travelling

Home at Cobble Beach

Cobble Beach
Home again, home again! Yeah!
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

We love travelling but we love coming home! There is nothing quite like our own bed, our own shower, our own home. Our fall garden is well underway. There is plenty of deadheading to do, but my roses still are colourful and those splashy red and white dahlias make me smile. We had overnight guests here on the weekend. They loved our sunrise and enjoyed watching the heron pick his way over each fish line to the pond. They did not see him eat any koi. Brian was hoping a neighbour would have had barbecued heron by now.

Our fridge is not working. We had heard of problems with it a couple of weeks ago but anticipated the problem only being in the freezer compartment which was emptied. Sadly the fridge itself is at 61F. The good news is the repairman will come this afternoon. The last time we asked for a repair, it took two weeks for someone to come. Arghhh…$1000 compressor needed…buy a new fridge!

We watched a beautiful sunset sink into a hazy horizon as we approached Owen Sound last night. We stopped for some groceries and thought we would have a Hamburg on the barbecue when we arrived at home but neither of us felt especially hungry; so, we thought it might be a popcorn evening. As we drove past Kate’s, Brian called out to whoever was standing at the barbecue, “Is supper ready?” We kept driving but minutes after being in our house, Kate called and invited us for ribs. So happy to hug our friends again.

A welcome home emergency food kit was waiting in a cooler on our front steps. Bryan and Susan made sure we would have some essentials: tonic, cheese, crackers, eggs. We have good friends here who took care of us and our property. Will made sure the grass was cut and windows open.  Helen watched out for intruders and Susan watered plants. Adrian has been feeding the fish. Lots of willing hands. We are so grateful!

This morning I cycled in a few drops of rain to the beach to meet Kate for a swim. En route I stopped for welcome home hugs. Susan rode down for a swim too. After Brian had secured a fridge repairman he rode down for a swim too. The water is an awesome 72F. Even though yesterday’s air temperature of 32C has cooled to 20C, it felt great.

I planted my few Portuguese seashells in my beach garden.

Three new houses and a set of townhouses have been started in our absence and several of the newest houses now have green lawns. By all accounts the Concours was a great success, the first of five that we missed.

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Lisbon to Cobble Beach

Lisbon to Toronto to Cobble Beach
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Walk 500 metres, Cais do Sodré Metro to Airport 10 km, airport walking, Air Transat Flight to Toronto 5746 km, walk to car in parking garage, drive home 182 km

A very nice Portuguese-Canadian gentleman quickly came to our aid when we arrived at the Oriente train station yesterday. He has been living in Canada for the past forty years, most of that in BC. He returns to Portugal every year for a couple of months. He has an apartment for sale in Portimão if you are interested. He decided he is too old to keep doing this trip and his Canadian wife refuses to do it anymore.

We got out of the metro at Baixa Chiado station, based on our helper’s advice. I am glad we did. We would not likely have climbed up here from our apartment but it was worth seeing the elegant squares and impressive buildings. Our friend was disappointed we had so little time in Lisbon as there is so much to see but we are travel weary and ready for home.

We spent five hours walking nine kilometres around Lisbon mostly in the Alfama district. We walked up the narrow streets, visited the Immaculate Conception Church with its amazing carved arches, the Se Cathedral where groups were filing through and tuktuks lined up at the entrance, St Anthony’s Church and birthplace. Anthony is the patron saint of Portugal. We climbed to the Sao Iorge Castle. A line forty people deep was waiting to buy tickets. Lines are not for us. Brian talked to the budgies in cages along the streets instead. I took photos.

There were people shopping everywhere. We sat at a sidewalk cafe sipping beer, watching the lemmings race across streets against red lights, narrowly missing accidents.

Getting to the airport in Lisbon was easy and cheap. We left our apartment, walked across the square to the market where cleaners were sweeping up last night’s debris and pigeons were treating themselves to the sweepings. We dined in the brightly lit Time Out Market last night. We sat on stools on the quieter side of The Sea Me restaurant. I had very good baked cod with roasted potatoes and turnip greens. Brian’s cod cakes with tomato rice were much less satisfactory. He suffered from indigestion.

