Getting ready for trip to Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton national parks…

Morning, Hamden.  Cool sunny day.  Rob and I still trying to figure out what to bring for warm/cool/cold weather.  Thin line between not enough and too much, or worse, too much of wrong stuff…  BUT we are so excited!  Rob’s got a new camera, I’ve got my trusty Canon G-10.  Both of us have binoculars, rain jackets, iphones, kindles, etc, etc.  After lunch we drop Lucy off at Clara and Michael’s house (thanks, guys!), then head up to Wayland, Mass, where we’ll sleep over at Karen and Joel’s tonight.  Tomorrow we get picked up at their house around 5:30 a.m. for Logan airport —  and fly west!  Yay!

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Lisboa, we love you!

Took the train back here from Porto, no problem, easy trip.  Felt like we were coming home, in a way.  Taxi to The House, where Rita gave us a big hug.  Showered, repacked, went up to the terrace to see the wonderful city view, then had dinner at an Italian restaurant we’d been to 2 weeks ago. Our waiter, Diogo, 23, reemembered us well — very friendly.  And, he said, he was glad to see us because it was his last night there.  Going back to school, to university, to study psychology.  He may look us up if he ever gets to Connecticut, he says.  You never know.

Have to get up early tomorrow.  Taxi coming at 7:45; plane leaves at 10:25.  Can’t believe this trip is over.  It was truly one of the most wonderful trips we’ve ever taken.  Portuguese people very, very friendly; food and wine excellent; cities and towns all interesting; scenery varied and beautiful.  We will probably come back, explore more of country.  And maybe the Azores.  We’ll see.  Who knows…

us in Porto, last day, sad to leave but ready to come home…

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Porto, port, too much food!!!!

OMG, too much food!  I think we’ve each gained at least 5 pounds, maybe 10 or 2o…  But it’s so good, who cares — and who can NOT eat?!  Oh well, not going to think about it now.  Only one more day in Portugal and that will be traveling, by train, from here back to Lisboa.

Today, though…  Started, after a lovely breakfast in so small a dining room that we had to choose our time (8:45) because there are only 3 small tables and all the guests can’t eat at once.  Took a free bus to a cave, where they age port wine, called Graham’s.  Toured, saw huge barrels, then tasted, then bought (though we said we weren’t going to) a half bottle of 20 year old tawny — delicious, couldn’t resist.

This was across the river, in Gaia.  After the tour and tasting, we walked along the river.  Lots of touristy things to buy (bought a finger puppet of Marquez Pombal for 5 euros — who rebuilt Lisbon after earthquake of 1755, a good guy.  Also it was he who started the port wine industry, Rob just reminded me.).  Also young people, and kids, in skulls rowing — we thought about Jackson and took photos we’re hoping he might like to see.

After a superb lunch (see, food) of acorda (bread soup, pronounced asorda), we took a taxi to contemporary art museum and surrounding park, outside the city.  Museum itself a big disappointment, but the park was lovely.

Dinner across the river, in Gaia, in a more touristy restaurant with an amazing view.  Very good, we thought, though the B&B owner, Carmen, said she hadn’t liked it last few times she went (3 years ago, so…).

Now, tired, bed.

Here are some photos from today…

Very big barrels of port wine, aging…  (Rob talking with our guide)

view of Porto — with our B&B — from Gaia, across the Douro

crew, Portuguese style (early morning shot, from our window)

very big trowel by Claes Oldenberg, contemporary art museum, park

olive tree, 1491 years old!!!!!!!!!!!!!  really!

and my favorite picture of the day, a bride being photographed, stopping traffic on a busy bridge between Porto and Gaia:



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Dropped off our car, Diogo Peugeot, at a huge shopping center in the city across the river from Porto, called Vila Nova de Gaia, or just Gaia for short (but not “the Goo” as our dear departed Gaia was called affectionately by the whole Z-R family).  Almost no trouble finding it, but being us we did overshoot the exit and had to add an extra 5 miles or so to the trip.  No matter, it was an easy ride.  Took a taxi from there to here, our tall skinny hotel, or pension, or B&B, called Guest House Douro.  We left our bags, having arrived here before check-in time, and explored the city.  Hilly, like Lisboa.  On the river Douro (which we’d seen miles and miles away, inland, hugged by vineyard covered hills).  Old.  We visited a market — fish, flowers, meat, trinkets — where we had lunch, light and quick, soup and seafood with rice.  OK.  Went to a recommended bookstore, amazing interior, very old, curved wooden staircase.  No photos allowed (but I got one).  Bought two more books, both by Saramago, one a children’s book.  Both, of course, in Portuguese.  I can sort of read them, with a lot of help from my Portuguese-English dictionary App.  Love apps.  Also apples.

Stopped at train station to buy our tickets back to Lisboa on Sunday.  Gorgeous tile work there, best in city according to Carmen, who runs/owns this B&B.

Took a boat ride, an hour, on the river.  Boat called a rebelo.  Lots of them touring up and down the river, under the six bridges.  Breezy, relaxing, fun.  Nice views of the city.

