A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Portugal Trip - Part 1

Ed and I had a wonderful time in Portugal - and we're both very happy to be back home. As much as I love Europe, there's nothing like the good old US of A for creature comforts.

Our flight over there was destined to be a long one. A 3-hour stop in New York and then a 6-hour layover in London. Ed was concerned that he wouldn't be able to sleep enough on the plane (never a problem for me) and thought about taking a sleeping pill. Since we don't have any around the house, and I'm not a big fan of sleeping pills, I suggested that he take one of my Dramamine and that might help him sleep. I didn't tell him I had the "less drowsy" kind...

Well, he took one and woke up four days later! Man, talk about the power of suggestion. He slept on the plane and this is how he spent much of the six hours we had in London. Now, Heathrow isn't exactly a relaxing airport. There are 4 million people milling about (and, no, I'm not exaggerating), stores and restaurants everywhere. Very noisy. But Ed slept right through it.

We spent the first night in Lisbon where we had our first Portuguese Grilled Fish dinner. The bad part is that you get the whole fish - head and tail and bones. The good part is that it is absolutely delicious! With every fish meal, no matter where you eat, you get boiled potatoes, and boiled carrots. Sounds pretty boring, but they are amazingly good. Drizzle a little olive oil on the whole batch and it's close to heaven. Ed took this photo after we had polished off our first meal. By the way, we had grilled fish for dinner every night but one, and for lunch almost every day. Just couldn't get enough.

The next day we flew to Madeira which is a small island off the coast of Portugal. It's where Ed's grandparents are from and quite an amazing island. Very tropical. Ed probably has relatives still over there, although he doesn't know of any of them. So imagine our surprise when one of his distant cousins met us at the airport!

No, no - just kidding. That's not really one of his relatives. Our room was in a resort area on the coast. This is the view from our balcony. Not bad, eh!

Apparently Madeira is quite the vacation spot for people from England. The resort was full of them! We went to a "welcome breakfast" the next morning and were the only two people in the room without white hair. Many of these people have been coming to this resort for several years. Over the last year, due to economic issues, the resort has had to make some cutbacks. Like no fresh flowers in the rooms, no maid duty on Sunday. I know, a living hell for some. Well, it was for some of these Brits. One man, in particular, voiced a loud protest that his favorite maid was no longer there, and he was quite irate that services had been cut and some of the service staff may have lost their jobs. Then he said, "I don't mind less maid service, or needing to take out our own rubbish. My wife can handle those tasks...." When he said that, Ed had to hold me back. His WIFE can do it!!!

After that crisis was over, we took a walk into Funchal which is the main town on the island. It's very interesting in Portugal. Almost all of the sidewalks and plazas are made with white and black stones, 1-2 inches square. Some areas have pictures made from the stones, others have repetitive patterns. But these stone walkways are everywhere. And really quite lovely.

Also, there is actually a regulation on Madeira that houses are whitewashed and have red tile roofs. Even the older homes have to have these roofs put on them. So everywhere you go, the houses look the same. The basic house is similar to those in Tuscany - very square with square or rectangular windows. But all have the same roof and all are whitewashed.

We took a couple of tours and on one of them we did a short "levada" walk. A Levada is an irrigation ditch which they have all over the island in varying lengths and widths. And most of them have trials along side of them which are popular with hikers. The one we did was short, but beautiful. It was foggy in the distance and, as the fog lifted, we could see another village right on the coast. The whole scene was breathtaking and photos just don't do it justice.

The two tours we took were really great - our guide was very knowledgeable, the group was small, the lunches were wonderful, and we saw a lot. I'll post more about those - and more photos - in Part 2!


namaste said...

wow! the photos are beautiful and i can still tell that they don't really capture what you and ed saw in person.

LOL! @ ed getting so much sleep with the dramamine pill. so funny!

fish meals every day would be great for me!

oh and the view from your balcony?! AMAZING & BEAUTIFUL!

It's Me said...

would u and ed like to admopt an adult daughter? omg, sandi!! what an awesome vacay!! as for the dramamine incident.....i guess it was too much "drama"mine for him!! LOL!!! that was sooo funny!

ba and the boys said...

i love the wife taking out the trash...she should have taken HIM out!
amazing how beautiful it is! i bet it was even better in person! thank you for posting these-it is a grey snow/rain type day here and that cheered me up!

Jenni said...

That is hilarious about Ed and the Dramamine!

Luz said...

Love the photo of the fish that Ed ate. Too funny! I remember visiting Florence many years ago and eating something similar. I hate flying but do enjoy people watching and airports are perfect for that.