This morning we walked through the deserted Time Out side to where the fruit, fish, meat and vegetable vendors were now all set up and ready for business. We picked up our cafe com leite and pastry and sat in the sunshine opposite the Cais de Sodré train and metro station. Brian is always wiser choosing ham and cheese while I opt for chocolate. I really wanted a pastry half the size and a coffee twice as big. Spain’s cafe con leche are twice as big as Portugal’s.

We descended deep under the city to the green metro line and for one euro forty-five we had our ticket to the airport that involved one transfer at Alameda Station to the red line. This took less than half an hour including waiting for seven minutes for the first metro train.

Getting through Lisbon airport was quick and painless, no long lineups until it was time to board our flight. We had Option Plus that was to speed up boarding but there were a dozen wheel chair passengers and half of the hundreds other must have had Option Plus. Two passengers got lost somewhere in the airport. Extra time was being taken to remove their bags from our flight but then they were found. We were in a bank of three seats with extra legroom but less elbow room. Luck was on our side as the big guy beside me was moved elsewhere and Brian and I were sharing the three seats. Our flight was fifty minutes late leaving.

Eight and one quarter hours later we stopped taxiing down the runway at Pearson. Now we are driving north, past the rush hour traffic and less than two hours from home.

Lagos to Lisbon

Lagos to Lisbon
Monday, September 25, 2017
1.5 km walking, 270 km train, across Lisbon by metro to Baixa Chiado, 1.5 km walking to Cais do Sodré to Five Stars 8 Apartment Building

We rose in the dark, before 7 AM, ate a clementine and yogourt and headed for the train station in the predawn empty streets of Lagos. Lovely! A 1.5 kilometre walk took us across the pedestrian bridge to the train station, a cafe de leite and a nata (custard tart…very flaky crust). The train left a few minutes early. We were in Tunes less than an hour later where we changed trains on the same platform for our first class car to Lisbon. The seats are more comfortable but no extra legroom. In fact I have less. I have a small table between me and a man. The table legs take up my foot room. The windows are only marginally cleaner. For better train travel it sure would be good to have clean windows. The first class carriage is quieter than second class and it has curtains for those who want to block the sun and the changing landscape. Had a cafe in the bar car.

We passed four golf courses along the coast but many more citrus groves, mostly oranges, I think, a few vineyards. We saw storks on nests; before this we only saw empty nests. A second nesting? Went through hilly country going north, dry meadowland, some clocks of sheep, cork and olive trees, endless blue sky.

Arrived in very busy beautiful Lisbon. Look out for trams, cars, tuktuks, people! Good sandwiches at La Padraria Portuguesa. Room for 2 more on the sofa bed in our big apartment that even has a dishwasher. Too bad we will not be here long.

My friend, Joan, asked me where I would choose to stay for a month in Portugal based on our travels here. Tough question. Part of my decision making would be based on the time of year and what I would want to do. We came to Portugal in September specifically for kayaking the Douro River. This trip was only offered in June or September, both are months when I do not like to leave home but we wanted to do the kayaking trip and we are really glad we did. Our guide, Jack, is 76 (you would not guess this!) and he plans on retiring this fall, unless he doesn’t, but Rui, his partner, will be continuing.

What we saw of the Douro was from the river, but if I were to pick a spot to locate on the Douro, I would probably choose something on the upper Douro, east of Regua. We walked across a
Grande Randonnee hiking trail. These trails come down from France. Something to research further.

You may have guessed, we like an active trip; so we would look for an area suited to hiking, kayaking, swimming, cycling. I am not, however, the cyclist our son is; so a lot of uphill would not be on my list unless I could switch to electric. It makes sense to pick a place that is central to a number of opportunities; so, much as I love water, a coastal location is not ideal.

Based on what we have seen, and preferring to travel in April, I would probably pick Zambujeira, on the Fisherman’s Trail since there are stunning views and beautiful beaches ( too cold for swimming but good for hiking). It is very accessible if you rent a car to hike more trails( the whole Rota Vicentina which includes side loops and the historical way) and see more great panoramas. There are rivers running to the coast suitable for kayaking. It’s not far from inland villages of historical significance or from the Algarve should you wish to see more tourists. It’s two and a half hours to Lisbon or three and a half hours to Seville by car. Buses will take longer. There is no train from there.

I would probably check information about Monchique which is inland from Zambujeira. I have not been there but it would be more central for the southwest, away from cool Atlantic winds, good hiking area. Evora is a larger town. We did not go there but we met other couples who were using it as a central place from which to explore southern Portugal.

