Archive for the ‘Portugal’ Tag

SOME HIGHLIGHTS: SOME NOT SO …   5 comments

That I haven’t written much here is a good sign – busy cruising and enjoying it,

Some days not so great, but others that are amazing.

Our visit to Civitavecchia (Rome) turned out to be not so great. I don’t like cities, and we’ve already been to Rome, so we didn’t bother to bus into the city. Doug did plan to visit Ostia Antica (sp?) on his own, — always an opportunity for photos. But it turned out the directions he received on how to get there had been correct two years ago, but not now. So he and his camera wandered on shore for a while. In the meantime, I got some work done on “My Father’s House,” (Writing, that is. Not carpentry.)

And Gibralter was no great shakes either. We had been to the top of the mountain on our previous visit, so this time we planned to walk into town on our own. I returned to the ship when I found nothing but high end jewelry stores with some equally high end leather for sale. Got a little more done on “My Father’s House.”

But then came our stop in Cadiz. What a joy! We visited beautiful white villages –“white” because the buildings are really white. Much to photograph partly on guided tour and partly free time. Now that’s the kind of pleasure that traveling is all about.

The next day in the town of Obidos, outside Lisbon, Portugal, we enjoyed equal beauty, though not with equal spirits of adventure. Doug climbed the ramparts etc., collecting photos. I stuck closer to the main route. I’ll just have to include some pictures when I get back home. Unfortunately, as I think I told you earlier, I forgot to bring the cable connector to my computer. Doug has been downloading them for me onto his PC, so, once I come into possession of a thumb drive, I’ll be able to get to work at editing. (“editing” = mostly deleting the disasters.)

I can’t share the same sense of excitement about our free time visit yesterday to Santiago de Compostelo outside Vigo Spain. It’s my own fault, I guess, but I got bored with the expensive and not so expensive shops of jewelry and religious souvenirs. And I must confess, I long ago reached the point where I feel that “I’ve seen one cathedral I’ve seen them all.” (See what I mean. My fault). It was fun, though, eating lunch at a restaurant there. Lovely food, beautifully served.

I loved what I saw of Spain – and it was really Spain. Like the early days of traveling where people felt no need to Kow-Tow to Americans’ limited ability to understand languages other than our own.

The best part of that day was a cappuccino at an outside café in the company of three lovely young Irish women.

And that, nutshell style, brings us up to date. This is our last full day at sea. I love it, though I wish there were more.

And I look forward to the rest of our days before winding up in Amsterdam for a three- day stay there before heading home.

 

ANY LANGUAGE BUT MY OWN   8 comments

ANY LANGUAGE BUT MY OWN

In responding to my previous blog, Terry and Leelah raised questions that inspire me to write about one of my gripes.

No, I don’t know the language used in Portugal. They are kind of enough – and happy enough, I guess, to have English-speaking guests – that they post signs in English, and often speak English.

Once I was pretty good at German, so in Austria and Germany I can understand the signage, and often what people are saying if they speak to me with enunciation one would use for a young child.

At one point I did study French – in fact, at many points – and with a lot of help I managed to pass the French exam on which my Ph.D. depended. (The German exam was easy.)

So what’s my gripe? Americans and their linguistic provincialism. That’s OK in a way. We aren’t nestled among countries that speak other languages, so it’s understandable that we don’t emphasize foreign languages in our schools where we could learn them easily when the brain is ready in our young years. It’s also understandable that our schools are beginning now to offer foreign languages. We are, obviously, becoming one world whether people like it or not.

What gripes me is the feeling on the part of some people that immigrants and visitors to the states “should” speak English – a demand we don’t put on ourselves when we travel. As a matter of fact, I make a point to thank people in other countries who speak to me in English.

Provincialism? One of my web friends identified herself as Norwegian. Her English is impeccable. In fact, she does most of her writing – at least what I see – in English. So I assumed she lived in Minnesota where the descendants of immigrants proudly declare themselves to be Norwegians, or Swedes, or Germans, or what have you. Bu no, she really is Norwegian.

