Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Preparations

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The lists! The only way to keep everything straight when things are going every which way. Thanks again for all the different ideas for ways to get rid of stuff. Really, I wanted to complain that I can't have a garage sale because I will forever fantasize about it as the most seller-friendly stuff-dumping method there is, but I'm psyched to have all these ideas and will hopefully not have to throw anything away!

Reading material! A friend sent us this and I'm about halfway through, and it's so far been hilarious, easy and relaxing to read, and extremely enlightening re: English behavior. I'm actually a little scared to think we could have moved there without having read it! Who knew it was bad news to introduce yourself with your name in a social setting? Or that the only way to talk to your neighbors is to do yard work at the front of your house? (But no lounging there! That's a backyard activity only!) That you should never ask someone directly where they live or work? (Already screwed that one up, but I suppose you can only expect Americans to be all aggressive like that...) LOVE the book and can definitely recommend it.

I've been sick in one way or another for the last week and a half, so it's been slow going around here, but slow going is better than none at all. I'm slowly getting through all those Turkey pictures (took exactly 999) that a couple people have mentioned hoping to see, so ...maybe in the next week or so they'll be up? :)
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Friday, January 25, 2013

Moving Lingo?

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No, I don't have any infant gang members that will need to be moved to the new apartment...
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

I can't believe this is happening.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Getting Rid of Stuff in Germany

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I envy my US family members.  When they have a bunch of crap they want to get rid of but not throw away, they can just put up ads, throw up a table outside, put the things they want to get rid of on the tables, and people will come buy or take it.  All in one job.  Anything left over can be donated to a place like Goodwill or the Salvation Army, who will take even decorations.  Anything they reject isn't much and can be tossed with minimal guilt.

I want so, so desperately to get rid of my things via yard/garage sale.  But, that's not something you do here.  As for donating things...they take clothes and shoes.  The rest, you seem to be on your own.  I've asked around, and it seems the only ways to get rid of things are a little tedious.  List them all on eBay or Amazon and spend your days making tiny appointments for pickup of small crap or buying and wrapping and mailing zillions of packages off.  It's so labor-intensive compared to just plopping it all on the sidewalk or dropping it all off in one place.

If it does come down to wasting it all in the trash, that's not so simple either, of course. You can't just put it all on the curb on trash day.  Toxic or large trash requires pickup by appointment or delivery to the junkyard by car.

I'm still researching options that aren't so nitty gritty, so one-item-at-a-time, so much Deutsch speaking and appointment making and Post using.  Wish me luck.  Because all the way in the back of my mind is going to be that easy, easy garage sale that I cannot hold, and that Goodwill that would have taken my unneeded headphones and pillows.  I think moving out of Germany is going to be a lot harder than moving in!
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lisbon Travelogue

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Finally, our last stop - Portugal's capital city, Lisbon. Several people we know came here before us and had a lot of positive things to say so we were excited about spending our last few days on what would probably be a high note.  (Not that there had been so many low notes thus far!)

First off, we ditched the rental car.  It served us well in our more rural wanderings, but we definitely didn't want it in Lisbon.  This turned out to be even wiser than we'd guessed.  The apartment we reserved, in the Alfama, sat on a square which was literally completely impossible to access by car.  It had no fewer than five exits, all of which were stairs.  I could not possibly have been happier with this arrangement, although I did feel a bit bad because my father-in-law has a bum knee and I hadn't quite realized how stairsy the apartment was.  To top it off, we rented the top floor apartment (hey, it had two bathrooms and a view) so it probably wasn't so fun from his perspective.  For me, though, it was ideal beyond measure.  I think my tourist dream is a dense, lively city without a car in sight. Stairs, since they feel so cozy somehow, just add to the attraction for me. The Alfama might be the closest I ever get to this, and once I started to realize it, I couldn't wait for the next morning to get out and explore every nook and cranny in the daylight.  We ate in that evening with goodies from the grocery store.  The apartment was very tiny, but had two floors and two bathrooms, so it felt so private and awesome.

The next morning we split up from D's inlaws so everyone could enjoy the day at their own pace.  They left first, and we went out shortly thereafter.  Our first stop was a bakery a couple of corners away for breakfast.  I got a tea and pastry that I don't remember, and D ordered coffee and some kind of pastry they had to cut open and pour fresh hot chocolate sauce into.  Sadly, he didn't get to enjoy it fresh, because as he sat down he realized that he was beginning a nasty migraine.  I joined him on a bench outside after wrapping everything up and getting his drink repackaged to go.  We sat on the bench for a while as we waited for him to feel well enough to walk back to the apartment.  What really got me was that people walking past showed concern for him!!  He was just bent down holding his head, and that was enough for them to ask if he was okay.  I've seen friends barf in public in Germany and no one gave a shit except to mock how it must have been due to alcohol.  I don't care if it's ingenuine, it's really appreciated to be recognized in your suffering.

