Hello… from Canada, my friends. From Ottawa where we landed on Monday evening, and where we’ve been trying to settle in for several days now. From Manotick, where I’ve been waking up early and sipping my morning tea as I watch the geese sail about on the river. Where I’ve been doing mounds of laundry. And trying to ignore the month’s worth of dust on the furniture, eschewing the vacuum cleaner in favour of pouring a second cup of tea and settling down with a book. Truth be told, both Hubby and I are tired. Travel takes it out of us. So we’ve been pacing ourselves. Taking our time to settle into our life here at home.

And that’s always hard after an extended trip. Homecomings can be a bit unsettling. Like an out of body experience. Jet lag can do that, of course. But still, it’s like we’ve been beamed up (à la Star Trek) to another space and time continuum. I’m happy to be home, sleeping in my own bed, making tea in my own teapot, and talking to my sister on the phone. But I wake up in the predawn darkness and have no idea where I am. My head and my heart are still in Portugal. And I kind of miss my morning cup of Portuguese coffee and my daily quota of pastéis de nata.

Last day in Sobredo in my “Dorena” hat.

The last time I posted we were wrapping up our stay at Casinhas Da Levada in the village of Sobreda on the edge of Peneda-Gerês National Park. What a find that place was! I’ll tell you more about our favourite accommodations in a later post. But I warn you, this post is going to be a long one. Better brew up a whole pot of tea.

When we reluctantly left Sobredo behind, we headed to the Douro Valley and Pinhão. We had some stern discussions with our GPS on that day. She wanted to send us in directions we did not want to go, on big highways which we wanted to avoid. Part of the problem was that there was no easy way to get from where we were on the edge of the park, through the park, to where we wanted to be.

Hubby spent some considerable time the night before studying our paper map finding a possible route we might take. And we duly made a list of small towns, which we then plugged into our GPS, so she would guide us onto the smaller roads. Our efforts to “control” the GPS lady worked a treat… that day. And we might have become a teensy bit cocky. As was evidenced a few days later. Ha. Suspenseful music here, folks.

Still, the drive took us a fair bit longer than we’d hoped. And it was late afternoon before we glimpsed the hills, vines, and fantastic views of the Douro Valley.

Douro vines in Provesende.
View down to the town of Pinhão. Our road is there somewhere.

The Douro Valley is breathtaking. But we’d only booked one night at Pinhão. We did not want to do a dinner cruise on the river or take a wine-tasting tour. I know. I’m sure we missed something special. I’m sure we missed all kinds of special things on this trip. But we made choices according to our “travel personality,” and what we were most interested in doing. And for this part of the trip that was driving through the countryside. Walking when the spirit moved us. Eating packed lunches perched on rocky outcroppings, or in picnic sites. And staying off the big highways and away from crowds.

We had an amazing dinner in Pinhão that night at Cozinha da Clara. And we were up early and ready to see the rest of the valley the next morning.

Douro Valley views are stunning.
The gratuitous good-hair selfie.

There must have been something special in the monkfish I had for dinner the night before because I was having an exceptionally good hair day on our “Douro Drive” day. And one cannot miss the opportunity of taking a selfie of good hair when it happens. Because it happens so seldom when I’m travelling.

Down the Douro. Or is it up?

I was pleased that I was able to get the train into the shot above. That orange engine adds just the right pop of colour to the landscape, don’t you think? I made Hubby stop so I could get a shot of this old church in Arcozelos, below. I wondered what its story was. It’s derelict and mostly destroyed inside, but not abandoned. The graveyard is well tended. In fact, I took the second photo through the gate left open by a woman carrying flowers to leave on a grave.

Hills and narrow twisty roads seemed to be a theme on this trip. We walked hills and narrow streets in Lisbon, Coimbra, and Porto… and we’d been driving them ever since. In fact on one day, when the road took us through a small, hilly village, Hubby made me get out and walk ahead down a steep hill and around the corner between two stone houses at the bottom to make sure the road went that way. He was afraid he’d drive down the hill and end up in someone’s backyard. He did NOT want to have to reverse back up that hill, he said.