These days I hear and see interviews on the media with people from all over the world. Guess what! They speak English. I often wonder if people listening appreciate that fact. What a gift to us that they speak our language.

OK, so this isn’t the well-organized piece I’d like to be writing, but I hope you get my drift.

One last story. My father who moved to the States from Sweden when he was 19 wouldn’t teach me Swedish. Why? Because he had suffered so much disdain for his Swedish accent. As a matter of fact, he went to college with two primary goals, one of which was to learn to speak English without an accent. And he did. The only piece left was a remnant of the delightful Scandinavian lilt. What is it about language snobbery that prevents our appreciating the skill and knowledge of multilingual folks?

Oh, I guess this is a p.s. It was in Bulgaria that we found very few (if any) signs in English. I’ll have my story in a later blog on how this affected our time there. Suffice it to say, the message is they aren’t yet crazy about entertaining English-speaking visitors. I guess that makes sense too – a country proudly re-establishing its heritage after years under the Ottoman empire and then Communist rule.

I’m told that when I write a letter of complaint, I should end it with a bit on what I want the recipient to do. So, what do I want us to do? At the very least, to appreciate the value of other languages as well as our own, to treat both with respect, and to do a better job than I have of learning languages other than English.

A SAMPLE OF PORTUGAL   6 comments

Time out for some photos. This time it’s Portugal which we visited July 16-20, 2013. I had no idea what a great and modern place we were destined to enjoy, and yet a wealth of history and beauty. This is just a sampling of what we saw. Remember, my photos are taken just for me to reminisce about where we’ve been. But I hope this will give you some of the feel.

First of all, take a look at the header. I was fascinated with the minimalist landscape — isolated trees, orderly rows of plantings. This photo I managed to get (out of many tries) from the moving car.

I’ve already blogged — with photos — about our first day in Portugal, so this is moving on to subsequent days. First to Silves with the Monchique Mountain and the beautiful clear waters.

Silves,Monchique Mountain

 

And St. Vincent’s Lighthouse, Europe’s most southwestern point.

SilvesSt Vincent's Lighthouse

 

Next I waited while Doug clambered about the Moorish Castle.

Silves,Moorish Castle

So on to Beja where we spent a long time seeking the tourist office to help us find the castle. Finally another tourist who had a map from his hotel was able to direct us to the tourist office. Guess where it was — yup! at the castle. We got there just as it was about to close for lunch. Closing for lunch was a pretty common event in Portugal. Fortunately the cafe’s were open for lunch, for which I was always ready.

But we did get to see it after lunch. Again I mostly waited and explored at ground level while Doug clambered over the ramparts. (That little speck — well, bigger if you click on the photo — in the bright shirt and white hat is Doug.)

BejaCastle

 

At our next stop — the museum — I picked up a strange but, I think, hauntingly lovely – photo. “Hauntingly” because the photo did things the original didn’t. What I photographed had a green patina. What my photo saw was some lovely color.

Beja,Museum

 

And on to Evora. If I remember correctly, that’s the place where we saw so many beautiful cork items. I would have loved to buy one of handbags, but the price and size were too much to deal with in the pocketbook and the suitcase. Anyway, the Roman Ruins were an interesting sight.

Evora,Roman ruins

 

But more interesting by far was the Chapel of the Bones affiliated with St. Francis church. The sign told it like it is. “we bones that are here. We are waiting for yours.” Indeed, the structure consists of bones.

EvoraChapel of the bones

And the tiled stations of the cross. Everywhere in Portugal there was beautiful tile.

Evora,Tile Stations

 

In St. Francis Church itself I managed to get a photo of the madonna, with her heart pierced by pain.

EvoraMadonna, St. Francis Church

Finally on to Sintra with its Pena National Park.

SintraPena National Park

 

And another Moorish Castle. Again the beautiful tile.

Sintra,Castle of the Moors

 

Next time I blog about the trip it will be Austria.

 

 

DISCOVERING PORTUGAL   2 comments

It’s been a while since I returned, and I still don’t have all my photos arranged and accounted for, but I do have enough to start sharing my trip with you. So please first join me in Portugal.

