Saturday, March 14, 2020

Winding down, whining down, wine-ing down??

Our plans for today were pretty simple.  Breakfast, write a bit, pack, and then walk to the Crystal Palace Gardens. But what a walk, flat at first and then all uphill. So off we went. Flat, yes and then we turn here, then here, and now up hill, up hill, up hill.  He says, “Are you having fun?”
I say, “Do you want the truth?”
He says, “Yes.”
I say, “No.”
And then the lecture starts; “you said you want to lose weight. How are you going to lose if you don’t exercise? It’s good for you. What’s with the whining?”
Now mind you, I am not whining. I can’t breath so how can I be whining? Ok, so once in awhile, a long sigh escapes, but whining?  No!

Next our discussion about truth. Do you want it or not? And up we go...

At the top, finally.
That sign says closed. Reopening April 3rd, according to the guard that we spoke with. He also said it was good we were leaving because on Monday almost everything will be closed.
PS We walked about 4 1/2 miles. 👍

Now his version—
Thought I was done writing for this trip but have been commanded to write yet again. I feel like the male half of the Bickersons. After reading Cindy’s post—see what I have to put up with? Out of the goodness of my heart, I try to do things to help her get and stay healthy but it’s an uphill battle, just like our walk.  She goes kicking and screaming the entire way!! We’ve been together 24/7 for almost 2 months now. So we’re hoping for a return flight with lots of empty seats...get it? 🤣
Hope to be in Bloomington late Sunday nite 3/15. Ignore any welts or bruises you may notice on either one of us.  Think I’ll be sleeping in the crawl space for awhile.

One last note from Cindy—the above is just what you think it is, baloney. However, we do have our boarding passes so at least one sentence in the above paragraph is true. 😎

Friday, March 13, 2020

All Packed But Still Getting Out There

We are three days away from getting on a plane to Chicago but we are still enjoying some beautiful days in Porto.  The skies are blue and sitting in the sun is a real pleasure.
From the Terrace of our room
The room before we messed it up
We’ve walked across the bridge both ways— on the bottom and then yesterday across the top.
At the top
The Bridge 
Walking across the bottom tier of the bridge
We’ve taken the gondola both ways and stopped to sample port.

At Calem Port 
We’ve visited a sheep farm and a creamery that makes artisanal cheese.  As I was taking photos of the sheep and lambs I could hear Kristen saying, “You don’t have to go all the way to Portugal to photograph sheep!”

George the owner and his daughter-in-law who guided us in the process and in the fields

We’ve walked from the Ribeira to Catarina Street and back.

We’ve stopped here and there for a sip of wine or two.

In a few minutes, we’ll leave for a walk to the Crystal Palace Gardens.

We’re packed and ready to go with clothes laid out for tomorrow and the plane ride home. We’re hoping for the best so cross your fingers for us or do whatever you think might bring us home in one piece. Can I have an amen!?

We do a lot of planning ourselves but we also have been using Travel Leaders in Bloomington, Indiana for a few years now. Debbie, our travel agent has kept us out of a few scrapes in the past. This time she has been more than invaluable, taking our phone calls and answering our panicked questions. The fee is minimal compared to having someone to help you out of tough spots. We would highly recommend this as you never know when you might need some help that you can’t get from a website.
Kudos, applause, and many thanks, Debbie! 
The (probably) final Gospel of Dennis from Portugal:
(“Hack, hack, cough-sneeze”) Just kidding, I’m feeling fine. We leave Porto on the morning of March 15 and hope to be back in Chicago that afternoon as we pick up five hours on the return trip.  Don’t quite know what to expect in the USA but we may be required to self impose a 14 day quarantine on ourselves??? If we do, as soon as we hit Front Nine, we’re gonna throw a party and invite everyone over for drinks. What? That defeats the purpose of a quarantine? I know some of you drinkers would take me up on it. 😀 (Note from Cindy—will not even consider this idea)
This will be a clue that we’re back: the garage door will be up.  If after a day or two the door is still up but you detect no movement inside or outside, call the sheriff or fire department and have them do a safety check.  If you’re brave enough, you can do a personal check.  All of our money is buried in a large crock in the back garden—13 steps off the lower deck step south and 4 steps north.  An X marks the spot on the ground, 3 feet down.  Take any unopened wine in the house too. Leave the new underwear I just bought for me in the next life.  See you soon!
Somewhere around here, maybe.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Rain in Spain, Didn’t Fall This Weekend

We’ve just spent the weekend in Plasencia, Spain with Ana Sanchez, her husband,Pedro and their three children: Isabel. Pablo, and Jorge plus her parents Juli and Mari and older brother Juli. What a time we had! It began on Friday night at Juli and Mari’s hone for a scrumptious dinner with Juli II doing his best to translate for all of us. Ana,Pedro, and kids joined us, after driving in from Madrid. 
With Pablo
Pedro, Jorge, Dennis, Juli, Mari, Isabel
Mari, Isabel, Juli II, Ana
Before I go too far, a note from the gospel of Dennis: we picked up the car in Porto from a great Alamo service attendant, Daniel.   Cindy wasn’t sure if we were in the right place so she asked him. Daniel’s answer, “If you’re here to order a pizza it’s the wrong place but if you want a car, this is the place.”  He gave us an upgrade to an automatic with a GPS, for free.  Right place!

We made it out of Porto pretty easily. There wasn’t much traffic as we were going out of the city and everyone else seemed to be going in. Soon we were out in the country. Sometimes we were on 2 lanes but the roads were perfect. 
On Our Way to Spain

Very little traffic but I think we went through a thousand tolls.

In about 4 hours we were in Plasencia. We could not find our way into the walled city so it took us about 2 hours to find our hotel. I finally pulled over by a gate into the city, got out, closing the door gently and walked through the gate. About 50 feet from the gate was a hostel. I sent Cindy in to find out where our hotel was. She got a map, directions. Told me to wait there. She walked 2 blocks to the Palácio, got great directions from reception, walked back to me and got us to the hotel. Once the car was in the gated lot (for 6 cars) I told her it was there until we left on Monday. We took a taxi to Juli & Mari’s. 

Back to Plasencia with Cindy:
Saturday morning the ten of us were off for an adventure. They wanted us to see a quaint and unusual village. Morgarraz is a medieval village of typical Salamanca design but with portraits of past inhabitants on the buildings painted by Florencio Maillo. 
The boys!

The end of the village ends in a sunny plaza where we stopped to have drinks.
Dennis, “I wish I had enough Spanish so Juli and I could just sit and bullshit.”

Then back up the hill to the car for a drive to another picturesque village for lunch. I don’t know how these professional travel bloggers come up with new words for picturesque, beautiful, amazing, wonderful.  They must carry a thesaurus in their brains. But this little village was charming.

After a lovely lunch, we drove to the top of the mountain to a sanctuary with incredible views of the valley which I was able to enjoy once they pried me out of the car after ascending this mountain. In my defense it was a very steep drop with few guard rails, not that they would have done much good.

A final stop at La Posada Del Casar, a rural hotel and bar/restaurant owned by Ana’s cousin, Ruben.

And then one more stop at Juli & Mari’s for a last bit of Jamon and then we rolled to the hotel.
Sunday we strolled around Plasencia. I found a couple of outfits for Dennis and I but he refused.

There was a jamon contest of some kind in the Plaza Mayor so we had to try some and then onto a bar near the hotel for drinks and tapas before lunch!

Then a gorgeous lunch of paella and chicken cordon blue, once again at Juli & Mari’s.  Now do you believe me—I’m going to need a seat belt extender on the flight home!   

A beautiful night, our last night in Spain...

 Bonita Noches, Adios...