We spent the rest of the morning in the apartment, then ventured out when he was feeling slightly better.  We wandered the tiny stairs and alleys of the Alfama for quite a while.  People kept stopping to give us directions that we didn't ask for. It was very nice, but hard to fully appreciate when one of us was unwell. We somehow wound up in the immigrant-filled Mouraria neighborhood, where we saw several tempting restaurants including a Pakistani one.  D wasn't ready to try to eat, yet, though, and considering the crazy winding streets we never found it again.  By the time he felt ready, we were near the cathedral, where we ducked into some cafe that someone had recommended in our apartment's guest book.  You could tell right away when you walked in that it was the kind of generically, internationally hip place that the Lonely Planet likes to list - and sure enough, we checked and it was in there.  We ordered a small lunch and they brought the customary olives out.  D had some and claims to have immediately felt better, and now considers olives to be a sort of medicinal food. :)

In the afternoon we branched off into Baixa, a flat neighborhood with gridded streets that reminded us very slightly of Chicago.  For dinner, we met up again with D's parents and walked with them to Faca & Garfo, a restaurant off the super-well-traveled square at the top of the famous elevator - recommended to us by the Regensbloggers and also listed in Lonely Planet.  Sadly, it was closed because it was Sunday!  We were all hungry and didn't want to hash out some complicated restaurant-finding plan, so we ate at some very mediocre place across the street which seemed to be feeding off Faca & Garfo's closure (we saw many Lonely Planets in the hands of patrons there).  A little wine made us not really care, and we followed it up with shots of ginjinha (a local cherry liqueur) in chocolate cups at a streetside stall.

The next day we wandered up to the castle at the top of the Alfama, but the admission was a little steep considering our low-to-medium castle interest level so we continued onward, crossing back through Baixa and stopping for yet more pastries near Praça do Comercio, between the Baixa and the waterfront.  Pastries seemed to be more expensive in the Baixa.  We met up with D's parents again and took the bus out to Belém, where we were told to check out the monastery, the Tower of Belém, and the original bakery that makes pastéis de nata, the tiny flaky little custards we'd been eating all over Portugal.  The bus was a little extra crowded because the tram on that same route was for some reason out of service.  It wigged out my (suburban/rural) in-laws, and even though we'd all paid for multiuse public transit cards to make the round trip, when they came back to Lisbon (without us - we wanted to see more) they just got a cab.  The monastery was closed so we had to be content with the outside.  The pastries were delicious and the service was great.  The Tower of Belém was much cooler than I had imagined, just standing alone on the waterfront.  It didn't hurt that the sun was getting low and making it particularly attractive.

D and I wanted to see a bookstore on one of those "most beautiful bookstore" lists that always circulates on the internet.  According to a map it was near a giant bridge situated somewhere between Belém and Lisbon.  We got out at the appropriate bus stop, but could not find the place.  We asked tons of people for directions and no one spoke a lick of English.  Finally, after having gone past it already 3 times, we "found" it.  It had no signs on the outside and looked like a cafe from the street.  And was closed for Monday.  Portugal is really dead on Mondays...if you go there over one, don't plan anything for that day!!  It was still cool to see a very non-touristy neighborhood, especially with the massive, beautiful bridge looming overhead.  (See photos.) We ended the night at a restaurant of my father-in-law's choosing which smelled really awesome because they cooked with a wood stove.  The food was pretty small considering the prices.  That place in Estremoz remained the trip winner, as we all flew out the following morning.

I'd go again, and I'd stay in the Alfama again.  Loved just being there.  No need to sightsee.  Just be in the streets and eat the pastries and be there.

