Goose Necked Barnacles and How to Catch An Octopus

Beach at Salema

Yesterday we did a little road trip I had read about in a travel article. We headed west from our house in Praia da Luz to the village of Salema. The cobblestone decor made it obvious we were in a place that is dependent on the sea for its livelihood.  We went for a walk along the beach. Although in summer the beach is said to be extremely popular and crowded with tourists we shared it with only a flock of gulls and a group of fishermen who were repairing their nets. Our friend Rudy got into quite a conversation with one of the fishermen and Dave and I listened as he explained in his limited English that  their main catch was octopus. He showed us the terra-cotta and steel pots they use to catch the octopus. This fisherman owns literally thousands of them. The pots are all roped together on lines that can stretch for 20 kilometers or more.  The octopus like being inside the pots because it is safe and secure, kind of like a cave for them, so once the fishermen have reeled the pots in they put a spot of bleach into the pot which chases the octopus out. They sell the octopus to restaurants. 

I had read one needed to stop in Vila de Bispo to taste the goose necked barnacles, so we found a tiny restaurant there for lunch.  Our helpful waiter David brought out a plate with a goose necked barnacle for us to look at. It made Dave and I decide to eat something else so we ordered sandwiches. Our friend Rudy was more adventuresome and asked the waiter for suggestions. He ended up ordering the fried moray eel. Rudy said it was good but there wasn’t much of it so Dave and I shared our sandwiches with him. While we were eating a couple came over to talk to us and asked if we were from Manitoba. They had noticed Dave’s Winnipeg Jets hat. Turns out they were from Manigotagan and ran a campground there. They were traveling through Portugal and checking out the Portuguese campgrounds.  Rudy who has been an avid biker in the past, also stopped to chat with a group of bikers from Great Britain.

The cook kept coming out from the kitchen during our meal to check on us. She couldn’t speak English but her cheery voice and smiling face made it clear she hoped we were enjoying our food.  We didn’t order dessert but she brought out a small slice of some lemony kind of pie for us to share anyway.

After our meal we got back into our rented car and headed off for more adventures.  We’d learned how to catch an octopus and what a goose necked barnacle was… two things we didn’t know before our road trip began. 

Other posts…………..

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

First Supper in Lisbon

What is Fado?


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Such Beauty Beneath Your Feet

Almost all the streets and sidewalks in Portugal are made of cobblestone.  

Cobblestones littered with cigarette butts because it seems everyone in Portugal smokes

In many areas the stone pathways are plain and pedistrian like the ones in the picture above……but others called calçada Portuguesa are true works of art done by workers called calceteiros who painstakingly make mosaics with the small stones. Apparently the practice is in jeopardy because the calceteiros do not earn high wages and must work long hours so fewer and fewer young people are interested in learning the craft as apprentices.  This unique kind of cobblestone art is thought to have originated in Mesopotamia and was brought to Portugal by the Romans who occupied the country during the 3rd and 4th centuries.

Many of the patterns like these waves have some kind of reference to the sea because Portugal’s economy was once so closely tied to ocean exploration and the fishing industry

The cobblestones are more expensive than ordinary pavement to install, are very slippery when wet and wear out more easily. Many accidents are caused each year by people who stumble and trip because of loose or missing cobblestones. The cobblestones are also much harder to traverse in high heels, with a stroller or wheelchair, or as we found out, your luggage on wheels.  Although some say the cobblestones should all be replaced there is a move afoot to have them protected by asking them to be granted UNESCO classification as a world heritage item.  Hopefully a way will be found to make these cobblestones safer without destroying them because they are truly a thing of beauty. I have my eye out for them everywhere we go in Portugal and have not yet grown tired of recording new patterns with my camera. 

Other posts………

Seeing the Movie The Post in Lisbon

A Fascinating Conversation in a Little Wine Shop in Lisbon

Lisbon by Design

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Too Old To Visit Lagos?

Lagos, Portugal is home to some 30,000 people. We have been to the city five times now.  

climbing to lagos

We often hike to Lagos over the hills. Here we do the hike with our friend Rudy.

Lagos is only about 5 km. away from our house in Praia da Luz. It is currently listed as one of the top 10 places in the world for people under 30 to visit.   In the 15th century Lagos was the hub for Portugal’s maritime exploration of the world. It is still very much a marine city. The harbor is filled with vessels there is fresh fish for sale along the harbor front and……

Dave watches as we wait for a boat to go under the raised bridge

when boats going down the Bensafrim River are passing by….. up goes the bridge across the river and pedestrians must wait to cross while the boat travels under the bridge. 

This is Prince Sebastian. He died in battle in 1578 but his body was never found and at the darkest points in Portugal’s history people have predicated the great king will come back to save his country.

