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Portugal

Portugal Day 18: SATA Plane!

semi-overcast 78 °F

While our group...
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Climbed Pico...
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And went sailing on Jose Antonio’s boat...
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And Daniel’s family saw seals and turtles in Hawaii...
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We were saying our goodbyes to Faial and flying on the first leg of the journey from the Azores to Hawaii. Our first stop was Boston.
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Our hotel was across the street from Fenway Park, and a game had been played earlier that day. Our hotel was a historic building, and had been the venue for some of the plotting in the 1919 fixing of the World Series. It was a somewhat odd and dated room, but we slept well and were glad to have a chance to rest after our flights.

Posted by danielcatherine 00:20 Archived in Portugal Tagged turtles boat hawaii boston pico sata faial jose_antonio Comments (0)

Portugal Day 17: Semana Do Mar

sunny 80 °F

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Walking to mass in the morning. We went to the church up the hill, which is newly renovated and open for the first time in over 20 years.
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The mass was very nice. Fr. Michael concelebrated, and was able to distribute communion and speak Portuguese enough to do so. An elderly woman in front of us had some health issues during the mass, which was a bit worrisome. The fire department came in and helped get her to medical attention.
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Underneath the church is a very nice grotto. We went down and said a prayer for the woman who was having trouble during the mass.
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Throughout Horta there are several monuments to this man, the Duke of Ávila and Bolama. He was born in the house next door to where we are staying.
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Later in the day we went to Castelo Branco to see the church where Anthony’s grandfather Antonio Furtado was baptized. Antonio left Faial when he was thirteen years old and never went back.
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We believe that this is the grave of an ancestor of that Antonio, maybe his father or grandfather.
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We went to lunch at Peter Cafe Sport, where Katie and Anthony tried the tuna and linguiça sandwich. We played it safer: Catherine got a steak and Daniel got chicken curry.
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We had been told that the procession would go by Peter’s, but we weren’t seeing it. Daniel went on a walk towards Porto Pim, but didn’t see any sign of the procession.
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Then, we saw we had been looking the wrong way. The processions started at sea!
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It continued on land. The priest from mass this morning gave a short homily in Portuguese, then they began processing with the statue and the marching band back towards Porto Pim. We watched for a while.
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We then went to the Semana do Mar festivities. It was a lot of fun. Our last night in Faial is somewhat bittersweet, but we have had a wonderful time.
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A delicious waffle and ice cream shop.
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Enjoying the festivities.
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Michael and Catherine convinced Daniel to wear all three of our commemorative Semana do Mar mugs, and then began to put coins in them.

Posted by danielcatherine 01:14 Archived in Portugal Tagged priest ships waffle tuna procession curry steak mass horta semana_do_mar porto_pim peters_cafe_sport linguiça Comments (0)

Portugal Day 16: “The Isle of Home is Always On Your Mind”

all seasons in one day 77 °F

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Today, Pico was completely clear, and we could see it easily from the street where our house is located.
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There is a large monument commemorating the founding of Peter’s Cafe Sport one hundred years ago.
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Some views of Faial.
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This monument to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception overlooks Horta from the hillside. It was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
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The view from the outlook, and some pictures of us with the view in the background.
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This bull, acting like Ferdinand among the flowers. We felt that his Ferdinand would only be temporary if he were provoked in any way.
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Our next stop was Cedros, where we could visit Aldina’s Restaurant. Aldina is Catherine’s third cousin, not on the Andrade side but on the Escobar side. Catherine’s great grandmother, Maria Escobar, was from here and was a sister to Aldina’s great grandmother. Aldina owns a grocery store and restaurant in the same town where their great grandmothers grew up.
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Catherine trying the lapas at Aldina’s. She says she really likes lapas, but Michael says she really likes garlic and lemon.
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A soft, mozzarella-ish cheese with a hot pepper sauce.
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Delicious bacalhau (cod fish) com natas. We’ve tried this a few places, but none of them have been as good as this.
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Rice and French fries, both of which were good. There was also some pineapple pork, which was also very good but we didn’t get a picture.
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Dessert was an ice cream cake.
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After lunch, we went towards the house where Catheine’s Great grandmother was born and raised. Anthony remembers her as his “Grandma Andrade” who lived with him when they were little. It was an amazing experience to see the house. Unfortunately, it has recently been sold to a French couple who is seriously renovating it, but for now no one was there and we were able to see it.
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Catherine has heard before that her great grandmother was born in “a red windmill.” She had the story slightly wrong: she was born near the red windmill, which can be seen from the house.
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Some pictures of the house and the view from the house. Michael keeps asking why his people would have left. Life was hard here, we hear, but it is still hard to imagine leaving. We talked about the song Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears which is about Irish immigrants but seems applicable to the situation of Maria Escobar when she left. Thus, we titled our post for today after the song.
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Some pictures of the family around the house. It was an emotional experience for Catherine and her father and his siblings to see the house.
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Escobar descendants in front of their grandmother’s house (alternate caption, suggested by Jill Leal: Escoballin’)
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Praia do Norte, where the Andrades are actually from. We took some pictures here, which was a nice opportunity.
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Next, the Capelinhos lighthouse ruins and eruption site. In 1957, a great deal of land was added to Faial by this volcanic erruption. People died in the earthquakes the caused houses to collapse, and the land was ruined. People had to dig for crops that had been planted above ground. Catherine’s family was in America already by this time, but many more recent immigrant families left when the United States created a relief act to allow Azoreans to immigrate easily to escape the destruction of the volcano. The entire large hill to the west is new, having emerged from the ocean in the erruption.
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This picture shows the new land very well.
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Daniel attempted to take a picture of the group talking, but Jill started dancing mid-picture. It shows everyone was having fun.
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We stopped to go swimming at Castelo Branco. Interestingly, while Catherine’s Andrade cousins live in Castelo Branco, they actually came from Praia do Norte. Her Furtado relatives came from Castelo Branco. We went swimming in a little pool connected to sea water, and then in a natural lava-rock swimming area.