TL;DR: Walking around was our activity of choice in Lisbon. Don't plan anything for Mondays in Portugal. Olives cure migraines.  Look at the photos because when you just wander, the photos say more than could ever be written.
Lisbon Nov 2012
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Travelogue: Day Trips from Lisbon

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We left Estremoz and headed for Sintra, a town northwest of Lisbon.  Sintra is home to several palaces which are popular with tourists, and while driving in we navigated small streets full of buses and lost people with guidebooks. Parking was no mean feat either, so I recommend alternate forms of transit if you can swing it.  Our goal was the Quinta da Regaleira, a lush estate with a palace, chapel, and all kinds of paths and tunnels and interesting fountains and other useless but attractive structures.  It struck me as a sort of romantic playground for grown-ups.  I'd seen photos online and really wanted to see it in person, and this was a great opportunity.  Although we visited it on the way from Estremoz to Lisbon, it's an easy day trip from Lisbon. We only saw about half of it, as D and his mom had forgotten their umbrellas (it rained) and D's dad had decided not to go in and was therefore just sitting in the car waiting for us. Check out the photos to get a feel for the place!  Sintra has many other attractions, but this was the only one we got to see on this trip. 
Sintra Nov 2012

Afterward we needed to find some lunch and hoped to maybe see the ocean and park easily.  We put some random oceanside town from our map into the GPS and headed out that way.  Luckily, on a road above the sea we found exactly what we needed: Restaurante Nortada, which according to its address is in Colares.  The place wasn't cheap but it had a great view and our food was excellent.  D and I shared a garlicky roasted octopus dish which was incredible. (Shoot, now I'm hungry again...)  Afterward we had a nice walk near the beach where we saw tons of snails!  Not bad at all! :)
Colares Nov 2012
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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Travelogue: The Central Alentejo

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We left Tomar in late morning and set off in the direction of our next stayover location: Estremoz, in the central Alentejo region in west-central Portugal. 

Portalegre
Before we got there, though, we needed a lunch stop.  The town of Portalegre, with a cathedral on a hill, looked gorgeous from the highway.  We parked near the old part of town and found a pizza joint, which was perfectly satisfying.  Then, since we were there, we took an hour or so and split up to look around town.  The cathedral (NO PHOTOS!) was interesting inside, feeling more like a museum full of framed paintings than a church.  The streets, full of houses all painted white and yellow, were pleasant enough.  Overall, though, the town felt as though it had once made a half-assed attempt at attracting tourism and then given up.  What looked like a brand new approach to town through an old wall and an adjacent brand new fountain were getting weedy and full of trash.  The also very new visitor's centre for Portalegre's tiny castle ruin was lacking in useful information and reeked of cat poop.  The pizza was good but otherwise I can't personally recommend it as a destination. Maybe we just missed the good parts.
Portalegre Okt 2012

Estremoz
My in-laws made our booking here - and they opted to stay in one of Portugal's famous pousadas.  The Portuguese government took old, historical buildings around Portugal, fixed them up, and made them into fancy hotels.  In Estremoz, the pousada is in an old castle overlooking the town.  It was my turn to be a little disappointed (all's fair in love and accomodation bookings), although I mean this in the least-bad way.  It was still a nice place to stay.  But considering that it cost twice what the previous place did, I expected it to be twice as awesome, and it wasn't really.  The things that people really seem to be paying the extra for are space, the ability to say that they stayed in a castle, and staff that bow and scrape and call you sir and madam.  The first is always a plus, the second is cool but not my thing, so to me personally it doesn't add value, and the third just makes me feel really awkward.  I think if you can get a discount, it's worth trying the experience, just don't put your expectations as high as I did.  I don't mean any of this in a complainy way, I'm just trying to describe the costs/benefits of the pousada experience from the point of view of someone with my travel style.

That aside, on to Estremoz itself!  We spent three nights there and if you have a car I would recommend it as a really pleasant place to stay and relax. First, the food. On the first night we had dinner near the castle at São Rosas.  We just wanted something small, and got that, and it was delicious and nicely served, but dear god was it expensive.  We didn't go back, opting the second night to turn to Lonely Planet for ideas.  We ended up at Adega do Isaias, which everyone loved.  We ate there again the third night.  My father-in-law called it one of his favorite things from the trip.  The second night D and I had migas, which is different from the Tex-Mex egg dish. It was a garlicky bread pudding with ribs.  Amazing.  This was also where we discovered açorda, a bread soup with tons of garlic and cilantro and a poached egg.  I'm not a huge cilantro fan (soap, yes), but this soup may start me on the road to conversion.  We make it regularly at home now.  We'd love to make the migas, too, but that's a more serious undertaking!