Public art in Lagos is plentiful, some representing historical figures, some by contemporary artists and others by local street artists.  There are shops aplenty to please the tourists and more cafes than one would think could possibly do business.  In February you have to search a bit to find a table in the sun but when you do it’s a lovely experience. In Lagos we learned about the dark side of Prince Henry the Navigator who we first met at the Maritime Museum in Lisbon.  The expeditions Henry sponsored to ‘discover’ Africa brought a great many riches to Portugal including boat loads of slaves.  The Prince Henry Square  in Lagos where this statue of the prince stands, was also the site of Portugal’s first slave market. Beginning in 1444 African families were brought to this square to be separated and sold into slavery to work in local households and businesses.  It is said Henry was making a 700% profit on each slave but he thought he was doing a good thing helping these ‘heathen pagans’  see the light of Christianity. Ironically the square named after Prince Henry and the site of the slave market, also holds a church formerly called The Church of Mercy.

Lagos is a city of contrasts.  

Gypsies ride in traditional carts through the streets of Lagos. Portuguese gypsies are said to face more discrimination than in any other place in Europe.

There are old methods of transportation and new methods of transportation.  There are old buildings and new buildings. There are older traditional musicians in the streets

This young man was playing barefoot on a very chilly day in Lagos.

as well as younger artists playing more contemporary fare.
Lagos may have been named one of the top ten cities in the world to visit before you are 30 but………… although we are already past twice that age mark……..  we are still enjoying learning about Lagos and spending time there.  I’m sure we will be back for more visits before we leave Portugal. 

Other posts…….

Lisbon by Design

Six Interesting Things About Lisbon

Plumb Tuckered Out in Lisbon

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A Reunion With Old Friends, Great Stories and Portuguese Wine

On the beach in Portugal with Bonny, Jim, Dave and Rudy

Last night we got together here in Portugal with our friends Bonny and Jim Peters.  Bonny and I have known each other since childhood when we attended girls club and Sunday School together at Grace Mennonite Church, went to each other’s birthday parties and played at one other’s houses after church on Sundays.  

When Dave and I moved to Steinbach in 1976 we attended Grace Mennonite Church with Jim and Bonny and they were part of our early social circle there.  For many years we lived on Westwood Street in Steinbach right across from them. Bonny and Jim’s two older sons became such good friends with our son. The boys spent many, many hours playing together and when our son was in kindergarten Bonny provided child care for him on the half days he wasn’t in school.  

At Bonny and Jim’s house with our small group friends last Christmas

For the last nearly twenty years we have been in a Steinbach Grace Mennonite Church care group with Bonny and Jim and that has created many new opportunities for fostering our friendship. The group insisted we remain with them even after we moved to Winnipeg and started attending Bethel Mennonite Church there. 

Bonny and Jim on the Hong Kong harbour

We had a great time with Bonny and Jim when they came to visit us during the years we lived in Hong Kong. So we were happy to hear that Bonny and Jim would be in Portugal at the same time as we planned to be here.  They were traveling with Jim’s brother Rob and his partner Evelin. 

porches portugalBonny and Jim came over on Sunday night to watch the Super Bowl at our place. Our TV was broadcasting the game while theirs was not. In Portugal the game was on from about 11:30 pm. till 3:30 am.  I am pretty sure we would not have stayed up to watch it on our own but it was fun to watch it with Bonny and Jim who are diehard football fans and very knowledgeable especially about their favorite team The New England Patriots.  Unfortunately their team didn’t win although Bonny held out hope I think till the last minute or so. 

Then last night Bonny and Jim and Rob and Evelin invited us over for supper to the warm, spacious home they are renting in Porches.  We took a walk along their beautiful secluded beach with high protective cliffs wrapped all around it.  Rob cooked a fabulous meal for us of paella with shrimp and mussels, all kinds of appetizers, a salad and chocolate and port for dessert.  The food was great as was the interesting conversation around the table that ranged from childhood memories, to memorable border crossings, to learning the facts of life, to stories about our aging parents, to our Portugal experiences. 

Left to right- me, Bonny, Jim, Rudy, Dave and Evelin, unfortunately our chef Rob is not in the photo since he took it

Our friend Rudy had arrived the day before to spend several weeks with us. He is also a good friend of Bonny and Jim’s. Jim and Rudy worked in the same department at the regional highschool in Steinbach for many years and Bonny and Jim shared a warm mutual friendship with Rudy’s wife Sue who died in December. 

It was great for all of us to spend time together.  In his blog post about the evening my friend Rudy alluded to the fact that sometimes when you are away from your familiar surroundings you visit in a little different way with people and you can have the most interesting conversations.  I think he’s right, but I also think the wonderful Portuguese wine enables those kinds of conversations too. 

Other posts……….

Grace Mennonite Church



Filed under Portugal

Can Your Marriage Survive Lollygagging?

Dave checks out the menu at yet another local restaurant

We were looking for a restaurant to have supper one cold and windy night here in Praia da Luz, Portugal where we have rented a house for six weeks.  I was hungry and freezing but Dave insisted on touring around our whole area, stopping at every restaurant to read through the menus posted outside.  He just couldn’t decide where to eat. I finally lost my patience and shouted over the wind that he needed to just pick a place for goodness sake.  He retorted that he had only been trying to kill time so we could have dinner at exactly 7:00 as we’d discussed at home and then he added……….  “and you should be patient because I certainly didn’t get upset when you were lollygagging on our hike this afternoon.” 

