A Travellerspoint blog

Overview

What is this Blog about

Hopefully most of the things that I say in this overview will be repeated, with details, in the entries below.

From March 4-15, I traveled to Lagos Portugal to ride a peddle bike. The back story is that my doctors are declaring me a type II diabetic and I hope to reverse or at least slow that process with exercise. The type of exercise that I have been able to perform most reliably in recent years is riding a road bike. I can't do that during the winter at my NH home. My main motivation is avoiding type II diabetics is not an extension of life but rather my enjoyment of alcohol and beer in particular.

I went to Cancun Mexico in January and LA California in February, with the same biking drinking program.

Lagos is at the bottom of Portugal. As in Cancun I used airbnb. I had original looked at Lagos as my January destination but was correctly directed to Cancun for weather reasons.

I would never have tried Portugal or settled on Lagos if it were not for the excellent material by Huw Thomas on http://pedalportugal.com/. He posted wonderful GPS routes that formed the basis for all my rides and, in email exchanges, he helped me choose Lagos and the dates.

Two aspects of this trip set it apart from Cancun and LA. Not better or worse, just apart. First, I mainly road alone. Long and slow. I spent one wonderful afternoon with 3 Brits training for iron man. I wound occasionally catch a wheel here or there, but generally I rode alone. This allowed me for the first time to stop and take pictures. I carried binoculars and stopped to bird. I road from 10am to 4pm ish. Generally I road longer but slower. Secondly, I established a routine of visiting two young ladies working in bars. Valentina is Italian and owns Baffi Bar with her husband. She had the only Belgium beer in Lagos and I often stopped in there once before dinner and once after. Tam worked at the Lighthouse bar on the marina. I usually visited her after dinner and had the pleasure of hearing her sing for 3 hours on Sunday March 13th. Being in a strange town can be lonely. Valentina and Tam, with maybe a little help from the magic of the bottle, made me feel like a great athlete on a quest. I should also mention that I spent several meals with wonderful couples who indulged my imposing myself on their vacations.

In Cancun, we road the same sterile route daily. In LA, we had the variety of parks but still very much common vistas. Lagos was a smorgasbord of delights. Beaches, towns with tight winding roads, birds and cows, hills beyond climbing, forts on the clefts, tavernas filled with locals on the plaza. On my last ride, chance took be on a back country one lane road from a Huw Thomas map. A sheep dog playing with his pull toy. Houses so close to the road on either side that you could not imagine a car passing. Sheep in the meadow. Turn after turn. A memory that will stay with this 70 year old for many years to come.

Cost. Air was 630. Airbnb was 439. I put 717 on my credit card. I spent 694 in cash, 150 of that was for the bike rental. I later donated 60 dollars to Huw's web site. So, the total was about 2500 for the 10 days. That is very much in line with the other two trips I probably should throw on another 100$ for the "roaming" phone package I paid Verizon for while I was in Portugal.

Huw had warned me that because Lagos was full of expat Brits, I would not meet many locals. And, indeed, I did not. I hoped that the Brits would come with good beer. They did not. I was complaining about this state of affairs on the train returning to Lisbon. A local spoke up and said the Portuguese beer was specially designed and evolved to provide maximum pleasure in the climate. My response was: when you move an elephant from one country to another, does he change his diet to that offered in the new environment?

My other beer argument, to anyone who would listen, went like this. You say that you can not have good (Craft, Belgium, cask, etc) beer in Lagos because of the expense of cellaring, cooling etc. In 1930, a bunch of Brits showed up in Lagos with sticks with mettle plates on the bottom and they wanted to hit a ball around and they wanted the grass to be cut to 1/8 of an inch. The locals must have said they were crazy. Now there are 20 million dollar golf courses around Lagos. If you provide good beer, they will pay the extra and drink it!

Posted by tompears 05:21 Comments (0)

Getting There

Friday and Saturday

It was not an easy start. I'm a nervous traveler. We live along the coast of NH and I have to get to Boston's Logan airport for a 10pm flight. My wife works in Boston and our plan was for her to arrive home at 6pm and we would race off to the C&J bus terminal in Newburyport MA, where I would board the 6:30 bus to Logan. That plan gave me good "leeway". However, it started snowing, not hard, but snowing. My wife was not home at 6pm so I enacted plan B. I drove my car to Newburyport, locked it and put the key on the front right tire. The drive to Newburyport was not easy. I had to dodge around phalanxes of plows on Rt 95. The parking lot at C&J was full but I did find a slot. As I entered the station, the ticket master told me the bus had already left but his assistant assured me it was caught in traffic and would arrive shortly.

The bus delivered me to Logan. I lost my bag (to the airline bag check service), not because it was too big but because it weighted 12 stone when the restriction was 8 stone! I made it through TSA and on to the Durgan Park bar. The couple on the bar stools next to me were on my flight to Lisbon. She is a conservator working at Harvard's Peabody museum. He is a tenure track professor at Wentworth college in Boston. His specialty is Greek? history. They met on a Cyprus dig. He was very excited about older homes in JP and how his students had been involved in new 3d laser mapping of the structures.

The young lady next to me on the flight had recently graduated from Clark in Wooster. She was working in an environmental consulting firm involved in helping buildings with energy saving. She was into rock climbing. Had been climbing in Thailand! last year.

Our airline was SATA, based in the Azores! The plane was a big airbus and full. Maybe you can guess why? The price! It was 200-400 below the direct choices I could find. So, just like with Turkish Air and Istanbul, we were slated for an hour visit to Sao Miguel in the Azores. Upon landing, we were instructed to take all our belonging with us and walk to the terminal.

That may sound like an easy task but I travel a little on the heavy side. The main problem is my riding cloths. I have a wind breaker and a fleece that just will not fit in a suitcase or backpack with all my normal things. So, I wear them, on and off the plane. As soon as I get on the plane, I dump them in an overhead rack. Did I mention I also carry a 4 foot black umbrella? I have a cap and of course a heavy raincoat. And a backpack stuffed with 2 computers (for redundancy). Nervous traveler? My wife might have a more clinical term for the condition. As soon as I get to my seat, after having disrobed at an earlier empty seat, I take the 2 computers out of the backpack and hold them in my lap as the back pack does not fit under the seat with them included. So, a long explanation of why "take all your things with you" is a little more complicated for me than for most of my fellow flyers.

