Bones and Stones

We are moving slowly these days as the mercury climbs into the 40s. We headed out to Evora once again for a 2nd visit. Our first day there we explored the streets finding the Roman Temple believed to be dedicated to the goddess Diana. Erected in the 2nd or 3rd century AD it sits next to Evora’s cathedral 1186.DSC03994 We popped in for lunch under the cathedral, Sean enjoyed the Monkfish and rice, Mariah had the chicken, fruit, veg, and pasta salad, mine had prawns and Philippa had bread, lots of bread. But she did go to the counter and order our coffee all in Portuguese and we even got the right amount. Unlike me who gets extra for my imaginary friends. Continue reading

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Driving over Oranges

We arrived at our new home in Falcoeiras a commune outside of Redondo. It is situated in amongst acres of vineyards as far as the eye can see. Yes, I think this is going to be good. The coolest thing for the girls is the orange, lemon and olive trees in our backyard. Our first morning was spent around the farm table with an abundance of fruit, bread and brioche. Nothing warms the heart of a mother more than seeing her children gobble fresh food and commenting on how good it taste. Sean and I then ventured off to check out the area and the girls set into making lemonade. Like a scene out of Little House on the Prairie, Portugal style.DSC04001
The closest large town is 7km away, Reguengos de Monsaraz, in the Alentejo province. This is an area known for its wine. Not pretentious (like Napa) but just centuries of making wine. This is also the area that most of the world’s cork comes from. The Quercus suber (cork oak). DSC04111Dom Perignon the wine making monk revived the use of cork as a tasteless, odourless seal for wine. As we drive along the the motorway, big trucks laden with the strips of bark rumble by. The tourist shops of full of items made from cork everything from a wallet to shoes. It feels much like leather. But you don’t see the locals walking around wearing it.DSC03999
Our first stop is a hill top medieval town of Monsaraz. You see it in the distance for several kilometres as it is the only hill around. In our travels to places like France one must time their arrival to such sites based on tour buses. But not here in Portugal, the little town is empty. The village looks freshly painted, it is beautiful with its tiles roofs and pepper pot chimneys. The girls are going to love this place.DSC04043
We head back to find our girls enjoying a plates of fruit and glasses of lemonade. After our 3:00 lunch and siesta we head out to the local pool. Now I am going to go on a bit about the cost of things for a minute. The public swimming pool has a 50 meter pool with 10 lanes, and two other pools with other stuff. Back to the pool with 10 lanes and 50 meters, swimmers love pools like this. Did I mention love? Well it cost 2.80 for Sean and I and 1.80 for the girls. Yes under a 5er for the 4 of us. Gosh, I love this place. After a few kilometres in that lovely 10 lane 50 meter pool. We take the girls to Monsaraz.DSC04034 Poor Mariah has never taken a very narrow cobbled path up the side of a walled medieval town so the feeling that the car might fall off is heard from the back seat. The cameras are a buzzing, it really is a photographers dream. {There is only one other car here.} The sun is going down and we walk among the winding streets that lead us to the castle built in the 13th century.DSC04051
After we explore the town it is time for something to eat, a lovely restaurant overlooking the vineyards and orange groves is a perfect choice. We toast to a lovely day and eat a meal of cod, quiche and crepes.DSC04054 Take a million photos of the sunset and head off to the car admiring the town now lit up with a whole new ambiance.

Always bring a friend along

DSC03956Now if I am going to recommend anything for family travelers it would be bring your child’s friend with you.  We are lucky as our daughter’s friend is easy going and is happy to go along with the torture that a family trip in a hot country can bring. Our first full day, out which was yesterday, Sean, and I broke some of our own cardinal rules: First mistake was to set out for the day at 1:30 pm (Everyone knows not to do that in a hot country); 2nd -walking up hill at the hottest time of the day with teenagers is not advisable (there is not enough gelato to comfort them). So we are forgetting yesterday and moving on.DSC03966

Today we set off at a decent hour in the morning, bought a day pass for transit and promised them gelato  whenever possible.  They managed to go steady for 10 hours, truly a record for us. Continue reading

I have failed as a fisherman’s daughter and an Icelander

We had a very hot, busy day, after all was said and done Sean, and I went out for dinner. The girls preferred to eat in and watch tv. The owner of the apt we are staying in recommended the restaurant across the street, so off we went. My good friend Susan in Drayton Valley had said she loved the sardines in Portugal. She could not eat enough when she was here. So when I asked our server what he would recommend he happen to say  the sardines and the squid. So Sean, ordered the squid and I the sardines. Before the meal arrived a assortment of hor d’oeuveres arrived. We had been told you can just send these back if you don’t want them. But hey, we were here for the full meal deal. So we tried the Lima beans, grilled sausage, bread, salad and olives, all of which were great.  We ordered a bottle of  local Cabernet sauvignon only because we like red wine. It was a silver award winner for 2014 in Brussels, well that sounds fancy! It was 4.50 euros a bottle.  I am sure a bottle of water costs more back home. My five sardines arrived with boiled potatoes and Sean’s squid had the same accompaniment.

As many of you know I was brought up in Prince Rupert eating a lot of fish. There was a time I stood on the side lines at North Pacific Cannery watching the truck loads of herring arrive. Or the many night shifts on the line at the Co-op fish cannery. My first taste of Sardines took me back to those days. When the fish smell never left your hair, but you were fine with that because you were making a $ figure most people could not imagine in 1980  My dad loved fish and potatoes and would tell us that it put hair on our chest {which I never wanted}. So here we were in a wonderful restaurant that was bursting at the seams with locals, you could not ask for a fresher meal and I was reliving my days outside the reduction plant. Sean thought the Sardines  were cooked to perfection and his squid was amazing.  Me, not so much but I ate them thinking that the taste would grow on me.  What did amaze me that the whole meal for the 2 of us cost 21.00 euros.  On a lighter note the girls love Portuguese pizza not a single complaint or left overs.

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PORTUGAL 2015 Arrived in Lisboa

We arrived in Amsterdam by 10:30, flew KLM for the first time and they did not disappoint us. We were on time, well fed and the girls slept.DSCF1456
The start of our trip was a 10 hour layover in Amsterdam, we left our hand luggage in the baggage storage lockers, picked up the train tickets and settled in for the ride in to the city. At which time Sean, asked if I had the hop on hop off tickets. No, they would be in the locker in the airport. Thank goodness he had scanned all the pre-purchased stuff and we were able to print them at the bus company’s office from his phone.DSCF1458 The girls enjoyed the city, we didn’t really have a lot of time to do anything except the bus and the water cruiseDSCF1464. We walked through the streets got a flavour of the city, ate some yummy treats and headed back to the airport.
Mariah has caught on early to some of the fundamentals of travel. Eat when there is food, use the toilet when there is one and sleep when ever possible.
Back at the airport I met a lovely lady. Deolinda lives in Coimbra a spot which we are headed in a few weeks. We plan on meeting up, when we are there as she works for the university as a engineering professor. Coimbra University is known as the Oxford of Portugal. Its students uniforms inspired JK Rowlings, Hogwarts uniforms, I have read a lot about the library there as well.DSC03984
We arrived in Lisbon by 10:35 and was met by our driver. The Lisbon airport in right in the city so as we drove to our apartment we were able to get a taste of what was to be explored. The buildings are lovely, and everyone that we have met have been so wanting to chat and tell us about their country. Our home for the next few days is in a quaint little apartment right in the heart of the city. We are very excited to get out and explore tomorrow. So far everything is perfect.

view from our apartment in Lisbon

view from our apartment in Lisbon