Based on what a couple of Portuguese men have told us southeast Portugal on a lake is the best place to be. I am not sure what lake they had in mind but it appears that there is a reservoir and the Vale do Guadiana National Park which looks very interesting for hiking and water activities and is central for south Portugal and close to Spain (2.25 hours to Seville and another 1.75 hours to Gibraltar).

Odeceixe to Lagos

Odeceixe to Lagos
50 kilometres by bus

Friday, September 22, 2017

At 8AM our host at Casa Morais had breakfast laid on the kitchen table with linen tablecloth for eight people with two extra settings ready to go on the counter. Fresh bread and rolls, ham and cheese, spicy pumpkin jam and tomato jam were ready with thermos pots of cafe com leite and black tea. There were individual plastic containers of butter. In a restaurant butter is an extra, usually 70 centimes a serving. Bread and olives are automatically put on the table but cost a few euros. If you say you do not want these, the server takes them away, otherwise you pay for them. You have to ask for sales and pepper if you want those.

According to posters we have seen we are a couple of days ahead of the Fisherman’s Trail Volunteer crew who repaint posts and add new ones. The machete crew does not cut back the trail until the first week of October. We chatted with a Spanish trio: madre, padre, filia at the Blue Sky restaurant last night. They are hiking on to Aljezur today. We have seen them daily on the trail. They said Spain’s Camino was much better posted. We agreed.

We walked around Odeceixe this morning. Odeceixe is built into a steep hillside with a windmill at the top that was built in 1898 for milling corn and wheat. Its sails still operate. There is a new washroom being built nearby for the tourists who climb to the mill. Many folks have large clay pots of flowers lining the fronts of their houses. One man was busy watering pots before ten this morning but paused for a sandwich and a bottle of beer.

The flies have been sticky these past two days and are annoying us now even in this breeze as we wait by the bridge for a bus to Lagos. We did not know that hitchhiking was so easy. Five people with large backpacks have been picked up by three different cars in the last five minutes, going both north and south. The ticket agent warned us that the bus might arrive at 11:40 AM or maybe noon or whenever: it’s on Portuguese time.

It was 12:25 PM when the bus came. The good news is that someone must allow for lateness when calculating travel time. We were told it took an hour and twenty minutes to get to Lagos by bus but we were here in forty-five minutes even though the first few kilometres was spent zigzagging uphill behind a slow motorized trike carrying two crates of dried corn.

The market was closing but the fish stall was interesting. Glad to get an outdoor table at a waterside restaurant. Fried fish then fish soup with cerveja. Good to go again!

We have arrived here. The tourist mecca of the Algarve even though this western end of the Algarve reportedly has fewer tourists. The accordion players and violinists are playing in the streets. The first accordion song was “Somewhere my love…” Perfecto.

Less than a ten minute walk to Dina’s Guesthouse. 20 marble steps to our room that also has a common space kitchen and terrace.

Did some grocery shopping. Will eat early then explore more.

 

 

Zambujeira to Odeceixe

Zambujeira to Odeceixe
18.65 km in 6 hours 35 minutes
Stopped Time: 1 hour
193 metres of ascent, 213 metres of descent
Thursday September 21, 2017
Best to be a mountain goat!

We took more breaks today, partly because we were tired, partly because it was the best thing to do! What goes up, must come down. We did that over and over. There were at least three of those parts that it would have been preferable to be a mountain goat. The goat would not have needed to hang on to a rope while also using poles for one descent. The slippery scree and slick faced shist were challenging in both directions. I stopped three times in the first ten kilometres to change my socks because they were wet with sweat. I hoped to avoid more blisters but I now have one on each heel. I do not plan on wearing socks and shoes for the rest of our trip: five days left but no big hikes. My feet are decorated with blister bandaids.

We started our morning with a gift of fig jam from our Air BnB host, Lita. She also gave us a baggie of dried figs for our hike. Lita made sure Brian’s bag was picked up and went on to Odeceixe. Last night we rested playing dominoes on the sunny roof deck before going to watch the sunset then have a chicken dinner at a restaurant with a view of the ocean.

Zambujeira has two beautiful beaches at the foot of the town. Brian’s knees were too tired to do all those stair steps down to the beach and back. I was willing but I may not have had the energy to make it back up the steps. Zambujeira would have been a good place to spend two days just to have a day to enjoy the beaches.