After about an hour wait, we were instructed to re-board to our previous seats and we were off for Lisbon. The flight took another 2 plus hours. The bus ride to the airport was unending and the walk after that to customs, almost as long. My memory is that I got through with minimal hassle and was soon out on the street. I took a taxie to Gar Orient train startion. The taxie driver was very angry. He had waited two hours in line at the airport and ended up with a 5 euro passenger. I tipped a little but told him it really was not my fault. I had about 25 euro in coins left over from our previous travels.

The Gar Oriental was a laberinth. All open but floor upon floor with open stairs. I finally found a man who answered questions and sold tickets in a booth. I was able to buy a ticket to Lagos and went off to eat.

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Being 70, I don't have a tradition of selfies but as you will see, I made a real effort this trip.
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I was able to use my bank card to get Euros. In mexico, they told you each time what they were charging. Here they just gave you the money I had all my luggage so moving around was really not an option. I was on the platform and boarded the train early. The cars were pretty empty. But, it soon became apparent that we had assigned seats and cars so I had to switch everything. The train left after 2pm. It took a long time to cross the bridge out of Lisbon. It is a sprawling city!
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This was a local train, so we made a number of stops like this:
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and towns like this
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At about 5pm, we got to Tunes, had a fast change onto the waiting local train to Lagos and we were off for that 1 hour run. Now we started to see water and restaurants along the coast.
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Finally the Marina at Logos, the end of the line.
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I had been texting my airbnb host since Lisbon. He had offered to pick me up. His father came along shortly in a previously grand Mercedes. As we drove to the apartment, he pointed out important sights like the location of the Saturday morning produce market. He asked if I had time and took me 5 minutes to a light house on the coast and wonderful cliffs leading down to picturesk gratos. Then a harrowing drive through town pointing out possible beer bars and back to the apartment. I was very careful to practice with all the keys as I had a bad experience in Ghent Belgium where I locked myself out of my airbnb. It was a little chilly, so he and I searched around for anything that might be an extra blanket. We found plenty but I never needed them.

The apartment was made up of Kitchen, livingroom, bedroom, bath and long hall. There was another bedroom that was locked. Here are the pictures taken later, after I have had a chance to personalize the environment!

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The kitchen.
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The livingroom.
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Bedroom
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Bath
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The bike resting in the hall.

I had no idea it would be such an advantage but there is a BIG convenience store on the first floor of my apartment.
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This first night I was able to buy bottled water and beer. I bought strawberries and cereal for breakfast. All my needs. I even did my laundry there!

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I went out for Tapas, had a little sushi afterward and ended a long long day with beer and TV at home!

Posted by tompears 05:32 Comments (0)

Day 1 and 2 Riding

Starting right in

Today is Sunday and the bike will arrive at 10am. I went out to breakfast on the main avenue.
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The bike arrived by van at 10am as promised. I rode a short distance out South, just to get a feel for it and had english stew for lunch in a British pub, Lighthouse, at the marina.

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In the afternoon I started on the 37 mile route that I got from this wed site

http://pedalportugal.com/day-rides/the-algarve/lagos-back-roads/

I probably did 20+ of it. This particular route is all north of the "main" highway going east west, the N125.
Very nice country. A vineyard
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A selfie
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Going down a winding road. There are shadows. All at once at the bottom of the hill, I am in dirt and pot holes. I took these two pictures to "Document" the road hazard!
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Even a pond.
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I'm not going to go into a lot of detail of the routes. I do actually have most of them recorded in a phone app called Gala GPS. I was able to download 2 routes from Huw Thomas's peddle portugal and I mainly road on them and offshoots. Here is the map of the first one that he calls Lagos back roads.

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You see the red circle over on the right. That is Lagos where I start. Note the yellow line that runs horizontal, east and west about the middle of the map and is labeled N125. So this first day I rode on the red line up and all the way around on the red, 55, 5, 10 and to 45 and Sao Joao starting down the left side of the curve. Next, I went down the leg numbered 20 and met the N125. From there I just high tailed it home. Way too rocky and rough along the side of N125 but I had over done it and just needed to get home.

After shower, I once again entered the labyrinth of streets that is the walled part of Lagos.
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For the first days, I just walked the came route to the areas I knew. Finally in the last days I could freelance around the town!

Stopped in to see Valentina at Baffi Bar that she and her husband own. They came from Turin Italy. She has one Belgium beer in a bottle. I never found another Belgium in all of Lagos! Then a drink at the local British pub, Fools and Horses. On to a dinner at tourist place Valentina suggested Os Arcos. Good introduction to the 100s of outdoor empty restaurants but no need to repeat. Then back to the Lighthouse bar at the marina where I had lunch. It is all British expats and vacationers. There was dancing and I got to meet a night time bar tender, Tam, who sings, does art and has lived in Russia. One last picture of the main square and its CRAZY statue.

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Home to beer, port, nuts, TV and bed.

Woke up to rain. Checked outside and decided to delay. On email, I learned of an applicant from Simmons College for a Historical Internship I manage so I wrote to her and the weather cleared enough to get me out.

I started down the 3 flights of stairs from my apartment with my bike and realized I had a flat rear tire. Rather than using my one spare tube, I walked the bike through town to a bike shop I had seen. They could not help me but directed me to return to the square with the crazy statue and where to find "Miguel the bicycklet mechanic". I stopped in the news stand on the square. They had never heard of "Miguel'. Than, after I had left, the clerk came running out yelling, "oh Miquel", his shop is just there. Miguel was sitting waiting for action. He showed me that I should not only get a tube but also a new tire. I was more than happy to take his advise and was out of there in 20 minutes!

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This was close to Fools and Horses pub and they were just opening. I approached the female bar tender and asked if my any chance she had a place to put my "bad" tire for the day. She graciously accepted, and I was on my way.

I road the same route as yesterday, up to Sao Joao. This is the windmill ridge as one approaches the town.

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I stopped in the taverna for lunch. A selfie

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We always joke about what is missing here?

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The crowd at the taverna, several are 60 year old Expat women.

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Back on my bike and repeating yesterday's route down to N125. This is a sign for the next town and the town itself.

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Today, when I get to the N125, I don't turn left to Lagos but right, until I see this sign.
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There I turn left and head down to the beach. It is a wonderful spot.

