Back In The States

So, returning from Lisbon, we had just a couple more days left in Portugal. We had some goals:

  • Get another café afogado. My wife was thoroughly thrilled by the one tasted pre-Lisbon, and wanted more.
  • Visit a port cave/lodge.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Go to the in-hotel spa together.
  • Buy a pair of jeans.

Not all were accomplished. I purchased a pair of jeans on arrival in the states, but had to live with slacks on the return flight. And Kim went without tasting another ice-cream-choked coffee. But the rest filled the remainder of our stay.

First day back we visited the port lodge. I’ve covered that on my other blog, so won’t say much here other than that it was extremely enjoyable. The journey back to the hotel, on the other hand, took most of the evening. We walked from Vila Nova de Gaia all the way back through the Ribeira to Avenida Boavista, where our hotel was. A long way, but a lot of fun, and some good food:

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The next day, we spent mostly relaxing in the hotel. The spa beckoned, and we had planned ahead the day before and reserved a slot in the afternoon – which gave us access to the “spa” area for the entire day. This included pool, dry and steam saunas, as well as salt and herb heat rooms.

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Finally, our last day in Porto, we went to the beach. We walked from Castelo do Queijo to the southwestern-most tip of Porto, getting drenched in the process by the crashing waves. We then bused back to our hotel, changed, and made our way back to the port cellar we toured (Taylor’s) for a nice dinner in their restaurant. It was a great end to a long day, and a great vacation.

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And then, 24 hours of flights, lines and gates.

And now, back to work.

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Yesterday we finished up our short stint in Lisboa (Lisbon), Portugal. It was a good time, taking the train there and back, staying a night in a well-positioned hotel, and enjoying the sights around the regions of Baixa, Chiado and beyond. It rained most of the first day (when we were outside), but was quite sunny the second (when we spent quite a while inside). Nevertheless, a great time!

First thing off the train, we got on the metro and went to our hotel. Took just a moment to figure out where the hotel was in relation to the metro, but we could not have been closer. It was maybe 100 meters at most. Okay, we actually walked quite a ways in the wrong direction first, my fault. Dropping our stuff we proceeded on towards Baixa, but the route we took was not the best (again, my fault). We got there, and from thereon things began picking up in the “directions” department.

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We did quite a bit of sight-seeing in the areas of Restauradores, Rossio and Praça da Figueira. And quite a bit of shopping for things – like trinkets and scarves (woohoo!) – in Baixa and Chiado. We found an awesome gelato place (I thought their sorbets even better). And we enjoyed a later afternoon snack at the Hard Rock Cafe in Lisbon. Didn’t even know there was one until we came upon it on Avenida da Liberdade. It was just a bit odd having only a little before visited and prayed within the Igreja (Church) de São Domingo! Can you say “stark contrast”?

We mosied our way back to the hotel, finding a mall in the progress (and finding we had come full circle back to our hotel…). The mall had a Starbuck’s with free Wi-Fi for customers, so we took our repose and got our bearings online. We then made our way back to the hotel, took a break from walking to lay down for a bit, and then got up and headed for dinner next door. More gelato ensued after that, and then we crashed to gain strength for another day.

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We didn’t get up incredibly early, but in time for the hotel’s breakfast. If you are staying at the Hotel Borges-Chiado, plan to skip  breakfast. It isn’t worth it. But the hotel is still quite good, as I can’t imagine a much better position for the price in relation to the the sights, sounds and tastes of Lisbon.

We got on the metro to hit the last stop on the line, at which point we traded for a tram to get to the Museu Nacionel de Arte Antigo. The tram didn’t stop where it was supposed to, but we finally made it to the museum. It has a fairly nice collection, and I must say had one of the best lunch arrangements I’ve ever seen. The outside garden where we took lunch was wonderful, and the food was excellent, too. Finishing off the meal with a half-bottle of vinho verde completed the deal.

