Lisbon, Portugal

Tavira to Lisbon, May 25


^^^Bye street.

Today was the day I had sort of dreaded – the day that we would have to get our Covid tests to meet the “day before” or 24 hour time limit before leaving for the United States. It ended up being easy, thanks to our host who arranged the appointments for us at a clinic in Tavira. Afterwards we hung out for a while at Pastelaria & Padaria Venezuela and had pastries and orange juice, then sat at the train stop a couple of blocks away.


This train trip was uneventful except that I had filled a water bottle with tea and put it in the side pocket of my backpack. Sandy put my backpack up on the rack, the cap to the bottle came off, and tea poured and sprayed all over the place, including on some of the passengers. So we got some paper towels and cleaned the mess up best that we could.  Damn Americans!

I was not monkeying around with walks uphill any more so when we got to Lisboa-Oriente station, I got a taxi to take us a short but steep uphill walk to our next place. It was a converted over-garage studio apartment in a cute neighborhood and was one of the cheapest and most comfortable places we stayed. When we headed downhill to find a place to eat dinner, Sandy asked a passerby her advice. It turned out that she was the cousin of our landlord and she recommended nearby Restaurante Alegria and walked along with us, showing us walking paths that were shortcuts. So friendly and helpful!

Here’s where I talk about the wildflowers in Lisbon – what many people would call weeds. I was so pleased to see an appreciation for letting them grow everywhere. Most of the time I saw them growing in the cracks of the streets, on walls, and on roofs. This lovely path took us through a small meadow of grasses and wildflowers Most people in the U.S. would have seen this as an overgrown vacant lot.

20220525_203816Alegria was a small rock music themed restaurant – they used 33 rpm records for placemats. Sandy had a beef dish and because I was not very hungry, I decided to try the fried codfish balls that you see in snack bars everywhere. I didn’t particularly like them, but what I loved was the rice and beans that they served with them. I could have eaten just that side dish and bread and have been perfectly happy.

We got our negative results through email and hit the sack early during our last night in Portugal.

And the less said about the trip home the next day and the next the better. Let’s just say that we made it home to Greensboro via Dublin and Boston and Newark by Friday night. So many flights were delayed and canceled that we were lucky to get home as soon as we did. I wrote a bit about it here:

We both eventually got our checked luggage. Whew!

And that concludes the story of our 2022 trip to Portugal.

Portugal, Tavira

Tavira, Tuesday, May 24


This was our last full day in Tavira.  We considered going back to a different beach on the back side of the island, but instead we had lunch at an Indian restaurant across the river and then went to a couple of museums.  We talked to the people seated around us – two were sisters from Newfoundland, although one of them lived in Texas. The other couple talked to Sandy about the health care system in Portugal and the process of applying for the D7 visa.20220524_150708

We spent part of the day at the Museu Municipal de Tavira, which included the Palácio da Galeria and the Museu Islamico. We were able to see more of the Phoenician archeology sites that were under the palace that had been converted to the art museum. They were ritual pits, and you viewed them from glass panels over the floor.

Gabriela Albergaria was the featured artist in the contemporary art exhibit named “A Natureza Detesta Linhas Rectas” (“Nature Abhors a Straight Line”), and I adored her work with and about trees.


There was an exhibit about the Mediterranean Diet in Portugal, which I’ve come to understand through experience is quite different and complex. The Portuguese are known for their cuisine, and it varies from region to region in this small country. Language varies in different regions too. For example, I tried to interpret “prego,” which I assumed meant sandwich, on a menu in Évora. It translated to “nail.” Nowhere in my two Portuguese to English dictionaries did it list this word, even in Rick Steves’ food lists.


^^^Now I know what pigeon holes are. I think that there were pigeons in every hole in this wall.

When Sandy was taking a nap in the late afternoon, I walked around by myself and did a bit of shopping. Then I wandered up the hill to check out the walk to the clinic where we had covid tests scheduled for the next morning, and the train station nearby. I loved this solitude, and I discovered some streets off the tourist track. This is when I thought, yes, if we could find a quiet place we could afford away from the tourists, I could see living in this area.