Instead we stood at the sea wall high above the beach taking photos of sunset. I must have been concentrating on the sun more than Brian as he noticed the eight people relaxing in the nude on the beach. I did not. Today with only four kilometres left in our hike, we also stripped at riverside to enjoy the salty Atlantic as the tide continued up the Seixe River. It sure felt great! No photos of this event! We were not the only strippers here. It seemed the best thing for a hiker to do. Dressed again, we enjoyed the last four kilometres much more. I walked in the river for a few hundred metres before putting my socks and shoes back on.

Earlier in the day I had just been saying that maybe Goretex shoes were not the best for this hike since they hold the heat and we had not encountered water. Minutes later that changed. We crossed several muddy sections of trail where springs crossed the trail. We even had to walk in streams since there was so much undergrowth there was no way around them.

There was a beautiful waterfall that fell over a cliff to the beach. I had to wait for a couple making out on the beach to get out of the way for my photo.

We chatted with two German university students for the last four kilometres. The girls had taken seven days to do what we did in five but they had also been camping along the way and walking shorter distances. They observed that they did not walk as fast as us. I noted that I would not walk barefoot on hot pavement as they were doing. We have seen a couple of people walking barefoot in the sand. I considered doing so but there were too many places I would have needed to put my shoes back on.

I do not know how people walk long distances without poles. They certainly propel us along and are essential for the ascents and descents.

We passed a farm of exotic animals: American bison, ostriches, ibex. They were behind a seven foot tall fence. Not sure which animal they thought would leap over that. An electrical wire also kept them in. A sign said there was video surveillance. We did not see any but we had no plans to lead a bison on our hike.

A mechanical harvester was emptying a field so sweet potatoes with the help of several men ensuring that the produce fell properly into crates. It looked like very dusty work.

We had some pica pau with a beer and Radler as we entered Odeceixe. We have seen pica pau on the menu but had not tried it. We are glad we did. It is strips of pork cooked in a light gravy with a little cauliflower and carrots. We used every crumb of bread to soak up the gravy.

We are clean once again, rested in our new abode, Casa Morais, where our hosts only speak Portuguese. I am putting my studies of the language to work.

 

Vila Nova de Milfontes

Vila Nova de Milfontes
Hiking the Rota Vicentina or Fisherman’s Trail
20.65 km in 7 hours with pauses, just over six hours moving time

Yes, it takes six to seven hours to walk twenty kilometres when three quarters of it is in soft sand. We got quite the workout today. We did not feel the need to do any of the exercises on the exercise circuit we saw near the end of our hike. There was a light breeze, that kept us relatively comfortable in spite of the bright sun with 25 C. We had very little shade, just a few short pine trees in some parts of the dunes. Fortunately it was not as windy as the last two days or we may have been blown off the cliffs. We were told that it was best to walk this trail from north to south as the wind is from the north and would be in our backs. Good advice! I could empathize with anyone with vertigo. More than half this walk is not for people with vertigo.

Antigua claims it has 365 beaches, one for each day of the year. I think Portugal must have two year’s worth. Admittedly these beaches are colder than Antigua’s but beautiful and quite private. We saw plenty of campers parked in isolated places. It appears
You can camp anywhere as long as you do not want electricity and water.

We were on clifftops much of the way, looking down at beautiful coves and sandy beaches. I must qualify that the beaches in many coves are only there when the tide is low. At high tide water completely hides the sand. This morning we started walking at 8:45; so we had low tide for a couple of hours. We were able to walk on the wet hard packed sand for about a kilometre. I never thought I would say that I liked walking on pavement but I was relieved to be on pavement for the last two kilometres. I was also delighted to find an outdoor bar where I had a beer.

I emptied the sand out of my shoes just before going to the bar. I emptied my shoes three times along our hike. Each time I dumped half a cup of sand out of each shoe. Brian only removed a teaspoon of sand from his. He said that was because of the way he walks. I cannot explain this difference!

The dunes are home to a variety of succulents, one is most prevalent and quite red. Only a few were blooming. I identified thyme. We saw animal tracks but no animals: snake, rabbit, mouse, horses. I did see a black beetle and Brian spotted a lizard.

