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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Cabot Park/Beach, Prince Edward Island...Picnic Haven

Being picnic people, we love the parks in Prince Edward Island. There isn't a fee for day use at the parks and you can use all the facilities. The playgrounds, cook houses and washrooms are clean and well maintained.

      Monkey on bars

One of our favourite places is the park at Cabot Beach. It is on the north coast of Prince Edward Island, about a twenty minute drive from Summerside where we live. The park has numerous picnic tables surrounded by flat grassy areas for day use. (There is a camping area as well which we haven't checked out but it appears to be well used.) We have never had a problem getting a picnic table in the day use part of the park. In fact, we have used the cook house on several occasions when the wind has been too high for the barbecue to work.

                     Ready for lunch

Our granddaughter, Sylvie, was with us the last time we had a picnic and she loved the playground. She had to try each of the teeter-totters with her great grandmother and her grandfather in tow.

                    Cabot Beach

The beach is never crowded, even at the height of the tourist season; a beautiful beach, with red sand, that runs into the sand dunes that define it. At low tide, it feels like the beach goes on forever. The beach is clean and long enough for a great walk. There wasn't anyone swimming that day but it's early in the season. People swim there as the season progresses.

              Alone on the beach

Depending on the time of day, you may see the fishing boats going in and out of Darnley Basin while you're at the beach. They are a reminder of the heritage of the island and the continued importance of the fishing industry to the island today. The boats make the setting feel authentic, not a place manufactured for tourists. A visit to the nearby wharf at Darnley Basin is a nice mix of history and the modern fishery.

      Darnley Basin, a minute from the park

We look forward to our next picnic.


The Old Picnic Box

We are picnic people. We love to take a lunch, a stove and/or barbecue and go for a few hours to a park. If the kids are with us, we visit the playground and since we live in Prince Edward Island, of course we visit the beach.

   Sylvie at the playground

Earlier this week, as usual, we took the old picnic box. Certainly there are beautiful new picnic baskets on the market today. However, this picnic box is very special to us. This box was made and owned by Harold and Dorothy (Dot) Ralph, my next door neighbours when I was growing up in Newfoundland. Rick knew them as well.

                  The old picnic box

The Ralphs were originally from Flat Island, Bonavista Bay. This island was re-settled in 1957 and the residents moved to various parts of Newfoundland, a number of them moving to Mt. Pearl where the Ralphs settled. They were hard working people who took their lifestyle with them to their new home. This picnic box was part of their history.

             Flat Island, Newfoundland  

Harold owned a fishing boat and when he and Dot travelled by boat to a nearby area to pick berries, for example, they always packed the box to take a lunch with them. The box is heavy and stable (for the boat), with the cutlery box inside. The Ralphs gave the box to my parents when they weren't using it any more, and my parents gave it to us. It made the trip from Newfoundland to Prince Edward Island and we dust it off at this time every year.

                    Old cutlery box

A fancy new picnic basket just wouldn't be the same!


Monday, 23 June 2014


It was warm and sunny the other day. We've waited for this weather a long time this year. The snow held on and after it melted we had another big snowfall the early part of April. Then it was cold, windy and wet. Now, looking at the dying days of June, it's warming up.

That evening then, talking to my neighbour for a few minutes in the back yard, I was eaten by mosquitos, at least ten fly bites in as many minutes. It felt like my arms and legs were on fire.

When we were on vacation, Rick and I were impressed with the lifestyles in Spain, Portugal and Morocco. The people are out in the parks, plazas and squares, eating outside, walking around the city or town. In our climate, most of the year we are running from the car to a building or house, trying to get away from the cold, wind or whatever weather presents itself that day. Now the weather is beautiful and we're running from the flies, another thing to complain about. 

The thing is, in order to get a few months of outdoor enjoyment, we have to steel ourselves against the insects. Get the bug spray out again, summer's finally here. The insects, like us, are ready for summer!

