Words of wisdom

Words of wisdom

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Welcome to Casa dos Avos - the door is open and I would love for you to come visit!  Here is a link to a video of my home and village.

This is the start of my 3rd week in The Algarve region of southern Portugal and the sun is once again shining.  The high for today will be in the mid-70's.  The church bells have been ringing all morning to announce that today is Sunday and the one day of the week the church doors are open and a priest is in residence. 

Yes, Portugal has a shortage of priests and the church doors are closed during the week to dissuade those who might want to remove some of the most valuable artifacts.  The problems are the same wherever I travel.  

I have managed to settle in, thanks in large part to the most wonderful landlords I could ever hope to find.  Jorge & Maria Joao Sinta Coelho have welcomed me with open arms.  They have introduced me to their extended family, included me in family outings and even had me over to dinner to celebrate the arrival of the 'new wines' and the time to roast the chestnuts.  

 Grandma Rosalina, Daughter Marie, Grandpa João, Maria João, and Jorge
Last weekend they called to see if I would join them as they traveled to the area of Monchique for a traditional Portuguese lunch.    'Known as the Top of the Algarve where peaks reach 3000 ft., the pace of life in Monchique is far removed from that of the busy coastal resorts.  Small hamlets nestle between the hills, home to artisans who uphold age-old traditions and farm labourers who tend their terraced vegetable plots or citrus groves.  The fruits of their labors are reflected in the region's mouth-watering gastronomy.  Black pork sausages and cured hams, the unique honey that comes from the region's scented wild flowers and the powerful medronho liqueur, known as firewater, which is brewed from the fruit of the strawberry trees.' - Portugal Live.net.


After a stop to land that has been in the family for generations and where Jorge, a contractor by trade, is slowly building their retirement home, we went to a local restaurant, Laranjeira (Orange), where we were the only customers.  The mother was in the kitchen cooking our lunch while her son had prepared fabulous teas made from local herbs and flowers to begin our dinner. He has an enormous organic garden where he grows all of the vegetables and herbs used in the restaurant and lots of the strawberry trees to make firewater - think moonshine - only legal. 

After lunch, we went to wander through the town of Monchique where since Roman times they have been known for the thermal baths,  a beautiful town with many spas and hotels.

Mid-week, I took a river cruise to the ancient, Moorish capital city of Silves.  

The trip from Ferragudo to Silves takes 1 1/2 hours and our 'captain' spent the time entertaining 2 Brits and 5 Dutch and myself with the history of the River Arade, the villages that border it's edges and how the direction of the river has changed over a 1000 years.  He is a professional fisherman by trade, and only offers these cruises a few times a year.  Our 'cruise' boat is a brightly-painted fishing boat and was filled with our group of 8 passengers.   

Arriving at Silves via the river is a lovely way to approach the city.  On this day, the sun was gleaming off the white homes and buildings that climb the hill where the Cathedral and the remains of the Moorish castle dominate the skyline.

We had 90 minutes to explore this hilly city and have lunch. Off I went, camera in hand, to see what I could in such a short amount of time.  

Up to the top of the hill, though the massive wall that once protected the citizens of Sives from the Crusaders came to battle the Moors, all under the protective eye of the priests that filled the Cathedral.  

Then back down the hill, because it was 14:00 and I was starving!  Sives is also known for the roasted chicken restaurants that dot the waterfront.  That's where I headed for a fabulous lunch before hoping back on our 'cruise ship' for our return to Ferragudo.  

I wish I had a better photo.  Here was my lunch - a delicious salad of fresh lettuce, onion and tomatoes.  A bowl of olives, grapes, pâté and fresh baked bread to nibble on while I sipped a carafe of red wine (not shown) until my dinner of a 1/4 of roasted chicken (absolutely delicious) and chips arrived.  The cost of this very normal lunch - €7.00 - just  $7.53!! 

My second week in Ferragudo was spent wandering the narrow streets, getting to know the locals. The most exciting discovery was learning that I can get Netflix on my computer (English-language stations are not plentiful on my cable - 3 news channels, a religious channel and Disney!) I have signed up and will start  over-55 gymnastics, water aerobics and pilates classes next week.  

I'm looking forward to spending Thanksgiving in Cascais and the Lisbon area with the group known as Americans in Portugal who have invited me to their annual Thanksgiving Day dinner and then joining International Women in Portugal for their monthly meeting - a walking tour of The Women of Lisbon.  