^^^An antique and a view from our living room window.

I bought a handwoven bag at a local gift shop, and I was conflicted about giving up my old bag. I loved the outside pockets on it, but because it had a black interior, everything that went inside was hard to find. I called it “the black hole.” Then I remembered that I had brought a sewing kit with me, so I cut the outside panel with the pockets away from the black hole and stitched it to the new bag, all while polishing off a bottle of wine. As you might guess, I was pretty hammered by the time I finished.



Around 9:30 we walked to a corner restaurant/bar where there was live music. There we had appetizers of bruschetta with cheese and honey and dried fruit outside. It was the perfect last dinner in Tavira.

Portugal, Tavira

Tavira, Monday, May 23


20220523_131503After strolling around a few streets, we ate sushi and Japanese food on a balcony over the river that I had been ogling from our terrace for several days. That’s one shrimp inside that fried wrap – so good! We enjoyed watching all the fish swimming in the river below us.

The museums were closed on Monday, but the castle and its garden was open, so we enjoyed the views and the trees and flowers there. I finally found out the name of the tree with the gorgeous purple flowers we had seen everywhere in Portugal – jacaranda. A lot of bougainvillea flowered everywhere as well. Ongoing archeological digs have found that the base of the castle walls go back to Phoenician settlers.


That night we ate at Zeca da Bica, where the tables wrapped through the alley and around the corner outside. I decided to have another kind of grilled fish – golden bream this time. The cheese that we bought as a side was outstanding. We drank a pitcher of sangria and talked to the couple beside us, who were from Germany.


Portugal, Tavira

Tavira, Saturday, May 21

This was the day that we had originally planned to take a bus to Seville, Spain and spend one night there. I did not regret canceling this side trip. We slept late after not sleeping much the night before.

Sandy went for a Thai massage. His back felt better after that and I wish that he had done something like that earlier in the trip.

I love the way that these clouds mirrored the rows of roofing tiles below.


Yep, these stairs weren’t nearly so bad as the first place in Lisbon!

Across the river there was an old marketplace building and a small craft fair was going on outside of it. I bought a hand painted stone magnet from an artist there.


We ate at a very simple place inside for lunch, and the older woman inside did not understand English at all. So I tried to order a “tosta de queirjo” (grilled cheese sandwich). She popped open a cerveja (beer) and handed it to me. We both eventually got toasted ham and cheese sandwiches but I found it funny.


Sandy sampled the porter that I bought at the craft beer bar downstairs and we decided to sit at the bar and have one together. He went upstairs for something and while I waited for him at the door on the street, the bar started playing YMCA. I started doing the YMCA dance, then I noticed several other women doing it as they walked down our street. Then I looked to my left and a little girl was watching me and doing it too. So I kept smiling and dancing with the little girl until the song ended. Later we ran into each other again and pointed at each other and did a little YMCA again. It was one of the sweetest experiences that I had.

I may be an introvert, but I definitely am not shy.

There was an Irish bar and restaurant with tables beside the river that we decided to try called the Black Anchor. It had a variety of cuisines, so I had chicken satay with peanut sauce and enjoyed it.


I didn’t eat these, but this uncleared table on a sidewalk on the way back captured my attention, as much for the snail shells as for the pattern that the wet glass made on the paper.


Portugal, Tavira

Tavira, Friday, May 20

As I drank my coffee on the roof terrace, I could see that it was going to be difficult to pry myself away from this space above the town. I needed downtime badly.

One of the best moments of my trip happened this morning when I stepped out on the terrace. A small murmuration of swallows swooped so close to me that I heard and felt the whoosh of their collective wings beating. Then I watched them for about 15 minutes as they spun and swooped and lifted as a tight group above our neighborhood. There seemed to be no purpose but the joy of it.