Tomorrow is my sister-in-law, Michele's birthday. The age doesn't matter because Michele is young in many ways. A few years ago, after several attempts over the years, she quit smoking. Now she is probably in the best shape of her life as she walks and works out regularly. Michele is getting younger as the years go by.


One of the middle children in a family of seven, Michele was born to Jack and Mary Taylor of St. John's. As such, she is a gregarious person, full of life, fun and energy. She has made her life's work the travel industry which is very suited to such a personality, but her career doesn't define Michele.

Michele is a family person. She and Frank had Mom living in their basement apartment for years and after her own mother's death, her father lived in the house with them for half of each year until his death. Michele is close to her siblings and cousins as well. She is a devoted wife and mother to Frank and Samantha.

A fisherperson at heart, Michele loves the cabin where she and Frank have lots of friends but also lots of peace and quiet. Michele is a kind friend and a wonderful Aunt to our daughter Claire. She has helped us numerous times and nothing seems like it's too much bother or trouble for her. 

Happy birthday, Michele. Have a great day! You deserve it!

There It Was

My in-laws, Melvin and Sylvia, at one time owned cabins on the west coast of Newfoundland. The second cabin was purchased from Sylvia's uncle, Reg, and his wife, Leona, after they tired of cabin life.

This cabin was on a beautiful piece of land, tree covered with enough land cleared for a lawn, driveway, shed, backyard. Eventually Melvin decided to put a large deck on the side of the cabin in addition to the one on the front. By this time there was a little fir tree growing up in the area of the proposed deck. The little tree was beautiful, perfectly even in shape. Melvin decided to build the deck around the tree, to make it part of the architecture rather than just cut it down.

Over the years, the little tree grew and before long it was taller than Melvin and Sylvia. Every year they packed up the cabin in the autumn, put across the gate and returned every spring. The tree grew taller every year until it finally towered over them.

                     Melvin and Sylvia

One of the neighbours across the road always kept watch over the cabin for them every year. People often commented to him about the tree growing up through the deck across the road. Someone mentioned that it would make a great Christmas tree. The neighbour suggested, in jest, that no one had better touch that tree because he had a rifle and was watching over it.

Eventually the neighbour got sick and died. The next spring, when Sylvia and Melvin returned to the cabin, they were shocked to discover the tree had been chopped down and taken away.

As Newfoundlanders say, "There it was...gone!"


Happy birthday to a very special person, Rick's Aunt Marie. Marie is more than an Aunt to us however. She is a wise friend, confidante, cooking/baking expert, family historian and all round good person. She has a son, Jeff, daughter-in-law, Jana and two grandsons, Bryn and Nick, all of whom she adores.

                                                Two Maries and Georgie

Have a great day, Marie. You deserve the best, always!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Out My Back Door

Growing up around my grandparents, I knew about growing your own food. However, I've never really grown much until last year. A contractor made a box above ground, into which he put rich compost and soil. I can access it easily even when my back is hurting badly. We grew delicious and copious vegetables, green beans, tomatoes, herbs, onions, carrots, beets.

This year, Sylvia, my mother-in-law, helped plant some herbs, cucumber, zucchini, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, green beans, onions. It was great to be digging in the soil again, wondering what the yield will be and looking forward to the delicious result. 

         Chives, mint and cherry tomatoes

Up until last year, Sylvia always grew her own tomatoes from seed she dried from tomatoes she liked. She had a green house that Melvin built for her and starting in the late winter, she'd plant the seeds and grow them under lights in the basement. She tended them with care from seed until they went into the green house and nurtured them as they grew.

              Onions and yellow tomatoes

Then Melvin got sick so the seeds weren't started last year. Melvin died and Sylvia sold her house. The garden was gone. This year Sylvia has helped Claire and I in our gardens and she has some patio tomatoes growing. However, it's hard for her not to have a piece of land that's her own to prepare and plants to nurse along. Her patio plants are a shadow of her previous garden.