Beautiful cobblestoned streets of Ferragudo

 The canal that runs through the village

The view across the river to Portimao
Flowers are abundant, draping across the streets

I just got invited to Grandpa and Grandma's home for lunch - which normally is at 14:00!  Must go have a snack before I go as I would hate to arriving starving!  I'll leave you....until next time....with a photo of the harbor coming into Ferragudo.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


There is never enough time to see and do everything you can and want to do in London.  It's just too big, there is just too much, it's hard to even think where to begin - again.

I had 4 days totally free from the time I finished up my housesit in Eastbourne until I flew to the Algarve.  What to do?  Where to go?  Then my good friend Jan, a fellow member of International Womans Club of Chicago, presently a London resident and who's husband had conveniently flown back to the States for business that week said why don't you stay with me?  You never have to ask me twice!

Jan and Mike live off a tiny alley in the shadow of St. Paul's.  With 3 tube lines and 3 choices of bridges crossing the Thames within walking distance, it's a perfect location.

So what hadn't I seen or done the when I was in London in August that I really wanted to do this time?  Covent Garden - yes!  The Victoria & Albert Museum - yes! Attend a meeting of the American Woman's Club of London - yes!  Have breakfast at the top of The Shard - yes!  Have lunch and snoop shop at Harvey Nichols - yes! Spend hours wandering, tasting and enjoying one of the fabulous markets (Borough Market!) - yes!  Spend time just talking and getting to know Jan better - yes!  And as a bonus - tickets to see Sir Kenneth Branagh (drool) in his latest production with his brand new theater company - YES!

What better to share with you my four days in London than with  pictures - captions included!

Covent Garden  - Lunch 1st day
Covent Garden Highlander

Light Art in entrance to V&A
Just a tiny bit of the fashion exhibit at the V&A

Foor-to-ceiling pyramid made of tiny
ceramic buildings which are actually in London
Entrance V&A

My first full day, I attended the monthly meeting of the American Womans Club of London.  This group was my 'life saver' when I moved to Brussels as a new corporate wife in 1972. After a very entertaining program entitled Blood, Guts and Gore - More True Stories of Murder in Victorian England, I joined the ladies for lunch at the top of Harvey Nichols, my favorite high-end department store restaurant with a fabulous view.  Of course, I spent some time just wandering through the store, touching and 'petting' the most extravagant and high-priced fashions and shoes you could ever want to purchase - if you are really, really rich!

Jan met me after lunch and we headed off to the Victoria and Albert for the afternoon.  The V&A has two fantastic ongoing exhibits -  The Fabric of India and Shoes: Pleasure and Pain. We took in the India exhibit that afternoon. India's manufacture of fabric, from the very earliest times, to present day, envelopes the history of this massive country.   I returned the next morning to giggle and be amazed at a collection of shoes, some a thousand years old. Tiny brocade Japanese Golden Lily shoes to today's Manolo's and Louboutins!

I rushed out of the V&A and caught the Circle Line to meet Jan in Leister Square for lunch before the matinee performance at The Garrick of Harlequinade/All On Her Own featuring the outstanding cast of the newly assembled Kenneth Branagh Theater Company, featuring Zoe Wannamaker.

Sir Kenneth Branagh
My view from the Stalls
My 'thank you' to Jan for allowing me enjoy her company and the amenities of her lovely apartment was breakfast at the top of The Shard, London's tallest building, which certainly makes a statement on the city's landscape.

The Shard at sunset
Getting ready to walk inside - Oh My
The view from our table
Just one of the 360º city views
From the Shard, we walked to the Borough Market - one of the oldest continuing and most amazing and comprehensive markets I've ever enjoyed! 
It's located under the London Bridge Station train tracks.  I think the photos say it all - I never wanted to leave and will most certainly return.

 Of course, we bought nibbles to have for snacks. I could have filled an entire kitchen with the delicious edibles which were everywhere you looked.

As you can see it's a very popular place and note the date it was established  - 1756.  The history that surrounds you everywhere you go is one of my very favorite things about spending time in Europe.

100's of different Mushrooms!!
Colorful Tomatoes
A plethora of seafood choices

Ah, Cheese!
In the afternoon, we had tea and visited with Abha, with another IWA member who was spending time in London.  That evening I was jealous with envy when Jan went off to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet while I stayed in (tried to get a ticket, sold out months in advance!) and packed.   I had a 6:30 a.m. taxi to Liverpool Station and my train to Stansted Airport where I would fly to Faro, Portugal and the next leg of my ongoing adventure.

Oh, but I will miss you London!

Until next time.......