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Now, instead of going back to the N125, Huw's route directs me up what he says is the hardest pitch on the route. The road leading to it is small cobbles, a real pain to ride!

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And the bridge at the end, where I hung out on several later rides. Now it was time to tackle the 17% grade. I got a start but was glade to get off the walk the steep part. I did take this picture looking back down to this Boca Rio beach.

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I had terrible terrible wind all day but at least the wind is not cold! I worked my way toward Lagos, using Huw's route. When it crossed the N125 to head back north, I pioneered my own route home. The highlight was working my way through the town of Luz. I managed to ride more than a couple blocks the wrong way on a one way road. I also think this was the day I did not recognize the art work in the circle where I get off the N125 and instead proceeded down the hill into town and had to turn around and ride up that terrible hill!

Shower, out to Baffi Bar to see Valentina. Oh No, she is closed on Monday! I stop in Fools and Horses to get my tire. The people there recommended a restaurant called Cantinho do Algarovo that was closed Sunday but is open today at 6:30. I get there early. Another couple is also early and eyeing the place.I come back at 6:30 and am seated, right near the door. Soon after the other couple comes in and are seated next to me.

I'm terrible on names. I will call them the Paris couple. He was studding Chinese at UC Davis in 1969 and she was a modern dancer. They married and raised their children in Paris. He is 76 and suffers from oracular degeneration. He says the Kindal helps, he reads all the time and when asked for something he had enjoyed recently, he offered up Mr Sufferage. She is not walking as well as she used to. They were gracious enough to keep me company at this and 2 future dinners. Generally, I use the bar keeps to fend off being alone but it was wonderful to share these meals. We all thought Cantinho was excellent. The people at Fools had said to be sure and tell the owner Carlos that Ray and Tina had sent me. I was also instructed to have Carlos pick the wine as that is his specialty. One more stop at Lighthouse to talk to Tam and home for beer, port, nuts and TV. At least when you are an obsessive compulsive, you know what is going to happen next.

Posted by tompears 11:14 Comments (0)

Day 3 and 4 Riding

Two Queen stages

In a bicycle race like the Tour de France, the Queen stage is the killer, the one that decides the winner.

I'm up about 7:30, have strawberries. fiber cereal and handle the email.

I went out Tuesday morning the same way I had gone Sunday and Monday on Huw Thomas's route. I carried the binocular today and stopped to do a lot of birding before lunch.
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There are lots of palm trees. Note how the leaves are cut so only the top ones remain.
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Also saw two groups of riders. One was 3 man and I was able to chase them for a few 100 meters but they turned off my route. Then as I was off the bike birding 2 old men my age road by going the wrong way, though one had a slower type bike.

I got to Sao Joao where I ate lunch about 11:30. Yesterday I had a grilled chicken. Today ham and cheese. Usually a wine and a beer. It was woman's day in Portugal so all my normal 60 year old women were at the taverna but also some new 30 year olds. One crazy one with incense and putting red dots on the women's forheads.
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After lunch I repeated by path of Tuesday and Monday down to the N125 main road. This time, as yesterday, took a right but went all the way out to a town Villa de Bispo. I did ride with a couple and they talked to me but I could only hold their wheel for 1/4 mile as they went into Bispo. I was too tired and had to stop to regain breath and they were not to be found in the town.

I now turned around and headed back toward Lagos on the N125. After a few miles, I turned right and went down to the coast to explore the town of Salema.

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Below are the actual streets. I walked most of them. Riding on the cobbles is too hard.
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Now I am off to Boca Rio where I was yesterday,
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Salema and Boca Rio are separated by a steep Hill. This is a picture of the sign warning of 20% grade. I had to walk down!!

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Now I am down in Boca Rio and will have to climb out the other side, heading for Lagos.

I had just started riding again after walking the 17% big hill of yesterday out of Boca Rio when a man comes by huffing and puffing so I take off after him. I can't catch him but at least he is insight and then a woman and man pass me, I can hold onto them and they catch the guy in front. When they arrive he is telling them about a man he just passed who yelled "All Right" which is what I normally say when surprised by someone blowing by me. So I hear this and can say "I am that man".

I ride with them all the way back to Lagos. In the town of Luz, they head right down to the beach and sit down in a cafe for coffee. Some of the approach to this part of town is on cobbles where I get off and walk and fall behind out of sight. I finally find them and just have water. When we leave, they take me up a great short cut through a golf course. It is VERY steep and the one man encourages and guides me up. I make a lot of noise when I am climbing beyond my limits. He has to ask, " are you alright". Luckily, I usually recover pretty quickly.

There is yet another hill I can't get up without walking and they have to wait for me. I go to their apartment building in Lagos and take their picture. The woman is big time triatholon. Did Chicago tri this year and has done NY marathon. She and her husband have given up drinking as part of training so I have to be careful about my favorite topic of conversation. They are off to ride north from Bispo tomorrow. I won't ride with them but I will go to the same area.

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I was later than usual getting home. Shower and out by 6pm? Belgium beer with Valentina then on to tapas bean dish,
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At the Tapas place, the Paris couple I had dinner with the night before were just finishing up a wine so I talked to them. They were going back the same restaurant we had dinner in last night!

I tried a number of places after Tapas but nothing stuck. Tam had the night off and there was a man behind her bar so I just went back to Valentina for a drink. Baffi Bar has a branding with a mustache. Valentina says it comes from an Italian phrase that is in this collage in many languages on their wall,
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But what exactly is the phrase? It is written in english on the inside circle of the above picture. I can read a lot of it and I got the rest from the facebook page. "So good to lick one's mustache. This Italian expression means that you are tasting something so good that you lick your lips to waste not even a little bit of it
In my photo, part of the words are covered up by the mustaches that are in a pitcher on the bar! As you see in the photo below, Valentina holds one up in front of her face as branding whenever she gets her picture taken.
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The theme is all over the facebook page.
https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=baffi%20bar

And then home to watch Hercule Poirot episode and bed.

Tuesday I started with the normal strawberries and cereal and email.

Got out at like 9:30? I Went the way the tri athletes from yesterday had shown me to get down to Boca Rio, through the golf course, staying south of N125.
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One never knows what a route is like in reverse, but it was fine and I did not have to walk at all. I did follow a couple on bikes, pulled up along side and said it was colder today but they did not speak English so I stayed on my route as they pulled off. Too bad, in that they rode nice and slowly!