   Two types of basil, with which I never have success

Meanwhile it rained today but it wasn't warm. Maybe we won't get a bumper crop this year. Only time will tell. But by growing our own food, even enough for a few months, we're eating organically grown vegetables. We still have some of the tomatoes we preserved last year. It will be great to watch these plants grow and better still to eat the result.

This is a wonderful time of year! I'll keep you posted!


How can it be that from all the generations that have come before us that you and I happen to be here? Can you imagine what a series of happenstance occurred for us to be here today? Genealogy has given me a whole new appreciation for life.

I think of the ancestors that my brother, Frank, and I have in common and the few circumstances of which we are aware, which could have gone so differently. For example, my grandfather Pretty survived in a family devastated by tuberculosis. He didn't join the First World War because he had a job on the railway. 

Our great grandfather O'Brien left Ireland, under unknown circumstances, and came to Newfoundland. Our great great great great grandfather Pretty came from Somerset, England in the 1770s, across the Atlantic in a sailing vessel under incredibly difficult conditions and survived. All of our ancestors crossed the Atlantic to live and eventually thrive in a harsh environment.

Many of our ancestors fished the North Atlantic in small dories and survived to have families. Think of all the children who died at birth and from disease as babies or youth but our line of predecessors didn't. Think of the mothers who died in childbirth but not our foremothers.

In my own life, there were a couple of times my life was endangered. I almost drowned the year I finished high school, trying to save a friend. Another time, on the way to Grand Falls from Buchans, Rick and I passed a transport truck on the highway. We were in a Chevy Malibu. A part of the muffler of the truck flew off and slammed into the passenger side of the car where I was sitting. Luckily it hit the post between the front and back doors, at the level of my head though. The post was badly dented. This was prior to Claire's birth. 

There are thousands of our forefathers and foremothers who survived the circumstances and conditions of their time in human history that led to you and me being here today. In genealogy, we won the lottery!

So much of what happens in our lives is serendipitous. I think our existence involves serial serendipity in fact. Or as some would contend, we are part of the Divine plan.

Enjoy every minute; so many didn't get the opportunity!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Happy Father's Day: A Tribute to Grandfathers

Lack of internet access yesterday while traveling prevented me from posting this item. Late but none the less sincere...

Many modern men are very involved in the lives of their children. There was a time though, in the not too distant past that fathers weren't very involved in the daily lives of their children. Mothers stayed home, fathers worked and supported the family. Many men couldn't cook and didn't clean or do any child care. 

Because of my mother's health issues, Dad could do as much around the house as Mom, but he didn't do it all the time. When he retired he did more around the house regularly but he didn't get to do it for very long before he got cancer. 

Meanwhile Rick's father worked shift work at the paper mill in Corner Brook while Sylvia took care of the home. After he retired, Melvin liked to cook some of the meals and made delicious soup which they had every day for lunch. He also made bread because Sylvia couldn't knead the bread like Melvin could. His bread was delicious.

In our family, Rick always did as much around the house and could cook as well as or better than I can. He was the one on the homefront with Claire after school as well because I was always later getting home than he was. Rick and Claire were/are very close.  

Ben is a modern father who is the primary care provider for his girls when Claire is doing shift work on weekends, early mornings and evenings. He is a great father and a good cook. A totally modern man!

My brother is a great father, and does well with cooking and housework too. He saw what Dad did and he does the same or more.

It is with thankfulness for all of the men in our lives now and those who have passed, that I write about grandfathers today! Happy Father's Day! 


My father, Samuel Pretty, didn't live long enough for Claire to have many memories of him. The year before he got sick we had a picture with Dad and Claire on my parents' patio. That plus the picture of Dad and Mom, Claire and the dog, Morgan, are part of the family album. Claire doesn't remember too much other than those pictures.

