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PORTUGAL - June 2004

PORTUGAL - June 2004

We, Kenro and I, also went to Portugal in March and literally drove all over the country. It was a blast but driving a standard with a man who drives a standard once every oh…5 years or so…in a country where the hills are basically at a 90°angle and where the streets are so thin that you have to fold in your side view mirrors…is a trip…let me tell you. At times I thought that we’d literally just fall backward off of the hill. Some highlights were the town of Porto where the whole town is literally built into the side of a mountain and where all the homes are painted in pastel colors. There are a lot of churches to see and each one comes with a different architecture and story. Some of the most impressive were the famous Fatima where hundreds of thousands come to walk on their knees and be purified. The Catedral Do Porto was HUGE, Gold, Amazing! The Mosteiro da Baralha was like 4 city blocks long and looked like something out of a Disney movie. As we came up over the hill leading into the city, literally all you could see was this structure. What amazed me really was when you think of when these buildings were erected and then what tools were NOT available to them, it makes you think it’s almost impossible that these buildings could exist but here they are in their all their splendor. They are hard to describe with words but I’m so glad that my eyes saw what they saw.

We stayed in many Pousadas which are landmark buildings made into luxury hotels. One was a castle that had a wall that literally encircled the entire city of Obidos and one was a Cathedral in Queluz outside of Lisbon. Lisbon was worth one day of sightseeing but is pretty much a tourist trap. We SO enjoy the outskirts better and would go back and stay in Porto for a week if we ever returned.

The food was not great. The big thing there is cod fish which has been dehydrated and which then gets re-hydrated and served. Everything is VERY salty. Even to my soy sauce loving Japanese husband. The people were reserved and to themselves except if you needed help or if you engaged them in conversation. They blossomed into the sweetest folks if you merely tried to chat them up. They, however, would not try to engage you in conversation. If someone couldn’t speak English, they’d rush to find someone who could so that they could help you and it wasn’t for a tip…they were just nice folks.

They are famous for a form of music called Fado which is an un-amplified female singer with an alto/Mezzo range singing with a trio of bass, guitar and a Portuguese guitar in the most melodramatic way I have ever heard. It was good but it was goofy to me. Upon reading up on the art of Fado, all the songs are very sad songs about women losing men to the sea or going off to fish or just leaving them so…think of someone singing "Since I Fell for You" very low, very affected with a black shawl thrown over their shoulders and dark mascara rings under their eyes and it’s pretty much what it is…Portuguese Torch!

Portugal was a cool place for sure. Next up in July is the AMAZON JUNGLE AGAIN!!! Third time for me. We honeymooned there over 20 years ago on the Peruvian side very far down the river. We re-visited it on our 10th wedding anniversary closer to the Ecuadorian area and now we will go to the Brazilian side. We’re taking a boat down the river similar to the one used in the movie "Anaconda"…which, with my luck and travel history with the Amazon…I’ll get to actually meet one up close. We’re going with my brother and his wife which should also be interesting because this is a 6’5" ex Harley rider biker guy who is a big Sissy Mary when it comes to bugs n’ stuff. It ought to be interesting! Be sure to check into my adventures page in August…I’ll spill all the details.

It’s nice to be back…have a great summer!




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