At Boca do Rio there is a bridge over a small stream where I have talked to birders. Got off, rested, watched birds there.
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This is one of my favorite resting places. In the picture picture above, you can see a road heading up the hill. That is the 20% grade from Salema that I walked down yesterday.

A little further on, I started to see lots of riders. As I headed up to the N125 and onto my lunch at Villa do Bispo, I saw 30? riders, all individual, going fast. They were heading to the beach at Boca do rio. I did not bother to investigate.
As I road out of Boca Rio, I did take this picture and wondered what it was?
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Along N125 I took a new parallel route on what had to have been the previous main road. Nice to be off the traffic for a mile or so. At Bispo, there was a tourist couple sitting at one of the tavernas with a dog so I got a wine and chatted them up. German in a camper. They do not pay to park. 4 days from Cologne, will stay a couple weeks and hope to come back in Oct for 6 months. He delivers buses in Africa and is just back from Mali where he made the money for this trip. They will move around in the Algarve during this stay.
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Had octopus salad and a selfie in the restaurant next door and then off to the end of Portugal, Sagres. Fast trip down 8k with the wind at my back, 1.5Euro to get into the fort and take pictures of the light house and surfers,
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On the way home I take a couple shots to document the old road that runs along the N125 and how to get on and off it.
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And then one last stop at my bridge before the trudge home.
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It is against the wind back to Bispo and a very slow trip home. I had to walk up the 3 hills. I wanted to be back at like 4pm as Tam was only working the noon-6 shift. As I laid out the return trip goals and missed them, it looked like I would get home as late as 5 but made it. Maybe 50 miles?

Shower and off to Tam's and learned a little more about how her bigger dog had to stay in a Kennel last year in Lisbon and had all kids of vet problems afterward. Tonight is Karaoke at the bar and Tam says the Russians (russian owner) will show up in force. On to a beer with Valintina, then check out the 2 Portuguese restaurants, second one has more people so go in to Restaurante D. Henrique, order, and the couple from Paris show up again and I eat with them. They feel they told me they were coming here and I am stalking them but it was not conscious!. It was very good, maybe the best so far. When I later got to Lighthouse, the Karaoke had not started so I had one drink and left, stopped with Valentina for a beer on the way home and then another PBS type mystery on the TV.

Posted by tompears 05:13 Comments (0)

Day 5 and 6 Riding

A rest day and onto the next Huw route

After days like the last two, your body takes a day off whether you plan one or not. I had to do a lot of computer work in the morning around the intern hiring. I got off about 10? and visited a bike shop that is very near by airbnb. He does not rent bikes but talked about others who do. There was another man in the shop who was getting his tandom bike repaired. He recognized me as he had been birding at my favorite bridge at Boca do Rio the first day I went there and we had talked a long time there about his camera, birds etc.

I went East along the coast. The map showed a road but it soon turned into paths on a golf course and then a dirt track that I had to walk. Came to an industrial area but still dirt roads that I walked for at least 1/2 hour and probably more. Interesting to see a man flying a 20ft cape kite on the duns and lots and lots of muscle farming in the wet lands.

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Finally onto paved road that I could ride. A man stopped and gave me his card as he rented bikes, ran a restaurant and had rooms to let. Back on the N125 but very very narrow streets through a town. I could find NO taverna, went out of the town the back way hoping to find another town with taverna, found town but no taverna.

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Above are the kind of towns I was in and a bird! I assume this is a summer rental town. Most of the houses looked empty.

It was back on N125. I just road home to Tam's Light House bar and had a Pizza. She was not working the day shift.

Then home and did laundry in the supermarket that is below by apartment. More computer work, off to beer with Valentina, dinner at Indian I had looked up on Trip Advisor, it was good, lamb, cheese bread,

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And green wine, whatever that is, was quite good.
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Then beers at Tam's light house. Learned a little more about her area and talked to a man at the bar. Everyone was watching soccer. He was amazed that I had never heard of the Dortmund team but he did not know about my bike race Paris Nice that is on now. I was too tired and could not stay for Karaoke with the Russians. Home and watched the news.

I titled this Day 6: Poor start but good finish!
I'll head east again today. Try to find a way around the N125 and get onto the track that peddleportugal has posted and I have never been on. Hopefully I will find a taverna for lunch and I am afraid I will find a lot of hills. If so, I'll just try new roads and leave his route.

I know it is impossible for readers to follow but I have developed 3 routes. One goes along the coast to the west of Lagos. I learned it from the Brits doing iron man training. It takes me from my apartment to Praia da boca do rio beach and a wonderful bird habitat. It has hills but I can ride it all the way out. I have to walk 3 hills coming back. That is not because I am tired. The hills are just steeper the return way. Then from boca I can go onto Bispo that has a good restaurant and on to sagras where I have never eaten but I am sure has great places.

Route #2 revolves around the town of Barao do Sao Joao where the women sit at the taverna
The food is simple but the drama of the women is priceless. The ride out is nice. The ride from there onto boca or Bispo works fine.

Route 3 is the one I pioneered today. It is based on peddleportugals second day ride up to monchique. I left town on the N125 which is the normal way east. A left after the airport takes me onto the Barao do Sao Joao route but I continued on. I took a route marked A22. Beautiful surface. I rode 1 mile in and found out I was trapped on an access ramp to A22. No way to get onto local roads, the fenses was too high, had to retrace to n125.

Peddleportugals marks his access to this area as the next major left off of N125. I take it and am soon on dirt for 1/2 hour. Finally on paved in to the village of Mexilhoeiba Grande.

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The above pictures show the dirt roads and then finally rough pavement

I spend more than a little time circling. It is only 11:30 but ...so I shoulder on, some towns but no taverna with a welcoming porch in the sun and maybe a Brit or 2 to talk to.

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As I rode out of town, I came upon this tree and plowed field.
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A palm tree that has not had its leaves cut.

Finally a "monument" that indeed turns out to be a pre-historic burial museum.
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With Senior discount it is 1 euro and I buy a pamphlet for 1e. Nice little film and museum but I spend little time. Then walk the grounds and take pictures of the stone monuments. The man at the desk directs me to a very close restaurant.