However, Melvin Smith lived to be eighty-three so Claire has many memories of her grandfather Smith, memories of a wonderful man, funny, loving, energetic, kind. He always had time for Claire any time they were together and regaled his friends with 'Claire stories' until the next time he saw her.

As a daughter-in-law, I knew how lucky Claire was to have such a grandfather. I had two wonderful grandfathers, men who spent time with me and enjoyed my company. From breakfast with Grandda O'Brien when he got in from fishing, to steak and brewis made by Pop Pretty, I enjoyed every minute around these two great men. Claire had the same with Melvin.

One morning when we visited Corner Brook, by the time I got to the kitchen, Claire was already having breakfast with her Poppy. Usually they made pancakes, mainly involving eggs, with Claire stood on a chair helping Melvin. This morning, Claire was eating Junior Mints and Coke for breakfast! Melvin expected that I would be upset with this choice of morning fare. However, I didn't say anything negative. This was an exceptional thing, that became part of family history. Poppy can serve Junior Mints and Coke for breakfast once in your lifetime without being scolded.

How do we benefit from having such grandfathers in our lives? Dad's work and have home/family responsibilities while grandfathers, depending on their ages and circumstances, have more time when the children are around them. The requirements of life, for many grandparents today, can be put on hold when their little darlings are nearby. Their time then is time for the grandchild/ren. This is what Claire had with Melvin. Someone who doted on her and thought the sun shone out of her. How lucky is any child who has such a man in her life?

Our two grandchildren are lucky to have both of their grandfathers. While they don't see Ben's Dad quite as often as they see Rick, their time with him is quality time. Sylvie loves time with Rick especially when he shows her how things work and how to do things that her little hands can handle. Caitlin, just one, is too young for learning these things from Poppy yet, but it won't be too much longer. However reading stories and having tea are great fun for the three of them.

Young children can learn a great deal from being around another positive male influence in their lives. If your child is lucky enough to have such a grandfather, you are all very blessed indeed.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Strangers No More

After more than two weeks traveling around with the same people, you get to know them a little. You know where they are from, sometimes their employment or what they did before retirement, and you observe how they adapt and comply with the demands of the trip.

More than any of this though is how we've come to share the adventures of the journey together. Each of us brings his/her own life experiences to any new adventure plus his/her own unique personality. This makes the same experience sometimes different for people. It has been interesting seeing the adventures we've had through the eyes of our fellow travelers. 

While we may never meet any of them ever again, we cannot ever change the impact we have had on each other's lives for the past few weeks.

It's been a pleasure.


When we were in Lisbon it was so hot that we only walked on the shaded part of the sidewalk. It was lunch time and we found a sandwich place that also served beer. (Too hot for tea I told myself.)

                                            Sandwich shop which serves beer

I looked around and there she was, an older woman, possibly a grandmother, with a younger woman and a small boy, about eighteen months old I guessed.

The woman had shoulder length light brown hair, a lovely brown skinned face and cool attire. His Mom was similarly attired. The boy sat at the table while the stroller stood close by. The women talked easily together and with the child. He talked with them too in his baby way.

After they had eaten, the grandmother started to play with the child, walking her fingers over the table and up the child's arm. He giggled with delight. He tried to do the same thing to her.

I watched with amusement because this is the same thing that I do with our girls, first with Sylvie and now with Caitlin. Just before we left for vacation, Caitlin was trying to creep across the table with her fingers as well. She loves it too just like this young Portuguese boy.

                   Caitlin and Sylvie

I miss our girls and can't wait to be home!

Churros in Avila

    Today we stopped in the Castile city of Avila for our comfort stop. The walls around the old city are about one thousand years old. The walls are made of granite, from the local area, and have never had to be restored. There are eighty-eight towers in the structure circling the city.