Near Serra da Estrela Nature Park.
Boulders everywhere.

It was a beautiful day of driving. We were able to find our way down through the Serra da Estrela Park as Hubby hoped we might. We ate a roadside lunch and took photos of the amazing scenery, of boulders everywhere, even boulders perched on other boulders like giant Inukshuks. And just when we thought we were finally done with the twisty roads… our GPS looked like this. Ha.

But we successfully navigated the rest of the turns, found the unpaved road to our accommodation, and fetched up at Villa Regadio, set into the hilly farmland above Covilhã. Here we stayed for two nights. I’ll tell you more about this place in the post I’ll be doing on our favourite accommodations in Portugal.

Nighttime view from our room at Villa Regadio.

After two nights with Sandra at Villa Regadio, we headed for Évora. The landscape after Covilhã seemed to change dramatically. It was flat and dusty, with stunted spikey trees, olive groves, stork nests, and unhappy looking cattle. Not to mention the half-naked cork trees with numbers scrawled on their sides to indicate when the tree’s bark had been harvested. We thought that was pretty cool. And, then, to our chagrin, there were the two bridges closed for repairs. Two. The resulting detours cost us an extra hour and made for an unhappy host when we finally arrived in Évora, despite my phone call saying that we would be delayed. You see, here is the problem that can arise when we are asked to pinpoint what time we will arrive at our destination. Driving unfamiliar roads, in an unfamiliar country means we really have no idea how long a journey will take us. Despite the often decidedly optimistic estimation of our GPS. Several times, as we drove that day, even the GPS lady changed her mind about when we would arrive. Ha.

This photo (below right) taken of the olive trees and the village of Figueira e Barros in the distance meant we just had to stop to take a closer look at the sweet blue and white church. That’s what’s so great about making our own way around, along secondary roads. We can say, “Let’s stop here or there to have a closer look.” And there’s no one to mind. Except the already angry host in Évora. Ah well, I know she had her schedule to keep. And asking tourists to meet at a specific time at the apartment must be a mug’s game.

Still, we eventually did arrive in Évora. Found parking, walked to the apartment in the very old part of town, walked back to collect our bags, and went with the host to park our car. Then after grocery shopping, and wine-buying, we were happy to make our dinner, put our feet up, and relax in our own special little part of historic Évora. Our tiny apartment was delightful. As was Évora. We stayed here for three nights, and spent the days walking, eating, gaping, and loving everything we saw. From the old city walls, to the aqueduct, to the Roman ruins, the old churches, and especially the amazingly ornate roof of the Évora Cathedral which put us in mind of Château de Chambord in the Loire in France.

After Évora, we headed south west to Lagos and the Algarve. Or so we thought. Ha. Our GPS lady was going to have her revenge today. The problem with trying to micromanage technology like our GPS is that when one does not know all the bits of a country, like the provinces in which towns exist, and which province is east or west or what, one is likely to choose the wrong town. And go almost completely in the wrong direction. And when one is yammering with one’s spouse, and enjoying the scenery, one is unlikely to notice this… for hours. Yep. We were like the lady a few years ago who set out to fly to Sydney, Australia and ended up in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada. Big difference, people. Ha.

Somewhere in Portugal.
Somewhere else in Portugal

But, if we hadn’t gone out of our way that day, we’d never have seen this old windmill. Never have driven up this gravel road with only one small farm nearby. With no one home, it seemed. We’d never have walked up this hill to get a closer look. And we’d never have stood on that hill with no one around, only the wind and sky and history. We saw other windmills later in the trip. But they were not as special as this one. This one was our windmill.

“Our” windmill.

So eventually we made it to Lagos and our lovely guest house. We were there for three nights. We walked the Ponta da Piedade along the cliffs, walked the beach on a very windy day. Napped and read on the day it rained. And ate salt cod… again.