They have a better preserved water wheel? that I took a picture of down in Boca do Rio.
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There are 8 brits and dogs at a long table in the sun. I sit down at my own table and order a special of black pig. It is too much gristle and fat but I have a piece of cake also. Then on up the road for another hour. Very good roads for me, not too steep, no cars, nice rural scenery.

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I especially liked this field.
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Above was my turn around point
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And a bird on a pole going home.
On the way back, I just shortcut to the N125 and find the shoulder fine to ride on. One town on the N125 here has an awful thin road but it also has 8 traffic lights that the people press to cross. So, the traffic is slowed and I can go fast and keep up with it so I am not being passed. Thus the thinness of the road is not as dangerous.

Got home about 5ish.

Once back, especially on a long day like today, I don't want to carry the bike up the 3 flights of stairs. But, the alternative is getting into the one person elevator with it. I never managed to capture the situation as I have too few brain cells left after hours riding and I am too tired. But the next two pictures are taken with me and the bike in the elevator!

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I showered, bought water and headed off to Valentina's.
The building below is on a secondary square. It really is quite striking. A wonderful shade of green. My picture does not do it justice.
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Then tried a new Portuguese restaurant for just a snack
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No menu, you just point at things in the case.

Had a real dinner at an all you can eat sushi below.
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Then on to Tam's where there was a singer. Tam was not on the main bar tonight, she was doing tables so I did not need to hold up the bar and could write most of these notes on my iphone. I usually do the writeup in the morning. Night cap and cup cake at Valentina's and a miss marble before bed.

Posted by tompears 18:17 Comments (0)

Day 7 and 8 Riding

All good things must come to an end

Saturday, I got up at 7:30 and raced off even before breakfast to the Saturday market. First I walked through the daily fish market and took these pictures.

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On to the produce market. 60 vendors had set up in two spaces, each the size of a LARGE basketball arena.

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I would have loved to buy all kinds of things, it was mostly produce but some flowers, nuts, jams but most things were sold in bulk that I could never have used. So I figured I am an expert on the taste of tomatoes and carrots so I bought one bunch of cherry tomatoes, 1 herloom tomato, and little deformed bulk carrots, like 4? each from 2 vendors. The one vendor would not take money he was so insulted that I took such a small amount. Maybe I spent 1 euro in all. I would just hold out my hand with all the change in my palm and they would select what I owed them.

I walked home a new way over a hill and took these shots looking down at the marina.

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Back to apt and instead of my normal strawberries and granola cereal I washed and cut up the carrots and washed and cut up the 1 big tomato. I had selected the tomato so it was damaged on top as I wanted to be sure I got a ripe one. It was excellent. Carrots and cherry tomatoes were bland.
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On the way out of town I walked my bike and stopped at two cork shops. They are for tourists and everything they sell is made of cork, probably in china. I bought a cap for 25 euro and wore it last night as Valentina had told me were the shop was and asked if I had been to it yet.

Off to the Monchique route again. It is the second from peddleportugal. Took the N124 as far as the town of Figueria. I had pioneered this route on the return yesterday as it was shorter and cut out the dirt! I had had trouble on the N124 yesterday with construction! Had to wait in line, a little walking etc. This time mainly ok, just a little walking. Then a group of bikers came by, 30! I could not join them as they were riding in the car lane and I was walking on the dirt. Later I saw 4 of them stopped fixing a flat but never saw them again. The road up to Figueria was a terrible uphill. I did not remember it from yesterday. Towns are always on hills. But I made it up.

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Got to lunch at 11:30 and she said no food until noon so I went down her street and the one across from it and back at noon to chicken kabob with two sauces to dip in, pepper and tazikki. She said pepper had more spice than curry, that was another possible, but neither was really spicy at all. Had chocolate pudding for desert.

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Made it further up the mountain than yesterday, maybe by a mile or 2. A man pulled me up. He came past me as I was plodding along at my normal slow pace and I caught him and he did not speak english but was surprised and picked up the pace. I was able to hold him, then he yelled "asie asie" and took off faster uphill. I had to rest, he turned off, I rode up to where he turned off on dirt? and then turned around myself at 3pm? and headed home.

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While I was resting a car from Netherlands stopped and asked directions, I showed him in my machine but then he drove off in the way I had told him was wrong! Got back to N125 and as I motored along, there pulled over waiting for me was the van from Megasport and the driver who had rented me the bike! He must have recognized the bike and pulled over to wait for my passing.

He was confused, seemed to think he was on his way to Lagos to pick up my bike. Asked if I wanted a ride to town. I told him pick up was at 11:30am Monday and I complained about having to buy a tire and he said to bring the recite. I realize Miquele the bicyclet mechanic does not give any paper, is all cash!

There is a bad bad hill just 100 meters from my apt coming back into town. I had trouble with it yesterday. I even considered that I really should walk the bike through town and show Valentina my riding outfit but instead took on the hill and did better this time!

David Turner skyped once I was home so I added him to my daily email.

Shower and off to Valentina and then a new brit bar that I had seen on the walk home from the morning market. Turns out it is 3 bars in a row. Checked all three, chose one and had London pride from a can, terrible. Man next to me was drunkish and chatted me up. Was the chief at a restaurant under Tam's and knew Tam. On to the tourist restaurant in town Adega. Airbnb man had said to try Bacalhau that is salted cod. Best meal of the trip, some bones but very taste.

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Brit couple next to me, man is off to do north west passage from Alaska to Greenland, had been to Everest base camp. Seemed to claim he could do some talks? on the boat to make money but maybe not. His 10 year younger wife said, he is 70, he had a very good settlement from being laid off.

I tried to tell him about Willie Unsold. Gave him my card. Off to Valentina. Below is the wall at Baffi Bar.

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Gave out cards to two men she recommended who I had seen in her Baffi place before, then home, TV, bed.

Sunday, Day 8

For the first time, I am under the gun. Have to get this out before 8am, then ride 8-12, 2 hours out and 2 back, and then 1 hour shower and on to Tam singing 1-4. Who knows if it will really happen. At her normal bar karaoke night and live music night both had "delayed" starts due to European championship soccer matches. Again, I was able to write some of the above on my phone in a bar last night.

