Years ago I used to teach two Tennessee Williams’ plays to my senior English classes: The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire. As sad as it was, I loved A Streetcar Named Desire. And the character Blanche Dubois in particular, she who “always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

I can hear Blanche’s line in my head, sometimes, spoken in the voice of Vivien Leigh. Especially when we travel. When we meet people who are kind and friendly and helpful. We met a lot of those people in Portugal this fall. Smiling, friendly, helpful, hospitable strangers.

That’s what this post is about. The kindness of strangers. And our experiences with Portuguese hospitality, the kindly, friendly people we met, and the places where we stayed and felt at home.

Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara in Lisbon

As you may know, Hubby and I always plan our own trips. We decide on a basic route, places we want to visit, how long we might stay in each place, and then set about finding and booking accommodation that suits us. The places where we stay are at least as important to us as the sights we see. And we had very good luck in the accommodations we chose in Portugal. Mostly they were small, quirky, self-catered places. Mostly privately owned. And run by kind and friendly people.

Perhaps our greatest “find” was Casinhas da Levada in the tiny village of Sobredo on the edge of Peneda-Gerês National Park. I say “find” because we almost didn’t stay here. We’d looked at accommodation in nearby Ponte da Barca, but nothing struck our fancy. Then I changed to a “map view” of available places, and saw the tiny, red “map pin” of Casinhas da Levavda, sitting by itself and surrounded by green. I explored further and was enchanted. The reviewer who said that travellers should stay “just for the experience of being there” clinched the deal for me.

Our bedroom at Casinhas da Levada

The experience of being at Casinhas da Levada was well worth the slight detour off the beaten track, up a winding narrow road, and down a few lanes that we might not have chanced if not for our confident GPS lady and the owner’s directions. Casinhas da Levada consists of two stone cottages, fully renovated, pristine inside, with a pool, and surrounded by an ancient village, narrow cobbled lanes, gardens, trees, and quiet. Owner Sérgio and his wife Catarina bought these cottages when they were derelict and renovated them. We stayed in the two bedroom cottage.

Hubby enjoying the pool.

We squeezed a lot of enjoyment into our three nights there. We had a full modern kitchen so we cooked for ourselves two nights, enjoying our wine by the pool first. On one day we packed a picnic lunch and drove a route, suggested by the owner Sérgio, that took us up into the hills and through small villages in Peneda-Gerês National Park. On the second day, we strolled our own village, followed the road up the hill past small farms, waved at a couple of friendly ladies toiling in their gardens, and returned to jump into the pool. On our last night we picked up takeout pizza in Ponte da Barca, and enjoyed it with a bottle of red wine in the little outdoor kitchen… accompanied by two friendly neighbourhood kittens who had adopted us.

The outdoor kitchen.

As I reread what I’ve written I am sad that it does not begin to describe how much we loved it at Casinhas da Levada. The location which was so special, the quiet, the church bells, the feeling of being out of time, Sérgio’s kindly advice, the small cakes Catarina baked for us, the fresh eggs, the neighbourhood kittens who visited each morning, and just everything, I guess. If you want to explore a bit of Portugal that is off the beaten track (ever so slightly) we can highly, highly recommend that you stay with Sérgio and Catarina. You can find their AirB&B listing here.

The attentive neighbours.

After we’d picked up our rental car and headed north out of Lisbon, we stayed for two nights at Oryza Guesthouse in Coimbra. What an amazing place this is. The 150 year old farmhouse is surrounded by a lovely courtyard where we ate breakfast, beautiful gardens, fruit trees, a small pool, and numerous outdoor seating areas, in one of which I whiled away an entire morning with my book. At the back of the property is an allotment area that they share with the local community, and even some chickens.

Breakfast at Oryza Guesthouse was the best we had our entire trip. Homemade jams, warm croissants, fresh eggs (from their own chickens), fresh juice from their own oranges, great coffee, and as much of everything as we could eat. We chuckled one morning when we saw the owner Luis hustle by from the garden to the house with his arms full of fresh oranges. Everything, everything was top notch here.