Beach trail outside of Lagos starting at Praia Dona Ana

As a Maritimer, where cod was plentiful and cheap when I was a child, I do not have good things to say about salt cod. I remember it from my childhood, baskets of it sitting on the sidewalk outside of small grocery stores. All curled up, and smelling to high heavens. I think that Maritimers see salt cod as the food of poverty and desperation. Walking by the fish section of Portuguese grocery stores took me back, I must say. In fact, I think there’s a blog post there… about food.

Hubby and I cannot understand why the Portuguese love salt cod so much. But they do. We had several meals of salt cod in restaurants… just to try to understand what all the fuss was about. A couple of these meals were very bad. One was lovely. But despite that one lovely meal, I have not changed my opinion of salt cod. Ha.

Breezy day at Meia Praia.

When we left Lagos, we had one more interesting journey to make. We drove down to Sagres and out to the most southwesterly point of Portugal, and of mainland Europe, at Cabo de São Vicente. The ocean was wild that day. The rain and high winds of the day before, and the continuing winds that day, made for what the weather office was calling a “coastal event.” The waves were pretty spectacular.

Cabo de Saõ Vicente

Then we drove north along the coast roads and visited a couple of beautiful beaches. Like this one.

Praia da Bordeira

Where the tiny café was almost empty. And we could sit and watch the surf.

Lunch spot

And I tried a new and interesting take on the hotdog. The cachorrinho was served in a bun with onions (which I declined), sweet corn, grated carrot, and “crisps.” We used to call these potato sticks when I was a kid. But whatever. I tried it. And it was pretty good. I’ll admit, I did add ketchup. The crisps in the bun reminded me of the first time Hubby and I saw a couple of teenagers in Yorkshire eat a chip butty. Interesting. Worth trying once. But not something we’d make a habit of eating. Probably how most non-Canadians view poutine.

My lunch.

Anyway. I don’t want to belabour this post. After a couple of beach views we headed directly for our last stay (aside from the airport hotel in Lisbon.) Naturarte Rio is described as a “boutique hotel.” But we stayed in a small one-bedroom unit, one of seven, with a patio that looked out over low hills and trees, and a pool, and barbeque area, and even a pen of farm animals. The little black pigs were adorable. This place exuded the perfect vibe for our last days in Portugal.

Tea and book time at Naturarte Rio, near São Luis.

We walked the trails on the property. Ate breakfast on our terrace. Read our books. And ordered our dinner to be delivered from the much larger sister-site nearby. At less then 18 Euros per person for soup, salad, main course, and dessert… it was a true “meal deal,” to quote MacDonald’s. The food was delicious. We had a bottle of Douro vinho tinto, and good coffee to follow. Sigh. This was, in fact, the perfect end to our trek through Portugal. Slow, quiet, delicious, and scenic.

Views of the river on our walk.

So. We’re home now, my friends. I’m happy to be here. But still… part of my head, and part of my heart is back in Portugal. The quiet places we found there were some of the quietest places we’ve ever experienced. The people we met there were some of the friendliest people we’ve ever met. Most Portuguese people cannot do enough to help you.

From the hosts in our various accommodations, Sandra in Covilhã and Sergio in Sobredo, to the waiters in restaurants, to the young manager in a coffee shop in a town I can’t remember who followed us outside to the terrace to see if we liked our coffees and stayed to chat and practise his English. To the fellow customers in grocery stores who laughingly tried to help us figure out how to weigh our vegetables. Or the two men who almost missed their own train when they tried to help Hubby get his ticket to work in the machine at Rossio Station in Lisbon. We were met with kindness and smiles wherever we went. That kind of makes me tear up, you know.

Geese on the Rideau on our first morning home.

Then there are the other travellers we met. The German couples in Lagos. Richard, a fellow Canadian, in Lisbon. The lovely couple from Dubai in a restaurant in Coimbra. She is a specialist in “sustainability” and advises companies on how to be more environmentally responsible, and he is a wine-buyer. How interesting is that?

