Sintra

A restless night. I had found out that an old friend passed away. I met him and his family when I moved to Coronado. They were very kind to me. I suppose this will be happening more and more in my life. I remember my grandfather, Papa telling me that he needed to read the obituaries to see if he was in them. Living a long life means seeing your friends die off, kinda sad. That’s why I take the time now to travel because you never know when your time will be up.

Here we go down another rabbit hole, but I am reminded of a day in the Kingdom of Tonga a few years back. My friend, Megan and decided to travel there on the advice from a patient of mine. She said it was like Fiji but less touristy. On the day we were to fly to a smaller island, a hurricane decided to delay us. Once we realized that it was going to get bad and the third hotel “had no room at the inn,” I told Megan that I was satisfied with my life and could and would die peacefully. She replied instantly, “Well I haven’t!” We survived, stuck in Tonga for a few days without water, electricity nor Internet. Amazing people, those Tongans.

So today is the day to see Sintra. I had purchased some tickets on line and had a general idea how to get there. It was hard to wake up, but finally did enough to get the espresso machine working. Dressed and got my back pack ready. Might rain, might be chilly. Definitely walking a lot. I walked out of the hotel towards where I would catch a bus to take the train. Popped down into a parking lot by accident, then tried to board the wrong bus. Received some gentle direction from the driver and was on my way. Two stops later, I could have walked I arrived at the connection for the train. It’s a confusing spot since it’s called Restoradores, restaurants right? Nope. I wandered in the underground, navigated the ticket machines, walked in and back out of the wrong place and finally found my train. Arrived with minuets to spare. Again watched for the most people getting off the train and I knew that I had arrived at my destination.

Patience…..

Americans are so impatient, especially me. My theme for the year, yes, I have a theme, is “Enjoy the Journey.” My incredible daughter gave me a sign with those words for Christmas. It is in my bathroom and I look at it many times each day, but almost halfway into the year, and it’s still so hard. I am sitting in a very nice restaurant, waiting, waiting, waiting. Nope, no reservations. I walked by earlier and the menu looked great. The reviews perfect and at 9pm, it was not so busy. It’s 9:16 and just got my wine. They misunderstood me re bottle vs glass. I think I want to be a restaurant reviewer for single women! The elegant owner served me a glass, thinking I wanted a glass then, very nicely, I told him that I had ordered a bottle. He then proceeded to pour wine from the new bottle into my old glass! He quickly realized his mistake and took away the glass and repoured the wine. Now I am looking at my estranged glass and wondering who will drink it. Back to the old restaurant days.

Burrata
Gazpacho with basil ice cream
Grilled octopus, aioli, chorizo sprinkles and sweet potatoes with coriander oil
Dessert. For my sweet tooth fans!

Lisboa Tu e Eu

My son George and his girlfriend highly recommended this restaurant. I took an Uber. It said it was a 30 min drive and I read that I needed to get there early. No reservations. The driver dropped me off, way to early, so I thought. I tried to tell and show him this on my phone but he just stopped. I got out of the car and walked a little bit to see where my gps was sending me. Wrong way so I turned around. I followed the directions, zig zagging right and left and up and up steps, clearly in a very resident area, thinking that I was wasting time and steps.

On the way

I was sure I was lost but the directions were pretty accurate. It reminded me of the time years ago, in London with my Mom, who truly has limited amounts of steps, was the gps off? My Mom and I were searching for the Ice Bar for a long time, but it was worth it, right Mom?

The directions were accurate and I found it!! There was a line as expected. I waited about 45 minutes, I didn’t take the first table available because it was too central an I knew that I would hate sitting in front of everyone in line, feeling like a loser, alone. Lol, I just wanted a table with a better view of all of the people. This restaurant was outside only, on a bit of a slope, tiny tables. I ordered some white wine, got red, but went with it. Bread, olive oil, olives, octopus salad and some amazing shrimp and crunchy rice. All outstanding! Worth it. Thanks George and Grace.

Love these tables
Octopus
Pay the bill and graffiti encouraged
This was the alley to/from the street. A short cut that I missed

It was now after ten. Hmmm how to get back to the hotel? Walked a bit and then ducked into a hotel and asked them to call a taxi. Quick trip home to the hotel, went to the bar, empty but asked for a port. Time to sleep.

Lisbon

Day 2. I arrived at the train station and grabbed a taxi. I didn’t know it then, but I would be having dinner very near to the train station later.

I have many reasons to stay at a place or not or where to stay. I typically want to stay where there are funky restaurants, boutiques and galleries. This started long ago with my favorite ex, Mike. We loved going to San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district. We stayed at the cute Hotel le Richelieu.

