Wandered through the countryside on our was to Evora. Saw tons of vineyards, cows, rolling fields. Scenery like you wouldn't believe.

Fell in love with the vineyards. Considered returning with one or two plants...



more Knights Templar

Almourol Castle was a Knights Templar stronghold, although it never saw military action. Located on a small island in the middle of the Tagus River.


Convento de Cristo

The Convent of the Order of Christ was previously a castle of the Knights Templar of Tomar. Built in the 1100s, the castle became the headquarters of the Knights Templar in Portugal. Once the Knights Templar were suppressed in 1312, and the King of Portugal allowed the Order to reconvene as the Order of Christ, under the rule of the Portugese throne.

The grounds were fantastic. You could see the vineyards, where they grew crops, and kept their animals.

I've been in a ton of castles, but never one that was in such great shape - or maintained the integrity of the original design.

The inside was incredible - although the maps and signage were typical of Portugal. (really unhelpful) All in all, one of the more incredible sights in Portugal.



Palácio Nacional da Pena

Expanded and rebulit in the 1800s, Pena Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site... Amazingly detailed and ornate carvings and decoration. The castle was built on the site of a monastery - and an appearance of the Virgin Mary. She apparently had a thing for Portugal. Must have been the wine...

There were some fantastic gargoyles. Kinda cute, actually. Wee G decided that he wanted to be a gargoyle when he grows up...



Peniche and a lackluster market

So, the guidebook had lovely things to say about this monthly market in Peniche, a small town that used to be an island. After discovering that the market was pretty much a flea market selling underwear and shoes, we wandered around town and explored the coast.

Really, really beautiful. You can see where the water receded in the 15th century and allowed access from the mainland.

We drove along the dirt coast road - there are some beautiful views and trails leading down to the water. Of course, I couldn't get near any of them - Mom had a panic attack every time I got close to the edge. There was whimpering...

And apparently some concern about lemmings jumping.

The bonus of the day was the "Auto-Road" - gotta love it. Limited access pay roads with a speed limit of 120 km/h. Of course, if you were silly enough to go 120, you were in serious danger of being road kill. 145 to 150 seemed to be acceptable, but I was still passed like I was standing still...



We met Papa (the penguin on the left). The aquarium has bands on their wings and a chart so that you can identify the penguins. It was very cool.

We also made friends with the otters - they are so cute. So very cute. Apparently, we caught them in the middle of either dinner or a pedicure. Not sure which.

After the aquarium, we had an adventure drive down into downtown. Driving in Portugal is never dull.

A very interesting afternoon exploring St. Jorge's castle and downtown. Fabulous dinner before the longest drive home. Let's just say that D isn't the best navigator when drunk. Amusing, however. Very amusing.


fishes and sharks and divers, oh my!

We headed into Lisbon for the day... First stop was the Aquarium.

Wee G loved it. He made special friends with Vasco the Diver. There were live divers in the tank, cleaning the rocks and feeding the fish. I think Wee G wants to be a scuba diver when he grows up.



Welcome to Portugal

Mom and I met K&D and the wee G in Colares, Portugal. We rented a villa for a week. There were birds of paradise growing outside the front door.

Quite lovely, although the villa itself was decorated in glass and white plastic. Although, K felt right at home. Apparently, New Jersey in the eighties and Portugal today have a great deal in common.



back to the blog...

It's been a busy year and half, but I'm still alive. I promise.

As a welcome back to blog world, I give you the following... And shall endeavor to update more often.

"We Bring Democracy To The Fish" by Donald Hall

It is unacceptable that fish prey on each other.
For their comfort and safety, we will liberate them
into fishfarms with secure, durable boundaries
that exclude predators. Our care will provide
for their liberty, health, happiness, and nutrition.
Of course all creatures need to feel useful.
At maturity the fish will discover their purposes.