Faial looking tropical and beachside.
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After that we went down to the waterfront to see the festivities. It is amazing how late it goes, and how people of all ages seem to come.9AB8312C-5EF1-4448-8A4D-D1A8FA74C219.jpeg
Katie with a SuperBock beer.
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Dinner at a little barbecue-oriented place. We ordered chouriço, bread, and some cheese to make sandwiches. We also had the opportunity to have some ginja in edible chocolate cups.
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They were selecting the queen (rainha) for the Semana do Mar, which consisted of girls walking down a runway with music playing and people being able to vote by phone or Facebook. Apparently a queen was chosen after we left.
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Some beautiful buildings in Horta.

Posted by danielcatherine 13:14 Archived in Portugal Tagged food queen house family rainha cedros horta lapas aldina’s escobars praia_do_norte bacalhau semana_do_mar Comments (1)

Portugal Day 15: Insane

all seasons in one day 69 °F

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The first thing we did was drive up to the Caldeira do Faial, the giant volcanic caldera in the center of the island (the island is fairly round, or slightly pentagonal). There is a hike around the entire Caldeira, which most of the group did. Catherine and some others stayed at the vista point and walked a little bit onto the trail.
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At first, there was a great deal of fog. It was a very nice hike, but it was impossible to see anything particularly interesting besides the trail. Nonetheless, it was very pretty and the weather was pleasant.
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A sign showing the distances to the various places from here.
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Then, it cleared up beautifully. We could see all the way down to the Caldeira and all the way to the ocean, including a view of São Jorge.
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The hydrangeas are abundant around the Caldeira.
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To quote Fr. Michael “if I had to pick one phrase to describe this view, it would be ‘insane in the membrane.’”
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A small chapel at the end of the hike.
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Faial at its most tropical-looking.
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I don’t have many pictures of this, but we went to Varadouro, which is a beautiful swimming spot among volcanic rocks that seems to be pronounced the same as Barad-dûr , Sauron’s evil fortresss in Lord of the Rings. While the dark volcanic rocks and jagged crags do look a bit like Mordor, it was a very pleasant place to swim. There are large coves in the ocean equipped with ladders, diving boards, etc. Most of us jumped into the ocean, first from the ledge and then from the diving board. The waves make it a sort of wave pool, and the water is cold but rather pleasant in the heat. We had a great time swimming there.
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After this we went to the home of Jose Antonio, who is Catherine’s third cousin. His mother is Natalia, who’s mother was Maria. Catherine’s grandfather Tony visited Maria in the Azores shortly before Maria died. Maria’s mother was Ana, whose brother Francisco was Catherine’s great grandfather. There are more pictures from this dinner, but they were taken on other people’s cameras so we will post them later. We had a wonderful dinner, and enjoyed visiting with the family. Our lack of Portuguese skills was a bit of a problem, as they spoke limited English and the older generations did not seem to speak it at all (although we learned that videos of cows dancing are the universal language. Which, if we had to describe in one phrase...). Also, we must learn to make arroz doce.
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After this, we walked down to the waterfront. While Semana do Mar has not yet officially started, there are already many stands with food, concerts going on, and people out late. It was a lot of fun to walk around and look at everything.
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Usually in California, Portuguese festas are held at halls called “I.D.E.S. halls.” This stands for Irmandade do Divino Espírito Santo, or Brotherhood of the Divine Holy Spirit. It was interesting to see that they have the same society here in the Azores.