                                                Avila looking across to the old city

The swallows were busy again this morning as we walked along by the city walls on the way to get hot chocolate and churros, a Spanish tradition, especially on weekends. The churros tasted like donuts while the chocolate was very thick and delicious, made from lots of melted chocolate. The churros were crispy, deep fried delights which you must dunk in the hot chocolate according to Spanish tradition.


When I started teaching in an all grade school, I had to teach a course in religious education, even though I hadn't done any of those courses in university. One of the people I learned about was St. Teresa of Avila, founder of a reformed branch of the Carmelite Order. This place was her home, solid, like she was.

                                                Granite walls of old Avila


In November I, 1755, Portugal was devastated by a huge earthquake. Many people were in Church celebrating the All Saints Day. Modern day estimates place the quake at a nine on the Richter Scale. Fires started and people rushed outside, away from the buildings into the streets and then a huge tsunami killed many. Thousands of people died and most of the city was destroyed. Only a few buildings remained.Two of the buildings which survived were impressive stone structures that we visited.

                                                        Hieronymites Church

                                           Design made by one of the original workers

One was the Hieronymites Church, which was finished in 1601. It is a starkly beautiful stone edifice, made of limestone. The workers often engraved symbols or designs in the huge rocks as they placed them in position, leaving their mark there forever. There are many statues in the Church but for me, the massive stone structure itself was a symbol of the importance of having a good foundation when you are assaulted by the elements or life in general.

                       Inside stone work

The other building was a wine cellar, with thick stone walls. Today it is the location of a restaurant where we had a delicious dinner and enjoyed Portuguese music, singing and dancing. The singers were exceptional, the music, at times tender, but always passionate, The dancers, in traditional costume, paid homage to the seafaring past and life in Portugal. The musicians played a variety of instruments, including the Portuguese guitar, accordion, pine cones, and the top of a huge jug. 

                                         Former wine celler turned restaurant

                                               Folk Dancing in Lisbon

Like the buildings, the Portuguese cultural heritage has survived and is thriving.

Team Spirit

Yesterday we arrived in Salamanca on the way back to Madrid and home. Salamanca was hot and we were tired after the long ride from Lisbon. After a brief rest in the room, we headed to the Plaza Mayor to look around and have dinner.

The FIFA World Cup of Soccer has begun in Brazil now and yesterday the Spanish team played its first game. By the time we got to the Plaza Major, the crowd had started to gather.

A huge square Spanish style building surrounds a plaza. One side of the square contains the town hall. It looks like people live in some of the other parts of the square. The bottom floor contains cafés and restaurants with inside and outside seating. The crowds were sitting outside on this hot evening, and as the sun was setting, people moved into the shaded seating areas as game time approached. Televisions were set up outside each restaurant. People chatted and drank beer, coffee or ate a snack.

                                       City Hall in Plaza Mayor in Salamanca

We like to observe people. We were especially interested in the older women seated in front of us, right in front of the television. They arrived early to get a prime place there, saving seats for their friends. The señoras were impeccably dressed, and had taken time with their hair and make-up. They looked wonderful!

The behavior was very interesting as they showed around pictures of young children and adolescents on their cell phones, which they all used as they waited. The señoras ordered their beer, coffee and sandwiches, chatted, laughed, greeted what looked like other family members also in the square but seated elsewhere. A Spanish flag was proudly positioned in an empty bottle. Just a bunch of girls watching the game together!

When I grow up... 

Friday, 13 June 2014


Any time we've done a tour, we always see churches. After a time, they can run together in your mind but this time was different. This has been a vacation where we've learned that the Jews, Muslims and Christians have some history of co-operating and living in harmony. In fact this is still going on today in some parts of the world. The opposite is what we hear most via the media however.

There are things that stand out for me on this trip with respect to religious structures and practice. Firstly, the synagogue of Toledo, built by the best craftsmen of the time, Muslims, was used later by Christians when the Jews were converted or forced out by the Inquisition.