I had never heard Dave use the word lollygagging before.  Perhaps he’d heard it in conversations between the many British residents in the area, but he was right.  I had lollygagged on our hike that afternoon.  I had stopped to take photos……. of flowersand plants and trees and the ocean and the cliffs and our path and interesting graffiti and Praia da Luz in the distance.  At one point I had been lollygagging so much I lost Dave as he entered a gully.   and because of that I headed off in the wrong direction and had to backtrack when I finally spotted him climbing up a steep hill. 

Dave waits for me to catch up

It started me thinking that having patience with your partner’s lollygagging is important if you want a relationship to be successful because I suspect often couples don’t share common lollygagging tendencies.  On hikes Dave focuses on getting to our destination.  I lollygag because I’m focusing more on our surroundings.  

Lunch of pizza, beer and sangria after our hike to Lagos

When we go out to dinner Dave lollygags because he focuses on looking at all the choices and enjoys the whole process of picking the perfect spot to eat. I focus on the food and having a meal.  I tend to lollygag in book stores and jewelry stores and Dave in sports stores and clothing stores. I lollygag more in art galleries and Dave more in history museums and zoos. 

I think over the many years we’ve been traveling together we’ve become more patient with each other’s lollygagging.  But every once in a while we snap. What lollygagging differences do other couples have to work on I wonder?

Other posts……..

Plumb Tuckered Out in Lisbon

Real and Messy and Honest

What Should I Take A Picture Of? 


Filed under Family, Portugal

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

 I am the librarian at my church. The Sunday before we left for Portugal I was in the library chatting with a couple I had never met before.  They were leaving on a trip and wanted some books to take along.  As we visited I found out that Ann and Ernie were headed for Portugal and discovered they would be in the Algarve area at the exactly the same time as we would.  We exchanged e-mails and so a few days ago we invited them to drive from their rented place in Albuferia to ours in Praia da Luz and join us for dinner. 

When they arrived we first went for a walk along the beach.  As we walked and visited we found out we had many things in common besides attending the same church.  Ann had volunteered at the Winnipeg Art Gallery for a number of years just before I became a guide there. As a couple they had traveled to many of the same places we had.  Ernie and Dave shared a common long time friendship with a man in Philadelphia, and Ann and I were both currently reading the same book- Night Train to Lisbon.  It was sunny out and quite nice and we took some photos of the interesting color variations in the rocks along the beach.

An archeologist has unearthed ruins of an ancient Roman aqueduct and bath house at this site along the waterfront  that date back to around the 4th century

As we headed back to our place we checked out some Roman ruins along the sidewalk and then much to our delight spotted a pod of dolphins near the shore. We stopped to watch them leaping and breaching before heading home for supper.  I had made spaghetti and salad.  We had fresh bread from the bakery around the corner and Ann and Ernie had brought a bottle of wine so we had a delightful meal together talking about our families, travels, past jobs and retirement endeavors.  Among other things we discovered Ann and Ernie love ball room dancing. 

Kind of interesting that we had to come all the way to Portugal to get to know some people from our church in Winnipeg. 

Other posts……..

Saying Hello to People

Fascinating Conversation in a Tiny Wine Shop in Lisbon

A Church and a Bar on Every Corner

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Dave the Navigator Meets Henry the Navigator

A Portuguese waiter helps Dave locate the nearest bus stop on Google Maps

Visiting the Maritime Museum in Lisbon to learn more about Henry the Navigator was high on the priority list for my husband.  Dave is definitely the navigator in our family. I am incredibly geographically challenged and so it is Dave who navigates as we explore new cities, hike new trails, go on bicycle trips along new routes and travel to new destinations. Although in the past he was prone to think electronic navigation supports were just made for people who were ‘geographically stupid’,  I have noticed on this trip he is using the Google Maps app on his phone quite a bit more.  He is realizing there might be new ways of navigating. 

Dave the Navigator with Henry the Navigator

And that’s exactly what happened with Henry the Navigator (1934-1460), the Portuguese prince who supported new methods of navigation and map making that launched the Age of Discovery. This led to Europeans discovering the world was a much bigger place than they had ever imagined. 

Henry surrounded by the cartographers, astronomers and explorers he employed

At the Maritime Museum we learned  how Henry was geographically curious and employed the best cartographers, astronomers and sea pilots of his time.

Dave checks out a map showing the voyages of discovery made by Portuguese explorers

Henry financially sponsored many voyages.  

Dave hanging out with Vasco Da Gama

Henry laid the groundwork for the future successes of famous Portuguese explorers like Vasco da Gama who discovered a sea route to India and Ferdinand Magellan who organized the expedition that led to the first circumnavigation of the globe. 

We spent a couple of hours at the Maritime Museum in Lisbon as both Dave the Navigator and I learned about Henry the Navigator and how his interest in exploration and geography ended up changing the world. 

Other posts……..

56 Kilometers Under Our Tires

The Doctrine of Discovery

Getting to Know John Cabot


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