So, we had a low-key day. We wandered around our neighborhood and the riverside. We ate lunch at a great Indian restaurant in our building below. We talked with a young digital nomad from Poland who was seated nearby, and an old woman very aggressively tried to sell me a plastic carton with about eight strawberries in it for five euros. She eventually went down to three euros, but I wasn’t interested in buying and I was mainly amused at how hard she tried to sell them to me. Later that evening we had an unimpressive meal across the river, and I don’t remember anything about it other than I enjoyed the night views over the river.


Since this will be a short post, here’s something about dining out in Portugal.

Portuguese restaurants will not bring you glasses of water. Water comes in bottles, either with or without “gas” and you pay for them. Draft beer was incredibly cheap, but you usually only had the choices of Super Bock and/or Sagres. They were pretty good, and both breweries had good dark beers and stouts if you could find them.

Bread and olives and sometimes pate or cheese or butter are put on your table, but they are not free. If you don’t want them, just let the waiter know and don’t touch them. We usually accepted the bread because it was so good, and often took the cheese and olives.

Tips are not expected, but we tipped whenever the waiters gave good service and/or were friendly, which was most of the time. Tax is included in the prices, so the price you see on the menu is the price you will pay.

And the waiters will not bring you a check until you ask for it. “A conta” (the check) is one of the Portuguese phrases we used most often. When you sit down, they expect you to linger over your meal and drinks and dessert and coffee. There is no push to get you to free up a table.

Évora, Portugal, Tavira

Évora to Tavira, Thursday, May 19

20220519_08145320220519_08483220220519_084914Back on the train in the morning, this time a long trip that changed at the station in Pinhal Nova and again at Faro. On this trip we learned that these kinds of trains, with first class and second class cars, had assigned seats. I chose second class tickets and it was pretty comfortable. You could walk to the bar car and buy drinks and snacks and sandwiches, although I don’t recommend the sandwiches – my chicken salad was a faint smear and a small lettuce leaf between three slices of bread. Sandy’s ham and cheese was slightly better. One snack that I noticed in concessions throughout Portugal was Pringles, which is my guilty travel pleasure. I only allow myself to have them when I travel! From what I’ve read, first class is not much different. There are fewer seats in first class, so I guess you have a bit more room.20220519_092532

The train traveled through beautiful groves of cork oaks, orange, and olive trees. Acres and acres of them.  The photo above is not great because the train window was dirty, but you can see where the bark has been stripped from the tree in front.  I found the cork production fascinating and want to learn more about it. We also traveled through mountains on our way to the coast. At Faro, we changed to the regional train to Tavira.

At the train station, I considered whether we could make the walk downhill to our AirBNB, and decided to hail a taxi driver who was letting off her passengers. This was a major communication fail. After telling her the address, showing her the address, and then showing her a map with the address, she refused to take us, throwing up her hands and the only Portuguese I could understand her saying was that I didn’t understand her. And she pointed at the other woman waiting at the taxi stand and said, “I take you.” I never did figure out why she would not take us. But it was okay. We walked down to the river and took lots of breaks, finally sitting at an outdoor cafe and having drinks and some bread and cheese until it was time to call our host.


The three bedroom apartment we stayed in was as big as our small house. It was an old family place, built in the 19th century, with lots of antiques and family mementos. Two floors up, and then another stairway took us to the roof, where the terrace was for our use alone, with amazing views over Tavira. It also was very hot, but once I opened the windows and the door to the roof, the heat was swept up out of the apartment. After that it was comfortable, and the roof terrace caught the breeze off the river below.

We ended up having to climb lots of stairs at every place we stayed, and that was rough on Sandy. By this time, we both had developed more leg muscle strength and it was tolerable. I hardly felt it any more. In the end, I think this was very good for us.


