Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Porto, Portugal (Rua de Camões 21)

I had my alarm set for 7:00 a.m. to prepare for my 10:45 flight to Madrid. But I woke at 6:00 and decided get up so I could take my time getting ready and perhaps have an earlier start. I think I enjoy the activities to move to a new location. Most of all, I enjoy leaving a place just as I found it. I know the Airbnb hosts appreciate it.

As I left the building I saw someone waiting near the entrance with suitcases. I asked if he was going to the airport, and he was. Asked if we could share a taxi and he said that he and his family are going to take the metro to the airport. Guess that means that I’ll take the metro too since it is less expensive than a taxi. I really didn’t want to figure out a new metro system just before leaving, but I did what I had to do and walked over to the metro station across the street. A security guard was standing by the ticket machine and he helped me buy a ticket and showed me where to stand for the train going to the airport. I met up with the guy and his family on the platform and we talked for a bit before the train arrived.

It only took about 20 minutes to get to the airport and I immediately went to get checked in. The guy who I was talking to earlier pointed out that I was waiting in the wrong line and pointed me to the line for my flight. The lines were very slow. I spoke with a couple ahead of me who were also going to Madrid and we talked for awhile before it was their turn to check in. When I was my turn I found out that I need to pay extra for my suitcase. I then had to leave and walk across the terminal, pay for my suitcase then go back to the check in counter. By this time it was getting close to when my flight was boarding. I was one of the last people on the ground transportation that took us to the plane. Glad I got an early start!

The flight was easy and we landed on time in Madrid. I was going to take the metro into the city, but a person at the information desk said I would have to transfer along the way and recommended the bus. I opted for a taxi, which was 30 Euro, but I didn’t want to hassle with another metro line and then walk from the station in the rain to the hotel. Yes, it was raining when we got to Madrid. I should be thankful since most of Europe’s temperatures today were below freezing. Like Oregon, they had a massive cold front come through that affected most of Europe. Only the Iberian Peninsula, and the southern portions of Italy and Greece were spared the freezing weather.

The taxi driver was having a problem understanding the location of the hotel. Even after I showed him the address and a picture of the map showing the hotel’s location. This wouldn’t happen in London. I semi-guided him to the hotel, since I stayed there the last time I was in Madrid, and no wrong turns along the way.

My room is better than the one I had before, which was one of the perks of Hilton Honors. Of course I took a good nap after I got settled in.

When I woke from my nap I was hungry, and rather than go to McDonald’s, I went to the nearest Chinese restaurant and had chow mein with shrimp. Afterwards I met up with someone who I knew from when I was in Madrid in January and we had a drink and talked about traveling around Europe. Got home around midnight.

Not sure what I’m doing tomorrow. I know that I miss having a Hilton breakfast, so I know I’ll be enjoying that in the morning. Hopefully the rain will let up for a bit and I can visit the nearby park.


Monday, 26 February 2018

Porto, Portugal (Rua de Camões 21)

After I had a cup of coffee I started the clothes washer to get me through the next couple of weeks since I’ll be in hotels until I arrive at Paula’s on the 15th. Wow, just a little over two weeks until I fly to the U.S. I waited around for the washer to finish then put the clothes on the drying rack that I set up in the dining room near that room’s heater. They should be try by the time I get back from my walk.

Today I’m walking to the the Crystal Palace Park (Jardins do Palacio de Cristal). It is about a 20 minute walk from the flat. I left the flat after my shower and walked by the Clerigos Church and decided to go inside to take a couple of pictures.

Just before I entered the park I took a picture of the nearby homes. I can’t get enough of the tiles that have been placed on the outside of these homes.

I was right, the park was a great way to say goodbye to Porto. It was a good-sized park and had great views of Porto and Vila Nove de Gaia across the Douro River. It was named after a crystal palace that was on the site until it was pulled down in 1956 and replaced by sports pavilion. The gardens were designed in the 19th century and cover the flat part of the park and go down over the embankment towards the river.

I just walked around the park and took pictures.


After walking around the park for about 30 minutes I headed back to the flat. On the way, I stopped by the other side-by-side church and went inside. I was going to take a picture but a church event was in progress so I didn’t. On the way back I got a text from my Airbnb host that I’ll answer when I get home.

