Category Archives: Portugal

More Winnipeg Friends in Portugal

We knew before we left Winnipeg that our friends Werner and Adelia would be in Portugal at the same time as we were. On Friday night they were staying in Lagos just a few kilometers away so we invited them and their traveling companions Richard and Carolyn to join us for dinner at our place.
We had never met Richard and Carolyn, who are from Ontario, but we had many interests and experiences in common and it wasn’t long before we were having a lively discussion that covered religion, politics, business, education, parenting, sports, international teaching and travel experiences. And that was before we had even opened the two bottles of wine our guests had brought with them. We went for a walk along our promenade and halfway up our landmark hill, but by then it was twilight and we headed back to our place for appetizers after which we ordered pizza from the establishment right next door to our apartment.  During dinner our friend Rudy discovered that he and our guests had any number of acquaintances and friends in common.  Our lively conversation continued over chocolate, fruit and glasses of Portuguese port.  It was 11 o’ clock before our guests headed back home to rest up for a long hike they had planned for the following day. This is the third group of Canadian friends we’ve had a rendezvous with here in Portugal and we know more are to come.  We are looking forward to visiting with them too!

Other posts………

Coming All the Way to Portugal To Get To Know People From Our Church

A Reunion With Old Friends, Great Stories and Portuguese Wine



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Three Wines For Three People

Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages. – Louis Pasteur.  That’s the quote featured on the Qunita do Frances winery website. The winery is located near Silves, Portugal. We took a tour one late afternoon.  

Our guide told us the name of the winery reflects the fact that the owner is from France- a pathologist named Patrick Agostini, who came to Portugal because he married a Portuguese woman.  Makes sense that a French winery owner would use a quote from a famous French scientist like Louis Pasteur on his website.  

vineyard portugalAlthough born in France, Patrick is the descendant of an Italian family with a tradition in wine-making, He not only studied medicine but also viticulture (the cultivation of grapes) and oenology (the science and study of wine and winemaking)  near Bordeaux. So after moving to Portugal and getting a job as a pathologist at a hospital in Portimao he found a piece of property nearby where he could start a winery.
The vineyards surrounding the winery were planted in 2002 and the first Quinta do Frances wine produced  in 2008. Some of the Quinta do Frances wines have won awards both in Portugal and internationally. They use casks made from new French oak to age the wine. The Qunita do Frances winery  sells around 35,000 bottles of wine a year. Our tour guide was friendly and a veritable fount of information but all three of us figured we’d been on more exciting and interesting wine tours.   We enjoyed tasting our three different wines, a white, a red and a roseau,  but agreed we received equal enjoyment from the much cheaper Portuguese wines we buy for two or three dollars in the grocery store on our street in Praia da Luz.  

Other posts…….

Wine Canyon

A Fascinating Conversation in a Wine Shop in Lisbon

Roll Out the Barrel



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Old Bastard’s

No the title of this post does not refer to the two ‘young at heart’, fabulous fellows I am sharing my house with here in Praia da Luz. Ol’ Bastard’s is the name of a great little fish and chips place in Lagos just up the road from where we are.  Dave heard it was highly recommended and so we decided to try it last night which happened to be the first night it was open for the tourist season after being closed for several months. 

 Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day – our warmest and finest since arriving in Portugal and I headed into town an hour or so ahead of the guys so I could hike the 4 kilometers along the ocean at a more leisurely pace– stopping to smell the pine and listen to the waves….. but also to do a little shopping in Lagos. I have Easter baskets to fill and friends and families’ birthdays to recognize when I get back home to Canada. 

The guys joined me at Ol’ Bastard’s.  The host who opened the door and greeted us looked exactly like the fellow on the sign over the front door, but he was anything but an ‘ol’ bastard.’  He was a thirty something young father who spent our entire visit walking around the restaurant with his six month old baby while supervising his friendly staff who provided us with a tasty meal.  

