HEADING SOUTH TO THE MIRA RIVER

We are heading south to the coast to a little town called Vila Nova de Milfontes. Once again, Donny found us a great deal for an extended stay at Hotel Moina da Asneira. It will be beautiful to be back in nature and using our own kitchen again. Although…. our 5 day city experience in Porto has been absolutely fantastic, it’s time to head to the countryside. !!

Photo of the town of Vila Nova de Milfontes the village we are headed to today.
The little holiday hotel (off season now) Moinho da Asneira.

The mood of the global Coronavirus crisis is definitely on everyone’s minds here. We are now seeing signs in the elevators at our Porto Hotel urging various precautions. As I wrote earlier, all the pharmacies are out of sanitizer but we keep our hands clean. We have been using this amazing mouthwash for weeks as well that was recommended by the pharmacists. Hextril.

DIDN’T GO TO THE DOURO VALLEY TODAY

We had plans today, Friday, to do a day trip into the Douro Valley and back by train from Porto. But when we saw the amount of people traveling by train today, both arriving and leaving Porto, we changed our minds. It was overwhelming. After having such a sensational day of sightseeing yesterday we didn’t have the huge appetite for more. Plus, at this point in travel you do think about crowds, exposure, preserving your energy, staying healthy. We definitely want to stay rested, hydrated, and not over achieve. !! There was so much hustle and bustle this morning that we just retreated to a cafe with Stella and had another cup of coffee. Ahh…

Interesting, as well, we have been into many pharmacies to buy hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes and they have been sold out for days. We do a lot of hand washing. We are certainly not panicking, but we are careful, and all those factors this morning made us decide to just have a relaxing day in Porto. Plus, this is our last day here in Porto and we really wanted to just enjoy.

The Douro will wait for us… I know we will be back.

We strolled around and are having a beautiful day.

Tomorrow we head south again, below Lisbon, for further exploring. And then we have our final house sit in the Algarve for the last two weeks of March. More later….. be well everyone.

Donny relaxing in Porto…. guess what his hat is made of??? There’s lots of it here!

US ON THE BUS….. MORE PORTO

No way we can do justice to the city of Porto with photos or words. Leave it to believe that we are speechless! Today we rode the tourist bus (get on and get off any time during the day) all over the city and beyond. The Red Line is now our friend. Stella, too. For 18 Euros a person (dog free) we had a full day pass on the scenic busses.

Donny Janet and Stella on the Scenic Bus Tour all over Porto. Fantastic.
Making a stop for lunch and water and walking.
Back on the bus… This is what you see… The Douro River, the boats, the beautiful buildings…. Donny took this photo from the bus.
.. Stella and an insanely gorgeous church with the blue tile.
From the bus….. along the wharf… so many buildings in beautiful disrepair….
And a lot of rehab going on.
Janet’s lunch… just a simple cafe on the sidewalk… they brought me a clay dish with the classic codfish, potatoes, peppers, onions and broth. 7 Euros. And incredibly good. There is so much personal pride in the food here… it seems you can’t get a bad meal. I loved this dish.
Us on the bus……photo of the Douro River. photo by Donny

In our experience…. tours are EXCELLENT> Both Donny and I like to take city tours. We had such a relaxing time. Never could we have covered so much ground on our own. We were in good hands. We didn’t even listen to the headsets. We just settled in. And we got on and off the buses when we felt like it. I’m sorry we didn’t take more pictures of the wharf and the ocean because by that time our brains were FULL of images… but this was a terrific experience. All we had to do was show up!

Porto has a ton of magic and warmth.

LOVING PORTO

The sidewalks are white and black stones. Here’s Stella just taking it all in.
Really interesting building with sculptures sticking out of the side of the building.
Donny and I went to Bar of Soap for their weekly writing night. Met some great people.
The upstairs room at Bar of Soap where people gather for all kinds of evenings. Tonight was writing night.

Porto is really living up to its reputation as a wonderful city. We are staying in the old part of town on a street with no cars allowed. Great walking, cafes. A stream of pedestrians. Have sat outside and had simple meals… soup, salads, coffee. And lots of walking around.

This evening we went back to the super charming Bar of Soap and while our laundry was washing, Donny and I joined the writing group. We met some wonderful people and heard some great stories along with writing and reading.