The courtyard at Oryza Guesthouse.

I loved the decor of Oryza Guesthouse. They have renovated everything but kept the traditional feel, furnishing the main floor with gorgeous mid-century antiques. I loved the library in an outside room off the courtyard. I think that Lidia said this room was originally the laundry. Even the outdoor furniture is a collection of antique odds and ends that warmed my little quirky-loving heart.

Lidia, the manager, Luis, one of the owners whose family originally farmed here, and the young girls who served us breakfast, were all so attentive. Not a fawning, faux, “have a nice day” attentiveness, but a smiling, kindly, genuine desire to make our stay as enjoyable as possible. Our first night we took Lydia’s advice and dined at a nearby restaurant called O Açude. Gad, the food here was delicious.

And to make the evening even more enjoyable we fell into conversation with the young couple at the next table. Katherine and Marc are from South Africa, but they live in Dubai. She works advising companies about sustainability and he is a wine buyer. How cool are those jobs, eh? And what a lovely, interesting couple they are. We yakked about sustainability, and slow fashion (d’uh), about wine, about travel, and whatever. I laughed to Hubby when we parted with hugs all round… “how is it we keep meeting such interesting, friendly people?”

The next day, we had a slow start. Coimbra old-town is beautiful, and interesting, and old, but we knew we’d only have two or three hours in us on those steep hills in the heat before we’d be ready for our dinner. So we lingered at Oryza Guesthouse after breakfast, reading, relaxing, and eating a picnic lunch in the courtyard before decamping for Coimbra. I do want to say that Coimbra is well worth a visit and, if you venture there, we recommend Oryza Guesthouse. Highly, highly recommend. Everything in this post will be highly, highly. Ha. You can find more information at their website here.

Dinner at O Açude was delicious

Later in our trip, after Lisbon and Coimbra, after Porto, after Sobredo and the Douro Valley, we fetched up at Villa de Regadio outside of Covilhã. Our intention had been to explore Covilhã, maybe Belmonte, and perhaps drive through some of Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela while we were there. But our drive from Pinhão, along the Douro Valley, to Covilhã actually took us through much of the park. Or as much of it as we wanted. And after a long day of twisty, albeit scenic, roads we were ready for a rest.

So we did nothing for two nights and one whole day except eat, relax, read, and chat to Sandra our host at Villa de Regadio. This was just what we needed. A comfortable room, pristine, in fact, a lovely generous breakfast, calm, quiet surroundings, and the ability to sip wine on the courtyard, cook our own dinner in the modern breakfast room which Sandra told us we should treat as our home as long we we were there, and just chill. If you intend to visit the Covilhã area we (highly, highly) recommend Villa de Regadio. You can find their website here.

We loved our chats with Sandra while we stayed with her, and we were sad to leave. We learned much about Portugal, about her life, and her family, as she did about us. There’s just something so very heartwarming about finding common ground with strangers you meet when you travel. Sandra and her husband are both nurses, and Villa de Regadio is their retirement plan. Like Sérgio, in Sobredo, who is a teacher and supplements his teaching salary with a second job as well as looking after Casinhas da Levada, Sandra and her husband although highly educated professionals do not have the advantages that we as professionals in Canada enjoy. We were much impressed with both Sandra’s and Sérgio’s work ethic, their cheerful outlook on life despite the challenges they face in their country, and the kindness they showed to us. No whining here, my friends. Although we did have some frank discussions about the state of healthcare and education in our relative homelands.

View of Covilhã by night from our room.

In Lisbon, our first stop on our trip, our one-bedroom apartment at Lisbon Colours Bairro Alto with a balcony, living-dining room, and fully equipped kitchen was gorgeous. Breakfast was delivered to our door each morning, so much breakfast that we ate half of it for lunch, in fact. The terrace on the roof was the pièce de résistance for us. We took our wine (or beer) up there each night to sip and watch the sunset, and then returned to our apartment to prepare our own supper or change to go out for dinner.