Of course I mustn’t forget the large table full of middle-aged Dutchmen who sat beside us at a restaurant in Lisbon. They were loud and boisterous. But we were outside, and it was a beautiful warm evening. They occasionally broke into song, complete with harmony. It was hilarious. “Were they a men’s choir?” we wondered. Meanwhile we had fallen into conversation with the guy who sat alone at the next table. He was from Toronto, and we were having a great conversation on the future of education. I know. In a street cafe in Lisbon! And eventually the Dutchmen asked us where we were from. When we said we were from Canada, they shouted, “Canadians! Canadians!” and then they exploded into song. Gad. I’m smiling as I write this. The Dutch still love Canada, even though the memory of Canadian soldiers liberating Holland at the end of the second world war must be fading.

But that encounter. Or any of the encounters we had with so many people in the last four weeks. The discussion about the state of healthcare in Portugal with the doctor in Porto who tended to Hubby’s foot. Or the one with the girl from Brazil who worked at the reception desk in our apartment building in Lisbon, and who admitted that she was homesick. Aren’t all those encounters part of the reason we travel? To see new things. Try new foods. Experience new environments. But also to meet new people. To find out how others live in other parts of the world.

We always come home from trips with a stash of memories. Memories of grand buildings and stunning landscapes, of course. But also memories of people, and of smiles, and of stories.

The pumpkin harvest.

So, finally I have written myself out. After more than two weeks of only posting on Instagram, I had lots of pent up stories to tell. I have more to say about our trip. About my failed packing planning. About the wonderful accommodations we found. And maybe a bit about the whole idea of travel at a time when the world is in such distress in so many places.

But for now, I’ll just say goodnight. I think I have a last load of drying that needs folding before I go to bed.

Or maybe it can wait until morning.

Now, how about you my friends? We’re all in a different places in our lives. Maybe you’ve some travel plans of your own? What likes, dislikes, needs, or desires guide your choices when you travel? Or maybe travel is something you can only dream of at the moment. Maybe you want to weigh in about that. Go ahead we’re listening.

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59 thoughts on “Head and Heart Still in Portugal”

  1. What a great stash of memories!
    I know that unsettled feeling that tends to hang around for weeks. I often think it takes my body time to physically adjust and my mind time to mentally reframe.
    I love your descriptions of your encounters along the way. Yes, it’s these experiences that open our eyes and hearts and minds!

  2. Great stuff , wonderful photos & our kind of travel exactly , bar the hot dog – I’ll stick to my chip butty 😁We can get those little custard tarts here of course but they are not nearly as good as in their home country . I’m glad you agree about the friendliness of the Portuguese people , it’s what I remember most about my Portuguese trip .
    We just got home from a couple of weeks in Scotland so I’m at the piles of washing stage too , with my mind in the Lochs & Glens . It’s been a very stormy autumn in the UK , with way above normal rainfall causing raging rivers & awful flooding in some areas but we managed to keep dry & enjoy our walks between downpours .
    Looking forward to more of your travel stories . Hope we see Stu’s lovely smile again .

    1. I must admit that I do love a good hotdog. Ever since I was a kid. In fact right up to the day she died my Mum still tried to bribe me to do stuff by offering to buy me a hotdog. Ha. Still worked too. Stu and I were just talking this morning about how lovely Scotland must be in the fall. We’ve been reading about the flooding over your way. Glad you are safe and dry.

  3. I have very much enjoyed following the trip on Instagram over the last weeks and all the stunning views. I am with you on the funny potato chips on sandwiches – but fond of salt cod. We don’t tend to eat it here in the UK, perhaps because of its links to urban poverty but my s-i-l in Bayonne makes a gorgeous dish with it. Now, back to the dusting, woman!

    1. Sounds like a lovely trip, I look forward to hearing more about it once you get settled and rested at home. I will be making some notes as we are planning a make-up trip to Portugal since Covid cancelled our planned 2020 trip. We have a very similar travel style to you and Stu. My hubby and I disagree slightly on one thing….he likes to rent a car and drive and explore that way but I kind of prefer train travel….especially in countries that drive on the opposite side than Canada🙂.