There were not many hikers: a total of seven going in the opposite direction and four that we spotted well ahead of us. We passed a Roman fort on an island and a sixteenth century fort on a cliff. A small ferry will take people to the island. Surfers swam on their boards more than they stood up.We saw some terrific spills from on high. We think red is a better colour than black for wetsuits. Those ‘seals’ look like good shark bait.

We have another beautiful accommodation although it was not easy to find. It was on the Main Street but at the opposite end from where we entered. It did not have a street number but said a bank was ‘in front of it’. There are four banks in Milfontes. Thy are not close together. The man in the Information Centre looked it up online for us. Note to self: always check the GPS location when we have internet before arriving in a place.

Hot shower and laundry done and we feel like new again. We even have an outdoor clothes line. The wind is up again; so, things should dry quickly. It took six findings to de-sand our socks…seven for mine!

We are in a private house where they have begun to rent out rooms with ensuite. Our bathroom has double sinks with lovely tile and large mirror, shower and bathtub as well as bidet and toilet. Our bedroom is large with double doors that open onto a patio and garden. We have yet to try out the hammock.

 

Tomar to Porto Covo

Tomar to Porto Covo
267 kilometres by train to Lisbon then bus via Setubal
10 AM to 6 PM with 3.5 hours near the Oriente station in Lisbon

Without a car it is not easy to go from Tomar to a small town on the west coast. Porto Covo is the beginning of the fisherman’s walk. Getting information online or in person was not easy or it was conflicting. No trains go there and the bus employee in Tomar did not know much past Lisbon unless we were going to the Algarve. The ticket agent in Lisbon was more knowledgeable. It was good that we bought our ticket upon arrival in Lisbon just past twelve because the 3:30 PM bus was full.

We filled in our waiting time with lunch and walking. The very large Vasco da Gama mall was right across the street from the Oriente train/bus/metro station. We had no desire to spend our time going to Lisbon Centre only to come back. We found the food court in the mall then shared a large plate of Chinese food from stools looking out at the sparkling Tejo estuary.

Then we went for a windy walk along the water. At 25 C the breeze was welcome. We alternated between sun and shade, watched the gondolas overhead and fishermen setting nets from their small boats that were bouncing in the choppy water. We passed sculpture evidence of Expo 1998. The shopping mall itself had two tall towers on either end, the fronts of which were curved like the prows of ships.

Most of the countryside we have passed today has very brown dry ground even though the trees look healthy and green. We saw a herd of cows, the only cows we have seen that were not colourful life size sculptures. We also saw as many as twenty horses at a time, either white or brown. Before today we had only ever seen one white horse here and there.

The earth became more and more sandy as we headed south of Lisbon. Instead of fruit trees there are cork and pine trees. The pine trees look like overgrown mugo pines, lollipop style.

We arrived in our little tourist beach town (1000 people…maybe not that many today). The Rua Vasco da Gama is the Main Street leading straight to the ocean. It is also the street for our lodging. Less than a block from the shore, we rang the bell at number 48. An older bent over thin Portuguese woman answered and pointed us up the street telling us in Portuguese this was the street but our room was opposite the campground, past where we got off the bus.

This room above the owner’s surf shop is not a palace or a monastery but it is clean. The biggest improvement would be if we did not have to share a bathroom. The owner has had this place in the ‘new’ part of town for seven years but he is still known as ‘lot 48’. One day he will have a real address and people wanting a room will not have to disturb the lady first. His surf shop is not thriving but renting rooms is going well; so, he is going to convert his shop into rooms and add s suites. Good idea!

It appears that this beautiful each location is bringing an increasing number of people here who want to spend months at a time. There is a condo building boom in progress.

We have not tested the water yet but we won’t stray far as the waves are way too big for us. We still have to find the beginning of our fisherman’s trail. I now know what Imammgoing to do with the four long sleeve tshirts I have…layer them and wear them. That is a stiff Atlantic breeze. The parkas some are wearing seem a tad too much!

We have learned how to order supper. We ordered one soup, one salad, one pork entree and one piece of fig cake then we shared. We should be able to sleep better tonight. We dined at Ze Inacio’s at the suggestion of our concierge. The place was packed with locals; therefore, the right place to eat.

Tomar

 

Tomar
Home of the Knights Templar
140 kilometres by train from Aveiro

What an incredible place: our lodging, the Convento do Cristo, our supper at Sabores so Rubao. Magnifico!