Dave and Rudy both had American fish and chips (you can also order Australian or British fish and chips) and I had the fish tacos.  Dave and Rudy suggested to our waitress they might want to try offering Canadian fish and chips and serve the fries poutine style. 

They were playing 80s and 90s tunes on the restaurant soundtrack and Dave and Rudy spent some of our dinner hour trying to identify the names of the different artists we were hearing . 

Ol’ Bastard’s lived up to its hearty recommendation.  

Other posts……….

The Walk That Wasn’t and An Authentic Portuguese Lunch

Goose Necked Barnacles and How To Catch An Octopus

First Supper in Lisbon- My Husband Has Great Instincts


Filed under Food, Portugal

You Call That A Stroll?

boardwalk hikeIt has been unseasonably cold here in Portugal but yesterday it was finally sunny and warm enough that we walked barefoot on the beach.  We did about a 7 kilometre hike along the Alvor Estuary Trail and Boardwalk detouring to the beach for part of the way. Dave and rudy on the boardwalkRudy and I didn’t trust the sunny weather would hold on for the whole hike so we headed out on the boardwalk trail with long pants and jacketsdave points down the beachbut Dave was more optimistic the nice weather would hold and wore sandals, a T-shirt and shorts. 
barefoot at lastRudy got impatient with my slow progress on the beach part of the walk. I was soaking up the day – doing some serious people watching, listening to the sound of the ocean, examining the shells I was finding, tracking the flight of gulls, savouring the joy of finally feeling the sand between my toes but Rudy said my pace could hardly even generously be called a ‘stroll’ so he jogged ahead. sand dunesMany kilometers later Dave and I headed up a boardwalk detour to survey the beach to see if we could find Rudy. rudy on the beachThere he was off in the distance, waving to us. He had jogged all the way to a far rocky outcrop and was returning. Dave and I thought we were in fairly good shape till Rudy arrived to visit. He thinks our hikes are pretty tame and is usually looking for something a little more strenuous.

The Alvor Estuary Walk is very nice-  you see so many different kinds of landscapes- sandy dunes, rivers, marshes, the ocean, farmland, a marina and sign boards along the way to help you appreciate the different kinds of flora and fauna, birds and wildlife that make the area their home. It was quite deserted now in winter but the number of shuttered restaurants and food stands along the way indicate it must be hugely popular in summer. As we made our way back to the car the guys spotted this sign and you can be sure that was a bargain they weren’t about to pass up. So the guys drank their cheap beer while I indulged in a Sangria which they both pointed out was  triple the price of their beverages combined.  I was enjoying the warmth of the sun too much to let their teasing bother me. 

Other posts……………

Visiting A Castle On My Own

Authentic Portuguese Food

Copy Cats




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Alone in the Castle- Those Guys Don’t Know What They Missed

Meet King Sancho who wrestled control of the Silves area of Portugal from the Moors for a brief two years.  During those two years he ruled the Algarve from this impressive castle which I toured ALONE.  After our friend Rudy snapped the photo of Dave and me with King Sancho (1154-1211) outside the Silves Castle the two guys decided they weren’t interested in seeing what was inside. I was not deterred by their lack of enthusiasm however so I toured the castle by myself.The Castle of Silves was primarily inhabited by the Moors who occupied Portugal from 711-1249.  Silves was a major trading centre and the mighty castle was a necessary stronghold for protecting those trade interests.

These amphora pots are Roman archeological artifacts found on the castle site. They reminded me of the pottery we had on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery during our ancient Greece and Rome exhibit.

The very first buildings on the site probably date back to the time of the Roman occupation of Portugal (140BC to 212AD.)I looked at the remains of what were once the personal residences of the fort’s governor, his family, military contingents and administrative staff. These will have been two story houses with lounging areas, kitchens, bath houses and gardens. I tried to imagine families living here. Underground storage for grain and water were necessary for times when the castle was under seige. How scary must that have been for the people housed inside? I made my way all around the fort on the elevated walkway. I surveyed the orange orchards and crowded cemeteries from the walkways’ high vantage point. I stopped to read my brochure about the fort and study the various plaques to learn about what life had been like in this place. It was a gorgeous day the nicest we’ve had in Portugal yet so I decided to treat myself to an Indian lemonade, absolutely heavenly with cardomon and ginger and a sprig of pine. I had just taken out my journal to start writing about how the castle courtyard might have looked hundreds of years ago bustling with merchants, servants, farmers, soldiers and citizens…… when some Arabian  music began playing and out came………..two gentlemen with an eagle.  They proceeded to put on quite a show as the trained bird flew from one man to the other and landed on their gloved hands. 

