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Porto with the Freedom Chair

Our besties from the States Larry and Pamela like to spend a week together with us somewhere in Europe every other year or so.  We have visited together in Caldas da Rainha, Venice, Lagos, Lisbon and Sevilla.  Of course there had been a moratorium on the visits during the pandemic. This year instead of hotels or staying with us in Lagos we decided to rent an apartment together for five days in Porto. No one except Kevin had been there before and he only vaguely remembers the two days he spent there almost forty years ago. 

The apartment is a world heritage site in the historic centre of Porto and were assured it was accessible. Kevin and I decided to take the train from our home in Lagos.

Surrounded by Iberian Storks

All around me, big white storks lounge around on their king size nests, bird versions of those tourists you hear about, the ones that come to a nice warm beachy destination on holiday and like it so much they forget to go home.

These Iberian White Storks should spend their summers at home in their European nest and then migrate to Africa for the winter via Gibraltar. While not very good fliers, they are great at gliding the thermal air currents.  But even gliding is still an arduous journey only to be repeated in the spring when they have to glide back home.

Planes and Yotels, a day in London

 First Published June 17th 2017 by Constance 

I love London!  The city has fabulous options for the walking challenged.  The Southern Railway had portable ramps and helpers, the Thames Clipper made cruising the river a breeze and the sidewalks sloped at the intersections.  Don’t get me started on how great the Tate is.

We flew into Gatwick Airport around midnight.    An attendant pushed me through customs and the airport to  the Yotel.  All the citizen had to deal with was our luggage.   Snuggled into our cozy but very nicely appointed itsey bitsy soundproof room with our duty free bottle of scotch, we planned the next day in London.  The Yotel is terrific, low cost and nice amenities…plus Gatwick’s train connections to everywhere in the UK.

Will Hike for Food

And….I have a free all season pass…who needs theme parks when you have the real thing?


Washing Clothes like a Portuguese

First Published November 7th 2010 by Constance 

You know how you have seen photos, or travel programs on television, or even strolled the charming streets of European cities and thought to yourself…”if only they didn’t have that laundry hanging out!”.

Sorry folks, we don’t have dryers here in our charming little city apartments. Back in the U.S, I would never consider living without a dryer. I washed and dried like I owned a nuclear power plant! No more. I am now educated in the ways of the E.U. in doing the laundry.

Vendor at the Vivo Mercado, Lagos

Lagos Fresh Markets

Before the carnation revolution, farmers had to sell their crops to the state at a price set by the state. The revolution’s seeds were sown by these farmers and grew to overthrow the Salazar regime. The spirit of the carnation revolution lives on with these small farmers who can feed the country and enjoy the monetary fruits of their labor. 

These small local producers are exempt from taxes on the sales, and pay just a small fee for the booth and to take a course on food safety.  However in 2013 during austerity, there was a proposal by the governing majority to tax these small producers.  The citizen and I were happy to sign the petitions and distribute flyers in solidarity with the growers. Small farmers from these local markets from all over Portugal descended on Lisbon to protest and fortunately the proposal was defeated. 

Riding the Crazy Train

 First Published by Constance on September 23rd 2016

Sardine Train

One day the Sardine Train (officially the comboio turístico) was free to the public.  No one had to pay a large amount of Euros to tour the high points of Lagos while riding on the carriage of benches pulled by what looked like an old fashioned steam engine.

The Citizen and I were thrilled about the prospect of actually riding the cheesy thing.  We see it constantly, it’s our unofficial monitor on how to tell how crowded it is in town that day.  That and the number of the huge tour busses belching out clumps of people who are herded about by a someone with a flag.  These people are from the cruise ship docked in Portimáo.

We prepared for riding the Sardine train with a nice bottle of wine decanted into water bottles . The train does a loop of the beaches, it takes about an hour and people can get on and off at the designated stops.  Where should we hop on the train?  It had be the Marina.


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