I am so glad because as we stood on the bare platform in the middle of nowhere at Lamarosa station, I was beginning to question our sanity at coming to Tomar. Of course it would have been my fault if after 4.5 hours of train with two transfers and waiting at stations, this had been a bad decision since I planned this.

I made a great decision. I do not know how we are getting to Porto Covo from here, but I am so happy we came here. I love Tomar. When we got off the train at almost 4 PM, we only had to walk two blocks to our lodging: Conde de Ferreira Palace. It did not have an encouraging entrance that made us think we were entering a palace or even a hotel. There was no sign to say we had arrived. I cautiously entered a huge wooden door. A young land was working on a laptop and looked up from his paper filled table. I asked if there were rooms here. He pointed me to the young lady in the corner who hurried to greet me. She asked if I was alone since she had a reservation for two of us. I told her my husband was waiting below in the yard. Brian did not want to climb the stairs if we did not have the right place. I waved him up.

The concierge gave us a tour of the house starting across the hall with the dining room then our bedroom. Our room is 24 feet by 30 feet with 12 foot ceilings, a chandelier tall casement windows and doors, ensuite with shower and a door to our balcony which has a stairs to the grapevine covered garden below.

Our guide took us into the private quarters of the father and son who live here. This mansion which takes up most of a city block with two foot thick stone walls has been in the family for two hundred and fifty years. She also showed us to the space for guests from the eleven guest rooms. We have access to a salon and library with drinks and cake laid out for us. She gave us a map of Tomar and told us how to walk up the hill to the Templar Castle and Convento de Cristo. She gave us directions to her two favourite restaurants, not tourist ones. She also gave us two massive keys on an orange bell pull rope so that we could get back into the house and our room. We had to hustle to get to the castle before closing time.

Half way up the hill a tuk tuk driver offered us a ride for five euros. This seemed excessive but we did not want to miss our visit; so, we took it. Have I said how great it is to be a senior in Portugal? You show ID that you are sixty-five or over then you pay half price. It cost us six euros each for our train trip and three euros each to tour the monastery. Climbing the parapets of the castle was free. It turned out that we had until 6:30’PM to tour everything. We took that long. The place is massive and beautiful with incredible detailed stone carvings, painted murals and domed ceilings. There sure were a pile of monks living here back in the sixteenth century. I will have to research this place.

We had a couple of beer below in the town centre by the river while waiting for our restaurant to open. Sabores ao Rabao lived up to its name of Best Tastes. Brian had Roquefort Steak and I had grilled cod, both with homemade chips or fries and a medley of vegetables. We could. It even think about dessert.

The temperature rose to 28 today but is down to 20C tonight.

Life is good!

 

Aveiro: Day 2

Aveiro
Quiet walking around day

Admist English speaking tourists in the dining room of our hotel we had a delightful breakfast. Our server was very entertaining. She sang a song, cheerfully brought us scrambled eggs and bacon, made espresso for those who wanted it and told us stories. The buffet had plenty of fruit including blueberries, pineapple and mango. As well as croissants and toasts, yogourt, cereal, Nutella cake and another cake were offered.

I had a message waiting for me at the front desk. Daniel gave us the name of a restaurant where we can meet him for supper. John and Kim will join us.

We spent some time today considering our next location. Eliane is going to take the bus to Nazare and hopes to heal her ankle on the beach. Walking is not doing her any good. We booked a hotel in Tomar and will take the train there. We still have to look up the schedule.

We walked around Aveiro. Brian found a shoe repairman to sew some stitches into his sandal. The man was very meticulous in finding a matching blue thread and triple stitching the problem. He asked for half a euro. Brian gave him more!

We went back to the same cafe for lunch. Eliane and I had enormous salads. Mine was topped with the equivalent of a can of tuna. Brian helped me with mine. He had a goat cheese wrap.

Later we were in need of an ice cream cone. I had dark chocolate ginger. Awesome! Brian had chocolate. Eliane had a nap. We walked through a large three story open air shopping mall. All the American brands were there. We were not tempted to walk into any store. The fish market was more interesting, but we did not fill our pockets with raw fish.

This was also laundry day. A pleasant breeze is drying our belongings hanging in the window.

We ran into John and Kim twice and will find them again shortly studying the craft beer selection.

 

Aveiro

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.