Also, I saw that one of our church’s senior practitioners posted a one of her daily prayers. It really sounded like something I needed to read and remember as I travel.

30-second PRAYER MAGIC
February 26: I open my heart and mind to the Truth of Spirit’s power and presence, receiving and accepting the Divine Vision, Creativity, and Infinite Potential that is unceasingly flowing into every corner of the Universe. As a unique expression of this Divine Spirit, I know I am always guided in my thoughts and actions toward a higher purpose. Today, I continue to surrender to what is mine to do, and take my journey to a new depth in order to be a catalyst for change and transformation. I am so thankful for the spiritual principles, practical tools, and wise teachers assisting me on my path. I release my Word into Law, knowing that my gratitude and my willingness call forth the perfect manifestation. And so it is.

My Airbnb host, who has been attentive, sent me a list of the times the metro train would be at the station in the morning. I had thought about taking a taxi to the airport, but now that I know the times of the train, I’ll try that instead.

I finished with the wash and put everything away and will do my final packing in the morning. For dinner, I ate the last of the lasagna soup then watched some TV before I went to bed.

Tomorrow I’m traveling to Madrid for a couple of days so I could get a flight directly to Cairo without going through Athens – where I would have to wait six hours in the terminal for the flight to Cairo. I thought about staying just one night, but it seems like a lot of work to stay one night then turn around and go back to the airport. I’d like to visit Retiro Park again and walk around.


Sunday, 25 February 2018

Porto, Portugal (Rua de Camões 21)

As I knew last night, I had no interest trying out Porto’s metro today. My full attention was to make Skinny Lasagna Soup. Besides, I was running out of things to eat and was getting hungry.

After taking a shower I went to the store to pick up some supplies and a couple of things for the lasagna. That was the extent of my travels outside today. I’ll have to admit that after nearly two solid months of traveling and looking around new cities most every week, I’m reaching the end of this phase of traveling the Iberian Peninsula and Morocco. I might see one more thing tomorrow, and then I’m done.

Between making the lasagna soup and working on my travel blog, that took up most of the afternoon. I had two small bowls of the lasagna soup and then took a long nap.

Before my nap, I took a picture of Paddington Bear and the view from my balcony.

Tomorrow I’ll visit the Garden of the Crystal Palace (Jardins do Palacio de Cristal). It has a great view and will be a good way to say goodbye to Porto before I leave early on Tuesday for Madrid.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Porto, Portugal (Rua de Camões 21)

After coffee, and with a clear head, I started to dig into my inability to load pictures to my travel blog. As I confirmed, the online solutions were too complex for me to do on my own. I remember that I had contacted WordPress (the web application software) or SiteGround (who hosts the website) last year. I started with WordPress and found that there were two different affiliations WordPress. I contacted one who directed me to the other. Then the other WordPress directed me to SiteGround. (It is all started to come back to me from before.) I reached someone at SiteGround, via their chat application, who said he could help.

After he looked around at my site he saw that I had run out of space to load pictures. I had already added space to my site last year. He noticed that there were quite a few duplicate pictures but he said he could fix that from happening again. Then he said I would need to delete the duplicates and showed me where that is done, via the application. It became apparent that I couldn’t tell which of the pictures were attached to my blogs posts and his answer wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I would have to delete the duplicates and hope that I didn’t undo the link between where the pictures are stored and the blog. I was amazingly calm because I knew that everything would be okay. I just needed to work through it.

I saw some files that I could easily delete just to free up space. Once I was comfortable deleting files, I left it and started to get ready for my afternoon walk. By now it was early afternoon.

Today I’m walking in sort of the same direction that I walked on Wednesday, but just beyond where I had walked to see something new. First, I wanted to see the old train station that is nearby.

The train station, Porto Sao Bento, was built at the end of the 19th century and the tunnel servicing the station was completed about the same time. Since Porto is mainly built around a series of hills, there is very little flat place to lay tracks into the city. The solution for this station was to build a tunnel out of the city where rail service could be provided. The station where I arrived last Sunday, Campanha, was built about the same time, but don’t understand why there are two stations within somewhat close proximity. Though Campanha is a little further out of central Porto. Back then it was probably like being in the suburbs.

The inside of the station was beautiful with tiled pictures on the walls. It is much more attractive than the Campanha station. I took several pictures while I was walking to the station.

