Central Portugal – Off the Tourist Trail

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Tomorrow I am flying off to France for a week,to catch up with some good friends, who I have not seen for ages .

I am travelling light and am unable to fit in my laptop. Unlike so many people I know, I have yet to get an i phone ( i only got the internet and a landline at the house last week ) .Therefore, i might not manage to write until I get back.
Bye for now , I will be back in 8 days time !



Trying to understand my new telephone

I have had my land line phone for 5 days now, and a couple of days ago I decided that i should get to grips with the basics of how it works. I had no idea if i had had a missed call , or how to put numbers into the address book ( if it had one) how to change the language etc . So I made a cup of tea and tried to read the Portuguese manuel . After 2 cups of tea and half a packet of biscuits, I realized that my reading ability is still about age 5, so I decided to Google the manuel in English. After numerous key word searches I came to the conclusion that the manuel does not exist in English. It seems this model of phone is only sold in Portugal, and so there is no need.
Still , I did not give up. I copied and pasted the manuel into Google translate and then saved it as a word document. It is not perfect, as the icons are missing ,but if you read it alongside the Portuguese manuel it is understandable.  I have now been able to change the language to English, added names to my address book , changed the ringtone, and more besides.
So, If there are other English speaking people living in Portugal with a SAGECOM D22T cordless phone, and you can’t understand the manuel ,  then give Google translate a shot , or let me know and I can e- mail it to you .

Happy communicating .

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Autumn trees in Gois

The weather suddenly changed last week, and although I know it is October and was expecting it to become Autumnal, the overnight drop in temperature caught me unawares. I went to bed on Friday night and woke in the night feeling cold. When I got out of bed in the morning, the temperature was in single figures. It had been in double figures for so long, that I was rummaging around trying to find something more substantial to wear, other than shorts and t shirt .
My feather duvet has been put back on the bed, and my jeans and jumpers and body warmers are back in the wardrobe.

Bye, Bye, Summer , Hello Autumn .

This will be my second Autumn in Portugal ,and I am looking forward to doing some stuff that only happens at this time of year.

1.Wrapping up in my scarf, hat and boots and going for walks ithrough the woods. Treading on the springy fallen leaves and mimosa seed pods.
2.Picking sweet chestnuts,( or buying them in the shops) cooking them on my wood burner, then eating them warm, whilst watching a good movie

3.Sitting in front of my fire watching the flames , enjoying the heat, with a glass of Gingre and a bar of dark chocolate
4.Walking to the nearby café/ bar on a frosty morning for a hot milky coffee
5.Making a huge pot of vegetable soup, for my lunch (and the next few days lunches as well)
6.Taking photos of the beautiful red, gold, and brown of the trees, the misty hills and the strange looking fungi that pop up at this time of year .

What do you enjoy doing in Autumn, that you can’t do in the other seasons ?

A misty Autumn morning, looking from my house to Ponte Sotao

I am appreciating having 4 seasons again, (after 6 years of living in the Canaries, ) and enjoying what the different time of year brings. Yes, even the rain ! ( although I can’t say it is a favourite)
Although I will always prefer sun to rain, I accept that without the wet stuff, this area would not be so lush and green. I would not be picking fresh figs, lemons, and chestnuts off the trees in the village. There wouldn’t be so many beautiful colourful spring flowers, fragrant herbs, and cute baby animals in the Spring. Without the rain in Autumn and Winter there would not be all the wonderful river beaches to enjoy in the Summer .

So wherever you are, I hope you are making the most of whatever season you’re in, and enjoying what it has to offer.



Last week, I went to the phone shop to sort out getting internet at my house . As I live in a small village, fiber optic, dongles and the like, are not possible. I would first need to have a phone line put in ,and then I would be able to have the internet connection.

I thought it might take a few weeks, but SAPO ( the internet company ) sent me a message the day after I filled in the paperwork, with an appointment to install the phone and internet . I was quite impressed, as I only had to wait 4 days. Then on Monday, I got a phone call making it a day earlier. I was double impressed. After 6 years of dealing with Telefonica in Spain , I was not used to things happening this quickly

Yesterday( Tuesday) the technician arrived, and after a quick walk around the village, it became apparent that before I could have a phone line and phone, the village needed to have a telephone pole erected.

I was a bit disappointed that it was not possible yesterday, and thought that realistically it would be sorted before the end of the month.

How wrong was I !

I was still in my pyjamas at 8.15 am this morning ,when the men from PT ( Portuguese Telecom) were knocking on my door. Wow that was quick !

My own telephone pole

They dug through the rocky ground, put up the pole, sorted out the cables, connected everything inside and out, and got me on line by 12.30. I was gobsmacked. ( in fact I still am a bit )

I cannot praise PT and the people from SAPO enough. They have been brilliant !

