Gaia to Aveiro
By train 73 km

We took a walk down to the port and toured the market. Since it was not market day there were only a few fish, fruit and vegetable stalls. The 2.5 kilometre round trip walk gave a good leg cardio workout. Steep hill. Lots of different patterns and colour of tiles in narrow streets.

We said our goodbyes last night and this morning as our group dispersed. Kim and John took a taxi with us to the train station where we waited in line for tickets. Eliane found us there when she arrived from Porto. Eliane flew into Porto yesterday from Roanne.

The train to Aveiro was quite full but quick: about 50 minutes. Only 3.15 euros for what was considered to be the slow train. Six times more if we wanted a fast train. We are not in a hurry.

We walked to our hotels from the train station, less than two kilometres. Once we had our directions working with google maps we were much more confident a out where we were going. Eliane twisted an ankle on the cobblestone streets. This type of walkway is pretty with designs but hard on ankles!

What a beautiful town! I love looking at the architecture of each place. Besides lots of colourful azulejos (tiles), there are many unique carvings decorating buildings and several bronze statues. We had a simple lunch of teas and sandwiches at an outdoor tea shop. I loved the combo of goat cheese, apple, walnut and lettuce. I had tea from the Azores. Brian still had beer.

We went for a boat ride in the canals in a moliceiro (a traditional canal boat used for moving salt from the salt marshes. There is a slightly bigger boat with shorter stern that was used for hauling seaweed. Now both types of boats only haul tourists. There are twenty-five boats motoring around the canals showing off the sights. There were only three of us on our tour and it was given in French which worked well for Eliane and me. Brian understands most of what is said. The guide pointed out the locks that only open at high tide so that these natural canals can be kept at the same level. They were pretty small locks compared to the ones we were in this past week.

After a brief rest in our room we went to the craft beer pub half a block from our fabulous hotel. There are 140 different beers available. John and Kim showed up there after a walk around town. John thought there might be enough beers to try for a couple of days.

We asked the proprietor where the locals dine and he suggested a few places, one of which was the restaurant under our hotel. He did tell us that he owned it but that truly it was good food. He was on his way to dine there with his wife and children. The hotel, OC Salon Charm is owned by his mother in-law. A family affair! The hotel was built in the forties and was purchased three years ago. It is a charming hostel that also has private rooms and beautiful furniture and decor. It is also close to the centre of everything.

We were totally satisfied with our wonderful dinner in the restaurant below. Only Eliane had cod as the rest of us have had plenty of cod lately. Our salmon, beef and pork dinners were all delicious. We declined dessert. I know our fellow kayakers will find that hard to believe.

Kim and John walked the two blocks to their hotel. I convinced Brian to go for a ten minute walk to start the digestion process.


A Breath of Spring

Relaxing after raking. Yes, we have gone south, at least as far as Connecticut. There is no snow here unless you count a dish towel size patch of grey snow near Alex’s bus stop. He said there was a mountain of snow ploughed up on that corner that he and his fellow bus riders scaled while waiting for the bus, but the mountain disappeared a couple of weeks ago. Only the small patch resists melting. After yesterday’s downpour it has probably succumbed.

Plenty of birds at the feeders: tufted titmouse, purple finches, downy and hairy woodpeckers, chickadees. The snowdrops are out and the deep red hellebores are budding.

Our daily routine of yoga, golf and cross country skiing has been replaced with an earlier morning alarm so that our grandkids can be fed and watered and out the door early to catch their respective buses, one before 7:30 and the other before 8:30 AM.

Our new sports are cleaning and prepping the family room walls for a paint job, raking up winter’s debris and demolishing a playhouse set that had a serious leaning posture.

We still work yoga into our daily exercise, but walking may or may not happen before the kids come home from school. An after school walk around this hilly neighbourhood involves games of hide and seek as we walk or run or close our eyes and count to fifty. Actually my calves are still groaning from Monday’s nine times up and down the stairs at the Niagara Whirlpool. I do not think the sedentary drive for seven and a half hours on Tuesday was helpful for my leg muscles.

Thursday is pizza night and Grandpa will make an awesome pizza. We have already enjoyed a sushi snack. We have to dine earlier so that Julie will make it to her piano lesson and Alex to Scouts. We promised their parents we would not lose them, and we will also make sure they participate in their regular activities.

Last night we fit in a game of Carcassonne but I think we will have to forgo games this evening.

Montserrat Memorabilia

January 21, 2017

The past two evenings we have reclined on the deck marvelling at the stars. Every now and then someone gets out an iPad to identify a constellation. The brightest star in the sky is the planet, Venus, in the northwest. It is so bright there is a reflection as it descends into the sea. When it disappears into the water, that signals bedtime, usually around 9:40 PM. I am not positive as I am often among the first to head for bed. We do not often, if ever, observe the heavens as long in Ontario, as we need more clothing and/or insect repellent. No mosquitoes send us for cover here.

Each evening one cruise ship sails past from north to south. While at Hank’s we watched the sun set with a sailboat in the foreground, a barge of sand crossing through the sun and platoons of brown pelicans putting on a comic air show crashing into the sea. What a pleasurable way to eat our seafood platters and drink Carib beer or rum punches.

Last night, for the first time we pulled our blanket, a duvet cover, over our single sheet. The temperature must have dropped to 25C.

The last two night’s the roosters crowing in the wee hours have been seriously in need of voice lessons or someone has been murdering them. For sure they have failed Crowing 101.

This morning after yoga and a swim in the pool we went to the Hilltop Coffee House in Brades to have their Saturday special of waffles with delicious coffee. After David Lea gave us a tour of his photo and memorabilia collection, we decorated our waffles with whatever pleased us from the dishes assembled on the bar: blueberries, raspberries, pineapple, shredded coconut, chocolate, raisins, peanuts, chocolate sauce or male syrup and whipped cream. No sugar highs here!

David and his wife Sun have been here since their hippie days. Their son, Sun, gives tours of Plymouth. He was not available for us. David has been involved in several video productions about the volcano eruption and Plymouth. He also authored a book, Through My Lens, about Montserrat which include his photo collection about the volcano, Plymouth and George Martin’s Air Studios. His photos cover the walls and the tabletops under glass. He also has posters from those early days as well as signs and memorabilia recovered from Plymouth and the buried Belham Valley Golf Course. David is the local historian, a very engaging host.

We found Plymouth Nuts in the narrow aisles of Ashoks’ grocery store. Benjamin’s factory is just down the hill in Brades, but not open on Saturday.

The waves are big again. Yahoo! And the sky is cloudless blue. The volcano is very clear. All we were missing was a water ready camera with a photographer in the water to get our ten bobbing heads with the volcano in the background.

We ordered roti for tonight from Joe’s wife. Joe just delivered them. We are having an awesome chocolate birthday cake a day late for Al, but just right for my sister.

Happy birthday, Rosemary!