How we lucked into choosing an apartment in Bairro Alto, I’ll never know. But it was the perfect place from which to explore Lisbon. The fact that the Lisbon Colours reception desk was open 24 hours was also very helpful. We loved chatting with the young attendants who worked there, and they were very patient about helping us to figure out how to operate the coffee-maker, the stovetop, and even a pesky corkscrew. Without this help we would have been out of luck in later accommodations which had the same types of appliances, but no one on site to ask for assistance.

I have to say that it can take the edge off one’s enjoyment of an accommodation when hosts do not seem to realize that not all stoves, coffee-makers, dishwashers, etc. etc. are alike. I’m pretty good, and patient (unlike Hubby), at figuring out how things work. I’ve had a lot of practice, over many years of travel, after all. But even so, I was defeated a couple of times by unfamiliar coffee makers and even a recalcitrant stovetop. As I mentioned to one host late in our trip, a comment which was not well received I might add, a clearly written explanation in English can save so much frustration. Luckily this instance of impatient, and slightly condescending treatment was a one-off on this trip. And despite the fact that our accommodation was lovely, I am not recommending it. Odd, isn’t it, that the thought of this lovely apartment leaves me cold? The kindness of strangers (and to strangers) makes all the difference to me.

Eating my million-th pastel de nata at “Our House” Guesthouse.

We had good luck with our chosen accommodation almost everywhere we went in Portugal. In Lagos, “Our House” guesthouse was a two minute walk from the beach. This place was immaculate. We had access to a large common area, a good breakfast, a huge shared kitchen, a lovely big terrace, and a selection of treats set out in the kitchen throughout the day. We walked the beach, hiked a trail along the cliffs, ate in a great local restaurant a five-minute walk away, and chatted to fellow guests at breakfast. You can find their website here.

Nothing better than walking the beach on a stormy day.

Of course not all the kind strangers we met in Portugal were our hosts. The doctor who attended to Hubby in Porto was patient, and thorough, and we felt very lucky to have access to his services. The laughing waiter at the restaurant where we ate our first night in Lisbon was lovely. I like it when waiters are patient enough to listen, answer questions, and then make recommendations. Our meal was delicious. The two strangers who stopped to help Hubby navigate onto the train platform in Lisbon when the ticket machine didn’t work for him were very kind. The German guest in Coimbra who explained how to manage the toll-roads without us having to pay any more tolls. Ha. That was helpful. The fellow customer in a grocery store who demonstrated for me how to work the produce-weighing machine with hand-gestures and much laughter from us both. The lady in a coffee shop who explained how to order a coffee when the clerk was flummoxed by my Portuguese pronunciation. That was a hoot. And the young man in a coffee shop in a town I’ve forgotten the name of, who chatted with us to, as he said, “practice his English,” and then when I blithely waved good-bye and made for the door, said diffidently, “Ah… would you like to…uh… pay?” Oh, we laughed at that. When I get talking, my brain sometimes takes a vacation. Ha.

You know, wherever we travel, in whatever country, the kindness of strangers can make a stay in a strange land so much better. When one does not know the language, although one is always willing to make an inept stab at simple phrases, and one does not know how things like coffee-makers work, or where one places one’s train ticket at the kiosk, the smile and helpfulness of a kind stranger can make one feel right at home. Or if not exactly at home, at least welcome in the stranger’s home.

Of course, Blanche Dubois’s line about the kindness of strangers in A Streetcar Named Desire is intended to be pure pathos. Blanche has not known much kindness in her life. Quite the contrary, in fact. And her determination to say that she has “always depended on the kindness of strangers” is ironic, and a sign of her inability to face the harsh reality of her life.

But it’s still a beautiful line. And a beautiful sentiment, even if a fanciful one in Blanche’s case, to think that one can depend on the kindness of strangers.