The town itself is very small and quiet - probably the quietest place we encountered during the entire trip.  Many of the streets and sidewalks are paved entirely in marble, which was readily available in the area.  One funny thing about the town was that there seemed to be a zillion dogs living there, and they would all bark at all hours of the day.  From the castle you could hear it all!  Our last morning there was a Saturday, and there was a weekly market in the center of town.  A lot of it was just the usual produce and such, but they were also selling live animals both as pets and as food!  Caged birds did seem to be very popular as pets in Portugal.  As for the food animals, I guess they're fresh that way!
Estremoz Nov 2012

Borba
We'd specifically scheduled the Alentejo portion of our trip for these particular dates so we could attend the All Saints' Fair in Borba, which was noted online and in Lonely Planet as happening on November 1 & 2.  I was expecting maybe some cool parades and interesting food stands, but it turns out the fair is actually just a really big market!  There were a couple streets of food stalls selling nuts, olives, cheese, bread, sausage, and fruit, and then a massive field full of stalls selling cheap clothes, shoes, hats, and kitchen supplies.  Despite the lack of parade it was really fun to poke around.  D ended up getting what's become his trademark hat, a Portuguese flat cap, for only 10 Euro, and we also got a square baking dish in a size we hadn't seen here.  Then, with his parents, we got some cheese, meat, bread, olives, and wine, packed it all up in the car, and drove to nearby Elvas to have a picnic with a view over an incredible 16th-century aqueduct.  The town of Elvas itself also sounds interesting but I don't think we quite realized how much so at the time, so we didn't go in.
Borba & Elvas Nov 2012

Évora
The town of Évora is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most-visited place in Portugal, so we made sure to set aside a full day to check it out while we were staying in Estremoz. To be honest it was slightly less amazing than I'd been imagining from the descriptions, but still worthy of a visit.  I think we'd have appreciated it more if we'd stayed there overnight and gotten more embedded.  It seemed more touristy than other places we'd been, with entire streets given over to cork purses, cork postcards, tablecloths that would be really cool if they didn't say "PORTUGAL" on them, and other souvenirs.  Still, these shops managed to maintain a certain charm...we bought postcards at a couple of them and instead of sticking them in little shopping bags they wrapped them up in torn-out magazine pages!

Évora's main attractions include huge stretches of old aqueduct, Roman temple ruins, and a chapel decorated with bones.  Bone chapels are always a hit with me, and this one didn't disappoint.  We were lucky to make it in - we saw a tour group approaching it and we ran half a block to get in ahead of them.  Turned out they were about to close and only let the group in as a favor - and we blended into the group to get admission.  It has less of a reliquary feel than the bone chapel at St. Ursula's in Cologne.  The inclusion of two corpses hanging from a wall ups the creepiness factor considerably!  The Roman ruins were kind of small - more of a thing you walk by than really visit.  The aqueduct is especially cool because several buildings and shops are built right into it.  Supposedly you can also walk on top of it, but we didn't find any entry points during our brief visit.  We did have to work in a few minutes for pastries, after all!

Outside of Évora there are many megaliths - standing stones and tombs from thousands of years BC.  We picked up a free map describing the locations from a tourist info office in town.  Between those and Lonely Planet's directions we managed to find a couple of megaliths we wanted to see.  At the Almendres Cromlech, a particularly big group, we enjoyed a picnic lunch amidst the cork and olive trees and ancient rocks.  The cork tree groves were one of my favorite parts of the trip.  The trees are very pretty and in various stages of growth; they are harvested every 9 years and marked with numbers to indicate when they were last harvested.  Those that are freshly harvested are bright red!  As for olive trees, I love the color of the leaves and huge groves of them are gorgeous.  After lunch and wandering amidst the rocks a bit, we had - of course - more pastries in a tiny shop in a tiny, tiny town on the way back to the highway.  Man, writing all these posts is making me really hungry.
Évora Nov 2012

TL;DR: Portalegre meh, Estremoz lovely, Évora 80% as awesome as it sounds, Borba fair turned out to be market. Click on photo albums for summarized version of all we saw.
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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Travelogue: Day Trip from Coimbra - Tomar

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In the area between Lisbon and Coimbra there are not one, not two, but three old UNESCO-recognized convents and monasteries: in Tomar, Batalha, and Alcobaça.  We could only visit one, and all of them sounded equally fascinating to me.  D tipped the scale to Tomar's Convento de Cristo due to its connections with the Knights of Templar, and we were off.  We visited Tomar on our way from Coimbra to Estremoz (in the east-central part of Portugal) but it could be easily done as a day trip from Coimbra.

