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  • Day21

    PEI to Portugal

    September 24, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Well after the excitement of Sat.Pauli and I thought we'd have a day of rest,but No.Our faithful tour guide Steve had a final destination to take us to The magnificent monastery of Batalha.Nicola wasn't feeling well so she stayed behind. So off we go in Stumpy again.It was actually amazing to see on the hillsides how fast the eucalyptus was growing after the fires. Like a bad weed.It burns way too fast as well,which didn't help in the spring fires.
    Batalha monastery was founded by King Joao in 1386 following a vow he made to the Virgin Mary after the Portugese victory in the Battle of Aljubarratu. It is truly a magnificent structure. Built from solid rock into multiple forms,it made us feel like we were visitors on another planet.The roofless mausoleum holds seven chapels built but not finished in 1437.It is truly a site to see with dramatic views open to the sky above.
    Following our visit there,and after a nice cold beer,we headed out to see Fatima
    Needless to say ,another adventure.
    On our way there we began to meet the occasional motorbike on the freeway.Then more and more bikes were meeting us.Well it turns out in central Portugal every weekend bikers go on a daytrip to a specified site.This Sunday it was Fatima. By the time we entered the city we couldn't move. There were literally thousands of bikers everywhere. Every parking lot,every side street was loud,crazy,littered with bikes.And,bicycles with support vehicles were fighting for road space.We couldn't move. They were passing each other helter skelter all over the place.It was Nuts!!Get me out of here .So we just glimpsed Fatima as we made our escape through side streets and out of the way country roads.Thank heavens Steve knew his way around .Again more drinks when we finally got home.We picked up Fatima souvenirs at a tourist shop in town
    After all these adventures it was time to head home We hugged the doggies goodbye.Steve and Nicola bundled us into Stumpy and off we go to Lisbon airport. With big hugs and promises to return someday we took off for our Canada and our sweet doggie.
    Our friends who came to look after Geisha had gone back to YYC and our Island friends Karen and Scott had taken over doggie duty.
    It was the trip of a lifetime and we cherished every moment with our dear friends and their new friends and family in Pedrogao Grande .Thank you so much Nicola and Steve.We love and miss our buddies.
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  • Day20

    PEI to Portugal

    September 23, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Sat.Sept 23 Steve and Nicola were to arrive home late night from Scotland,so we thought we'd make a hot meal for their return
    Well it was stinking hot and we walked all over the village looking for ingredients for a cajun chicken and sausage stew.No small feat as I'm sure there is no Portugese word for cajun or chorizo sausage.But with dogged determination we carried on. Our bags were full when we finally reached the house and OMG, we were locked out!!! This place is huge with 8-10 foot walls.What the hell.Steve has showed Pauli where the hidden key was in the side entrance but we couldn't reach it.A neighbor was hanging out her window and saw our distress, but all she could do was laugh at us.Finally another senior neighbor came along.Well with flapping our arms to make it look like an airplane and mimicking climbing up a ladder the neighbor understood we needed help.She got her husband who grabbed a ladder and put it up against the side entrance toward a balcony. He then proceeded to gesture to Pauli that she should climb up and over this balcony to go down to the side gate and find the spare key and away we go.Well Pauli scrambled up that ladder as fast as a monkey. However,when she reached the top there were very long,sharp spikes pointing straight up to heaven. No doubt to deter the Moors from ambush. Poor Pauli didn't have legs quite long enough and just about lost her "unmentionables " on her brave attempt to rescue our dinner from melting and the doggies from starving. Indeed,it would have been embarrassing to be found sitting outside at 1AM when the owners arrived home..So Pauli finally got "a leg up" and got down to the side gate to unlock the iron gate.But No,no deal.She couldn't find the key.Well the neighbor and her could do nothing but laugh at this point as it looked like Pauli was locked inside the entrance,as,of course, we had locked the side door.
    So now the neighbor man goes to get a second ladder.He now puts one ladder up against the side car entrance and pulls the second ladder up and over the "did I mention", the 10 foot iron gate.Now he wants me to go up and over and down the other ladder into the yard. Also there are 2 very large dogs in the yard.Thank God they know my scent or I would have been cat food. So I finally get a key to unlock the main door and guess what. The friggin thing wasn't even locked-its just a bitch to open.So help me God,we drank that night!!! We were temped to break into Steve's sacred whiskey stash.It took us a few laughs to explain all this to Steve and Nicola.
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  • Day16