      1. We did a bit of train travel in Portugal, Denise. Just down to Sintra from Lisbon. Maybe you can do both?? Take the train from Lisbon up to Porto and then rent your car there? The national parks in the interior are worth seeing, I think. Not to mention the tiny towns. Even if one does have to send a scout on foot to see if the road is navigable. Ha.

    2. The last night we stayed at Naturarte Rio the dinner was a salt cod dish. We almost demurred but didn’t… and it was delicious. Kind of a casserole and not strong tasting at all. I am still successfully ignoring the dusting, Annie. But guilt will out I’m sure. Ha.

  4. Thank you for sharing your adventures. We are not able to travel, so being able to see Portugal with you and your hubby has been wonderful.

  5. Loved your account of Portugal….I have fond me ories of my visit there . At present, travel for us is limited, so do enjoy your trips vicariously .

  6. I was really eager to read about your travels in Portugal and the views that leave me dreaming as well. We are off to Portugal on Friday, but will only be travelling from Lisbon to Porto then a river cruise down the Douro, then a return to Lisbon. Oh how I wish we could spend more time in the lower part of the country, but perhaps it will require a return trip that is not so structured. You are so very good at planning and travelling at your own pace. Thank you so much for your wonderful writing. And, yes, it takes me a little while to feel settled when I get back as well… the dusting can wait.

  7. Oh what a wonderful trip you and Stu had. So many years ago my first husband and I did the same style of travel as you. Small places, country roads, and generous people. I miss those travels. Now, many years later and husband #2, we are city based. No longer feel we can drive in another country. But each environment has it’s rewards. Do keep your style of travel as long as it feels physically possible. I loved following your travels and travails.

    1. Thanks, Bonnie. We were not sure about this trip. Stu felt as if maybe the driving would be beyond him now. But we managed fine. And now think we’ve one more left in us. Not sure where though.

  8. No travel plans here Sue and that is by choice. We did travel extensively prior to Covid to the point I was feeling travel fatigue. Now that we are able to travel again, we find we no longer have the desire and we’re okay with that.

    Your depiction of Portugal is spot on to our experience. The scenery is spectacular, the people are perhaps the friendliest we have ever encountered while travelling. The food is wonderful with the exception of salt cod. Similar to your vivid recollections of salt cod when you were a child in New Brunswick, I have similar recollections from our Nova Scotia dinner table. My Mother, bless her heart, would try to sneak it into mashed potatoes, but there are some tastes you just can’t mask.

    So glad you enjoyed your trip and have wonderful memories to treasure Sue. Welcome home.

    1. Thanks, Glenda. Love that story about your mum trying to sneak the cod into the potatoes. Mums can be tricky. My mum used to serve liver and cabbage on the same night. Because I hated one and my brother hated the other. That way we were both moaning at the same time. Ha.

  9. Simply beautiful! Such a wonderful country and friendly people (And great hair!).I’ve enjoyed”travelling” with you both very much and am looking forward to the next episode of your journal
    We started to travel similar to you,slowly driving,visiting neighbourhood countries ,ex-Yu,Austria,Italy,part of Germany,Switzerland,France ….(minus GPS or Booking.com- they were not invented yet :)), it is still the best way! Than, there were self organized aeroplane,combined with train,bus or car, trips but now I do only city breaks-, sometimes longer though…Actually,right now,I only travel to the seaside or Vienna. I have to find somebody who could be with my mother, while I’m away, and this is not easy and I’m worried all the time . But,I cherish and am thankful for every day very much
    Interesting,salted cod is a special treat here,for Christmas Eve and Good Friday. I prefer to cook (and eat) fresh cod but like salted cod pãté
    Dottoressa

    1. Oh, I hear you, my friend. It’s so hard to find people to help with elderly parents. Especially if they still live at home. We were very lucky that my sister was able to move in with Mum in her last two years, and that I was able to travel to spell her off when she needed to be elsewhere. Not that I was any good at it. I make a horrible nurse. I kept saying to my sister, I do the books and the jokes, you do the nursing. Ha.