I want to end with this, slightly unrelated, story. Whenever my class read A Streetcar Named Desire, I used to show the movie with Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois and Marlon Brando as Stanley, and wait for the scene where a sweaty Marlon Brando stands in the courtyard, his head in his hands, yelling “Stella!” Year after year, some kid would inevitably announce, “Miss… that line… that’s from The Simpsons.” And of course it was. Kind of. In a scene with Ned Flanders as Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski. I still smile when I think of that. And of having to explain that Tennessee William’s line came first, then the Brando movie, then The Simpsons. But, you know, The Simpsons had depth, people; kids learned all kinds of cultural and literary references from watching that show.

And so I have finally meandered my way to the end of this long post. I apologize for repeating things I may have already said in previous posts about our trip to Portugal. About the places we saw and the kind people we met. I guess that one cannot say too much about kindness in this world. At least that’s the way I look at it.

I also apologize that this post is a day late. Covid still has its grip on Hubby and me. And yesterday I had to abandon writing in favour of tea with honey and lemon and a nap. Hope you enjoy it however long it has become. And if you don’t have time to read it in the middle of a busy week… well, save it for next Sunday.

Now it’s your turn. Any tales of the kindness of strangers you’d like to share? Travel-related or otherwise?


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51 thoughts on “The Kindness of Strangers”

  1. This was simply beautiful Sue … perfect to wake up to and read with my early coffee.
    I feel as though I have travelled along with you and Stu …
    How wonderful it is when a trip is everything we’d hoped for or even surpasses expectation’s … as I feel yours in Portugal may have.
    As you say the simple acts of kindness shown by strangers really is “the icing on the cake” Helping to make us feel welcome and at ease when travelling and definitely enhancing our experiences … and leaving us smiling!
    Thanks for all your trip info and accommodation recommendations… they all sound idyllic. You chose well!
    I’m glad you’re resting when you feel you need to … so important at this time in your recovery.
    Take care both of you and thanks for this wonderful post!
    Rosie xx

    1. It is “the icing on the cake” as you say. And without it travel would just be stunning scenery, and beautiful buildings. Not that I don’t love both. But the people are what we enjoy most. 🙂

  2. Your trip sounds just wonderful . Such perfect places to stay . The best holiday memories are those of kind strangers & you never forget them . We had many times on our travels when we depended on the kindness of strangers . There was one time we were driving through a village in southern Turkey when a boy of about 12 ran onto the road in front of our car . We felt the bump as we hit him but Max swung off the road as he applied the brakes & we ended up in a ditch heading for a telegraph pole . We stopped inches before ploughing into it . The boy was up & off immediately . A Turkish man rushing to get to the nearest airport pulled up reassuring us that he had witnessed the accident & it was definitely not our fault . However he explained we must wait for the militia to arrive or we would be in real trouble . We had come across the Turkish police before & in those days you didn’t mess with them . So we resigned ourselves to a nasty situation. Our Good Samaritan said he would wait with us & be our witness/ interpreter . It was unpleasantly hot but he had a fridge in his car & handed us ice cold cokes . After a while an open jeep arrived with five militia , each armed with sub machine guns . Our uk police are not armed other than in emergencies & it is rare to see guns in a public place , so we were pretty nervous . Max was taken aside & interrogated but our new friend stood by him . At this point a young girl came over from the small crowd of spectators to tell me ‘I very sorry , I see what happen . I will tell them ‘ so she was then interrogated. We were all taken off to the nearest town for more investigations & Max was accused of drink driving ( not so ) & sent to the hospital for tests. He was accompanied by one of the militia who couldn’t drive so Max had to take him , despite possibly being drunk . The sub machine gun went with them . The doctor’s test was ‘ What is your mothers maiden name ? ‘ ???? All was well eventually & we continued our holiday . It might have been a different story but for that kind stranger .