O Porto Statue

Interesting Art on Top of Buildings

Hillside Outside the Station

Station Building

Inside Station

My main destination were some parks up the hill from where I was. I walked the same way that I did on Wednesday, but went further to the northwest. It was Saturday and many families were out for a walk and groups of older men were talking or playing cards in the parks.

I came across some trees in this one park (Jardim da Cordoaria or Cordoaria’s Garden) where there was a bulge at the base of the trunk of each tree. There were many of these trees all planted in two rows.

Among the trees there was an interesting sculpture showing some men laughing at one of their friends who looks like he fell forward.

Took pictures of the streets and other statues that I found on my walk. Then came upon the two churches that were side by side. I went into the church on the right and took a picture of its interior. It was very ornate but also beautiful.

I found another park that had a variety of people selling small items from their tables. And more people just enjoying the sunny Saturday afternoon. And took a couple of pictures of the nearby streets. From there I went back to the flat to work on my website.

Someone Selling Old Typewriters


I deleted more files that looked okay to delete and saw that I had much more space. This will buy me some time before I clear out more of the pictures that I didn’t use in my blog. I’ve been thinking about posting just a few pictures on my blog each day and the remaining pictures on Instagram that I could link to my blog. The blog’s text hardly takes up any room and this would require less cleanup on my current site. Something to think about.

By the time I had dinner and worked on my blog it was getting late. I also spoke with Hussein about meeting up in Cairo. From there, I just watched a couple of NetFlix shows and went to bed.

Tomorrow I might try out Porto’s metro line. I will also make my Skinny Lasagna too. I know which activity will get the highest priority.




Friday, 23 February 2018

Porto, Portugal (Rua de Camões 21)

After I rolled out of bed and had coffee, I tried again to see if my miles had posted to my American Airlines account, and they were not there. I first contacted CitiBank and they said they were posted to my American Airlines account, which I noticed was a different account number than I had. They said to contact American Airlines and talk it over with them, which I did. They were able to merge both accounts together and said I could now book a flight using the points. This was great news!

I contacted Paula to see if the departure date of March 20th was okay with her, since I’ll be staying with her. I didn’t want to overstay my welcome. But she is so kind and said I could stay as long as I wanted, so I made the plane reservations.

Having all of that in order now, I showered and left for my afternoon walk. The direction I took was opposite of yesterday’s walk. I didn’t know what I’d find, but that was the direction I was headed. I first came upon a very large church, which I found out was Igreja da lapa (The Church of Our Lady of Lapa). The church the contains a school, hospital and a sizable cemetery. I took a picture of the inside and a few of the cemetery.

As seen when I first saw the church.

From a picture I found on Google, to show the whole church complex.

Interior of the church

Family mausoleums in the cemetery behind the church

I walked around some more and went down several side streets. I even was able to see the Atlantic Ocean at the end of one street. Took pictures of various things that caught my eye. I really enjoyed just walking around and seeing what I saw, with no plans attached.


After my afternoon nap I started to let people in Oregon know when I’ll be arriving. Especially my friend Scott who has offered to let me stay with him while I’m in town. Just so he knows I’ll be around for about three weeks. I also tried to phone my brother, but wasn’t able to reach him. I’ll need to put together a special calendar so I know who I’m seeing when. Looks like I’ll make several trips to Hood River.

As I was trying to update my travel blog I noticed I couldn’t upload pictures. The web application said my upload failed. I tried to find something via Google that told me what to do when I got this message and what I found looked fairly involved, so I decided that I’d work on this issue tomorrow. By this time I was ready to watch some TV before going to bed.

Tomorrow, I saw a few places I’d like to visit. But first I’ll need to find out why I can’t upload pictures. Now that I had my airline miles resolved, I guess I needed another project to keep me busy. But, I’ll leave that to be resolved tomorrow.


Thursday, 22 February 2018

Porto, Portugal (Rua de Camões 21)

Woke up and it was sunny but still cold in the flat. I keep the heat turned off at night so I need to first turn on the heat in the dining room where I have my laptop, drink coffee and eat breakfast. I keep the bathroom door closed and the heat from the towel warmer keeps that room warm. Otherwise, the rest of the flat is probably around 60 degrees when I wake up.