Posted by danielcatherine 07:08 Archived in Portugal Tagged shrines rice family faial insane_in_the_memebrane caldeira hydrangeas jose_antonio dancing_cows Comments (0)

Portugal Day 14: To Donny!

all seasons in one day 69 °F

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Today we flew from São Miguel to Terceira, then from Terceira to Faial. We booked our flight along with Katie and Anthony, but when we got there they had a direct flight and we had a separate flight. We got on a plane that was bound for São Jorge, which was stopping in Terceira, and then had to get a different one that was heading to Faial. Katie and Anthony had to get on one bound for Faial, which was stopping in Terceira. They had to get off the plane on Terceira, go upstairs, then get back on the same plane. We all got to Faial nonetheless. It was an emotional experience for Catherine to see Faial, the island where her ancestors lived for hundreds of years.
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Some pictures of Horta and our house.
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Michael said that he was going to go to mass at a nearby church. He invited us to come with him to the 6 PM mass, and then set off. We followed and got to the extremely beautiful church.
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Michael ended up getting to concelebrate the mass. The priest from the parish, also young and newly ordained, is visiting California soon for a festa, but couldn’t remember where he is going.
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Afterwards, we went to the house where Catherine’s Aunt Marie (Sis) and Uncle Bob, and her Uncle John and Aunt Terri are staying. It has a weirdly placed oven, but also a nice pool. We got pizza delivered by a company called California Pizza (not California Pizza Kitchen), which is owned by a man from the Azores who used to live in Fremont. It was a very nice evening.
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After dinner we walked down to the waterfront. Horta is a major stopping point for yachts going across the Atlantic, and people often paint murals to celebrate their arrival here.
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A castle near the waterfront.
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We went to Peter’s Cafe Sport, famous for their Gin and Tonics and for being a popular spot for anyone who visits Faial, especially on ships. It was Don Santos’s birthday, and we had planned to meet him there and celebrate. We toasted a few times “to Donny!” before he arrived. Then, he arrived. When he walked in, we all raised our glasses and yelled “to Donny!” The customers at the other tables joined in (probably thinking that Donny had sailed here). Donny was so happy (his nephew Dominic told us that this had been his best birthday ever). We were sure that being in the land of his people and being toasted and proclaimed in the bar were very memorable experiences.
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Us with Anthony and Donny.
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The moon over Horta and Pico.

Posted by danielcatherine 08:11 Archived in Portugal Tagged church sao michael anthony katie miguel mass homeland gin faial donny to_donny peter’s gin_and_tonic Comments (1)

Portugal Day 13: The Mouth of Hell

all seasons in one day 74 °F

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Some pictures of our house in Ponta Delgada. It is three stories, and has very nice common areas. Our room is in the attic and has a very low ceiling, but is nice and comfortable nonetheless.
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A quick breakfast of local pineapple and a toasted bolo lêvedo (basically an English muffin) with jam.
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Our first stop was a mountain with an excellent view, especially of Lagoa do Fogo (lake of fire...but it seems to be full of water.). The fog and mist made it difficult to see some of the view, but it was still wonderful.
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What the Azoreans call a conteira, also called kahili ginger.
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After this we visited a distillery that makes a variety of liqueurs that we were able to try. We were not allowed to take pictures inside, so there aren’t any here.
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Next we visited the Gorreana Tea Plantation, which is one of two commercial tea plantations in Europe, both of which are in São Miguel.
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Around the “factory” and the fields of Gorreana. No one was sorting or processing tea today, but we got to see the machines and the fields where the tea is grown.
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Us in the field.
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Us with Katie in the field.
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Us having some tea, with a mysterious figure behind us.
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Having fun at a picnic in the rain (there were shelters available which we used. Plus, we had the whole place to ourselves.)
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Next, we stopped at an old aqueduct that is no longer used. We weren’t sure when it was built, but it was fun to climb to the top of it!
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Another viewpoint: Boca do Inferno (the Mouth of Hell). It doesn’t look particularly hellish at the moment.
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Sete Cidades is named for the legend of the Seven Cities (which is related to legends such as Atlantis, Hy-Brasil, etc.), but really has no cities, just a small village and some beautiful lakes. It was around this time that Catherine and her cousins started discussing the idea of pooling our money and buying a house here.
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We went swimming in this piscina, which really means swimming pool but here seems to imply a place near the ocean that is set up for swimming. The water was somewhat cold, but it was still an incredible experience. It really felt like the ultimate wave pool. EEE35487-BD0D-484E-B721-C617E24F5712.jpeg
We had a great time.
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A São Miguel street scene.
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Dinner was at O Galego, said by some to have the best steaks on the island (though our tour guide, whose brother-in-law owns a restaurant, thought otherwise.) Neither of us eat a lot of beef, but we both got our steaks well-done and they were in fact enjoyable. For some reason, in the Azores steaks are served with a fried egg on top.
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For dessert, the waiter asked if we would like chocolate mousse or pineapple. Daniel took this to mean that we had the choice between chocolate mousse and pineapple mousse, and ordered the chocolate. Catherine correctly ordered pineapple, which proved to be simply half a pineapple on a plate. After dinner, we met a lot of our group and the other group (Don, Marcia, and Dominic) at Doris Bar by the marina. We had a wonderful day and can’t wait for Faial tomorrow.