The convent is a great example of the Portugal-specific Manueline architecture, which is sort of a softer, less serious version of Gothic architecture. On the seriousness scale you can see already in the thumbnail below where this place falls!  One column on the church had a belt on it!  The church had a bit of a nautical theme, and the lichens growing all over it somehow added to that feel.  We spent a good part of the morning wandering the halls, dormitories, and cloisters of the convent, then stopped for a pastry at the cafe.  This is where D and I had our first experience with the glorious dessert that is chocolate salami.

Check out the pictures for more details about the church.  Tomar is definitely worth a couple hours of your time if you're in the area!

Tomar Okt 2012
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Friday, January 11, 2013

Coimbra Travelogue

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From the Douro, we contined on to Coimbra. We were attracted by descriptions of steep hills, amazing university buildings, and students walking around town wearing capes. I booked at an adorable B&B that was recommended by every source ever and in an awesome location.  D and I liked it very much (except the showers...they seem to always be a gamble in Europe) but his parents unfortunately did not.  Just another example of the very different traveling styles people can have!  Some prefer more charm, some prefer more space. In the room there was free water and port and our room had a wonderful view over the whole city. 

We headed out for dinner at a restaurant recommended by our hostess.  It was located in another Pension at the bottom of the giant hill that we were staying on.  I seemed to get lucky in that my food - a shrimp and scallop dish - was amazing, but the restaurant was another massive and obvious disappointment for my in-laws.  (Note this was also my birthday so maybe luck was just on my side! Then again, maybe not...before dinner my brand new coat got pooped on by one of Coimbra's many, many pigeons!)  I have to admit that during the trip, their disappointment in things I enjoyed often left me feeling like a dumb young poor person who is too easily impressed.  I suppose on the opposite side they may have felt old and boring when D & I wanted to run around more than they did, even though we never thought of them that way.  I think we managed to strike a good balance of their stuff and our stuff throughout the trip, though.  Even when traveling with others causes frustration for one of the parties, it's worth the new insights you get on the different ways travel can be enjoyed!

End of digression!

We spent one full day in Coimbra, first visiting the old buildings on the university campus.  Most notably these include a library, Biblioteca Joanina, which is inhabited by bats which eat any insects that could damage the old books within!  We did see some students in capes.  Some were engaging in hazing-like activities, which I unfortunately didn't get a picture of.  Others were out on the campus trying to sell official photo books - photos aren't allowed in any of the buildings - and fado (a type of Portuguese music) CDs to tourists!  I was a bit surprised the university had these kids out there in official attire trying to make tourist bucks, but they were all really nice and helpful (even though we didn't buy anything).

We split up from D's family and after checking out the university we continued on to the botanical garden nearby, which definitely had an air of former glory about it.  It could use some upkeep, but had some nice settings nonetheless.  We stopped for lunch at a cafe near the Old Cathedral, where D had some kind of cod and egg dish that was really good and I had delicious calimari!  We poked around the beautiful cathedral, which is filled with mosaic tiles, and ran into a British guy who wanted us to explain, as Americans, why things always get really bad when the US is hit by big hurricanes.  Sandy was in progress that day. Sometimes Europeans really do not seem to get natural disasters, as lucky for them, they are much more unusual here!

Wandering the neighborhoods around the university, we came across tons of repúblicas - student houses with various themes, much like frats.  They were often covered in graffiti and had appliances - blenders, computer keyboards, and blow dryers - hanging off the facades or out the windows!  Even though I made the frat comparison, wandering the streets full of these didn't feel anything like walking down frat row or like any other place I've been.  It was something special.

We ducked out of a sudden downpour into a bakery where we sampled yet more new goodies.  Several pastries we saw in Coimbra came with some yellow shredded bits on them which turned out to be an egg yolk and sugar candy!  They are masters of the egg!  Afterward we found ourselves on a narrow pedestrian street filled with shops with well-dressed, attentive shopkeepers selling house dresses, baby clothes, shoes, and all kinds of stuff we didn't need but kinda wished we did.

For dinner we met up with my in-laws again and had pizza at a restaurant where my father-in-law had seen some business people eating earlier in the day, which he took to be a good sign.  I had been craving pizza, and they had a brilliant idea to put pepperoni and pineapple together on a pizza.  So delicious.  Shoot, I'm hungry now...

TL;DR: Coimbra is really worth a trip, especially if you enjoy hills and academics!  I hope the photos prove it!