      1. I know…It was great that your sister could be with your Mum and that you could come for a while. Most precious part is talking and just being there
        Thank you! Luckily,we are not in nursing season,but she can’t stay alone
        D.

  10. We spent a month toodling around Portugal this past winter. You had me going back to my pictures because we were in some of the same spots….but alas…you saw things we didn’t and we saw things that you missed as well. Can’t see or do it all. Just spent 3 weeks in Morocco toodling around. As we get older, toodling suits us just fine. Welcome back to Canada from a western Canadian who just experienced their first snowfall of the season. Blah! Told hubby that we now enter into the longest season.

    1. “Toodling” is what we like best to do. I heard aboiut your snowfall. We awoke to snow on the ground this morning. But only a smattering. Thank goodness. It’s supposed to still be sweater weather… not down-coat weather!!

  11. I just wanted you to know, you are so beautiful and absolutely love your hair, color and all. I am so entertained from your writing about your travels, you have the talent to put me right beside you as you describe your adventures.
    So – thank you sweet soul, and keep your blogs coming.

  12. Interesting last sentence you wrote asking about thoughts on travel. I just recently read a blog asking the question about travel and its carbon footprint left on the environment. I think the question was not directed at those going on bucket list trips but on the yearly trips to Cuba etc. Travel without much thought as it were. It addressed what we bring and leave behind as tourists, the positive and the negative. Honestly I had never thought about travel ina negative light but I see the blogger’s point.As someone who rents out a property in an active tourist area of Canada I can look at the coin from both sides…the disrespectful IG’s who tramp onto private property without a care and treat a rental with even less respect. Flaunting both house rules and those set out to protect the environment, wild and marine life as well as protecting the privacy of local residents. Also the amazing guests who are charmed and delighted by what they see and discover and who want to return.
    I must also add that my rental is in a maritime province that treats garbage disposal and recycling as a religion and it always tells me a bit about those who could care less and those who really make an effort. It’s not rocket science and we leave clear guidelines but my cleaner reports that twice this summer trash was left SPREAD OVER THE QUARTZ KITCHEN COUNTERS for her to organize! No attempt made to separate at all…and folks wonder why accommodation prices are going up:(
    Portugal is on my bucket list and really enjoyed your little travelogue!

    1. Funny you should mention that. As I said to Hubby one day in Portugal, I always like to leave a place as neat as I can, replacing pillows, tidying the bed even though I know it will be stripped anyway, placing dirty towels in a neat pile, cleaning the kitchen counters etc. I’d hate for the cleaners to enter anywhere we’ve stayed and see a mess.

  13. Sue I enjoyed this post and am glad to read that you enjoyed your trip so much. I think I would love the kind of backroads driving and spending time in quiet places that you and Stu luxuriated in.

    I don’t know exactly how I feel about travel on the whole. I have had an unusual life as I lived abroad in my twenties and travelled widely before settling into a more humdrum work life. Now I have to travel to see loved ones far away and to some extent for work, so do it often in a targeted way, but my enthusiasm is tempered. I tend to spend more time in specific places. Sometimes I think I would like to see some new places, but I’ve found more and more as I’ve gotten older that “wherever you go there you are” and I am probably just as happy living a quiet life to the fullest – in my imagination and creativity- exactly where I am. Certain aspects of the world are sobering, which adds clarity on this point. That said, the best part of travel, as you encapsulate beautifully, is the getting to know lovely people elsewhere and learning about different cultures and ways of being.

    Hope you have a relaxing week settling in.

    1. We’re opposites with respect to travel, Stephanie. I had only travelled between New Brunswick and Ottawa when I met Stu in my late twenties. Except for when I traveled to BC for my basic training in the forces… but that’s a whole other story. Ha. I grew up in a family that did not travel. Farmers back in the day could not leave home for long. Who would look after the animals? And when my step-father had his holidays from his government job, he went to the woods to cut firewood for the year. Stu on the other hand grew up on a military family. And when his dad was posted to Europe they travelled every chance they got. The idea that I could be a traveller seemed unattainable to me until I met Stu. Now even the thought of a day trip up the Ottawa Valley still fills me with excitement.