Posted by danielcatherine 17:39 Archived in Portugal Tagged food marina tea guide swimming tour egg steak plantations azores pineapple piscina ananás ponta_delgada são_miguel boca_do_inferno doris_bar Comments (1)

Portugal Day 12: Food From a Volcão

semi-overcast 75 °F

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Today we set off on our tour around São Miguel. Our group separated into two vans, with younger people in one and older people in the other. Our driver, Paulo, was a police officer who leads tours in his free time. The other driver, Igor, lived in England for some time but was from the Azores.
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Our first stop was Cerâmica Viera, in Lagoa. Catherine loves the blue Portuguese tiles and pottery, so we had a great time touring the various rooms, including the painting and the sculpting areas. She decided to a purchase plate with a hydrangea on it, although we also thought about getting a piece of religious artwork out of tile like almost all of the houses here seem to have.
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More of the beautiful scenery as we drove around.
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Tobacco cultivation. They grow tobacco and make cigarettes with it on São Miguel. Smoking seems to be very popular.
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More scenery.
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We stopped at a little beach area, where there was a swimming pool filled by the ocean water.
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There were fishing boats coming in. Every boat seems to have a religiously themed name and a small image on the bow.
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More scenery.
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We went to Nossa Senhora da Paz chapel, where apparently some shepherd children saw an image of the Virgin Mary. We hadn’t really heard much about the miracle, but it was a beautiful church.
As you walk up the steps, every landing has a tile image of a different mystery of the rosary, starting with the joyful mysteries.
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The Annunciation.
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The Visitation.
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The Nativity.
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The Presentation in the Temple.
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The Finding in the Temple.
Then the Sorrowful Mysteries
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The Agony in the Garden
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The Flogging at the Pillar.
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The Crowning with Thorns.
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The Carrying of the Cross.
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The Crucifixion.
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Some pictures of the chapel and from the chapel. It was a beautiful place. The staircase appears to have been build in the 1960s, but the church is older. We did wonder where the Glorious Mysteries could be found, and then we found them behind the church.
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The Resurrection.
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The Ascension.
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The Descent of the Holy Spirit.
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The Assumption.
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The Crowning of Mary.
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After this, we went to Lagoa das Furnas, where there were beautiful gardens around the lake.
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The Capela de Nossa Senhora das Vitórias, apparently built after the owner of the property prayed for his wife to get better when she was sick. She lived, so he built the chapel.
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Around the lake. The Azores feel like Hawaii mixed with the Pacific Northwest.
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The geothermal cooking pots where they make cozido das Furnas.
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A beautiful picnic of volcano-cooked food for us. One of the ingredients, morcela (black pudding) was familiar to Anthony and his brothers from their childhoods.
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Next we stopped at some volcanic hot springs. There was a beautiful garden near the hot springs.
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Taro, or inhames as it is called here. It is a very common food, and was an ingredient in the cozido.
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More of the garden.
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The springs are very warm, and are a very different experience from most swimmimg. They are murky and sort of intimidating, but rather pleasant once you get in.
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Some refreshments and a picture of the gardens.
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We stopped at one last viewing place to take some pictures and see the beauty of the ocean and the island.
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Catherine’s cousin Nicole wanted Italian food, which sounded good to us too. We walked down to the marina area and found a restaurant with Italian, Japanese, and Azorean food. After we ate, we met up with Ryan, Michael, and a person named Dominic, who is the nephew of Anthony’s cousin Don Santos. We walked to a place called Doris Bar. We had a couple local beers (there’s an Azorean beer called Especial) and tremoços (lupin beans). Dominic talked about his adventures in Terceira last year, when he ran with the bulls during the festa (on the television screen at the bar there were “highlights” of bullfighting and bull running disasters). It was a very fun night and we had a great time, and feel so lucky to be here in these beautiful islands

Posted by danielcatherine 07:23 Archived in Portugal Tagged islands volcano beautiful beauty pottery bulls rosary tile cozido são_miguel tremoços taro inhames Comments (0)

Portugal Day 11: Hoje, Ananáses!

(Today, Pineapples!)

semi-overcast 74 °F

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Today we flew from Lisbon to São Miguel we were all on the same flight, so we had to try to trade seats to sit together. We were able to, but Katie and Anthony were not.
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Catherine happily using the people mover while we trudge along on the ground.
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Adeus, Lisboa!
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Olá, Açores!
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Catherine and Anthony minutes after setting foot for the first time in their ancestral islands (although Anthony’s grandparents were really from Faial, not São Miguel.)
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Some pictures of the plants around the house where we are staying. There’s even a banana field in the back yard, but none of them seem to be ripe right now.
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The Casa de Fruta Empire is vast indeed.
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Actually, we are at the Arruda pineapple plantation.
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The pineapples are grown in whitewashed greenhouses.
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Some pictures of the pineapples at their various stages of growth.
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A statue of the founder of the plantation, and one of some kind of allegorical bromeliad royalty...
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There are fish in the water tanks, probably to fight off mosquitos.
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A pineapple cat, most likely named Ana. It’s even orange like an ananás.
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Some pictures of the snack stand, where you can get all kinds of pineapple treats. We got pineapple juice, pineapple cake, pineapple liqueur, pineapple white snow, and of course, cut pineapple.
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We went back to the house, then walked to the restaurant where our reservation was already made. Some pictures of the streets of Ponta Delgada as we walked to the restaurant.
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Anthony, his brother Gary, and his brother Joe.
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The first course: lapas (limpets). Neither of us really care for sea food, but we resolved to at least try it. It wasn’t too bad: very lemony and garlicky (probably due to the large amount of lemon and garlic on them).
We did skip the octopus, leading to the charge that Catherine says she’s adventurous but she’s not.
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Pineapple cake was less difficult to eat.
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Catherine’s brother, Fr. Michael, and their Uncle Gary.
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Catherine’s cousin Justin and his girlfriend Madeline.
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Catherine’s Uncle John and Aunt Terri.
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Catherine’s cousins Ryan and Nicole.
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Ryan’s father-in-law Manny, and Manny’s daughter Jill. Manny was born on Faial.
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Us.
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The entire group.
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The streets at night.