I’ve been waiting to get my Citi account travel miles transferred to American Airlines. Today is the day when my Citi statement will close, so by tomorrow I should be able to book my flight from a Washington D.C airport to Portland. I’m ready to plan my visit to Oregon. I guess waiting one more day will be okay.

My host has arranged for someone to clean the flat today. It really doesn’t need cleaning, since I’ve only been here since Sunday, but if it is a free service, why not? Of course I’ll pick up everything and have it looking good when the housekeeper arrives at 4:00.

I planned to use one of the books the host left for me to give me an idea of what to see today. The one I found had various walking tours and I selected the first one in the book to try out. The walking route starts not too far from the flat and it takes about two hours. At 3:00 I left the flat and started the guided tour. It proved to be more complicated than I expected. While it showed the route in the book, it didn’t have enough detail to show me the precise route and the street names in the book didn’t always use the exact same name that Google uses, due to how the Portuguese language names streets. As a result I was turned around most of the time. After about an hour of trying to use the book, I put it away and set off on my own. I got a general idea of where it wanted me to walk, so I used that as a basic guide on where to go. For me, this was my lesson learned: Go with your hunch about what you’d like to see and let your eyes lead you. Meaning, go to what you find interesting and enjoy the walk. Which is what I did.

I took some pictures in the large square near my flat.


Clerigos Church that is connected to Torre dos Clerigos

The guide book left me in front of a tall tower on a hill. It was the Torre dos Clerigos, which is the bell tower of the Clerigos Church. It is on one of the highest points in Porto and the tower was used to send messages to ships at sea. The plaza around the tower is an informal gathering places as well. I enjoyed viewing the tower from various directions.

A little further away was an interesting building that was built in 1906. the Neo-Gothic facade is very interesting and looks a little out of place with the other buildings.

Nearby is Praca dos Leoes (Lions Square) and it’s fountain has water comes out of each of the four lion’s mouths.

Across the street I saw a church, actually two churches that are side-by-side. A very long story how this came about.

Walked by this building and thought it was interesting. A sample of the buildings that you walk by in Porto.

From there I walked back to the flat and would expect the housekeepers to be finished, or just about. When I arrived they were just finishing up. It was just like I found the place last Sunday when I arrived, except I didn’t have to do any unpacking.

After my afternoon nap I ate more of the cottage pie and then watched TV. Very nice to be able to use my Apple TV rather than watch on my laptop. The room where the TV is located needed to be warmed up before I went in. There are three heaters in the flat: dinning room, bedroom, and the living room. The living room is bigger so it takes longer to warm up.

Tomorrow I’ll set off in a different direction and will not take the walking tour book. I’ll see what I find on my own and go where my feet take me. I’ve learned my lesson from yesterday.



Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Porto, Portugal (Rua de Camões 21

Sun is expected to hang around Porto for the next few days. After breakfast, the plan was to have a look around the city. I had seen a bridge (Ponte Luis I or Dom Luis I Bridge) that crosses the Douro River, which flows through the center of Porto, though actually is between the city of Porto and the city of Gaia (or Vila Nova de Gaia).  It is a fairly short walk down the hill from my flat.

Took a picture of this church that is near my flat.

Statue near church

I left the flat at around 1:00 p.m., after I had a lunch where I finished the chicken noodle soup. It was a fairly straight walk to the bridge. I came upon a cathedral on a hill, so I walked up to have a closer look. I happened to stop near a tour group that was hearing about the history of the cathedral, where I learned it was the Cathedral of Porto (Porto Cathedral) and that it had been extensively altered over the years.

After I took a few pictures, I walked the short distance to the Luis I Bridge. It was built from a design by one of Gustave Eiffel’s deciples, Theophile Seyrig in 1886. He was also responsible for the nearby Maria Pia Bridge, that I’ll visit on another day.

View from the bridge

Bridge and view from aerial tram


After I crossed the bridge I saw an areal tram. As I walked towards the tram, I knew that I had to go on it for a ride down to the edge of the river below. It was 9 Euro for a return trip. I wasn’t planning on walking up the steep hill. The tram operates much like a ski lift where the cars slow down at the upper and lower terminals to let passengers and off without coming to a complete stop. Since there was no line to board the tram car I had the whole car to myself. It was an easy ride to the bottom of the hill. When I left the terminal I saw a couple of people enjoying a dish of ice cream or sorbet. I found where to buy the sorbet and had one with cream and figs.