Traveling often yields surprises, and Portugal was one of them. I don’t know what I expected, but I didn’t know what a luxurious place I was about to discover. Oh, maybe not all of Portugal, but certainly where we were staying. Now that I’m home, I googled Algarve which is the area we were in. I discovered it’s the most popular tourist destination in Portugal and one of the most popular in Europe. I also read that it’s the richest region in Portugal, after Lisbon and Madeira.

We had a timeshare week at Vilar do Golf— the most luxurious of the resorts we stayed in during our four weeks. It’s the closest thing to perfection I can remember enjoying. Not only did we each have our own room with a private bath, but the kitchen was supplied with everything one might want, including microwave, dishwasher, oven, an ample supply of glassware — some displayed in an attractive cabinet in the dining area — flatware, dinnerware, and — most special of all — a washer and dryer. Funny how it’s the little things that matter. They also supplied a drying rack on which I dried the laundry on the deck. I felt like I was playing house. (Actually every place we stayed in Europe supplied such a rack.)

There were other wonderful things people might enjoy at the resort. When we travel, however, we tend not to use the pools, exercise rooms, and other special places because our days are too filled with sightseeing.

But we certainly did enjoy the Bobby Jones restaurant the evening we arrived, tired and hungry. To tell the truth, I can’t remember what I ordered to eat, but I do remember ordering red wine. The server just told me he’d choose for me — a portuguese wine, of course. I’m not a connoisseur, but I do know what I like, and I liked that. In fact, I loved the way their wines were served with enthusiasm and pride wherever we ate in Portugal – usually selected for me by the server.

Bobby Jones is apparently a popular local restaurant, not there just to serve residents at Vilar do Golf. An impressive building at the end of an elegant and beautifully lighted path it provided live music and, as I recall, a floor for dancing. We just ate, but I’m sure it would be fun for anyone who might be getting ideas from what I’m saying here.

Now for a few photos. Our first day out we first explored the beach.

Begin Mon, 7-15-13

 

And crossed the bridge to the island.

over the bridge

 

On the way I spotted someone apparently capturing his dinner. If all went as it should when I updated this blog, he should also be found as today’s header.

Finding Dinner
A light touce over the bridge - Version 2

 

There was a touch of whimsey along the way as well, just before a restaurant where we couldn’t be served because it requires either a long wait or reservations. (I didn’t get a photo of it, but it was a first inkling that this was a very popular place.)

On the island our first sight was something that felt like being in Cambodia. Remember? But there were no entrepreneurs selling their home-made or -grown wares. In fact, a much more luxurious feel. (That’s Doug way to the right of the photo. If he had taken such a photo he would have shopped the person out of it. I, on the other hand, take photos — beautiful or not — to chronicle where I’ve been.)

Another Koh Samui?

 

 

And where we went after this stop was to take a look at the shops. If I hadn’t already got the sense that we were in a pretty wealthy area I would have caught on here.) Yes, I’m emerging from one shopping area and heading for another.

Shopping Area

 

As for shopping, you may remember that I chronicled my Asia/Pacific adventures by photographing the markets and noting the contrasts as the journey moved on. Here’s another contrast for you. The market we visited in our explorations the first day in the Algarve.

The market

And there you have our first day in Portugal. I had expected to do the week in Portugal in just one blog post, but I got carried away, I guess.

I’ll be back with more.

 

Four weeks in Europe   4 comments

I’ve just returned from four weeks in Europe: Portugal, Austria, France, and Bulgaria. I’ll be sharing stories and photos beginning in a few days. Right now I’m busy getting my photos labeled and organized while finding time to continue the editing of Mrs. Job — whoever she is to become.

Just one initial comment for my fellow inhabitants of Minnesota. All four of those countries impressed me with their roads — black, smooth, clear white lines. Not a single pot hole.

On the other hand, no place had the competence and clarity of signage that we enjoy here. Not even in their native languages.

I’ve met some wonderful people, enjoyed some amazing adventures, sights, and stirring emotions. And I’m anxious to share all that with you.

I’ll be back.

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