Posted by danielcatherine 03:15 Archived in Portugal Tagged family dinner pineapples azores ananás lapas limpets ponta_delgada you_say_you’re_adventurous_but_ Comments (4)

Portugal Day 10: Belém Me!

sunny 93 °F

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We started our day by going to mass at São Sebastião church near our hotel. It was very small on the inside...
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But incredibly beautiful. It was rather full, too. Mass is fairly easy to follow in Portuguese, since it is similar to Latin. However, the sermon was a bit difficult. We did pick up that he mentioned bread, and buying things, and eating and drinking.
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It was heartening to see that even new/replacement fittings of the church are done in the old style to match with everything else.
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Some pictures of the Parque Eduardo VII, which is named for King Edward VII of England. Our hotel had a view of this park, and we walked through it to get to the church.
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We got a taxi to Belém for lunch. We planned to explore the area, which we hadn’t seen much of yet. We got toasted cheese and chips at this little cafe, and Catherine tried a lemon radler (beer with lemon flavor.) It seemed to be made by Sagres, as most of the beer in this country seems to be.
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Missangas.
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Which is a jewelry store where you can make your own jewelery. Catherine loved it, and made herself a cork bracelet with blue Portuguese tile.
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After that we went to the famous Pasteis de Belém, arguably the first bakery to create the pastel de nata. The recipe is supposed to be a secret, but we have now found pasteis de nata all over the world (if Hanford and Portugal count as all over the world.) These were very good, and we got an orange juice and a galão to go with them.
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Next we visited the Jerónimos monastery. It was beautiful from the outside. There was a long line to pay to get into the cloister, so we chose to simply visit the church.
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First was the tomb of the poet Camões.
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Tombs featuring elephants: most of these graves belong to Portuguese royalty.
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Various tombs and altars around the church. It is a beautiful place, obviously designed to impress the viewer with the glory of the Portuguese empire.
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Catherine loves the elephant tombs.
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The tomb of the lost king Sebastião. He went deep into enemy territory and was never seen again. This led, in the years afterwards, to a rumor that he was still alive. Various claimants insisted that they were him (some of whom didn’t speak Portuguese, making it less likely.) Later, it led to a legend that he would return someday to restore Portugual to its former glory. Apparently, Philip II did have some bones, which he claimed were Sebastian’s, placed in the tomb during the Iberian Union in order to solidify his power, but the legend persists.
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The tomb of Vasco de Gama. We are hoping that this visit inspires Catherine to improve her sense of direction, in emulation of the great Portuguese navigators.
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Various monuments around Belém, including the Monument to the Portuguese Discoveries and the Christo Rei statue on the other side of the river.
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Some pictures of Belém tower.
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Wine With a View stand, as well as the accompanying view of the bridge and the statue. The bridge was built by the same company that designed the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, but painted the same color as the Golden Gate Bridge.
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We went to dinner and a fado show in Bairro Alto. Anthony, Catherine’s dad, tried octopus.
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The singers.
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Both of us remember the commercials for the “Vienna” ice cream lasagne, but neither of us have tried it. We took our chance and tried it.
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Some pictures outside the fado restaurant. We had a wonderful night. Tomorrow we fly to the Azores!

Posted by danielcatherine 18:26 Archived in Portugal Tagged elephants bridge music dinner monastery kings octopus belem camoes fado discoveries jerónimos pastel_de_nata vasco_de_gama sebastião Comments (2)