Ever since then I look for places like that. My first night in Porto, I stayed at an Airbnb and it was a small efficiency with windows. It had an interesting shower and kinda stinky pillows but everything else was perfect. I would have stayed another night, but they were booked. The room was also situated in a place that was hard to get to by Uber/taxi. Hilly and cobblestone. So I left. Decided on the train. I tried to Uber to the train station, but internet stopped as I left the apartment, so I walked up the hill and then down a bit. I remembered the taxi driver telling me to go into the train station to see the tiles. I looked at the map and could see the station was close by. I found it, bought a ticket and the train was leaving in 20 minutes. I had a second class seat. I picked. A seat and knew that I had to transfer relatively soon. There were other people with luggage so I watched them. My ticket was pretty vague. When the “people with luggage” got up to leave, I followed. Yup, they were mostly young people, which I still think I am! Lol. I asked a girl with a backpack if she was going to Lisbon. Yes she was and she and her boyfriend weren’t sure where the platform was either. He went on ahead and I found out she lived very close to our friends in northern Germany. Small world, but it got smaller…

Train station in Porto

I stood at the platform and saw a worker point someone towards the end of the platform, indicating second class. My new German friend asked if I had a seat, I said, yes not really knowing if I did. Again vague ticket. Later I realized my car and seat was on the ticket. I moved back toward the end. The train arrived, looked for car numbers, there were none. I boarded, because there were a lot of people with a lot of luggage. There were a couple of young girls near me and they couldn’t figure it out either. So I sat with them for a minute, until we were told that we were in the wrong seats. They were from San Diego! I moved back further, they were actually in first class! I tried to sit again, wrong seat. Finally, I found the right seat, so I thought. The train departed and I was happy. It was three hour trip.

Well that was down the rabbit hole. The whole reason for the diversion was explaining why and how I pick places to stay. So as I was contemplating that yesterday, I thought that I would add to my must haves, was a place with a pool, it’s going to be hot, a bar/ restaurant so I can be more social. I am single! And maybe I am getting lazy, but staying in one place sounded attractive. So here I am in a 5 star hotel, Iberostar Selection hotel. It’s very nice. But, a little stuffy.

It was about three and I needed some food. A beautiful day so I wanted to be outside. First place was open but not outside. Next place was open but had to order inside and they would bring it outside and they could only serve pizza. I remembered the siesta time in these areas. The very sweet server sent me outside and my amazing pizza arrived soon.

Great food and Aperol Spriz! After a bit, I wasn’t feeling well, dizzy, tunnel vision, so I paid my bill and went back to the hotel. Jet lag? Not sure. Took a two hour nap and felt better.

Love this modern structure on top of the old one. Look for another picture coming up with some detail of the lower building.

Cross cultural moment

I am on the train from Porto to Lisbon and having a cross cultural moment where two people from different cultures laugh together.

I love when this happens! Half way through my trip on the train, a man basically says that I am in his seat. He shows me his ticket, I show him mine. I am at the window and in his seat. I attempt to change places and he’s say no stay there, then he takes my ticket and puts it into his pocket. I try to tel him that it’s my ticket and then I just let it go. A few minutes later he pulls the ticket out and says that it’s my ticket. We both laugh!

Another CCM was in Luang Pagam in Lao. I was in a taxi and a man walks in front of the taxi in only a loin cloth carrying a speak. The driver and I both cracked up. The man looked pretty stupid.

Today Porto to Lisbon

I woke up at 3 AM, read for a bit and back to sleep. It was a super foggy, chilly morning. Now the clouds are burning off.

This city is very hilly and pretty much all cobblestone so pulling a roller bag is out of the question. Luckily I travel light. Just a backpack and small roller bag that I can carry when needed. A few more espressos and I will attempt to call an Uber to get to the train station. The train to Lisbon is about three hours.

Someone asked if I had some port yesterday, yes I did and it was perfect. I wanted to buy a bottle but not for sale.

I am reading a great book today, titled, “The Last Rose in Shanghai.” A fascinating historical fiction about Jewish refugees in Shanghai. Wow not much is written about this time in WW2. It makes me think of the atrocities in Ukraine. I emailed a woman I met through a purchase of a handmade shawl that I bought last October. She is living in this hell. I have sent her a little money, that she actually received. I have promised to visit her when I can. She and her husband are staying in their apartment and fighting back. She is on the northeastern border. Her children are safely somewhere else. What a life I have! Makes me feel very grateful.

8 PM in Porto

It’s unusual that I am at a loss as to what to do. I have a little stuffy nose, and I never get sick! My joints hurt and I am hungry! I tried to stay another night in this cute room but they are fully booked. Thinking of a tour to Duoro wine country, but leaning towards going directly to Lisbon in the morning.

I ventured out of my apartment. Lots of steps down! Got to the bottom. The funicular is broken. I will think about that later.

The grey is the shadow of the Convent. I am more by the T in
Taberna

Beautiful views of the bridges over the river.

Convent

Porto Escondido for dinner. Shredded cod with onions cheese olives prosciutto and wine and bread! Well, yes some wine!