At one point one of the men stood right behind my chair.  “Don’t worry,”  he whispered to me as the bird flew to his arm. That bird passed a hair’s breadth from me and I could feel the wind from its wings tickling my ear. 

By now I was feeling just a little bit guilty about leaving Dave and Rudy outside for so long so I exited the castle only to find them ensconced at a local outdoor establishment enjoying refreshing beverages. I made sure to tell them what an interesting and entertaining experience they had missed by opting out of a castle tour. I’m not sure I convinced them!

Other posts……..

MaryLou’s Castle

Architectural Wonders- Avian and Human

A Great Plains Grizzly Ends Up in a Scottish Castle




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The Walk That Wasn’t And An ‘Authentic’ Portuguese Lunch

On Monday we decided to do another road trip I had cobbled together from information online.  Rudy punched all our destinations into his Google Maps and off we went.  First destination we’d head to was Barragem da Bravura, according to my sources a lake created by a dam and surrounded by a nice hiking trail. There was a restaurant at the site which was well recommended.  I planned for us to have lunch there after our walk. 

Despite Rudy’s excellent navigating we didn’t find the lake right away but did find a dead-end.  We turned around and it wasn’t long before we arrived at the lake.  The restaurant was closed for the season and that put a little damper on the hike idea, since there would be no delicious Portuguese repast awaiting us at its end.  Despite this we hiked gamely down to the dam, stopped to appreciate the vistas of the lake it provided, walked across the dam and set off on the hiking trail.  It was a nice morning and we walked along for a while until we met some German tourists.  Our friend Rudy engaged them in conversation and they told him the hike around the lake took ‘three days’.  We were not prepared for a three-day hike so the guys decided we should turn around immediately.  They were hungry and we’d need to do a bit of driving to find a lunch spot. 

We drove all the way to Silves where we planned to tour the castle in the afternoon.  After driving up and down most of the streets in town we settled on a little restaurant that looked ‘authentic’.   We wanted to have some real Portuguese food.  And I think we did.  Dave ordered Cozido à Portuguesa a Portuguese stew that had lots of cabbage, potatoes and carrots, different kinds of sausages, meats and animal fat. It had all been cooked in one pot.

I opted for Frango no churrasco piri piri, basically barbecued chicken glazed with a spicy sauce and Rudy had Bacalhau com Grao which was chick peas and cod surrounded by boiled potatoes and eggs.  The portions were more than generous and we were decidedly full!! We just didn’t have room for dessert.  Later however Dave bought some juicy oranges at a roadside stand. They were so cheap he bought two big bags, so we’ll be having oranges for dessert for a while. 

I did look up the lake trail we aborted and contrary to the German man’s information it does not take three days but rather eight hours to walk around Barragem da Bravura. The restaurant at the head of the trail is opening in the middle of February.  We may have to do this part of our road trip again in the coming weeks. 

Other posts………….

The Mink Bay Happy Jack Trail

The Wave- Art in the Interlake

I Got Lost Twice Yesterday

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Copy Cats in Portugal

bonnie with pottery (1)When our friends Bonny and Jim were exploring the Sagres area of Portugal Jim posted this picture of Bonny on Facebook.  So when my friend Rudy and I passed by the same shop on our road trip last week, we decided we had to stop and take matching photos.  Here we are! sagres pottery rudy

sagres pottery me

Other posts ………….

Hopi Pottery

That’s How Light Gets In

A Reunion With Old Friends


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