Portugal Day 9: Fátima, Nazaré, and a Princess of Óbidos

sunny 79 °F

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We had a quick breakfast at the hotel before going out on our bus tour to Fátima.
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Our first stop was the “factory” which was really a large store with a lot of religious and secular souvenirs. Apparently everything was made in Portugal, although most of it looked exactly like the souvenirs available at other shops. Catherine’s dad joked about turning over the tables like Jesus in the Temple.
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The beautiful older basilica and the square at Fatima. We had somewhat limited time, and the group wanted to go to Mass. There was a mass celebrated in Portuguese in “the basilica” which we hoped would be this one.
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Instead, it was this one. It was still inspiring to see how many people were at Mass and touring Fátima.
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The Apparition Chapel where the children first saw Our Lady. When we went by there was a mass going on outside the chapel.
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Some more pictures of the outside of the older basilica, where the visionaries are buried. They have a large area surrounded by walkways with statues of saints at the top, similar to the one at the Vatican.
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Inside the older basilica, where there seemed to be a wedding or renewal of vows going on. There is a strange, peaceful but momentous feeling inside this building.
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Catherine’s Aunt Teri and Uncle John in Fatima.
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Next, we went to Batalha, where we had lunch and saw the monastery. There is an equestrian statue of St. Nuno Álvares Pereira, who commanded some of the Portuguese forces in the war with Castile in the fourteenth century. Batalha was founded to commemorate the battle.
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Our tour guide suggested that we didn’t need to see the inside, that the outside was sufficient.
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We went in anyway. It was really beautiful. Catherine loved the gothic architecture, and it was interesting to see the tombs of kings.
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Next, Nazaré, where we just looked around at the ocean. It is a very pretty spot, and is famous for surfing. The world record for surfing a single wave was set here by Garrett McNamara (not, as our tour guide told us, by Robert McNamara).
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Berlim pastries (essentially filled doughnuts). We go a pineapple filled one.
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Next, we stopped at the beautiful walled city of Óbidos. The only small inconvenience was that it was extremely crowded due to a medieval fair going on throughout July. There were people in costume, mostly as medieval lords and ladies, but some barbarians and other characters from the past. There was a costume rental, but we didn’t elect to dress up.
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Catherine’s Aunt Teri did take a picture with Tree Man, however.
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More pictures of the beautiful walled city.
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One of the major attractions in Óbidos is trying their famous sour cherry liqueur, called ginja. It is served here out of chocolate cups which you can then eat.
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The Princess of Óbidos. Flower crowns were readily available throughout the city. They are made from real flowers, including lavender, and smell very nice.
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Back in Lisbon for dinner. We went with Catherine’s parents and her Aunt Teri. We went to a delicious Italian restaurant.

Posted by danielcatherine 02:01 Archived in Portugal Tagged basilica cherry pineapples john anthony katie walled_city princess lavender teri fatima óbidos ginja berlim mass nazare mcnamara flower_crown Comments (3)

Portugal Day 8: Viagem

sunny 79 °F

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We had breakfast in the beautiful common room. There were a few pieces of bread and some water, so we at first got a coffee and sat down. We asked one of the employees if there were any croissants left, and she said “one second.” We were starting to get impatient with waiting for a single croissant when she came back in with two of these huge breakfast boards. We ended up having a delicious breakfast.
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Some last pictures of Porto. Such a beautiful city.

After that we drove from Porto to Lisbon to meet Catherine’s parents and aunts and uncles, who got into Lisbon yesterday. It was a beautiful drive, although we were a little pressed for time and couldn’t really stop and take pictures.

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Our room at the Intercontinental Hotel. It’s a beautiful room with a great view.
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We went with Catherine’s parents to the Time Out Mercado. We got Thai food (which owes its spiciness to Portuguese trade, according to João our AirBnB host in Coimbra), and then went looking for a place to hear fado music.
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But first we got dessert. Daniel had a pastel de nata, but everyone else had ice cream.
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Tiny doors as we climb the Bica hill.
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The busy Bairro Alto, which had numerous fado clubs and bars. We found one that let people in in small groups for sets of three or four songs. It was very enjoyable to hear it in an intimate, less formal setting.
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The fado singer and musicians.
We went back to the hotel early because we have a bus tour to Fátima tomorrow and need our sleep.

Posted by danielcatherine 00:11 Archived in Portugal Tagged breakfast family porto mercado fado time_out Comments (0)

Portugal Day 7: Exploring Porto

semi-overcast 81 °F

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Some views of the common area in the House of Sandeman, which is a hostel with dorms as well as the suites like we are in. There is a breakfast and a dinner available in this room.
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We had a quick breakfast and walked around on the southern side of the Douro, which is not technically Porto but rather Vila Nova de Gaia. This is where the port wine cellars are located, and also the original larger settlement from Roman times.
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Evaporative cooling. Porto is ready to convert!
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We took the gondola to the top of the Dom Luis I bridge, which we could use to get to the attractions on top of the hill in Porto.
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Catherine and the Douro.
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Ruins of houses as we cross the bridge.
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The outside of the cathedral.
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A fado group was busking outside the cathedral.
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Inside the cathedral. They have daily mass and confession, but when we were there it seemed that people were just coming in and sitting down for a bit, then leaving. You could pay to get into the cloister, but we decided against it.
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Views of the city as we walk around.
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The famous São Bento train station, with depictions of the history of Portugal in tile around the station. It was beautiful and impressive. It is a working train station, and is thus very busy with people seeing the artwork and people getting trains.
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A very nice lunch across from São Bento.
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However, I was less than sure about the restroom...
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Porto is a beautiful city. It’s hard to describe what it feels like, but there’s a distinct feeling created by the architecture and the types of businesses in this area.
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Vestir bem, e barato, só aqui (dress well and cheap, here only.) We couldn’t find any specific business this sign related to, but it was very fitting with the rest of the signs and feel of Porto.
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Walking back towards the bridge to return to Gaia. We had our Sandeman port tour at 5:30 and needed to get back in time.
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Our tour guide wore the costume of the Sandeman Don, a logo that combines the traditional Portuguese student cape (which represents their Ports) with a traditional Spanish hat (which represents their Sherries).
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The tour was very interesting. There are several different sizes of barrels and vats which are used to produce red, white, or tawny ports.
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They also make vintage port, which is aged in bottles. The oldest we saw was from 1904.
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We got to taste a white port and a ruby red port.
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Some “sneaking and plotting” pictures, and some that give a good idea of what the House of Sandeman looks like.
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We went to dinner at an Italian restaurant. Catherine got a pizza diavola, and Daniel got a pizza with eggplant and garlic. It was delicious, but they were too big to finish. We should have only ordered one. The dessert was also very good.
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Some pictures around Gaia as we prepared to leave. It has been a beautiful stay in this city and we hope to come back again someday.