Coimbra Okt 2012
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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Travelogue: Day Trips from Porto

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Braga
We took the rental car to Braga from Porto, although there are also trains.  Our first stop was Braga's beautiful old cathedral, where photos are not allowed.  I found out by trying to take one and getting yelled at.  After a pastry stop we wandered around town.  Braga had some of the most interesting tiles on the buildings of any city we visited.  We then drove out to Bom Jesus, a pilgrimage site on top of a hill near Braga.  I think this can also be reached by bus, but if you want to squeeze as  much into the day as we did a car makes it easier.  Bom Jesus came highly recommended and it lived up to that.  The site is a church at the top of the hill, with a massive winding stairway full of statues and fountains leading up to it. See the photos:
Braga Okt 2012

Ponte de Lima
For the sake of convenience we had a really mediocre lunch at the cafe near Bom Jesus, then moved on to Ponte de Lima - "Bridge of Lima" - which is a town situated at exactly that.  There is a long bridge, originating in part from Roman times, over the shallow river Lima.  It sounded really nice in our guidebook and in my in-laws', but we found the town a bit disappointing.  It's the kind of place that throws a big parking lot right in front of the best view of its main attraction and pipes in Muzak over speakers hidden in the street lamps.  We stayed long enough to cross the bridge and poke around a church, then headed back to Porto for more wine drinking and eating. :)
Ponte de Lima Okt 2012
Douro Valley 
The next day we drove out to the Douro Valley to see the vineyards.  We did this on our way to our next stop, Coimbra, but it's also doable as a day trip from Porto.  Visiting this area was a bit tricky because we had limited time and it's not really the kind of place you want to visit in a hurry.  Right before we left I saw gorgeous pictures from the valley on Ali Adventures and wanted, very badly, to see a view just like that and be able to stop and enjoy it.  We never found this view, but did have some other gorgeous views, although mostly from in the car.  Unlike Germany we couldn't figure out an easy place to pull over and walk around in a vineyard (my favorite vineyard activity) - or our brave drivers were just too frustrated by the windy roads to want to try.

We read that one should "stop at a quinta" in the valley to drink some wine, but we had a hard time finding any that were open or seemed to be meant for stopping at.  We took a bumpy dirt road out to one that had "tourism" signs pointing to it, but when we got there they acted like they had no idea what we were doing there.  Off-season, maybe?  We did eventually find a "quinta" to stop at but it only had a shop, no tastings.  D and the in-laws bought stuff just to have the "experience" of buying something at a "quinta" and we stopped looking for something better at that point.

After a stop in Lamego we tried to go back to the Douro to find that view, but the light was fading fast and we never did.  Regardless, what we did see was beautiful and I would love to spend some more time there so we could really enjoy it - not just from a car!
Douro Okt 2012
Lamego
We went down to Lamego, a bit away from the Douro, just for lunch, but once out of the car my in-laws wanted to stay out of it for a while, so we ended up spending several hours there.  Lamego is home to another pilgrimage church with a massive staircase climbing up to it.  D and I went up to check it out while his parents went to visit the cathedral in the middle of town.  While we were walking up, we got a text from his mom saying, "I can't get out of this church!"  She had a recent history of having spent 40 minutes in a relatively unspectacular church in Porto...that morning actually, while we were all in the car waiting because she was only going to take 15 minutes...so we thought this was a joke about how much she liked the church and an encouragement to check it out ourselves when we got back down.  We laughed and continued on our way.  Fifteen minutes later, while at the top of the hill having a look around, we got another text: "Seriously, I am locked inside the cathedral." His dad had no working cell phone but it seemed he was not with her.  We booked it back into town, where we found my father-in-law dozing on a park bench - he had no idea she was locked in and just thought she was taking a long time like she had that morning.  We all walked around the cathedral trying to find a way in.  When we did find an open door on a building attached to the cathedral, we went in to try to find help.  No one spoke English, so D tried to make do with the remainder of his high-school French and seemed to get the message across.  Meanwhile, D's dad had found an English speaker outside to try to get information from too.  We both found the same amusing result: no one seemed to think it was a big deal that she was trapped in the cathedral!  They told us "well, it opens again at 3pm"!  By this point it was after 2pm but it still seemed crazy that no one either had a key or was willing to talk to someone who did.  Somehow, my mother-in-law found her way out, just before the mother of someone one of us talked to decided to call the police!  We figured the whole situation called for some pastries, which we got somewhere near the castle and enjoyed before heading back to the Douro.
Lamego Okt 2012
TL;DR: Braga was cool, Ponte de Lima sucked, we didn't spend enough time on the Douro, and the people of Lamego don't get fussed about being locked in churches. Check out the photos! Up next: Coimbra!
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