That evening we decided to eat at an Italian place on the small square up the street from our apartment. Sandy had pasta carbonara and I had bruschetta with prosciutto and cheese and fig jam. We had learned to ask the restaurant staff first thing if they took Visa, because a lot of places took only cash or Portuguese bank cards. A man seated nearby gave the waitress a very hard time about the signage about them not taking Visa, although we found it without asking. Dealing with all these tourists must require the patience of Jesus. And man, were we in the middle of high volume tourism!


On the ground floor beneath our apartment, there was a craft beer bar. It played classic rock/yacht rock mostly from the 70s from around 3 pm until midnight, so there was our musical entertainment. At least it was all music that I could sing along to! The sounds also mingled with the violinist busker at the end of the Roman bridge, the accordion player, the singer who made the rounds of the outdoor restaurants with microphone in hand and hat out, and the church bells that sounded on the hour, along with the voices of many tourists and revelers on the streets.

The view from the roof made it all worth it.


Évora, Portugal, UNESCO World Heritage sites

Évora, Wednesday, May 18

The morning began with an incredible breakfast buffet in the Pousada Convento de Évora hotel restaurant. This photo doesn’t even show it all. We roamed around the hotel’s halls and courtyards and patios and took photos of the views from the hotel and the park on the hilltop.




We wandered down the hill and stopped in some shops, but I put off buying any souvenirs here. Later I regretted it because I didn’t get a magnet for Évora. Sandy bought me a bright blue linen dress. I will do a post later with photos of doors, windows, and graffiti but here are two windows from our walk that morning. The second is paper.


Our goal was to go to the Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos) inside the Royal Church of St. Francis (Igreja e Mosteiro de São Francisco). Now, I was fully prepared to be creeped out by a chapel decorated in a mosaic of real human bones, but after seeing it, I thought, I wouldn’t mind knowing that my bones would be used to create a work of art.


We went into a small museum and into the church, which is active. I would have loved to have gone during a mass. Come to think of it, I have never been to mass. I love the last photo because Jesus and his disciple (I guess) is standing on a base of real cork oak.


We wandered a bit more, had great salads on the square, and then spent the rest of the afternoon napping and reading by the pools at the hotel. The swallows built nests under the balconies on the buildings on the square and we enjoyed watching them pop in and out of their nests. Later I enjoyed watching them play over the pools. That’s our window on the right of the video. 



I think that this one ^^^ might be a nice tapestry design.


We got a bit too relaxed and went back out too late to shop anywhere. We found dinner at Piparoza and gelato. I had duck breast with a raspberry sauce and it was one of the best meals I ate in Portugal. Apparently I was so into it, I didn’t take a photo. Oh well!

My intent for this visit to Évora was mainly to visit the stone circle nearby. Plans change. Maybe another time. There was so much to see.

Évora, Portugal, UNESCO World Heritage sites

Tomar to Évora, Tuesday, May 17

20220517_094851When we left Tomar to travel to Évora after breakfast on the train, we had to go back to Lisbon to connect. (Yes, I put my mask on after this photo!) The station at Lisboa-Oriente was huge and modern. There were lots of levels and shops and cafes and even a farmacia and medical clinic.

Since we had a bit of a wait, I went to the farmacia to buy the equivalent of acetaminophen for my headache. This was a lot different from our pharmacies and drugstores. They are much smaller and what are non-prescription medications in the United States are not on the shelves here. You have to take a number from a machine at the door, and wait for the next pharmacist. There were four of them at this busy farmacia, behind a counter with plexiglass partitions. Another staff member provided customer service in the main part of the store. When I stepped up, I already knew that the name for the same type of medication in Europe was different, so I asked the pharmacist for the equivalent of Tylenol. She knew what I meant and got it for me. Yes, it was less expensive. I also asked about Covid-19 tests, since I had been told that I could get a supervised test at any farmacia for our travel needs. This turned out to be no longer true, and I was referred to the clinic, who told me that I just needed to make an appointment for the day we needed them.


