Joined June 2018 Message
  • Day17

    One more time with feeling...Portugal

    July 5, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Maria’s dad taught her to be ridiculously cheap. Drive for gas that’s 10 cents cheaper. Never use more postage than absolutely necessary (actually, that’s her mom.) Portugal has the weirdest toll system around. In much of the country there is the normal toll booth and one can manually pay a toll, but on certain roads one can only pay electronically. It’s very confusing to figure out which roads have which system. You have to either enter Portugal at one of four designated entry sites or you have to set it up online. It took an entire morning to set up it seemed...Maria calculated the needed toll, paid it, and then drove on different roads🤦‍♀️.

    The short story is...I had 7 dollars of prepaid toll burning a hole in my pocket...so we went back to Portugal! This time to Vila do Conde...a lovely seaside town known for ship building during Portugal’s Age of Discovery and one of the earliest known settlements in Portugal. It has a river that runs into the sea, some lovely beaches, and it’s not known well outside Portugal.

    Again, we didn’t get a super early start. Luckily Portugal is an hour behind Spain, but even with that, we barely made lunch before it closed😂 A walk around the center square, a visit to a tiled chapel, and a drink on the beach, followed by a stroll, completed our day.

    Tomorrow: Great plans to wake before 10😂 and travel to the Beach of the Cathedrals! It’s already 2:30am, so Maria needs to get off to bed!
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  • Day15

    Porto

    July 3, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Last year the Gairs crashed a lovely wedding with Alice in Porto, Portugal. We had a tour, tasting and dinner at Graham’s Port Lodge in Gaia. We drove up through Portugal Sunday and Maria thought we could stop on the way. Luckily, She changed plans and decided to make a day trip instead. First, we were too late on Sunday...and secondly, the “parking garage incident” would have been even more tragic. Melinda is already having nightmares about that night. Imagine if we had been hours later...shudder.

    We are staying about an hour and a half north of Porto. Graham’s let us park the car at the lodge before our tour and dinner reservations, so once we found the place, we left the car and caught a bus into town.

    Maria wanted to show Melinda the train station. Melinda was all, “what?!?!” But then Melinda saw the entire interior covered in painted tile. She understood. The São Benito train station is a masterpiece. We then headed to the Majestic Café (Art Deco from the 20’s) for a snack, saw a pretty church, and wandered a bit before heading back with the bus to Graham’s.

    Graham’s was how I remembered...a great tour, fantastic tawny ports, and we stayed for a four hour dinner at the Restaurant. Ah, Porto...you are a lovely city. We are now trying to figure out how to fit that bottle of Port (pictured with Maria) into our suitcase. I mean...Maria read that each adult can carry one bottle home!

    Next up...some wine and a Celtic ruin.
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  • Day13

    Evora

    July 1, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Last year the Gairs and Alice tried to visit as many UNESCO sites in Portugal as possible, and we missed Evora. The Heiners visited its Spanish counterpart, Mérida, and were amazed. Maria and Melinda decided to detour quickly into Portugal for a few days to visit Evora. The city and the streets are picturesque, from Roman times, and TINY! On the way in Maria had to turn around in a parking lot the size of a Costco pizza (and on a slope, of course), and on the way out, a Portuguese man randomly crossing in front of Maria had stop to guide her out. The street was ok, until one tiny little keyhole no wider than the car. Forget the Bible parable about the camel and the needle...try threading an Audi through a Portuguese street!

    Evora is enchanting. It has whitewashed houses. Roman temples. Churches with towers. A chapel made of bones (*highlight!*). An aqueduct. And just out of town...some ancient standing stones. We took the map, walked the town, and checked off the list...ending the day with an amazing meal for which we were squeezed into the restaurant at the end of the evening.

    Maria’s mom would be so jealous that the bougainvilleas grow like weeds there and the town is decorated with purple, flowering trees. Obrigada, Evora. We must return soon.
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