I rode from 8-11. It was cool starting out so I had 2 shirts, fleece and wind breaker and hat. My plan was to head up to the ladies at Barao de Sao Joao. But first I though I better figure out where the train station actually is. The airbnb father picked me up there so I never got a clear idea of exactly where it was. From riding east along the water, eventually to the long day walking in the dirt, I knew where the train tracks came into town, but not the location of the actual station. I just poked around. Like in China, there are masses of apartment blocks with no one in them. I am sure that in the summer, all are full. Tam said that usually there were lots of rentals for her to choose from but not this year. She was told it was because of a tax change and everyone now rented in secret. Anyway, I found the station but even now it will be a little trouble to walk to it because even though I found it, I still am not exactly sure how I will access it form the foot bridge that I use to get to that side of the river.

Then up the roads to Barao de Sao Joao. These are the roads I was on the first couple of days. I remember many of the stops. A few hills. I was not pushing but getting some exercise. I soon took off the wind breaker, fleece and hat. I not only carry the binoculars around my neck, but also a back pack that is small but has lots of room to put cloths in.

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A horse along the way

Made it to Barao de Sao Joao about 10.
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A little cemetery off the square.
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Did not go up to the taverna.
The ladies and some men were out in the chairs talking.
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Every square has to have a sculpture
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I came home a new way that is part of the peddleportugal track that I was never on. He included a WONDERFUL winding one lane, maybe 1/2 lane 2 mile? track through farm fields. The sheep dog went back to the barn for his pull toy and played with it by himself, then came along with me barking until the farmer called him off. The track ended in a town where the road went so close to houses and walls that you wondered how a car could get through and certainly not the blueberry (reference to van we had in italy).
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Made it up the bad hill by my house and took on the task of finding the recycle in prep for cleaning today. Put the beer bottles in a plastic bag, garbage in small plastic bags in second back pack, etc. Found the recycle about 100meters up the road, dumped the beer bottles, oh no, beer in the bottom of the plastic bag that I use to carry my books, newspaper to the bars. AHAH, a brilliant idea. Instead of needing to dry out the inside of the wet old beer bag, I will just turn it inside out and use it that way. The outside is dry. Clearly another demonstration of why I got into Princeton.

Off to Tam's 1 am singing start. I walked a new way and the couple from last night, northwest passage, was sitting at a outdoor table having lunch so chatted with them. She had a very large shopping bag full of what they had bought all morning. He was putting on the new socks. I asked how she would get all this material home and she said that he had a very small suitcase because he told her he likes to travel light BUT she not only had her own suitcase but had brought a big empty one as he always buys things and then wants to put them in her case.

Tam was "setting up". Singing, playing the key board to get the audio levels right. It was way too loud. Everyone kept trying to get her to turn it down but she had some idea that she needed it loud. I sat down right in front of her. All tables were empty but had a "reserved" sign on them. The owner came and made me move to the back. This was my view:

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I ordered the special of stuffed mushrooms starter, eggplant main and apple pie end.

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Tam played 3 one hours sets. She would get a drink, shot of cognac and come sit with me on break.

After the first break it was obvious that no one was coming for reserved seats so I asked and moved up. Before I could not hear Tam's patter. She would introduce the songs and talk a little about herself.
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20 people in the Italian restaurant having lunch. (Valentina says NOT Italian!) Finally at 3pm there are only 5 of us, two older women sitting up with me and a couple in the back. Tam encourages us to dance and we do for a few songs of the last set. She has an older friend with her to help take the amplifiers, key board, mics etc home and she is working at 7pm.

I go off to Valentina for beer. A picture with Valentina on the last night and even an audience with the dog!
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Then dinner at a place triathelets recommended. The couple from the first night, French, she a dancer show up and join me. I go back to Tam's lighthouse bar and she joins me on her breaks. I learn about her only brother who is older, studying law in england, born with one arm paralyzed, has wife and 2 kids but wife keeps the kids away from grandparents, Tam has never even seen the younger.

Home and to bed. It is a hard job but someone has to do it!

Posted by tompears 08:35 Comments (0)

Ask and They May Come

On to Lisbon and Boston

After sending my last email update to my family (these blog posts are based on my daily email updates) I was working through the tasks to get out. I had decided that riding was just too much trouble for too little gain, when you figure in the wet cloths, shower, packing etc. So I just worked randomly on the task of cleaning, preparing another run to the recycle, gathering what goes in each bag in one place, sweeping up all the pistachio debris etc. I had strawberries and granola for the last time. Threw out the rest of the granola. Prepared the bike by putting things like the peddle straps back on, etc. Things packed up easy. I was using a plastic bag for the "cloths": Heavy rain coat, wind breaker, fleece. I think I was wearing shorts for the first time and the drink a pig T shirt and a dress shirt.

Went down at 11:20 with the bike and the man was there. I showed him the holes in the tire that I replaced but made no mention of reimbursement. He gave me the "impression" of my credit card that he had made and I had signed to protect against bike loss or damage and I tore it up. Raced back up for suitcase, back pack, plastic bag of cloths and umbrella. I texted the owner that I would write a good review, leave the keys on the table and was leaving a day early. Texted my Lisbon airbnb that I would text once in Lisbon.

I had paid to spend this Monday night at the Lagos airbnb but realized that taking the morning train at 6am to Lisbon Tuesday for a 12 noon flight was too dangerous, too nerve racking. When I found a great Lisbon beer bar online, that cinched the deal and I made a one night airbnb reservation for Lisbon.

I walked to the train station and bought a ticket for the 2:18 fast train and came back to Tam's Lighthouse for Greek salad and a few beers.

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The young blond who waited on me the first British beef dinner Sunday was on. I never did learn her name. She is paying 200 eur a week? in a flat for she and boy friend, who is the young man on the Lighthouse bar that I always avoided! They share with someone else and she would love to get more privacy. She says they have not been assigned the same shifts and maybe that is good as then they do not see too much of each other. She was full time engaged in getting the TV football schedule on the whiteboard. I worked with her a little to plan ahead so she did not run out of space but she erased it several times over the 2 hours I was around.

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Young scribe is working at the chalk board in the background

I asked permission to leave my lugage and walked down to the recreated galleon and took pictures of the boats.

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You can see the way the boats are tied up. One end at a mooring and one end on the Qua.
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Walked over to the train station, which is literally 30 meters behind and right up to two young German women with HUGE back packs sitting on a bench. I chatted them up and we sat together on the first 1 hour train to Tunes. On the next 3 hour train to Lisbon everyone has assigned seats so I was by myself.