    1. Oh my… that is an amazing tale, Wendy. Poor you… poor Max. How is it that the most harrowing experiences make the best stories?? Stu and I still laugh at his asking in Salta, Argentina if I thought I could scale the wall of the courtyard that surrounded our hotel. Ha . Although at the time I was not laughing.

  3. What a wonderful time you had, something to look back on with joy in this dark season. Fresh orange juice…delicious coffee…little pastries. All balm to the soul. Your covid experience is proving extremely trying, I imagine, not unlike the non-covid bug that has hit Mr Green and shows no sign of abating after two long weeks. It seems to be a feature of the autumn here and one I am hoping to avoid.

  4. It’s no wonder that so many people choose to live in Portugal recently!
    This was such a sweet post (and the kittens…..) and so useful for fellow travellers,I’m so happy that you’ve  had a wonderful trip indeed….and that you are feeling much better, as it seems!
    The Blanche’s line is one of my favourites,from the moment I’ve heard (read/ watched can’t remember what was first) it

    1. I so hope that someone takes our accommodation advice from this post. All those places were lovely…the places and the people. I still remember fondly your kindness and hospitality that made us feel at home in Zagreb.

  5. Sigh…what a delightful read. I so agree. It is not just the physical environments and monuments that we seek in travel but the human connections as well.
    Thank you for sharing, Sue. Please continue to take care of yourselves.

  6. Thank you for this wonderful, thorough post Sue! I have bookmarked it in the event we are lucky enough to make it to Portugal. I hope that you get over the dreaded Covid very soon.

  7. Hi Sue! It’s Sandra from Villa Regadio!
    Thank you very much for the reference in the post! It was a pleasure to welcome you to “our home”!
    The conversation was very good and the sharing of experiences too!
    I hope all the best for you!🍀
    Kisses from Portugal! 😘

  8. I really enjoyed reading this, for various reasons. First because I rarely have the time or opportunity to relax I lovely places in this way. Travel has become more rushed and pressured for me in recent years. Second because if G and I ever have a chance to go to Portugal I will look up your recommended places, if only for the breakfasts, as we are gourmands in regard to breakfast!

    Also, my preliminary reaction was that it is funny that we think of things like stopping to help someone out who is confused about how a machine works as “kindness.” One would hope that this would be a natural impulse everywhere, provided one has the time to help…At the same time, sadly, it reminds me that while I always find that people are very nice to me everywhere I go, I am a fairly innocuous-seeming middle-class white lady. Friends (gay couples and families from other minority or racialized groups I know) have expressed to me that they don’t always receive the same treatment in places where I have been treated very well (even in liberal western countries). I’m not referring to Portugal at all as I have no point of reference there, but this always gives me pause. We are not all so lucky as to have the red carpet rolled out for us. And I won’t even get started on how the colour of your passport can change everything. I see this all the time as I get whisked through customs lines and others are delayed.

    Something else that came to mind for me is my partner’s sister (Italian) started traveling to Portugal back before the pandemic. She commented that she loved it because she found it like going back in time (maybe thirty years) in terms of comparisons with how Italy used to be before mass tourism. I can’t validate that reaction, not being a native to Italy and not having visited Portugal, but she loved it.

    I hope you continue to feel better.

    1. PS Meant to say something else (sorry for the long comment). I thought your comment about the reaction to your suggestion of instructions in English for an appliance was interesting. I know someone with a hotel in Italy and they often complain about how tourists don’t understand this or that about how things work. I explain that people are often tired and a bit discombobulated when they travel, or simply haven’t seen similar mechanisms…But I do have a funny story about one apartment I used to rent in Italy. They attempted signs in English to explain how the (very old) hot water tank worked and let’s just say that the outcome was very amusing (involving a synonym for rooster that ended up being very rudely stated in association with other instructions and adjectives, which for various reasons I won’t repeat here). That the student-aged son had written the signs and was also named Michelangelo added to my amusement…Oddly enough, people in Italy rarely accept my generously-meant offers to provide clearer written instructions in English..