I enjoyed the sorbet while sitting near the river and watching the people drinking an afternoon beer and taking advantage of the sunny day. I didn’t stay by the river for too much longer after that and rode the tram back up to the bridge and started my walk back into Porto. I took a few more pictures from the bridge.

By this time it was late in the afternoon and I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few more things on the way back to the flat. I cut short my walking around since I was getting a slight headache and looked forward to laying down for awhile. I must have needed the rest since I think I slept for nearly two hours.

Since it was getting late, I started preparing the Cottage Pie as soon as I got up from my nap. It takes a good two hours for prep and to cook. While it was cooking I got caught up on my travel blog.

By the time I ate it was after 8:30 and I was still tired, so was in bed by around 10:30. Maybe earlier.

Tomorrow I’ll walk in a different direction and see a little more what Porto has to offer. The sunny weather is expected to continue through my stay in Porto.


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Porto, Portugal (Rua de Camões 21)

I’m very much enjoying the restfulness of my flat here and the city as well. Not too quiet here, but I like to hear some of the city’s activity. I got accustomed to living in the city when I was at the John Ross in South Waterfront for eight years. Even some remodeling work that someone is doing in a nearby flat is okay with me.

Today I don’t have much planned. I need a few ingredients to make chicken soup later in the afternoon and plan to walk to another grocery store 15 minutes away that had a better selection. This will get me out to see more of the city as well.

After I pulled myself together, I started out for my walk. I’m getting used to walking up and down hills, thanks to my time in Lisbon. There is so much to see no matter where I walk. Statues, plazas, parks, and churches around every corner.

I arrived at the grocery store and wander around at what they had to offer. I noticed that you really needed to look carefully to find what you wanted. For instance, I found pasta in two different places and was looking for a strainer and a spatula in their housewares selection (that I never found), which also was in two locations. Perhaps if shopping was easy I wouldn’t enjoy it as much.

I found what I needed and checked out my groceries. I took a different route on the way back and found myself in what looks like is Porto’s main shopping street, which went on for many blocks. For a Monday afternoon, so many people were on the street. I didn’t go into any of the stores because I enjoyed watching the people more.

Before long, I was back at the flat and ready to make chicken noodle soup. I had already pulled the meat off the bones earlier and made the stock as well. It was mid-afternoon now and I was hungry so I finished up the soup, ate it, then took a nap.

After my nap I made a banana, apple and orange salad. This is one my mom made regularly and I always enjoyed it when she did. Though she put in vanilla ice cream in hers, which would have made my version better, but if I have ice cream in the freezer, I’ll eat it. So, just the basic fruit salad is okay with me.

I had a chance to speak with my cousin Donna again. We’re still making plans for when I visit. She told me about the snow in Portland. After all the years in Portland, it always amazed me how a little snow really through some people for a loop. Growing up, and being a skier, I saw snow often. I didn’t find much snow this year, just the snow that fell the day Corrine arrived in London. Next year I’ll make plans to stay in Zermatt in January.

I worked a little on my taxes, which are much easier to do since I no longer own any property. I still have to fill out a long form because of my investments. I’ve used TurboTax for many years, which makes completing and filing the taxes much easier. I should have everything wrapped up before I leave for the U.S. in March.

I watched a little TV before going to bed. It really gets a lot more quiet in this part of Porto around 9:00 in the evening.

Tomorrow I’m planning to walk to the Luis I Bridge that spans the nearby Douro River, which flows through the center of Porto. Later in afternoon, I’ll make Cottage Pie for dinner.


Monday, 19 February 2018

Porto, Portugal (Rua de Camões 21)

I woke up once during the night, then the next time it was 9:30 a.m. What a good night’s sleep! Though with that much sleep I was a bit groggy. I now can make my double espresso Americano with my AeroPress to help wake me up. It has been a while since I’ve used the AeroPress because I’ve been staying in hotels. I miss that jolt of rich coffee in the morning. But no more buffet breakfast, but I’m happy to have a toaster. And my AeroPress.

