Monthly Archives: March 2008
Dad was spending 3 months in the Algarve region of Portugal (the gorgeous southern coast), so what better opportunity to visit. Dad is notorious for getting to know a place through the eyes of the locals, so when we decided to visit, we knew that it would be a really great time.
Portuguese lesson number one: Cataplana! Cataplana originates from Portugal and is a sauté composed of clams, chorizo and tomatoes. It is also the name of the Portuguese copper-cooking vessel that the clams are traditionally cooked in. Let’s say it all together “Cat-ta-plan-a.” Seriously good stuff. Brimming with seafood, we couldn’t get enough!
Relaxation was the name of the game. We were both working on such a fast pace, we were forced to slow down, sleep alot, eat great seafood, walk the cobblestoned streets and just truly vacation.
We stayed in an efficiency apartment called Forte de Oura in Albufeira, Portugal, and were easily the youngest people in town. It you were 60 and older, grey, overweight, smoke and prone to lobster-like sunburns (of which you are proud to show off in the mornings on your not-so-private balcony…) this was your place. With a few good laughs at other people’s expenses, we readily admit, we absolutely loved it!
One afternoon we drove the the southwestern most part of Portugal called “Sagres.” Truly stunning cliffs and ocean views–maybe a little too nice as someone fell off the cliff the week before (no joke.) We were too cheap to go into the fortress and pay the admission as the “free views” were plenty for us- with no shortage of yelling at each other to “get back from the cliff! You’re too close!” Every time we look at that little point on a map, we think, cool, we’ve been there (we didn’t fall off.)
We spent an afternoon in the charming town of Loule, Portugal where you visited typical Portuguese market with the country men and women selling fish, fruits and fresh vegetables. Leave it to Dad to find this place. Loule is supposedly the busiest inland town, where you can stroll around the narrow streets and visit the Medieval Castle and city wall.
You can watch craftsmen, coppersmiths, basket and harness makers show off their skills, and browse the stalls for a bargain or two…but somehow the crafts have been blurred by the all too real vision of some seriously scary fish and pork head items. I’m still having nightmares! This thing was bigger than my head!
Check out recommended hotels in Portugal: www.johansens.com
JB was en route to Fargo, ND, in the cold of winter (ahem, who has the better travel schedule??!) when I booked our trip to Portugal. “Hon, it’s booked. 10 days Ireland & Portugal.” Panic set in on his part , but my feeling has always been that we’re always going to be busy, so you really just have to make the time. “He will eventually come around,” I thought. The word “non-refundable” ensured me that we were going to have a really great time. A few short weeks later, we were off to Ireland! www.visitdublin.com
I found a fabulous fare sale rate on Aer Lingus ($199 each way pp from Boston to Dublin) and then booked a separate flight on Aer Lingus (after also looking at Ryan Air) to Faro, Portugal. www.aerlingus.com Sign up like I do for fare sale notifications, so you don’t miss the best fares available.
(What too much Guinness will do to you. I can’t quite determine if stickman is falling up the stairs or down…)
So we left Boston and after 7 hours via Shannon, we landed in Dublin, and to my amazement, it looked like we were back in Boston. Cobble stone streets, pubs on every corner…we were completely jet lagged, but did the whirlwind tour of Dublin in 24 hours (Book of Kells, Trinity College) and of course some good Irish Music at the Temple Bar.
JB & I met 10 years to the day we were in Dublin. He was with his buddy Ned O’Neill the night we met, so in tribute to Mr. Ned not being with us, we decided to have a good Irish meal in the Irish pub “O’Neill’s.”
You know there is a lot to be said about the Irish culture of meeting and spending time with good friends after work in the Irish pubs. What I was observed was that it wasn’t about coming in for the endless pints of good Irish beer, it was about true friendships, genuine laughter, storytelling , good times, and most of all slowing down a little, enough to remember that you must work to live, not live to work.
I’m looking forward to our next trip to Ireland…this time to explore the “Irish” green countryside, a color so vibrant and attractive, I feel her calling me back…
Check out recommended hotels in Ireland: www.johansens.com