      1. Writing clear instructions is very difficult, even without the language difficulty. I guess what offended us most about the place I did not recommend was being treated as if we were stupid because we did not know that turning off the kitchen light would reset the electronic panel on the stove. Familiarity and intelligence are two different things. Ha.

    2. Breakfasts are my favourite meal out. We were so surprised that even places like apartments had breakfasts provided.
      P.S. I hope that here in Canada travellers find the same kindness we found in Portugal. But, as you say, I am sure the colour of one’s passport and, sadly, the colour of ones skin can make a difference in how one is treated.

      1. I also love breakfast out. It’s very funny because G is a typical Italian and doesn’t really eat a wide variety of breakfast foods, but he will gorge on toast and good jam or croissants as the case may be…and gets a huge thrill out of my enjoyment of a breakfast spread.

        I didn’t mean to put a downer on your post. I was just thinking of it because a friend who is in a gay couple said they didn’t feel very welcome in certain parts of Italy, and a person of colour I know surprised me in that she said her family didn’t feel welcome in Newfoundland. I suspect the latter is changing as immigration patterns are changing there as well.

        I think the key to having a nice time abroad is always, as some other readers have suggested, is to have an open approach to people and places and an open countenance. I am sure that you and Stu have that.

        1. I don’t think you “put a downer” on my post, Stephanie. Not at all. I think it’s important to remember that so many of us wander the world not always conscious of our privileged status.

  9. It’s quite a few years since we were in Portugal, but we found so much kindness there. Women who left their shops to direct us to the address we were shopping for; men who consulted each other and then used signs to let us know that we had to pass three traffic lights before turning right (we puzzled a bit over this one, tbh, but we got where we were going in the end); old women working in their allotment garden who were amused by the accent of our greetings but apparently delighted enough at our attempt that they wanted to extend the conversation — and back to sign language we went!
    In a recent post, I wrote about the woman at a Milan bus station who interrupted her phone call (and possibly risked missing her bus!) to lead me down the Metro and right to the entrance of the train that would take me into Milan itself, after I’d been left there by the coach bus and had my Uber ride unceremoniously canceled. An angel! I might still be wandering that bus station, stuck 12 kilometres out of Milan. . .
    Even when you’re Covid-stricken, you’ve pulled off another lively post (and reminded me how much I love Portugal). Hope your recovery speeds up from this point (but don’t push the activity — keep resting as much as possible!)

  10. Wonderful post and comments. You are so accomplished at researching and picking great places to stay. So glad we got to see the kittens!! 🙂
    and that dinner!! What was it? looks amazing.
    Hope you feel better soon.

  11. What a wonderful read! I feel as if I have travelled to Portugal with you. The holiday sounds like a great mix of ‘active’ tourist and quiet relaxation.
    I totally agree with your comments on kindness, an attribute we could do with a lot more of in the world. It certainly makes travel much more pleasant. We’ve been lucky to experience kindness to strangers in many places – from the security guards at the Italian Prime Minister’s apartment in Rome who helped us find our rented apartment on a pouring wet evening to a lovely train guard in Washington who drove me on a luggage truck to our carriage on the train and gave me a roll of plastic bags (as I was very nauseous) when we turned up to catch an evening train and I had a massive migraine. She later made me cups of apple tea. You remember these human touches years later.
    Keep resting as this latest covid variant seems to knock the stuffing out of people. I’m six weeks down the track and still coughing and tire easily.

    1. Thanks, Kenzie. I’m trying to be patient, and have decided that for my own mood enhancement I must do one productive thing each day. Today we went for a half hour walk in the crisp air and sunshine.

  12. I think that the reason you and Stu find kind people when you travel is that you are kind, open-hearted people yourselves and the folks you meet respond to that warmth and interest you reveal in every encounter.
    And now I want a kitten.
    I hope you both are soon rid of the burden of Covid that’s been weighing you down for weeks.

  13. What a wonderful post and travelogue this is! Thank you for sharing. Wishing you both a fully recovery as soon as possible.

