Weekend Excursion

Portugal has the worst drivers in all of western Europe, or so everyone keeps telling us. So, what did we do? We rented a car for the weekend to head north up the coast to Porto. Without the time constraints of a bus or train schedule, we were able to see many things in aRead more

One part rodeo, one part gladiator

Portuguese bullfights differ from those in other countries in two major ways. First, the star of the show is not the matador, but a horseman bullfighter, costumed as an 18th-century nobleman, with a plumed hat and embroidered coat. Second, and most importantly, the bull is never killed in the ring thanks to a decree madeRead more

Heavenly treats

Where has pasteis de Belem been all my life? The fresh, hot custard pastries sprinkled with cinammon and powdered sugar at the Antiga Confeiteria de Belem were a delightful treat after walking along the shore of the Rio Tejo (Tagus River) in the Belem neighborhood of Lisbon. Although they are sold in bakeries across Lisbon,Read more

Scintillating Sintra

Trains leave Rossio station in Lisbon every 20 minutes for Sintra, a UNESCO world-heritage town blessed with stately manors and hillside palaces and castles. There’s just not enough time in a day to see them all. Even in October, the crowds were as thick as a bees in a hive. The best way to avoidRead more

Seven Hills

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I have come to Lisbon, and Portugal in general, with no expectations and no agenda. I spent the first day wandering the steep cobblestone streets up and down the seven hills that make up the city. With me are Chris, who has a fever, and Lauren who is coming down with a sinus infection (I’mRead more

North shore ramblings

Puerto de la Cruz is the second largest city on the island of Tenerife. It is a picturesque port town on the north shore with cute shops and good restaurants, as long as you wander off the main boardwalk, lined with high-rise hotels and cheesy “handicrap” (as opposed to handicraft) stores. The further west inRead more

Pooling Resources

Tucked in a corner of the island not visited by most tourists you’ll find the tiny seaside villages of Bajamar and Punta Hidalgo. They are both one hotel kind of towns that time forgot. In Bajamar, older men chat on benches in front of the tiny church, people walk their dogs or stroll along theRead more

History mystery

It’s not easy to get a good understanding of the Guanache people who first settled the Canary Islands. They are believed to have been blonde-headed, blue-eyed Berbers from Africa. They lived in caves and made pottery using clay from the abundant volcanic material on the island. That’s all we could really figure out from theRead more

Black sand beaches

Excluding the national park at the top of the Teide volcano, the island of Tenerife has two distinct sides. The south is known for its sandy beaches and sunny skies, while the north is higher and cooler with crashing waves under plunging cliffs. The south is touristy (full of visitors flying in from London, MadridRead more

For the birds

What do you get when you cross a parrot with homing pigeon? A bird that will ask direction if it gets lost. Jose Ledesma tells me that joke while dining at a local Canarian restaurant owned by a friend of his. Ledesma raises racing pigeons. In fact, one of his birds, Bayo Casablanca, holds theRead more

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