                   Synagogue built by Muslims 

Then, while never having entered a mosque, we heard the call to prayer over the public address system while in Morocco. I found it comforting actually, to hear people being called to pray, to look beyond themselves, on a regular basis.

                     Mosque in Casablanca

Finally we visited Fatima, Portugal, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to three children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, in 1917 at the height of World War 1. She encouraged them to pray the rosary and to tell other people about what they saw. They did of course and today there is a beautiful site where people meet to pray and celebrate their religious rituals. (It is an interesting story in all its detail.)

              Church where the children are buried

My parents had tremendous faith and the rosary was one of their favourite prayers. I learned it kneeling in the kitchen of my grandparents' home as had my mother before me. One of the last things we heard Dad say was, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death."

When we were at Fatima, the assembled crowd was celebrating Mass, the Catholic religious service. The bell of the church was ringing and during the service, beautiful singing filled the air. In my life now, I take these moments as a call to be better, to do better in my life, to look beyond myself. The ceremony, so familiar to me because of those who came before, is a reminder of those wonderful people and what they believed and lived to the best of their ability. Mom and Dad walked with us there today. They would have loved it!


Growing up around St. John's, Newfoundland, we often saw the Portuguese fishing vessels in port. Sometimes a single vessel, bringing an injured fisherman to port, would tie up at the waterfront. Other times, the entire fleet came to port due to impending inclement weather, or for supplies. The vessels, known affectionately as the "white fleet" due to the white sails and white color, were something to behold when they were in port.

                         Modern Lisbon

These fishermen made a huge contribution to the economy of St. John's for hundreds of years. Their smiling faces were welcome in the port city by businesses and residents alike. They were an important part of the culture of the city, country (before 1949) and province.

                                               Estoril, Portugal

Their vessels had fishing dories on board. The fishermen, using hand lines, fished all day out of the dories, returning to the vessel to gut, split and salt the fish. It made for long days of back-breaking work that could last as long as six months, depending on the catch. Then in 1974, after four hundred years of great co-operation, the last vessel sailed out of St. John's for the final time. The declining fish stocks had ended the practice.

          Celebration of Portuguese folk music, song, dance and great food in Lisbon

Yesterday in Lisbon, we did a city tour during which the local tour guide casually mentioned that a former warehouse for codfish from the North Atlantic has been turned into a museum for some unrelated thing. She mentioned a fishing fleet and moved on to something else. I didn't.

                       Decorations line the streets for the Festival of St. Anthony, Portugal

Memories of those times and our connection to these hard working men are one of the reasons I wanted to come to Portugal. Their life's blood helped build this beautiful place. Obrigado!


What possesses someone to get in a ship, though one well equipped for the time, and sail off into the unknown? Is it curiosity, adventure, necessity (to get away from a place or person?) Is it the desire to make money or find unimagined wealth?

Those early explorers did it, Columbus, and Cabot, to name a few.

On this trip we saw the resting place for Columbus. Undoubtedly the story of his journey and exploration is well know. One of the most interesting things I learned was that he travelled more in death than he did in life. His remains were moved around numerous times until they are finally resting in the Cathedral at Seville.

               Kings supporting Columbus

Another interesting thing is that there are mere grams of his remains left in an impressively large casket supported by the kings of the four original kingdoms of what is now Spain. It seems that Columbus had a bad case of osteoporosis which caused his bones to disintegrate.

                    Casket containing mere grams of the remains of Columbus

Furthermore, Columbus lived to be fifty-four, a ripe old age for the early fifteen hundreds. People only lived into their early thirties at that time.

In our time, explorers are sought for a one way trip to Mars. I wonder who people will be talking about in another five hundred years?

A Japanese Minute

One of the places we visited in Portugal was Sintra. It is a World Heritage Site about thirty minutes inland from Lisboa. We drove there along the coastal route through Estoril, past Cabo Da Roca and into the mountains. It was a beautiful drive, passing beaches, rugged coastline, then beautiful mountains, sometimes with giant trees, lacking much undergrowth. Then right before Sintra, the lush green forests appear again in and around the village nestled among the hills.