Posted by danielcatherine 09:46 Archived in Portugal Tagged signs cathedral port porto don neighborhoods sandeman Comments (1)

Portugal Day 6: Batlioteca and the Footsteps of the Romans

overcast 69 °F

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Walking up to the University of Coimbra was a bit of a climb, but we were able to get there pretty quickly using a direct route up stairs.
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Many of the buildings at the university date from the mid twentieth century, and were built under the rule of António de Oliveira Salazar, the dictator of Portugal who had been a professor at the University. These buildings, our AirBnB host told us, are controversial because houses were demolished to build them. They have a very uniform feel, and seem to form an imposing entry towards the old square of the University.
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Views of the old square, which is located in a former royal palace.
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Us in the square.
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The first part of our tour: knocking on the door of the chapel.
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Inside São Miguel chapel. It was a royal chapel but is now used by the university. They have masses regularly, which prevents tours from going through, but we were able to go in.
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A striking picture of the courtyard.
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The Joanine Library, which also includes the Academic Prison. The prison was used when students and faculty were convicted of crimes in order to prevent university scholars from having to associate with “common criminals.” The lower level of the library is used for storage of older books. The upper level is the room where students would have studied, and where there are beautifully decorated shelves and paintings. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures in that room. It is also famous because there are bats that eat the insects that could damage the books. The bats live behind the shelves and eat moths and other insects at night. Pieces of paper are set down on the tables to protect them from bat guano.
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The inside of the royal palace. One large room is used today for students who are defending dissertations: there was a student doing so when we toured.
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Some last views of Coimbra before we left. Also, a couple pictures of our car and our AirBnB.
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Next we visited the Roman ruins of Conimbriga. Coimbra is named after Conimbriga (in Roman times Coimbra was called Aeminium, and was renamed when Conimbriga was razed by the Suebi and the residents fled to Aeminium.
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The ruins are fascinating: baths, houses, mosaics, and other buildings.
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The Roman influence continues, in the form of gelato.
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We then drove to Porto. We are staying at the House of Sandeman, located immediately above their tasting room and port cellars. Our room is very nice and comfortable, despite the somewhat creepy painting.
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Porto is beautiful. At night, it feels like a city for making plots and schemes.
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We went out for dinner and a couple drinks. Catherine tried bacalhau com natas (cod with cream) for the first time, and really liked it. It was a beautiful night of talking and walking near the river. We can’t wait to see more of Porto tomorrow.

Posted by danielcatherine 12:40 Archived in Portugal Tagged palace bridge university port royal porto library bats chapel romans coimbra gelato conimbriga sandeman Comments (0)

Portugal Day 5: Cloisters and Fado

semi-overcast 85 °F

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We started our day with a breakfast that reminded us greatly of our Portuguese lessons. On each lesson some character would order bottles of water (Aguas minerais), some custard pastries (pasteis de nata) and a latte (um galão). This is what we got at a cafe called “The World Needs Nata.”
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Some views around the cafe, including the buskers who were playing across the street.
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The streets in Coimbra.
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Next we went to the Santa Cruz monastery, where much of the knowledge of the Portuguese explorers had been gathered and collected. It was founded by St. Teotonio/ Theotonius in 1131.
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Inside the church.
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The sacristy of the church. There was a great deal of artwork on the walls, and several very beautiful liturgical artifacts. The church appears to still be in use to some extent, as there are current liturgical books on some of the shelves.
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A side room with some religious art and relics. The “bust reliquary” in the middle holds the skull of St. Teotonio. The other two hold relics related to the Five Martyrs of Morocco, Franciscans who were killed for preaching the Catholic faith.
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The Chapter room where meetings took place, with its own altar.
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Some pictures of the cloister.
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The tile work around the walls.
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Tapestries.
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The relic sanctuary. This room was amazingly beautiful. It is highly symmetrical and perfectly arranged, but each element on the walls contains relics of various saints. It felt like something out of a fantasy novel.
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Some pictures at the sanctuary of the church, including the tombs of the first and second kings of Portugal, Afonso Henriques and his son Sancho.
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Some views of the street after we left. On our way up towards the old cathedral, we stopped at the Fado ao Centro and booked tickets for the show at 7:00 PM. We also stopped at the shop of an artist named Marcia Santos, who does illustrations with ballpoint pen. We purchased two of her drawings in frames to take home.
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Then we arrived at the Old Cathedral (the new one was built in the 17th century.)
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Inside the cathedral. Some tombs of various people, including a Byzantine princess who was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Saint Isabella (who lived in Coimbra at the end of her life).
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This little creature at the foot of the tomb of one of the bishops. Is it a shih tzu?
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The cloister at the cathedral.
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For some reason, the floor of the cloister is covered in “2”s.
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Outside the church.
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A little restaurant across from the cathedral where we had a quick snack: caldo verde, a popular Portuguese soup.
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The fado show was beautiful. Fado de Coimbra is distinct from other fado. The instrumentals were really impressive, as was the singing. After the show we got to drink some port wine and talk with the musicians. We bought a CD which they signed.
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After this we went towards the river for dinner and a short walk. It was beautiful at sunset.
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Gelato! Daniel got Azorean pineapple and mint, Catherine got Madeira banana.
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And then, another fado show! One of the musicians from the first one played at this one as well. However, it was different: this show was Fado de Lisboa, which has a female singer and a different kind of sound. We bought this CD as well. It was an amazing show and we really enjoyed learning about the different varieties of the music.