    PEI to Portugal

    September 19, 2017 in Canada ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    Sept 19 we once again we packed up Stumpy - the car - and headed to Tomar. This magnificent castle was founded in 1160 as the headquarters of the Order of the Knights Templar and absorbed a part of the Muslim settlement dating from 9th- 12th century.The castle became an integral part of the defence system created by the Templars to secure the border of the young Christian Kingdom against the Moors,which at the time occupied the area to approximately the Tagus River.Following the dissolution of the Templar Order in 1319,Pope John XX11 instituted the Order of Christ. So the castle now is known as the Convent of Christ.,and was listed in 1983 as a UNESCO World Heritage site.Walking around this castle I had such a sense of peace -it was almost like you could here monks chanting. Truly a beautiful place.
    After our tour we walked around the town and did a little shopping.We stopped for lunch and had our usual refreshments. Plus I ordered a crab appetizer,thinking it would be like a Canadian version.Wrong.OMG-a crab shell full of liquid crab dip!.Just a bit too much.
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  • Day12

    PEI to Portugal-Porto

    September 15, 2017 in Canada ⋅ ☁️ 6 °C

    The next day we stayed home and rested,if you can call a long walk with the doggies a rest.
    On Sept.15 Steve and Nicola drove us to Porto for a brief stay.What a beautiful city and such fun to explore.With magnificent churches,castles,cobblestone streets,shops full of cork products,chocolate shops and of course port tastings,Porto has lots to offer.The waterfront is so interesting.Homes are tall and narrow,colourful and famous for laundry hanging out of windows.We climbed up 232 steps from the waterfront to the top of the Luis 1 bridge to cross over the river to the far side.The far side is very popular with visitors and locals as well as it too has shops,restaurants and scenic views .My dinner that evening was a famous Portuguese dish called Francesinha .This massive meal is made with ham,linquica,sausage,steak and cheese,covered with beer,tomato sauce and served with fries.Enormous!!! Thank goodness I then had to climb back up all those steps again and cross over the bridge.Otherwise I am quite sure I would have gained 5 pounds just from that meal-witch,by the way,I could not finish.We strolled home that night ,visiting all the shops that were open and buying"a little something"of course
    The port tasting we did was delicious with 3 ports to taste with fruit,nuts and chocolate.My favourite was the white port.The service was so slow because the shop was so busy that the waiter gave us extra samples for free with the chocolate to boot.We were fairly snickerdoodled after that. Dinner was at a restaurant we had discovered earlier in the day and had actually sat with the owners for over 2 hours drinking wine and learning more about this city and country. We stayed at a hotel that was central and close to the Bento railway station.Talk about tiny rooms and beds. Glad I was not 6 FT.6"-I'd never fit the bed or room.
    We left Porto from the Bento station-a must see for it's architecture and ancient tile designs.Taking the train back to Averio to meet up with our hosts was another adventure.Who knew that when you buy your train ticket it tells you what seat to take on the train-it was all in Portuguese. Thank goodness we had carry on bags.There were 3 ladies ahead of us with huge suitcases and it was no fun bumping through 5 rail cars going in the wrong direction while the train moved along to get to our designated seats.And that train moved at 210 km/hr..But we made it.
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  • Day11

    PEI to Portugal

    September 14, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    .We continued our adventure by visiting Averio,the Venice of Portugal. Named that for the amazing system of canals throughout the city..For a long period Averio was an important economic link in the production of salt and commercial shipping.It was the center of salt exploration by the Romans and a trade center through the middle ages.In later years the salt was used to make fertilizer for the farms.But with technology and chemicals the need for salt deminished. The salt flats now are a tourist attraction.The boats they used to farm the salt ,called barcos moliceiros,are now used to ferry tourists through the canal system. The boats are elaborately painted and decorated and there is a yearly competition to choose the best boat.We did both a tuktuk and boat tour to see the sights and get the history of the city.We had a lovely lunch which ended again with chocolate ganache with a big serving of Maceirra.It was Pauli's first time having this dessert and she was blown away by how good it was.And we got a very healthy dose of Madeira!! The waiters in the restaurant thought Steve was quite a Macho man for strutting around with three womenRead more

  • Day10

    PEI to Portugal

    September 13, 2017 in Norway ⋅ 10 °C

    Today we did a big hike in 26 degree heat. And no,not with the doggies.We went down into the gorge below their village-about 400 ft.,then uphill on switchbacks to the village on the other side-Pedrogao Pecano.Portugal has amazing infrastructure but down at the bottom of the gorge at the river's edge are the ruins of a Roman bridge.From up top of Pecano we went down again and across the dam to the restaurant by the reservoir. Great food and hospitality and a beautiful view.Nicola and Steve often sea kayak down there.Needless to say,after such a long hike and Vinhos de Tintos we taxied home to relax. It was a great adventure.No wonder we didn't gain weight on this trip.Read more