View from Balcony

My only activity today is to make a roasted chicken for dinner. By the time I left the flat for the nearby grocery it was 2:00. My first stop at the grocery was to pick up a chicken from the meat counter. There was day-old meat was in a cooler near the meat counter, but I wanted a roaster that looked fresh. There was a couple in front of me and only one butcher on duty, so I waited. The couple had a long list of cuts of meat that they wanted and it seemed that ever piece of meat had to be hand-trimmed, sliced, packaged, and weighed. I waited for 20 minutes then was able to select my bird.

I picked up a couple other items and went through the checkout. I bought some fruit for a apple, orange and banana salad. Fortunately there was a clerk in the produce area who weighed the fruit and put the price label on each bag. Glad she was there to do the weighing. I couldn’t figure out the coding system they used to enter the product code before weighing and the scale to spit out the label. It is a fairly common practice in stores to have the customer weigh and label produce and fruit before getting in the checkout line. Woe be the person who forgets to weigh and label.

When I got back, I immediately prepared the chicken and wrapped the legs with string that I carry with me. I stuffed the chicken with slices of lemon and a few cloves of garlic, then rub with olive oil, and salt and pepper on the inside and outside of the chicken. I set the over for 425F (218C) and bake for 1:30. I forgot to buy potatoes, but did remember to buy frozen peas. That should make a good dinner. I was getting very hungry when I started to smell the roasting chicken.

By the time I ate dinner it was 5:30 and all I had earlier was two slices of whole wheat toast and a bowl of cereal. And coffee. The chicken was a little dryer than usual because I cooked it longer, just to make sure it was thoroughly done.  In any case, it was good!

I watched a couple of programs on TV via Apple TV and I was in bed by 9:00.

Tomorrow I’ll visit another store that has a greater variety of items and buy ingredients for a Sheppard’s Pie and Skinny Lasagna Soup. I’ll also make chicken soup tomorrow from the leftover chicken. Going to a store further away will get me out of the immediate neighborhood and a chance to look around the city. My Airbnb host sent me some travel ideas that I’ll investigate for future adventures while I’m here.


Sunday, 18 February 2018

Lisbon, Portugal (Double Tree by Hilton – Lisbon, Fontana Park)

Moving day! Time to pack the suitcase and move on to my next stop. Porto is my destination and will be there for 10 days in an Airbnb. I’ll be able to cook for myself again.

After breakfast I got ready and was in the taxi by 10:30 for my 11:30 train to Porto. I found the right car and seat quickly. So quickly, I confirmed with someone on the platform that I was where I needed to be. The train left the station a few minutes after 10:30.

Comfortable Seats

The ride was a bit rocky and bumpy, but we arrived in Porto on schedule. From the station I took a taxi for a short ride to my new flat. The host wasn’t able to be there, but his housekeeper let me in. She didn’t speak much English, but I’ll figure out what I need to, it will just take me a bit longer. No big deal. The flat is good sized and there is a patio area, with a good city view just off of the dinning room.

Before I left Lisbon, I happened to look back on my phone’ s Messenger app. I hadn’t noticed that there were some that had been there a couple of years. Not sure why I hadn’t seen them before. One was from a friend who I knew back when I was in my early teens. It was a flash from the past! He was my only nearby neighbor that was my age. By nearby, I mean within one mile of our house. I sent him a message while I was on the train and we started to exchange texts.

Our texts continued as I was getting settled in my new place. We have so much to catch up on. His family moved away from Hood River in our sophomore year and we gradually lost contact. Interesting though, he was the only one from Hood River who I ran into a couple of times while I lived in Portland. Really, the only one! Others I knew from Hood River were people who I saw regularly, not by chance. Guess we were intended to remain friends.

About this time I was ready for my afternoon nap. After going shopping at a nearby market for things to eat for breakfast, I found a local Chinese restaurant and didn’t order chow mein with shrimp. I had chop suey with shrimp instead – only because they didn’t serve chow mein. Also won ton soup, fried rice and green tea. The meal was good, not great, but I enjoyed every bite.

I finished unpacking and set up the Apple TV. Also spoke to my friend, Hussein in Luxor. Then washed a pair of pants and spent time figuring out how the heating controls work. It was getting cold. I only watched one show then went to bed.

Tomorrow, I have no plans to walk around Porto. All I want to do is shop for more groceries and roast a chicken.