Posted by danielcatherine 03:48 Archived in Portugal Tagged sunset river cloisters cathedral music port dinner wine relics gelato fado pastel_de_nata galão Comments (2)

Portugal Day 4: A Marvãolous Adventure

sunny 80 °F

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We started our day by taking a taxi to the airport. We saw the somewhat less fashionable side of Lisbon on our drive, but also got nice views of the river. When we arrived at the Europcar office, they appeared to be closed. There was a sign saying that we should go to the office in the main terminal, so we did. Once we were there, they were very helpful. They didn’t have a car with WiFi like we had ordered, but they did find us one with a built-in navigation system that was a little larger than we had originally booked. We set out from Lisbon towards the east, heading first for the former Templar castle of Almourol.

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Before we arrived in Almourol we stopped in the little town of Tancos, where there is a restaurant called Restaurante Almourol. We strolled around the grassy area by the River Tagus, then went to the restaurant. This was an adventure all its own.the restaurant was very nice, but no one seemed to speak English. I told the waitress “Não falo Português” to which she replied “Mas percebes bem” and continued in Portuguese. The menu also was entirely in Portuguese. We ended up using Google Translate, which yielded that one of the menu items was “bunny” and that another was “potato punch.” So that was unhelpful. We ended up just ordering. We got fried river fish with rice and beans. Neither of us usually eat a lot of fish,but it was a good meal.
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Some views across the river to the towns on the other side. There was a beautiful view from our restaurant.
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The castle was a fortress used by the Knights Templar during the crusades. It formed part of a defensive line along the Tagus during the Portuguese Reconquista. It is a beautiful castle, and it’s fascinating to see how it would have been when the Tagus was the dividing line between the Christians and the Muslims.
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Some amazing views around the castle. We were able to climb the staircases and look out from the walls. The river is much narrower on the northern side of the island. It seems like a very defensible position since it is surrounded by water, but it is obviously better protected from the south, which of course is where the Moors were.
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The castle as we left in the boat. We missed the boat we were supposed to take, but thankfully it came back a few minutes later.
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After that, we went further East to the walled hilltop city of Marvão. It is near the border with Spain and had been used to defend against invasion. It is beautiful, and reminded us quite a bit of San Gimignano in Italy. There are narrow streets, hills, ancient fortresses and churches, and a cafe that sells gelato.
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The curious kittens of Marvão.
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There is a beautiful garden near the castle made up mostly of hydrangeas, Catherine’s favorite flowers. The garden has a beautiful view of the surrounding area, and you can see the surrounding valleys in Spain and Portugal.
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More of Marvão.
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A tactile model of the city.
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Gelato from the cafe.
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Given how close we were to Spain, we decided to go in. There was a former border checkpoint that was entirely unmanned, and the only signal that we had left Portugal and entered Spain was this sign. We went in to a gas station and got some snacks, and it was intriguing that all of the packaging was in Spanish. The linguistic nature of the border is fascinating: the cashier at the gas station spoke something that sounded like Portuguese to locals at she knew, but perfect Spanish to strangers.
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We then followed the GPS to Coimbra. Our AirBnB host, João, was waiting at a cafe. We met him and found a parking spot, then got everything set up in the room. We then met João at the tapas restaurant across the street from our flat. He gave us advice about what to do in Coimbra: he was a wealth of information about the city and the various things we could see. He left us to have a late dinner and listen to the singing of the Hungarian university officials in the next room (there is a sports competition between European universities going on in Coimbra).
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Our dinner, including a bottle of wine from our waiter’s hometown in the Douro valley.
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Our dessert: lime pie and a 1985 port.
We spent a long time visiting with our waiter, the Hungarians (who bought us a round of a Portuguese liqueur), and a few others who stayed in the restaurant late. We learned some Hungarian drinking songs and chatted with the waiter about the town, life in Portugal, and numerous other topics. It was a wonderful night. We went back across the street to our room at around 4 in the morning. We feel so lucky to be able to have these adventures and talk to such interesting people!

Posted by danielcatherine 03:56 Archived in Portugal Tagged castles fish adventure rice port wine kittens tapas coimbra lime beans talk marvão almourol Comments (3)

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