education, and science throughout the world. It is now among the largest foundations in Europe. By the end of his life he had become one of the world's wealthiest individuals and his art acquisitions one of the greatest.
At first we made the error of going into the modern art building. I say error, as modern art is not my thing. We wandered around and soon asked one of the employees where or if there was more. Yup sure is, in an entirely different building on the other side of the most beautiful garden/park. Once we got into the collection we were rewarded with a most impressive collection of treasures ranging from Egyptian artifacts, Ming dynasty vases, Turkish carpets, Louis the 14th furniture, sculptures and paintings. We saw works by: Degas, Monet, Renoir, Rembrandt, Rodin to name a few. My favourite was John Singer Sargent’s painting called, “Two Women Asleep in a Punt Under The Willows”. 67AE3808-4401-426B-AF54-B1CC44C3C07D.jpeg
We walked to and from the museum, and was by far the most walking we have dome for days 10 km. My body was in shock! We had supper with the group in the restaurant on the 8th floor, which has a panoramic view of the city. We said goodbye to most of the people and headed out onto the streets of Lisbon. It is Saturday night and there is a festival happening. We managed to find a vendor selling sangria, what luck. We wandered around for a bit with our sangria and then headed back to the hotel.

Posted by Basebrown 03:58 Archived in Portugal

A day at the Beach

sunny 33 °C
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June 15
Today we opted out of bus tour activities, as they were all places where we had spent the week before the tour began. So we spent the day at the beach here In Portomao. It was a great day. We rented a shaded are with 2 chairs and wifi? We hung out at the beach until about 4:30. When we arrived the tide was out, and you had to walk along way to dip your toes into the cold Atlantic. When we left the tide was in, and it is amazing how much it changes.
We walked back to the same beach restaurant for supper, as we had talked to,our waiter the night before to see about getting some percebes (barnacles). He said he would order some in? Damned if he didn’t. We had to get schooled on how to get at the part you actually eat. They were good. Everyone else in the restaurant was watching with many looks of disgust and horror on their faces, that was fun. Actually when we were here 6 years ago we did the same thing, only we were the ones with the looks on our faces watching a young British couple eating percebes.
Itwas a good day. Back on the bus tomorrow for our last bus ride. We head back to Lisbon, supper with “the gang” and then we are on our own. I will have to schlepp my own bag to and from my room now. We will have to get ourselves from place to place. We will have to organize our own damn breakfast. Hummm maybe the bus tour wasn’t so bad? Actually I have enjoyed it, but I am not sure I am in a hurry to do another.

Posted by Basebrown 23:55 Archived in Portugal

Evora and Portomao

sunny 30 °C
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June 13
We left Viseu today and started our long travel day. After about 2 hours of driving we stopped at Belmonte, a small town inland, which once had a huge Jewish population. Here we visited the Jewish museum and had an oil ice oil tasting. Good olive oil, but my suitcase is already full of oil from Italy. Not a particularly noteworthy stop.
Another 1 1/2 hours and we stopped at Castelo de Vide. This was our lunch stop. There is a castle up on the hill, so we walked up to have a look. Again not much to see, but the views were spectacular. We had a bowl of soup and then back on the bus.
Another 1 1/2 hours and we arrived at a Cork factory where we had a bit of a tour and the process was explained to us. Very interesting process. Cork trees are a variety of oak. Every 9 years they can harvest the bark off the main trunk. To harvest the cork is very specialized and the men that do this are paid €100 to €120 an hour. If it is. It done properly it can kill the tree. Once harvested the cork is picked up and taken to the factory where it is piled up to dry for 3 months. After 3 months it is taken inside and boiled for 1 hour, which allows the cork to become pliable. Then it is stacked again, and flattens out. They boil it a third time and then it is graded from best to worst. The best is used for making corks for wine bottles. The worst gets made into all sorts of products. Often it is chopped into small pieces and mixes with various glues and pressed. They even slice it very fine and glue it to fabric and make clothes, shoes, purses etc. The neatest thing we saw was an umbrella and a lunch box.
Back on the bus and into Evora about 10 min away. Our hotel is an old convent, that has been turned into a hotel. Evora is a completely walled city. There is an a 17 km aqueduct here that was built on the ruins of a Roman aqueduct, right outside of our hotel. We went for a bit of a walk and then had supper with the group at the hotel.

June 14
After breakfast we had a guided tour of Evora. This is a nice place. Nice squares and buildings, even some Roman ruins and Roman baths. The most interesting was a church called the Church of the Bones. Yup, it is a chapel completely made up of human bones. Kinda creepy.
Back on the bus for the 3 hour ride down to Portomao, in the Algarve region. This is the very southern part of Portugal. Bill and I spent 6-days in the neighboring town called Lagos. There is about a 15 degree difference in temperature from when we were here a week ago to now. It is hot and we have found the sun. We went for a walk down to the beach and had supper and a cocktail at a beach restaurant. We had cataplana, which is a speciality of southern Portugal. It is a dish of vegetables, potatoes and seafood all cooked in a copper or metal bowl with a lid. It was excellent. We sat our our little balcony for a while and just took in the beautiful evening.

Posted by Basebrown 03:15 Archived in Portugal

Porto and the Douro Valley

semi-overcast 18 °C
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June 11
Today we took a tour of the Chamber of Commerce building of Porto. This was originally the stock exchange building and doubled as a palace for dignitaries. Lots of carved wood and plaster beautiful actually. They had plaster work that they have made to look like wood with faux wood grain. Then we got to the last room which was called the Arabian room. It was very ornate, hard to put in words.
We then went next door to the Church of São Francisco.
After the church visit we got on the bus for a “panoramic tour” of the city, which is a fancy way of saying that they are driving us to the other side of the river.
Here we had a tour of the port house, Ferreira, followed by a tasting of port. I am in heaven. I love port and this puts me in my happy place, also with a nice buzz. Everyone loaded back on the bus to go back to the hotel. Bill and I and a few others decided to stay on the south side of the Douro, where the port houses are and walk back to the hotel later. We toured a few port houses, did a few tasting, had a bit of lunch and walked back to the hotel for a nap. (Might have been a port induced nap). After our nap we went out and walked around the city a bit, before going for Portuguese tapas called, patiscos. Off to bed, early day tomorrow. Argh.
June 12
After breakfast we got on the bus for a 45min drive to Guimaraes. We stopped here for a break, and a walk through town. Beautiful garden in front of the church.
Back on the bus to Aveleda, where we visited a winery and had a tasting and some snacks. 900 acres of vineyards, and 25 acres of garden. We had a tour of the gardens and it was beautiful.
Back on the bus for a longer ride, but right through the Duoro Valley. Acres, and acres of grapes growing on terraced hills. We finally arrived at Viseu, where we are overnighting. Nothing too amazing here, but we are staying in a hotel called a Pousada. A Pousada is a historical building, that has been converted into accommodations. This Pousada was a hospital in the 1800’s. Supper with the group at a local restaurant, traditional Portuguese fare: 2 types of sausage, bread, olives, and chicken gizzards for starters. The gizzards were very tender and tasty.
The kale and potatoes soup was very good. The main course was slow cooked beef, roasted potatoes, rice and creamed spinach. All very good.

Posted by Basebrown 04:01 Archived in Portugal

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