Porto has wrapped us up in a warm embrace. Loving it.

The classic blue tile that Porto is so famous for.

Shout out to …… ……QUINTA DA FLORENCIA…

Our friends Jeanne and Tony and Toby stayed here. It’s fantastic. Authentic, original home… daughter and son-in law now run it. Please check out the website.
Besides the house and gorgeous rooms and bathrooms and available kitchens and breakfast… they have the Lake House for rent.

Quinta da Florencencia… website.

Exceptionally special. Thank you Jeanne and Tony and Toby for finding this place and introducing us to it during your visit here in Oliveira do Hospital. Roberto and Nucha are the owners and it’s a family property. They are so knowledgable about this area. Nucha is Portuguese, Roberto is Brazilian. I love how their website describes this area as “an outdoor museum.”

Map of the area we are in which includes the renown Serra da Estrela.

SURROUNDED BY THE COUNTRYSIDE IN PORTUGAL

Donny and I driving home from the supermarket. We pause at a little crossway to let the shepherd and his brown sheep pass. Sunny and beautiful. Donny behind the wheel of the FIAT… shepherd and sheep right next to the car. Timeless. Part of life. Hopefully forever!!!

Donny has become a big fan of our diesel turbo 5 speed FIAT. Initially he wasn’t sure about the diesel part. But we are getting terrific milage and lots of boost when he needs it. It’s solid and very good. Gas is $5.60 (US) a gallon for diesel but we are getting about 50 mpg. Plus, we aren’t ranging that far! So much to explore close by.

We are wrapping up our housesit here in Oliveira do Hospital (once the site of the hospitals for the Knights of the Templar and the monks!… repeat info, I know, but so cool). Our housesitting host returns on Tuesday, and we will head off to the City of Porto.

We absolutely love it here in this area of Portugal. Modern and ancient. Rugged and smooth. Lovely people. Connected way of life. Excellent WIFI all over the country including the country side. Terrific customer service. Emphasis on life… not materialism. Healthy, active people.

Negatives… animal rights are still behind. You see dogs on chains and barking, living on balconies, or in yards… There is huge awareness of this issue and they are working on it on local levels. It’s a process of education and from what we can tell, everyone is committed to do better. We have not seen any livestock being abused (livestock seems well cared for, even beloved) nor have we heard of abuse of farm animals… but there is still bullfighting. And surely other troubles. Another difficulty is that young people can’t make it here in the countryside so many leave the area for other countries or work in the Portuguese cities. Understandable. Hopefully the connections will remain and this way of life will continue to thrive and grow.

SIGHTSEEING…. THEN LOCAL DINNER

Donny and Stella and our housesitting dog Suki sitting on the steps of ERMIDA Do Nossa… An unexpected visit to an incredible place.
Stella and Suki exporing with us. We are in a National Park at the site of the Chapel. The view is enormous.
Small chapel in the expansive Park. Impossible to photograph. So simple and beautiful in it’s design. We were the only people there and the dogs loved poking around and looking over the edges.

Apologies for the lack of clarity on this adventure but I’m having trouble finding information on this chapel. Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Saude. We got there by accident. It looks over the entire area as far as one can see. An unplanned pilgrimage.

And later, this evening we went for a light dinner at this super charming little family restaurant very near the house where we are staying. It was our second dinner there. Photos and words don’t do it justice. No one speaks English. It’s warm and wonderful. Two ladies are cooking in a modern open kitchen. The dining area is lovely and welcoming. Everyone seems to know each other. They bring you a carafe of wine and we figure out the menu. It’s called O Dini’s .

Thank you, Portugal, for today.

A SWEET DAY WALKS and SIGNS

Early morning walk with Suki the dog. The sun is rising. I watch the world come awake. Here we are at a lovely old olive grove that is being cleared and rehabilitated.. Sunlight streaming in through the trees.
On the early morning walk, I come across these signs…. Left to MERUGE Right to CORTINHAL. What does this mean, I think. Must go there.

A typical stone carved road sign. I love this. RUA Da CORTICEIRA. Grey stone, dark letters.
In the late afternoon we love sitting on the giant rock next to the house. Suki is a sensational dog.