Back here, rested, read, then out to a wonderful local family restaurant where we shared grilled sardines, tiny ones, and grilled sea bass.  Excellent.  Very friendly waiter.  I told Rob, if my dad had been a waiter, he would have been just like this one.

Our room is tiny.  Teeny tiny.  But it has a bed and if we’re clever, our stuff fits.  What’s great is the view — fourth floor, overlooking the river.


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Viana do Castelo

We a big delicious lunch — grilled sardines, soooo good!  Therefore we decided to skip the usual large, late, dinner, and so went down to the bar to get a sandwich.  Met the most interesting couple, a Spanish ship builder and his French wife, who told us they’d lived in China for 2, 3 years and Korea, Pusan (where Gabe was born) for six years.  An hour of very stimulating conversation.  You never know who you’ll meet.

Today we wandered a bit around this town, but couldn’t get to the beach because the ferry that takes you across the river, or estuary, is finished running for the season.  And we didn’t feel like getting back in the car.  Our hotel is high on a hill.  We took elevador down and back up.  Then hung out at pool here but didn’t swim — water freezing — just read and relaxed.  I finally found a bookstore, here in Viana, and bought 2 books in Portuguese, one by Saramago, A Caverna (The Cave), which is my favorite of his books, and one by an author from Mozambique, Mia Couto, called Jerusalem.  I figured I’d buy the Couto book in English to help me get through the Portuguese w/o having to look up every other word — but it hasn’t yet been translated into English.  Oh well.

And now we must seriously pack up our stuff because tomorrow we drop car off in Porto (taxi to our hotel there, then, Sunday, train back to Lisboa).  We’re going to have to condense stuff, but how?  Oy.

Some pictures from today…

And that’s all folks!

Boa noite, love to everyone who’s reading this.  Or just checking out the pictures…


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Great hike with Miguel and Tanya; Viana do Castelo

It turns out Miguel doesn’t really speak English, though he studied it in school and understands, so he brought along his sister Tania to translate.  She, 33, studied forestry and so was much more informative that he would have been if he did speak English — and charming.  We met them in Geres village; he drove us to a place in the park (huge national park — took almost 20, 25 minutes of windy uphill narrow roads to get there) where we began our hike.  Hiked uphill and down for almost 2, 2 1/2 hours — incredibly gorgeous!  We would never have been able to do this w/o a guide.  He led, she, Tania, walked nearer to us and described trees, plants, etc.  We didn’t see much fauna.  Miguel spotted a deer — veado — which we heard but never saw.  It sounded like a dog barking.  We totally enjoyed the whole experience.

Rob, Miguel, Tania

scenes from our hike


Viana do Castelo…  We’re staying in another pousada, luxurious, at the top of a hill overlooking the city and a basilica.  Excellent room with excellent view.  Tired now, will just post another photo and go back to my room (Rob’s there, I’m here because of internet connection) and go to sleep…  Night…

OK, here’s a picture of me I like:

My hair’s clean and I look happy, right?  I am happy.  :)



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Scenery!!! Douro valley, mountainous north

Yesterday couldn’t connect to internet.  Drove to Casa de Casal de Loivos, high up in the vine-covered mountains overlooking the Douro river.  Long, long drive, beautiful scenery.  Stopped for a tour of a winery that produces port wine, audio tour, in English, while walking through the vines.  Already harvested, but there were some raisins — dried bunches of grapes — hanging on vines.  Delicious.  Tasted some ports, bought.

Then…  ugh.  The windy uphill drive to our hotel — drove toooooo far, onto scary winding narrow dirt road high — high!  — above the river, among the vines, no turn around for maybe 1/4 to 1/2 kilometer.  Thought we were going to be there forever.  Rob angry at me for panicking, me angry at him for not turning around before road stopped being paved.  But we did manage to turn around eventually and find hotel.  Very old house, 300 years or so.  Which, we were told and believe, has one of the six most beautiful views in the WORLD.

Swam in the icy cold gorgeous pool.

Dined en famille with the other guests, 4 Americans from Maryland (one way too talky, one a grouch, two quite nice).  Meat meal, so they made me something with eggs and veggies.  OK.

View yesterday afternoon spectacular, this morning even more so.

Today drove from there to here — Pousada Geres-Canicada S. Bento, close to Portugal’s only national park, which we will visit tomorrow.  With a guide, if he’s available, without, if not.  Scenery here, and all along leading to here, also spectacular.

Not many vineyards, natural mountains, rocky, deep valleys, river, really something.  Our room has a tiny balcony with a view east.  Will try to get a sunrise photo amana (tomorrow).  Oh, did I mention we also got lost coming here?  We did.  The GPS just doesn’t cut it up here.  Map perfect until we got within about 5 miles of destination, then some very wrong turns which cost us an extra half hour of driving.  But hey, we’re still talking.  Still friends.  :)

Just found out we CAN have a guided nature tour tomorrow morning.  Yay!  Only we have to drive to Geres, about 15, 20 minutes from here, to meet guide at 9:30 — I pray we don’t get lost on the way there!  Stay tuned…


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