Tuesday, July 7, 2009

portugal top to bottom by k

we have just arrived at the bottom of portugal. the algarve. we have literally been top to bottom in this country. we flew a little over a week ago to vigo, just across the border in spain. we picked up a rental car there and drove into northern portugal and the minho area, named for the minho river (miƱo river in spain). the river is the border between the two countries.

we stayed in an amazing place amongst grape vines, fruit trees and farmland for a week. it had two old houses...one used to house animals. our family stayed in that one, karen, nick, caio and senta stayed in the other. there was a very short walk from ours down to theirs. the property has another old house where the owners (a british couple, eunice and mark) live part of the year, and an amazing pottery studio where eunice works. in front of that is a huge lawn and patio-like place with a bbq (barak was happy) and a huge granite table with granite benches. and at the far end of the property was a lovely salt water swimming pool where many a game of marco polo was played over the week.

we went kayaking one day, which was very peaceful but became hard work as the tidal flow began to go against us. arel, caio and nick went water skiing one day, while karen and i explored a market, and barak kept dorian and senta company back at the house. i really loved it there. very green, very quiet (except for the dogs, roosters, and birds), very relaxed. a dream vacation.

from there we headed down to lisbon, with a lunch in coimbra on the way. an old city with an old university on the hill. we started seeing tourists...not common where we were before, and then down to lisbon.

we ended up staying in a very cool hostel...good night hostel. all of us in a big attic room. three bunk beds and three “private” little nooks. the whole place was done in a very cool way. a look at the past for us parents...a look at the future for our kids.

we did some walking and exploring is lisbon today. i remember really liking it when i was there years ago, and that is still true. still, the kids weren’t as interested in more city time, so this afternoon we left for the algarve, the coastal region at the bottom on portugal. we’re staying a sort of funky (in both the good and bad sense of the word) apartment hotel. a very different feeling to the north. very dry. tomorrow we’ll explore the coast a bit if we can pry dorian away...we may have to do shifts!

day after tomorrow it’s back to spain for us, and off to england for karen, nick, caio and senta.

i have really loved being here. the most frustrating thing is not speaking the language. when i open my mouth, spain or catalan or the little bit of french i have want to come out. i do know a little portuguese, but i have no sense at this point when i’m saying something right or just saying something with what i think is a portuguese accent.

crickets humming away....time to climb in bed and read for a while. hopefully barak will post some photos soon.