  • Day9

    PEI to Portugal

    September 12, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ 21 °C

    Today we were off to tour Obidos-one of my favourite spots .Obidos is a gorgeous historic center with cobblestone streets, flower bedecked whitewashed homes and colorful flower boxes.The town's main site is the Castelo-a 13th. century castle with towers,battlements, and huge gates.The great Dom Dinis first showed his wife Dona Isabel the town in 1228 and she so fell in love with it,he made it a wedding gift to her.It is a walled city with a medieval castle. You can walk around the whole top of the wall but it is very narrow in spots,so we quickly turned back on that idea. There is a Michilin star restaurant at the top of the walled city.Walking up the cobblestone streets is interesting as there are numerous shops filled with typical Portugese wears.One thing you have to do is sample the Ginjinha d'Obidos-a sweet alcoholic liqueur served in a chocolate cup-yum.
    The Templar Knights used this castle as a post and prior to that the Moors influenced the architecture and title structure of the buildings.
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  • Day6

    PEI to Portugal

    September 9, 2017 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    So let's catch up. Steve was hilarious as he would say well today we will just go tour around this little village. The village would turn out to be an historical landmark .On Sept 9th we went to Castle Arouce-an 11th century structure which was built as the first defensive line for access to Coimbra.Nice hiking paths all around and tumbling fortress walks to explore.Following that we had coffee in Avelar.-another quaint village.Sunday was a day off to relax in the sun,walk the doggies,barbeque and "refresh". Monday Sept.18, in Pedrogao Grande was pension cheque day so our village was busy with seniors cashing cheques and buying supplies.Nicola is big into pickling and preserves so we picked up all our supplies and headed back to get pickling.We did 5 different batches of jams and jellies ;including Chow Chow -a PEI recipe we brought over for Nicola. She does hand out her preserves to friends in the village and they love her stuff.Not anything like it in the village.Read more

  • Day5

    PEI to Portugal

    September 8, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ 21 °C

    Since our luggage was who knows where,our first tour was Serta to buy clothes.That wasn't that easy as the shops were scarce and it was close to lunch closing time.But we managed to find a few"tween" things to wear.Then we were off to visit Coimbra. This city located in central Portugal was the second Portugese capital and is renowned as a university town-the oldest in the country. It is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site,founded originally in Lisbon in 1290 and moved to Coimbra in 1537..We will have to visit the famous Joanina Library on our next visit.We did see inside the Santa Cruz Church,where a mass was in service.And we spent time in the Machado de Castro National Museum.This museum was spectacular, full of modern and ancient works of art-worth a visit.What a wonderful job has been done saving ,and restoring the artifacts and treasures from the ancient Moor,Portugese and Romans who at different times influenced the history and culture of the area-dating back to AD 878.
    We got our exercise walking up and down the streets of Coimbra-narrow,cobbled and so colorful.One item that really caught our attention was the local bakery and the pastries and goodies the Portugese are known for.I have never seen such large meringues. Nicola bought one and she filled it with homemade custard,fruits and chocolate-"too die for
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  • Day1

    PEI to Portugal

    September 4, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C

    It's been awhile since I posted and at that point we were stuck on the tarmac at Ottawa airport.This was Mon Sept 4th.There was a terrible thunder and lightening storm so all across Canada flights were affected.I had updated Pauli and I to premium economy and had two passes to the AC lounge but by the time we landed at TO at 2400 hr and raced across the airport to catch our 0015 hr.,needless to say we had no need for AC lounge passes.And so much for the update ,as folks in economy got their meals before we did.
    We had left the cottage and Geisha in capable hands with her friend Luanne and her Mom Jean in charge.I hear they thoroughly enjoyed PEI.
    Our friends ,Nicola and Steve were meeting us in Lisbon and we were 2 hours late and of course - no luggage .We were in the lost luggage lineup for over 2 hours and being the efficient airline it is we did not receive our suitcases till Sat Sept.8 at 0100.hr.So we had to borrow clothes from Nicola - And AC will receive our bills for buying something to wear. Unfortunately not having clothes put a damper on our touring plans,but we sure did keep busy . Nicola and Steve live in a small village called Pedrogao Grande. It is located inland from Lisbon and was in the area where the forest fires were in June.In driving around it was so sad to see the devastation caused by the fires. Many lost their lives but the government won't give an official death toll.There are no forestation regulations in the country and the eucalyptus trees grow unchecked and the underbrush is so thick it is a wonder there was not more damage.It was a wonder though to see new growth happening so quickly with the eucalyptus trees and all the work that is being done roadside to clean up the mess.You might be able to see in my pictures just how close it was to their house and indeed one day a fire restarted across the valley .Every swimming pool,water reservoir and lake was used to get water.
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