      1. I love this – so interesting. I can relate in that my mom and in fact her parents never really travelled. My mom has been to Europe exactly twice. Growing up we didn’t have money for travel other than domestic or US road trips for camping and such…so I always thought that travel was for other people. I got the bug after university, however, and then worked abroad…so never looked back. (I appreciate your point about the farmers, too – my mom doesn’t like to travel because she likes to be back home to tend to her garden. Her early years were spent on a farm and so maybe that’s the origin story.)

        Travelling in the Ottawa Valley can also be exciting! I tend to love small trips as much as big ones, as there is always something new to see. It’s all about perspective.

  14. Thank you for your delightful, interesting post! I think you and your husband achieved a perfect balance of seeing the sites and enjoying the people and ambiance of the country. I laughed when you had to get out of the car and scout the landscape at the bottom of the hill! I remember doing something similar when we were in an Italian village. Those memories and stories are precious. I have thought of going to Portugal for a while now and I think you have convinced me! Welcome home!

    1. If you liked the small towns of Italy, you will like Portugal. The only time we were bored was when we were driving up the west coast from Lisbon to Coimbra and on to Porto. Despite a few quaint towns that were crowded with tourists, the scenery was flat, industrial, and not scenic or interesting at all. We were worried that we’d made a mistake to drive everywhere until we headed inland from Porto. Then things changed and we were mostly delighted all the time. Except when we drove over 100 km out of our way that day we were heading to Lagos. That was a BIT trying. Ha.

  15. Thanks for a wonderful post! What a lovely way to spend a month. Having just returned from a week’s trip to the Lake District for a family wedding and then several days exploring the Highlands of Scotland for the first time, I can relate to the travel fatigue upon returning home. It is a treat to visit new places, meet new people and enjoy new foods. So lucky to be able to do it whilst I can : )

    1. We are lucky to be able to travel, Ann. Stu and I loved the Scottish Highlands when we were there. Even though managing narrow roads when one is driving on the “wrong” side can be a bit hairy. 🙂

  16. Such an interesting read Sue! My son in law is from Portugal and his parents still live there so I loved looking at all the pictures.

    Selfishly I am glad you are back home as I missed reading your blog every Sunday morning. I always look forward to it.

    As far as travel goes my husband and I have not taken a trip anywhere since 2020 just before COVID hit. I am starting to get the itch to get out there again. He is definitely more of a home body but will come with a little persuasion and is usually happy once he gets there.

    So glad you enjoyed your adventure and look forward to hearing more about it in your upcoming blogs!

  17. Sue, I have really enjoyed following your posts about your travels in Portugal. I love that you two enjoy meandering through the less populated areas, spending time in small communities, enjoying the road less travelled by.
    I haven’t travelled abroad since before Covid. Now with the world in even greater turmoil, I’m not sure that I care to. But if I change my mind, Portugal would be on my list – thanks to you and Stu.

    1. The state of the world does give one pause when considering travel, doesn’t it? We had some trepidation before we left, worrying that perhaps this kind of travel was beyond us now.

  18. Sounds like the perfect holiday covering the roads less travelled. I always feel this gives you a better insight into a country. Plus you are not competing with loads of tourists. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I agree, Kenzie. We were so happy to leave the crowded areas behind when we left Porto. Even though we loved both Porto and Lisbon… the small towns and villages were better.