Now it will be easier to keep in touch with friends and family, check my mail , find out what is happening in the world, and  keep you up to date with what is happening here in Central Portugal.

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Grapes, wine and aguadente .

The grapes on my terrace, ready for picking .

Over the last week I have been busy entertaining my mum and dad who are here on holiday . We have been doing a bit of sightseeing , enjoying picnics and BBQ’s in the sunshine, and overindulging on the local food and wine.
It has been quite a busy week for many people in my village also, as the grapes were ready for picking this week.
I am not sure why it was this weekend that it was the “right time”. They have looked and smelled ready to me for ages. But everyone had the same idea, and friends and relatives arrived and spent the day filling up big plastic containers with grapes, before carting them away to be made into wine and aguadente .Most people seems to have vines dotted around, and after a busy couple of days they had all been picked.
Even I have a couple of small vines that grow like crazy between my houses, and on my terrace. I have kept them, as they provide fantastic shade, and are lovely to sit under in the Summer. When the grapes are ripe my neighbour Manuel picks them to add to his. In return he prunes the vines back when it is time ,and brings me a few gifts in return, such as eggs, fruit, veg , and the occasional bottle of “ fire water” also known as aguadente, made from distilling the liquid from the skins and seeds.
The other day he brought over a bottle that he had made from last year’s grapes, for my dad to try. Dad tried a tiny bit, and was soon coughing and gasping as it burned its way down. He could not believe it was possible to make something so strong from grapes!
I am not sure what percentage proof it is, but it tastes much stronger than anything else I have ever tasted. Imagine grappa, vodka, schnapps and absinthe in a glass and you are somewhere close. Real rocket fuel!
I have put the bottle alongside the bottles of Port, Martini and wine, just in case anyone visiting ever wants to try it. I think it may be there for a long time! The only time I pour some, is when I need antiseptic to put on cuts and insect bites. It works a treat!!!
But as for drinking it, I say Nao obrigada !

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A Day in Lisbon

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Although I have been living in Portugal for over a year, I have never visited Lisbon. At the weekend I went to collect my mum and dad from Lisbon airport and decided to stay over, and have a day of sightseeing with them, before heading back up North.

  We stayed in the seaside resort of Estoril, ( about 20 kms away from the capital) and travelled in by train. I thought I would see more, and it would be less stressful than trying to drive around Lisbon.

 Trains run about every half an hour, following the coast line for most of the way. On the way we passed a suburb called Belém. In Portugal’s Golden Age, over 500 years ago, Belém was where the big ships set off on voyages of discovery .It looked a lovely area, with several museums, historical monuments, and parks. It is somewhere I hope to visit in the future.

From the train we saw the Torre de Belém, a small, ornate  fortress build in 1515, as well as getting a good view of  the 2 km long iron bridge ( inspired by the Golden gate bridge in San Francisco) spanning the  River Tagus. We also spotted a big statue of Jesus Christ, on the other side of the river, modelled on the one in Rio de Janeiro. After about 25/ 30 mins we arrived at Cais do Sodre station, and from there we caught the Metro.

There is a lot to see in Lisbon, I think to do it justice it would take around 4 days. As we only had a day, we had a leisurely wander around the Baixa and Avenida area . We caught the Metro to the Praca do Pombal at the top of the  Rua de Libertade and then walked down the  long tree lined street, packed with expensive designer shops ,to the bottom ( Baixa).

The Baixa area was devastated in an Earthquake in 1755 , and was entirely rebuilt . The Marquis de Pombal rebuild it on a grid system, and named different streets after different traders. We saw  Shoemaker street and  Gold and Silver street where there was still a  jewellers shop .Many of the streets had  black and white mosaic  stone footpaths, the whole area was nice and clean ,and felt safe to wander around.

We passed through  several squares( pracas) with historical monuments, and saw some beautiful buildings such as the Rossia station, and  the National Theatre. We saw the Santa Justa elevator; a strange  Neo gothic iron structure, which takes you from the Baixo area up  to the  Bairrio Alta district ,32 metres  above.

After a few stops for tea and cakes along the way, we finally found ourselves almost at the sea, on Rua Augusta. This was one of my favourite areas .There were some lovely old shop fronts and lots of pavement cafes and bars, and a lively atmosphere.

After our long walk we had a nice rest in the sunshine, and a glass of wine, before catching the train back to Estoril.

I  will definitely re visit Lisbon, as there are several museums and art galleries I would like to visit, as well as spending time in the Belém, and Bairra Alto areas.

Next time I  think I will take the train down from Coimbra, and stay in the centre of Lisbon. That way I can see what it has to offer in the evening.