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We finished up most of the museum, before calling it quits. Kim wanted to see some of the Castelo de São Jorge, so we took a bus and tram combo to get there. And while we did get to peruse a little bit, we really didn’t have time to pay to get in and see most of the sites before needing to head back to the hotel to pick up our bags and head back to the train.

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The train ride ended without incident, followed by a simple and cheap Italian dinner at one of my favorite Porto restaurants, Al Porto. Their “Risotto Exotic” is to die for, and their pizzas are pretty tasty. We then headed back to the hotel to crash.


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Now For Vacation, Rather Than Work

Well, it has been rather full days here in Porto. But, work now comes to an end with Kim arriving in Portugal. Now we get to have some fun! Pictures of today and yesterday…

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I’ll have to go back in in a little bit to update the titles and descriptions. But you can view for now.

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Heading to Oporto

I’m in the airport waiting to go to Oporto, Portugal, for work. Seeing as I haven’t spent much time in Portuguese (about as much as Spanish…), I thought, why not? So I have spent the last two weeks starting to look at the language. Not very far, honestly, but I think I can meet and greet. Maybe ask for directions a bit.

As a friend commented, I am surprised at how much French-like language shows up in Portuguese. It is interesting, if nothing else. I knew that Portuguese had come into Japanese in a number of places (like the word for bread). I was not as aware of Japanese words coming into Portuguese – as is the case for catana. Note that Google Translate returns “machete”, but Teach Yourself’s Complete Portuguese states its use for “cutlass”. And in the reverse, Google Translate reports “cutlass” as a cutelo. And this is why learning a language is never easy…

Along with instructional books and audio, I have been using Mind Snack’s mobile app for Portuguese, and have been pretty happy. It is pretty much just games that help you with speed-recall, spelling, identification and association. Not any help with testing pronunciation, but it has been very helpful in showing what the pronunciation is. How the sounds fit together. Might have gotten Rosetta Stone, but was amused to find they only offer Brazilian Portuguese.

A set of sounds that keeps surprising me is the t/d before standalone e and i, which tend to sound like ch/j respectively. There may be more to it than just the standalone e/i. But I know that that causes the sound change.

I plan to do a bit more studying while on the plane and waiting for planes. I have to get to the hotel (o hotel) by taxi (o táxi), and check into the hotel, too, of course. Not to mention getting dinner and the rest of the activities while I am there.

Well, with total travel time of ~18 hours, I’ll have some time.

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A Friend’s Rant

A facebook friend posted the following political statement that I found interesting. I have modified slightly (my changes in square brackets) I’m curious; post back what party you think this person supports. I really don’t care either way, but I am curious.

I have always been an open minded person who enjoyed debating politics and religion with people. I loved to hear different points of view. that has all recently changed. there has been a shift in politics that is scary to me. [My husband] and I go back and forth, he feels that good people can vote [hated political party] and I don’t think that is the case. you may on the surface seem good, go to church, give to charity but if you subscribe to the [hated political party] values you are not the kind of person I want to know. [My husband] says that people don’t have to believe in all the [hated political party] values but I feel that if you are voting that way you are voting for those values, all if them. as we look back in history do we not hold all who stood by and watched the Nazi party butcher millions of people with disdain? it’s not enough to say, I knew they were killing people but I didn’t believe in that, I just liked their [modern value being sneered at compared to the evils of Nazi Germany]. is this an extreme view of the situation? [My husband] feels it is but to me it is not. the [hated political party] leadership [does not agree with my views on marriage], they [don't share my views on abortion] and worst of all they [don't share other of my views on abortion]. they do not [agree with me about health care] and they are more concerned with keeping [hated party's candidate] out of office than [some other thing I think would distract from this candidate's failings]. I have officially drawn a line in the sand, if those are your values I really don’t need to know you.

Yes, my friend just compared supporters of [the hated political party's candidate] to those who allowed Hitler to do his thing. Well, sort of. Hard not to read it that way, to me. In any case, I’m not sure whether to sigh in disbelief or cry in sadness over the self-congratulation that sees no issue in writing off all those who disagree to the point of making a different choice.

I hope I don’t get de-friended.

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