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Portugal trip, part 1

I could so use something salty right now. There has been so much SWEET, but with an appalling lack of CHOCOLATE. There has been a little chocolate, and, I have to admit, perfectly fine chocolate, but mostly NOT chocolate. Also, Claudia Harsh did let me know that a lot of the food can use (needs) salt. I did bring my own salt and shaker (and pepper), but the boat does provide them at each meal. But right now I could use some nuts or chips or something.

Port wine is sweet. The pastry they gave us in Ria Veal today was sugar coated pastry with a filling of egg yolk and sugar with a touch of almond extract (that I could not detect).

One of the specialties of Obidos is a cherry liquor served in a little chocolate cup. OK. It’s DELICIOUS. I love it. Will have to get the liquor to bring back for sure. But, yes, way sweet. We tried it in the village of Obidos, but they surprised us with it on the boat today (9/18). I did have more than one. I have some white port right now that is the “dry” one. SWEET. Oh well. You don’t want to read this. Dinner is in less than an hour and I can get something(s) salty, or make them salty. But I’m telling you, there is a lot of non-chocolate sweet going on.

Lisbon is for sure a metropolitan city. Portugal has roughly 10.5 million people. 3.5 million of those are in Lisbon. Perspective: The area of Portugal is roughly the same as Indiana. 60% the size of North Carolina. What’s the population of NC? 10.7 million.

I definitely want to return to Lisbon and check out more of it. Plenty to see. One problem with traveling abroad is adjusting to the time change and getting your sleep back on track (duh). I think it was easier when I was younger. Lack of sleep has negatively impacted my energy for exploration. Also, Lisbon, well, Portugal is VERY hilly/mountainy. Think San Francisco.

We’ve had quite a few Portuguese guides. Portuguese pride is evident and seems to me to be equally strong to our American pride. I hope, I really, really, hope that we, Americans, can admit and talk about our shortcomings as well as our triumphs a bit more in front of foreigners . Maybe I’m too harsh. What do YOU know about Portugal and Portuguese history. I knew virtually nothing, I realize now. Portugal was the first nation-state, established in 1143. I didn’t know that; did you know that?

There was a mother f-er of an earthquake followed by 2 aftershocks and a tsunami that destroyed most of Lisbon in 1755. The Portuguese say the quake lasted 10 minutes and was more than a magnitude of 8. Anyway, the Portuguese are proud of many things and their history is far more interesting than I remember ever being taught.

I suppose that one of my biggest disappointments thus far is that the Atlantic Ocean on this side of the world it much too cold for this southern girl. Even in the southern part of Portugal, even in summer. I may have to wear my wetsuit, at least until I get used to it, assuming I CAN get used to it. Still, I will be able to see and be at the BEACH whenever I want. No hurricanes!

To be honest and transparent, so far this trip has served to let me know that I do like Portugal and think it’s interesting. The tour has kept us so busy that I haven’t had a chance to do some things I want to do like visit grocery stores, pharmacies, other shopping venues and markets. Also, Lisbon and Porto are by far the biggest cities here. I believe the Algarve will be significantly different. We do have a flight now from Porto to Faro on September 23rd, the end day of our UNC tour and cruise. And we have an expat scheduled to show us around some later that day. More to come, hopefully, more meaty info. Thanks!!


PS. the bartender just brought me a glass of wine and some little crackers. The crakers, which look like baby Ritz's, have NO SALT on them.

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