                                                      Beautiful Sintra

We had the opportunity to visit the Summer Palace there but Rick and I wanted some free time. We looked around the shops; the linen, and pastries were particularly good. Then as is our tradition we headed for a beer. 

                                         Lanes of Sintra

We chose The Paris Cafe on the corner of the Summer Palace because of the beautiful covered patio. Rick ordered beer, I wanted sangria. What a shock we got!

                                                            Good grief!

There are lots of Asian tourists in Portugal. There were two of them sitting directly across from us. They were enjoying beer as well. When they saw our drinks, they laughed just as we did. They wanted a picture, which we obliged, and they pointed to themselves, saying, "Japan."

                                                  Our Japanese friends
We said, "Canada." 

They replied,"Snow."

We nodded and shivered for cold. They laughed, took our picture and went back to their seats.

Our Japanese minute! 

                                                    Large drink haven in Sintra

Drivers and Tour Guides

When you go on a guided bus tour, you put your life in the hands of at least two other people. This surrender to strangers requires a great deal of trust; trust that your driver will take you safely over the roads most importantly. Obviously there are things beyond the driver's control, but you rely on his/her good judgement and quick reactions. A driver's ability to maneuver the bus in tight places where you'd think it's impossible to go with such a huge vehicle, is really something to behold. The driver also keeps the vehicle clean and comfortable for the clients, handles their luggage, and the best ones assist you off the coach.

The tour guide has your trust as well. You rely on his/her wealth of knowledge and experience in an area to tell you the things you need to know to stay safe and get the help you need when emergencies arise.

       David, Tour Guide, working, as usual

Guides are teachers in many ways too. They instruct the clientele in the history and culture of a place, answering questions and posing questions as well. They have to keep the clientele on time and on task. There is a schedule to adhere to because of places to be and guides to meet in local areas. They can make you comply in gentle ways, not as task masters. The tour guides must handle difficult clients and unlike teachers, don't have a parent to contact for support. As clients, we don't know what else the guide has to do behind the scenes.

We have done a number of tours now with various tour companies. We salute these professionals who have all been excellent. 

To our most recent driver with Trafalgar, João, and tour guide, David, you do yourselves, your company, and your countries proud. You assisted us with ease on a particularly difficult day. We enjoyed every minute of your service. Well done and thank you.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Look East

It's been a busy day and it's not over yet.  We toured around the city of Lisbon, Lisboa to the locals. It is a green, clean city, with lots of color along the Tagus River. Some of that color comes from the blooming jacaranda trees this time of year. However it is the more permanent color that catches the eye. The buildings are painted pastel shades, pinks and yellows but some darker shades as well. Some facades are even tiled. This is very different from the white towns and cities in many places in Spain.

                                                      Blooming Jacaranda

                                              Tiled exterior of home in Lisboa

Later we went along the coast towards the Atlantic Ocean to Estoril, a beautiful city with lovely beaches and quaint little stores. We had a lovely lunch overlooking a beach where some sun bathers were topless. It was interesting to watch people walk along and stop to gaze or take pictures overlooking the beach. For dessert we tried the gelato at a nearby famous little store.The fruity flavors were yummy.

                                                        Delicious gelato

The next discovery was the most westerly point in mainland Europe, Cabo Da Roca. It took me back to the many times we visited Cape Spear, Newfoundland, the most easterly point in North America. I always drove there with my mother any time I visited St. John's. We liked to sit and watch the waves crashing along the rugged coast. It is a similarly rough coastline here, but there are short succulent plants holding on for dear life here. You won't find those in Newfoundland. It's one of the places that moss, lichen, and crowberries thrive.

                                                          Cabo Da Roca

The wind and rugged coastline make these two areas somehow similar. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the closest place to home from mainland Europe.