Our train finally appeared on the monitor, so we went up the stairs to sit outside and wait for it. It was about ten minutes before the scheduled departure. That ten minutes came and went, the train number disappeared from the monitor, and a few other concerned people left. We waited another fifteen minutes and Sandy went to the ticket counter to see what was happening. Turned out that there was a scheduled strike and that train had been canceled. What’s more – they knew that there would be a strike a week ago, yet we would still be sitting there waiting for all we were told, after buying tickets online a week ago. The next train was much later, and they couldn’t guarantee that it wouldn’t be canceled. However, we were able to go to the bus station and get tickets for the next bus.

I was hustling back and forth because it was not at all clear where the bus station was. There are several bus companies. One sold tickets from a snack kiosk on a laptop. Finally I found the counters for Redi-Express and there was a bus leaving for Évora in thirty minutes. I went back to the train ticket counter, got my refund, and made it back to the bus just in time. I was pretty frazzled. We got on the bus and I was happy when the front seats were empty, but alas, it turned out that they weren’t for us. We had assigned seats, and when a young man on the bus finally interpreted what the annoyed bus driver was saying to us, we found them. The man in front of me had reclined his seat so far back that he was nearly in my lap. At some point I spilled a whole bottle of orange juice all over me and my handbag and my book. I was not happy on this bus, but at least I didn’t get carsick, which has happened to me before on buses. I could see that it would have been a comfortable, nice ride if I hadn’t been squeezed in with sticky juice all over me.





Finally we arrived in Évora. We took a taxi to our hotel, which was the one place I spent a lot of money on during our trip. It was the Pousada de Évora, a renovated historic convent at the top of the city, right at the square with the Roman temple ruins and the cathedral. Our room was once a monk’s cell. It was a beautiful place, and we set out to see what we could of Évora in the late afternoon and evening. The weather was fabulous.


^^^Drinks in Praça do Giraldo, the center square beside a 16th century fountain. We came back to this square a lot.

We decided to have dinner at a restaurant named Medieval. We ordered pork and lamb, and shared them. The lamb came with “bread pudding” which was similar to our bread dressing or stuffing. Chips or fries seem to be the main side dish for Portuguese meals. Chocolate mousse and a special dessert that was like creme brulee – so good!



Portugal, Tomar, UNESCO World Heritage sites

Tomar, Monday, May 16

We woke up on our 35th anniversary refreshed and ready to seize the day. Breakfast was served downstairs and we met a German couple who we ended up seeing most everywhere we went after that. Breakfast was scrambled eggs and thinly sliced bits of ham, fresh baked bread and jam and butter.

We walked a few blocks and then took a taxi up to the Convent of Christ, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This was breathtaking, and I’ll let the photos take over and you can read about it on the link if you choose.


Inside the rotunda, I talked with a woman from West Virginia who we briefly met on the way in, and she told me a few facts about the artwork surrounding us. Keron Psillas gave me the URL to her website, and it turns out that she is quite a photographer, world traveler, and tour guide.

After having gelato in the cafe, we walked down the hill and through downtown, and I noticed a hair salon with no customers that struck my fancy, so we stopped and both of us got our hair cut and Sandy had his beard trimmed.  They didn’t take credit cards (we found that we needed cash at a lot of places in Portugal) so I walked across the street to an ATM that was inside a small room with a glass door in one arch and a very clean glass window in the other arch. Oh silly me, I tried to walk through the window and banged my head hard enough that it sent me stumbling back. I had a headache and a lump on my forehead for a couple of days, but Sandy watched me for signs of concussion and I was okay. I’m just glad that I had my head down a bit or I might have broken my nose!

As expected, not many restaurants were open on a Monday night, which made us ratchet down our plans for a fancy anniversary dinner. However, we really enjoyed the grilled chicken and hot fresh bread and friendly wait staff at Casa dos Frangos, a place across from our inn. If we end up living here, this is a place that I would return to often. There were three other people there from Georgia, US and we enjoyed talking to them and comparing notes. Whenever we heard someone say “y’all” we engaged!

I can see this town as a place where we could settle.