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One girl with straight hair(I'll call her Gerta) was more talkative but that may have been more a factor of english than personality. She is in grad school to be a high school history/french/social studies teacher. The other young woman, Katrina, with friz hair was in the second year of a 5 year dentist program. This was a German school "winter" break time and so they complained that the hostels were full of Germans. They would have preferred some variety. From their school in Cologne? they took the train? to Bordeaux, then San Sebastian in Spain and then decided it was too cold, lets go south so they went to Madrid, Seville, Fargo, alegave near Largos and 3 days in Largos. They were on there way with me to Lisbon for a couple days before flying back to Germany.

I of course complained about the beer. Gerta complained about the water wasted on the golf courses. I of course told my story of men showing up from the UK in the 30s with a piece of metal on a stick and want the Portuguese to create lawns with 1/10 inch grass and the Portuguese laughed and now there are 20 golf courses in Lagos that cost millions of dollars. I then go on to say that if you have high priced beer they will drink it. A man behind us says that the Portuguese beer is perfectly suited to the climate, that is why the Portuguese have developed it and drink it. My response is that when you take an elephant to a new climate, does he start eating different food? We don't really care what the Portuguese drink, lets feed the Brits.

Gerta was very involved in history. Loved the french revolution as the first democracy ideas. (I did not say it was us?) Her father works for the railroad and taught her about US football that she watches on the internet all the time. She and Katrina pulled out an ELABOATE lunch of avocado, tomatoes, cheese, spices, etc etc. I gave them my card and wrote the name and address of the beer bar on the back and told them I was buying if they showed up.

Luis, who owns my Lisbon airbnb had told me to get off the train at a station and then take the metro to Baixa-Chiado stop. But, this fast train did not stop at the stop he told me so I got off at a random one. I did not see Gerta and Kartina. Had a lot of trouble with the metro. It was signed pretty well from the train station but then I could not figure out which metro station this was when I got there. Ticket station said closed but the woman gave me a map and marked what station I was at. Next challenge was the ticket machine. I tried to just feed a 5 euro note into it but it would not take it. I watched other people but they all answered lots of questions on the Portuguese screen before they put in a credit card or money. I tried putting in the debit card but again no luck. Finally a helpfully non-english speaking woman came alone, was able to understand that I wanted one ride and would pay cash. I was so flustered that I had trouble holding onto the card even when I had it and my change out of the machine. I was able to show her which direction on this blue line I wanted to go and she directed me to the steps to the correct platform and showed me how to put the ticket down on the scanner to make the gates open.

Not too bad on the metro. No one had their hand in my pocket as happened on the Rome metro back in 2009. I had 100s of dollars in the outside pouch of my backpack so I was always watching who was behind me. I know, not the best place to keep it but I felt then I knew where it was. I was able to switch metro lines, following the Portuguese name for the color Blue. Finally off at Baixa-Chiad. You would not believe the 4 LONG escalators to get to the outside. Before this, I thought the London metro took the cake. I put the address for Luis airbnb into my phone and up came the route, The next problem was which way was which. Yes I see the route but how do I hold the phone so that I am walking in the right direction? That is what daughters are for. I showed a woman my google map and she got me started. Once the blue triangle started to move in the right direction on the route, then I am off.

The walk was short, 15 minutes?, but a real slog! Lots of uphill. I have to stop and strip down as the sweat is poring off me. Worse of all, there are no sidewalks or rather one person width sidewalks. I am pulling a suitcase and caring a bag and there are people oncoming. Turn left, turn right, narrow little lanes and finally I am at the address. I have seen a picture so I know I am correct and ring the bell.

Luis is not home but has left a young friend to get me settled. The rooms are fine. I make him go over the keys with me carefully. We go outside. Lock everything up and then I do the unlocking coming back in. I usually want a beer and snack for later so I assume I go out now and buy it.

Then off to this wonderful beer bar Cerveteca Lisboa.

http://www.cervetecalisboa.com/

Having found this place on the internet was a major reason why I came up a day early to Lisbon. To go to one further extreme, I had found out about Cerveteca by reading

http://www.craftbeeraustin.com/finding-craft-beer-portugal/

I'll certainly use this Austin reviewer on other trips.

Anyway, it is dark. The gps knows where Cerveteca is but again I have to ask a women in the street in order to "get started" in the right direction.I was deep in narrow streets so the GPS was struggling. Finally on the right path. The blue triangle that is me is moving! Over a hill and down to the Praca das Flores. Commotion. 10 Police cars. Fire trucks. In my imagination, I have come all this way and the place has just burned down. But instead, I enter into Nirvana.

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This is real beer. Some of it was Portuguese but from all over. The black board is the draft list and I would just work through them. You can see the wonderful sandwiches. I am afraid I don't have a picture of the woman co-owner. I talked to her a lot about getting good beer into Lagos, particularly Baff1 Bar. She said that just today she and her husband had been talking about trying to distribute into the Algarve. In Cerveteca they sell what looks like 100s of different bottles. They have opened a second establishment in Lisbon that is a bar also but more focused on beer education.

The woman also pushed me using the Azores on a subsequent trip. She says it is wonderful and especially recommended flying to Madalena? and using the local ferries to move between the group of islands up there.

As if the beer was not great enough, look what showed up!!

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Gerta and Katrina made my night. The woman owner turned us over to her husband as we closed the place down. The other man is from Sweden and joined us. He was on vacation. Knew a lot about beer but I think worked in the delvery to restaurants business. I was honored to be able to pick up the tab. Made my way back to Luis. Had a shot and beer after roaming the 10! young people bars that make up my neighborhood. The reviews all complain about the noise at night but I did not hear it!

Posted by tompears 17:20 Comments (0)

Lisbon and Home

A very different city

My arrival in Lisbon 10 days ago had been very constrained. I just took a taxi the 1/2 mile from the airport to the Gare do Oriente, ate in the station and got to see what looked liked a very sprawling 1950s city on the train ride out.

Now I got a much more picturesque view of Lisbon. I went out and bought breakfast.

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Gerta and Katrina had raved about the oranges in Lagos. So I got one with my pastry. Very good. Below are the bars, all closed up for the day.

