Week 178 August 26, 2017

I discovered this meaningful quote and translation on the back of the tickets from our visit to the Tower of Belem last week, and thought it worthy to share this week:

   Gil Eanes, Navegador
      Valeu a pena? Tudo vale a pena
      Se a alma não e pequena.
      Quem quer passar alem do Bojador
      Tem que passar alem da dor.
      Deus ao mar o perigo e o abismo deu,
      Mas nele e que espelhou o ceu.
         Was it worth doing? Everything is worth doing
         If the soul of the doer is not small.
         Whoever would go beyond the Cape
         Must go beyond sorrow.
         God placed danger and the abyss in the sea,
         But he also made it heaven’s mirror.

On our last day in Lisbon, Loren and I went on a long, full day tour. Of all the tours we have taken, this one appealed to us the least. So, we acknowledged our disappointment to ourselves and made the best of it. We visited Obidos, where we walked the wall around a medieval town and had a view of an ancient Roman aqueduct, then Nazaré – where we ate lunch in a touristy fishing town, on to Batalha – to see a cathedral, and, the famed Fatima – where three children had experienced an apparition of the Virgin Mary. An impressive new cathedral with elaborate grounds celebrate it. Earlier this year Pope Francis came to mark the 100th anniversary. Loren and I appreciated returning to Lisbon even more because we learned how really hot it can be inland – I am still suffering from an itchy prickly heat rash on my calves. 

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That evening we were still able to be on time for a classical guitar concert in the Cloister of Se Cathedral, the one we had had tickets for on the previous evening but was canceled. It was well worth making it an even longer day to attend it.

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Loren and I then took a train to Aveiro for three nights. We needed help with finding our AirBnB, and Marisa, owner of a cafe with her husband, Vieira, came to our rescued. We developed a friendship with them both, and enjoyed an evening out to dinner together. Loren and I tasted our first Leitao Assado – suckling pig, at their suggestion. It was good!

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Aveiro’s nickname is “the Venice of Portugal,” for its many bridges over the water that runs through town, and, the many gondola-like motorized boats for tourists to enjoy.

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Loren and I preferred to spend our time walking and bicycling in Aveiro’s quaint streets over riding in a boat. We found that the townspeople grace their overhead walkways, and even some of their bicycles, with colorful crocheted images of fish among other designs, as well as painting some of the benches around town with delightful artwork.

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Another style of art that we have seen in several places in Portugal are the beautiful intricate tile sidewalk designs,

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and, we have seen impressive blue tile artwork that grace the outside of homes, churches, and buildings. The tile is both decorative and practical in that it needs less maintenance than other forms of building materials.

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We so appreciate how many people speak English. Loren recognizes how many more people do these days compared to during his travels here of 40 years ago – he remembers, “No one spoke English!” We are also especially grateful for Loren’s fluency in Italian and Spanish, because even with some English speakers, it makes such a difference in learning more about the people we meet and the local cultures. In addition to a few Portuguese words, we learned a saying from our new friends: mano da vaca – hand of the cow, which means one does not like to spend money, and, the belief that, “Seeing a spider is a sign of money.”

On one of the other two evenings we saw a memorable sunset over the salt fields. The other evening we rode a bus to Costa Nova to see the colorful Pahleiro – former barns for hay for horses, or for housing boats, that are now converted into decorative homes.

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Then we rode the train to Porto and took the metro to the airport where we rented a Peugeot. We first drove north to see Guimaraes. At the suggestion of Marisa y Vieira, we visited the Castle from the time of the birth of Portugal where Afonso the 1st king of Portugal’s life is detailed, and, the Paco dos Duques – a palace residence of former Kings of Portugal. We also stumbled upon an outstanding jardim – garden.

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I have been working on a poem about Portugal which is still in the works and perhaps I will post here when it is done. I was also inspired to write this Haiku:

My Prominent Portuguese Memories
   Blue tile, Castles, and
   Coastline; Cod and Cork, Custard
   Pastry, Pork, and Port
Claire Adalyn Wright

Today we will be leaving Rio Caldo after an overnight stay, where a chorus of church bells and a cage of chatty birds at our accommodation have added to our enjoyment. We are on our way to visit the mountains for a few days. While what I write next in ending this week is not a proper farewell, it is a phrase that I learned from a friend in the Bay Area with Portuguese heritage: Beige meh cou! or, Kiss my a.. Why do we often learn the bad words of another language first? Really, what I am trying to say but do not have the Portuguese words for and will send via another painted bench image, are our affectionate kisses to Portugal!

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