Wednesday, May 22, 2019

THE COLORS AND PATTERNS OF PORTUGAL

One of the first things you are sure to notice upon your arrival in Portugal is the Calçada Portuguesa -- the black and white limestone mosaics covering the sidewalks and plazas. Each one unique, yet unifying.




Beautiful, but dangerous. For one thing, they can be very slippery when wet, and we had more than a few drizzly days. Also, there are so very many of these in Portugal that they just can't keep up with the repairs, and you are liable to twist an ankle stepping into a hole, if you don't pay attention. How women manage to traverse these in stilettos, I will never know.

Then there is all the beautiful tile work gracing many of their buildings, much of it dating back to the times when Portugal was occupied by the Moors.

Pieces Found For Sale At The Thieves Market




My very favorite colors and patterns, however, were found in the bits and pieces of Art Nouveau architecture that were sprinkled about.







All in all, a most beautiful country!

Monday, May 20, 2019

GUESS WHO?

Guess who turns three years old today? This cool dude, that's who!

Our baby just isn't a baby anymore. 
We had quite the celebration here yesterday, with all the cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. He's mighty happy that his cousins from Minnesota finally decided to move and join the rest of us down here in Texas!

Fabulous Cupcakes from Lexi's Good Buddy at Cake Monster in Georgetown
Yippee! They get to assemble something! 


Not sure who had more fun with the Magnatiles -- Calvin,  his cousins, or Auntie Areej!
Doggie Doctor Calvin

What's even harder to believe than this baby being three years old? The fact that, in less that four months, we'll have another little goober's birthday to celebrate!



Friday, May 17, 2019

PLANES, TRAINS, BOATS AND TROLLEYS

There are so many ways to get around in Portugal, and we used them all! The first thing our tour guide did in both Lisbon and Porto was to hand us each a little 3-day card she had purchased for us, that not only allowed us access to all public transportation but also got us discounts or even free entry into many of the local museums and attractions.

We rode trolleys...

The Famous #28 Trolley in Lisbon
trains...

Train Station in Porto

took a river cruise down the Douro river...






and, of course, there was a marvelous underground metro system in both Lisbon and Porto which we utilized every day. Why-oh-why can't we have something like that in Texas? Just think of all the drunk-driving fatalities we could avoid if only we had decent public transportation!

Even their turquoise-topped-taxis were lovely.


Unfortunately, this guy below never came out to offer me a ride, no matter how long I lurked around his bike.

Note The Picnic Basket and Flower
Of course, our  favorite way to get around when we travel is by foot, because that is where all the very best discoveries are made -- like this fabulous tea shop we stumbled upon after we rode the trolley all the way to the end and decided to work our way back to our hotel on foot.




Alas, now we are back at home, where we must depend on our cars for absolutely everything!
 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

IT STARTED OFF WITH A BANG!

Sorry to go so long with no word, but when one gets the chance to go explore a new part of the world, one really shouldn't waste too much of that precious time messing around on social media -- especially when one has a hunch that this may well be one's last such adventure!


So where did we go? Portugal! We headed for the airport mid-day on Wednesday 5/1, but by the time we got to our hotel in Lisbon, it was lunchtime on Thursday. Since we couldn't get into our rooms that early, our Wimberley tour guide had decided we'd drop our bags off and go have the famous Bifana sandwich that Anthony Bourdain made such a big deal about in his Lisbon episode. It got me to wonderin'... about the fact that I don't believe I ever heard Anthony Bourdain say something was actually bad on any of his shows. And if he never said anything was bad, how could you trust him when he said something was good? Case in point -- this was not a bad sandwich, but it was certainly not a great sandwich. It was a piece of pork on a piece of bread, and you could add regular yellow mustard if you wished.

We wandered around until time to check in, then collapsed on our beds until time for our Welcome Dinner at the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Lisbon, Café Martinho da Arcada.



Grouper
Now this food was pretty darn good. But one thing you will notice is that the Portuguese aren't really into spices. Pretty much everything you eat, be it fish or fowl, will have been cooked in olive oil and chopped garlic, and that's about it. Nor did I ever see salt and pepper on the table. I probably could have asked for it, but didn't want to risk insulting anyone.  After dinner John spotted a little kiosk across the road selling Ginjinha, a sour cherry liqueur, and he ran across the street to grab a glass. Why? Because Anthony Bourdain said he had to!


Never saw him drink another one after that.

The next day was supposed to be our easy day. Instead of a grueling walking tour up and down steep cobblestone streets, we got chauffeured around in tuk-tuks - something like a golf cart on steroids, holding six passengers each and sitting much higher off the ground. Easy enough to get in and out of at the beginning and end of your trip, when they provide you with a step stool. Not so easy at the stops along the way, when you have to back out while searching blindly with your foot for the one little toe-hold on the side.




We made it almost to the end of the tour without incident, but then Hubby's camera bag got him tangled up and caused him to trip on the way down from the tuk-tuk and go splat on the sidewalk. So you might say this trip started off with a bang! No biggie, right? Unless you take blood thinners. Then you'd better pray you didn't hit your head, otherwise you might find yourself being life-flighted to the nearest hospital with bleeding in your brain! Been there, done that. Needless to say, I watched him like a hawk the next several days, which my hubby really, really hates! On the plus side, he went splat right in front of a really cool place called Time Out Market, a giant food hall where you can try all kinds of good stuff. We lucked out by nabbing one of the last spots in their Academia, where they serve a meal of the day at lunchtime, and teach classes in the afternoons. It was delicious!



We followed that up with a leisurely walk back to our hotel, some unpacking, a nap, and then dinner at this lovely little tapas bar that we had passed on our way down to the river.



Not a bad start to the adventure, all things considered.