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And this is my mule imitation, all the stuff I have to drag around. And you don't even see the stuffed day pack I am wearing. But, this is a last chance to say good by to my black umbrella that I used too many days in Cancun. Took and used in Claremont. Used in Lagos at least one day. And in a few hours the Portugese TSA decide that because it has a metal point on the end, it is not allowed on the plane! Oh well Se Dommage.

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I finally get to see a little of Lisbon. I never have been in such a hilly city!! Isn't Rome supposed to be built on 7 hills? I spent many days there and never saw anything like this. No wonder the escalator from the subway was so long. It happened that that metro stop must have been under a hill!
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So a strange combination of very steep streets, even these finiculars! and then a flat plaza!

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These are just street scenes. Mainly I was showing the contrast to the funicular and the small narrow streets near my airbnb.

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I assume this is Rossio Square. I am sure the man on the obelisk was a great leader.
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This pedestrian walkway is just off the main square with the statue that I have just left. You remember what I look like. Black umbrella, large plastic bag with yellow slicker, overstuffed backpack, pulling a suitcase and with my normal Hemingway visage. And some 30 year old comes up and offers to sell me hashish! One can only assume it is a sting or I am going to end up with something that is very far from hashish. Sorry I did not have the time to watch who he approached next!
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There is only one last picture.
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Can you see why I took it. I can assure you the dog was real. I even took video so I would have movement.

The airline, SATA, is the airline of the Azors so all flights stop in Ponta Delgada on the main island of São Miguel. It is the strangest thing as you have to take all your belonging with you off the plane, sit for 1 hour in the lounge and then re-board to your same seat. The young woman next to me on the flight claimed not to speak english. That is one of the few ways of avoiding talking to Tom for hours! I did attack 2 interesting couples in the lounge during the layover when they were totally exposed to a chatty cathy attack. One was older and had Brown University cloths. He still worked at their medical school helping do quality control on patient interaction. The idea is to teach the doctors how to interact with patients. He had a doctorate in Education and was into using Sigma repeat ability stuff to help with patient interaction. I bemoaned my luck in no longer being employable and he suggested I could be a "fake patient". You present with symptoms and role play and the training doctors have to come up with how to treat you.

For my second couple, the man was caring a guitar on his back. He again was my age. They had just sold their house in South Africa? and were starting on a nomadic life. The guitar was just a new acquisition. Mentioning it here allows me to share with you the little known information that there are no size restrictions on instrument cases. If you ever have trouble with a carry on, just put the material in a violin or guitar case. I think this couple was going on to the south of the US to visit children or friends.

I did speak to a 29 year old couple on the next Boston leg. They had just spent the week in the Azores and highly recommended it. They both worked for a resort? in North Carolina. He the chef and she the event planner. Celebrating one year of marrage.

We did have an altercation on the plane. A man siting on the isle a couple rows in front of the dog had too many drinks and started yelling at the kids who were climbing in and out to see the dog. There were words about how someone needed to control their children. The woman had no apologies and was in the man's face. There seemed to be several men in the same dog and children party but they never intervened. I was never able to sort out the relationships.

The Boston return was wild as usual but turned out fine. I had a quick trip through customs and got out on the street to wait for the newburyport C&J bus. It was slow in coming and turned up full!. They wanted us to wait a few minutes and take the next bus that was diverted from the South Station run. I asked about the timing of that verses waiting for the next regular C&J Logan bus. I decided I would rather sit in a bar then drive to South Station and that the time might be about the same. Up to the bar. Ordered a shot of tequila and beer and was informed I could only order 1 drink at a time. So I ordered water, drank the water, ordered shot, poured shot into water glass out of site of bar tender and then ordered and drank beer. The couples on the bar were off to ski in Switzerland. 30 minutes later and I went down and got on the normal C&J bus.

One last adventure. I had left the keys to the car on the front right tire and Kim had decided to just leave the car in the C&J parking lot. The keys were where I had left them and the car started. It was a bit of a stretch for me to drive in rain at night through construction after not having driven in 2 weeks but I made it home and that is my story and I am sticking to it!

Posted by tompears 07:04 Comments (0)

The Airbnbs

Lagos and Lisbon

I gathered both the apartment shots here instead of putting them in the narative. The main reason is that I took so many!

The first 4 are the Lagos kitchen. First looking toward the balcony and then looking toward the interior.

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Below is the pantry at the end of the kitchen. It was well stocked though I never ate in the apartment except breakfast and late night snack.
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The refrigerator is in its own alcove, leading from the kitchen to the front hall.

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Below is the front door leading to the interior of the apartment house. I was on the 4th floor, counting the entrance as floor 1.
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Here we are looking from the front all toward the kitchen. You can see the table by the door where I always put my keys!!!
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Below I am in the livingroom. This was my main table where I wrote emails in the morning.

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Then looking toward the balcony. Note the TV on the right.

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Now looking the other way, back at the work table and the front hall.

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Below is where I sit and watch the TV, usually the normal public TV shows like Miss Marple and Hercule Perot.

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This is the drying rack where my sweat soaked riding cloths go as soon as I come in. I did an occational laundry in the kitchen sink and one big laundry in the machines in the super market below my appartment.

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Below shows the front hall again, this time looking away from the kitchen, toward the bathroom. Note the bike is against the wall on the right and the couch on the left is used for laying out cloths.

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The two shots below are of my bedroom. The first looking toward the balcony and the second looking back toward the hall. There is another bedroom in the apartment but it was locked.

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The hall from outside the bedroom, looking back toward the kitchen. Now you can see where the bike lives at night.

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And the bathroom. The shower was fine. As with most, it took a little getting used to but always had good hot water. Shampoo and body soap were provided.

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Below I am trying to show you the 4 sided key! It had a little "bump" on it that told you which of the 4 sides should be "up". One day I thought for sure I had locked myself out as I put the key into the lock with the "bump" not on top and it would not turn!

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And finally you have the front of the apartment building and the SPAR super market in the basement.

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OK, on to Lisbon. This is a one bedroom apartment.

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The bed room.

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The bathroom

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The living room.

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Looking back across the livingroom toward the bedroom and bathroom.

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The TV I could not get to work. Rule number 1, make the host go outside with you and have you operate the keys to get back in and do the same with the TV.

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The kitchen is just an alcove off the living room. I'm using every piece of furniture to get my things organized for the repack!

Posted by tompears 12:45 Comments (0)

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