  14. I love this post! It brought back so many wonderful memories of people who have helped us on our travels. An elderly man who noticed our distress and came to our assistance when we’d missed our stop on a train in Japan. Young people who made things so much easier for us when we traveled on our own in China simply because they wanted to practice their English. And so many more.

    I was especially reminded of Carla and Francisco, a very interesting couple who happened to be on the same three day cruise on China’s Yangtze River as we were. That was over ten years ago, but the friendship that developed in that short time has continued. We may never see them again, but we still keep in touch. They live in Macau, but wouldn’t you know it, they’re Portuguese!

  15. Suz from Vancouver

    This post is great! It brings back so many wonderful memories of people we have met throughout our travels. I totally agree that the people are just as important as the beautiful scenery and interesting history.
    I often tell people that who you work with is as important as what you do.
    Coincidentally, yesterday, while on the sky train I saw a couple who had taken the wrong train (route is shared with two directional trains) as they needed to go the Airport but were instead on the train leading to the suburbs. It was an easy fix to get to the other correct train – both lines meet three stops back. I explained it but all the while wondered if I should just go with them. As soon as I left them I regretted it and continued thinking about it most of the day. Why didn’t I just take them myself instead of just explaining how to do it. I would have been a little late for a non important errand. If only I had read your post earlier that would have confirmed my initial thought, the better thing….
    Next time!
    Thanks for posting
    Suz from Vancouver

  16. I loved this Sue and so agree with you, Long before anyone thought of GPS, my husband and I were trying to find our way out of Belize City, as we were driving to Guatemala next. We were so lost with just a map, so stopped on a street corner to ask a group of men for directions. After trying to direct us, one of the men got into a near-by car and motioned for us to follow him. With that, he led us to the main highway and sent us on our way. The kindness of strangers is never forgotten.

    1. Oh gosh… we chose not to get a GPS when we were in Ireland in 2011. After all, we had a very good map purchased specially before we left home. Ha. Without kind strangers we’d still be wandering around somewhere in the Irish countryside.

  17. Sounds like such a great trip. We love Portugal and are beginning to think about another trip there. Thanks for the great tips on new locations to explore.

    Like you, over the years, we have encountered frustrations working out strange appliances. I remember in Florence somehow managing to turn on the child lock on the induction stove while cooking dinner. After a few minutes of panic, I used my trusty friend google and in minutes had a manual in English to help me get it unlocked. So now, anytime there’s an unfamiliar appliance, I google for a manual. Saves so much stress (and shouting)!

    1. Oh those darned induction stoves. The one that defeated me apparently had a glitch that required one to turn off the kitchen lights to reset it. Ha. Easy once you know “the trick.”

  18. I couldn’t agree more with you about the kindness of strangers. I now keep a part of my travel journal dedicated to jotting these down as they happen. It’s incredible how it adds up. (It has also probably made me more aware that it happens at home too!)
    Thanks, Sue, for all your recommendations. I am keeping them for a future visit!
    Really hope you start to feel better soon.

  19. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures, both inspiring and informative! How did your packing wardrobe work out? Sounds like more heat that you planned for. We go to Portugal for a month later in April this year, all over the country, and I have taken so much of your advice. Do you have a suggestion on a crossbody type of travel bag to have when wandering in towns?

    Thank you again!

    1. My planned wardrobe did not work very well, sadly. It was very hot. Too hot for a lot of what I’d packed. If I had to do it over I’d take a linen dress to wear with both sandals and sneakers. A dress would have been great in Lisbon and Porto where walking the hills in the heat was very uncomfortable. I’d also pack more tanks or sleeveless tops, fewer long sleeve tops, and leave my zippered sweater at home. We were taken totally by surprise by the heat. We travelled in Italy and in Croatia at the same time of year and I used my wardrobe for those trip as my guide. As for a good crossbody bag… I use a lightweight Longchamp bag and I like it.

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