  19. Thank you for this lovely post. You confirm what many have told us: Portugal is a little-known gem and destination. We lived for several years in Brazil where salted cod is also a big thing. I had it once prepared in such a way that I really liked it, but I think it can be tricky to get right. I can understand why the Brazilian girl you met admitted she was homesick. Most Brazilians love their country. It was wonderful to learn that so many love that wonderful place. I guess I sort of thought most people don’t love home–dumb me! My husband is one who wants to be totally scheduled and guided on a tour. We have done two river cruises in Europe. Although I like this too, there are limits to what one can see and do on these itineraries. On the other hand, I no longer want to live for months and years at a time in a foreign country. So, I guess I am pretty content right now to be traveling to take care of grandchildren. Jet lag is a situation to be contended with. Take your time getting back into routines. Thank you for letting us travel vicariously with you.

  20. Welcome home! I know very little about Portugal and have enjoyed travelling with you over the last few weeks. I hope you are enjoying that home-sweet-home feeling, even though it entails mounds of laundry.

    We have no firm travel plans at the moment, though we’re talking about possibly visiting our niece and her family in England sometime in 2024, to which we would add some other UK travel as well. But that’s very much in the contemplation stage at the moment …

  21. Welcome home! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your trip and am looking forward to the future posts. I love the way you two travel and your adventures along the way. I agree that it’s the more down-to-earth connections to people and places that make for rich experiences.
    I have been home for a few days from a ten-day trip to Maine with my sister. We flew to the southern portion of the state, rented a car, and meandered northward along Maine’s dramatic coastline. We stayed in historic inns; nothing younger than 100 years old. Ate lobster and Maine blueberries (in all forms but mostly delicious pancakes). Shopped in wonderful antique stores and spent a bit of money shipping things home. Acadia National Park was a joy as we spent a few days exploring and hiking. The terrain and Fall colors was just so different from Southern California. So beautiful. We’ve just added Nova Scotia and P.E.I to our list. Most precious was time with my travel companion, eight years younger than me and such a “thorough friend” since my husband passed away. So thankful that she’s my sister.

    1. I love Maine, Charlene. It’s a lot like New Brunswick except with better antique shops. Ha. Also love Nova Scotia and P.E.I. If you’re booking travel to those provinces, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
      P.S. Now that you’ve been to Maine, try reading Elizabeth Strout (if you haven’t already.) Her books are mostly set in Maine.

  22. Wonderful post of your travels in Portugal Sue! We travel very much the same as you two do, booking accommodations before we go and taking our time getting there, stopping along the way as we please. Our last trip this way was Brittany and Normandy in 2019, we had such a great time. We returned from a river cruise 2 weeks ago with covid, that our friends asked us to join them on and we said yes particularly because it began in Prague, a city on our bucket list. While we had done a river cruise 12 years ago that we enjoyed, this was not the case this time and we realized that it’s just not our thing. We are thinking about northern Italy and Switzerland next year, time to start planning although we’ve heard something about drivers over 75 will not be able to rent cars, have you heard anything about that?

    1. I’m sorry to hear that your cruise was not as enjoyable as you’d hoped. I’ve heard varied reports from friends about river cruises. We also had heard that people over 75 could not rent cars. We worried that 2018 (when Hubby was 74) might be our last trip to drive rental cars. Of course we could always rent the car in my name, but I am in no way an intrepid driver, like my husband. Plus he cannot manage the GPS technology. We thought a switch in roles would be a disaster. In 2019 we were okay when we were in the Balkans. And this year, Hubby is 79, we were okay too. We don’t know if this is down to the firm we use to rent our cars. We wondered if they perhaps rent only from companies which do not have age rules. We’re not sure. Anyway, if you are in Canada or the U.S. we would highly recommend Auto Europe. We contact their agent who is in Portland Maine (I think) and they handle all our arrangements. We’ve used them for trips to Ireland, Europe, South America, Costa Rica, and Australia. They book from various rental companies and we have never had an issue. Our friends who are both over 80 use them too. If you want to use them email me and I will send you the contact info.

  23. What a great read. I just returned from Portugal a week today. I could relate to a lot of the places you visited as we did too. I absolutely loved Portugal so much history and architecture.
    I live in Barrhaven.

    1. Ha. What a coincidence. We met someone from Toronto on our trip. And then a couple from Gatineau on a hike. I made a comment to them about their MEC backpack. 🙂

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