Would You Like Uma Batata With That?

SpudI recently complimented a young Portuguese man on his excellent English. He credited his skills to the Indiana Jones movies and the Cartoon Network. After I told him of our efforts to learn Portuguese, he told me, with some degree of sympathy, that Portuguese is ranked the sixth most difficult language in the world to learn.

Frankly, I’m more than happy to proclaim Portuguese the most difficult language in the universe to learn. Of course that’s a little self-serving, as it makes every word we memorize that much more exciting, like when baby has his first poo or getting a trophy for twenty-sixth place out of thirty in the first grade for taking the shortest pee break.

With a great deal of effort and hours of study, we’ve made it this far:

Me: “Hey, honey, I just memorized the word for banana!”

Her: “Oh, what is it?”

Me: “Banana”

Her: “Oh brother.”

Me: “Yeah but they pronounce it different. It’s like ba-NA-NA.”

With that, you can see why I took such pride in memorizing the word for a potato, which is “uma batata.” “Uma” means “one” or “a.” The male version, which is spelled “um,” is pronounced just like a harsh grunt, which makes sense as a masculine word. This also means if you’re going to say “a grunt,” except make the noise for grunt instead of the word, you would say “oogh oogh.”

Which also means if you politely order one Uma Thurman doll, you would say, “Uma Uma Thurman boneca por favor.” Once presented with the doll, you would say “obrigada” if you’re a woman, “obrigado” if you’re a man, and nothing if you’re a bit of a butthead.

Nouns in Portuguese have either masculine or feminine attributes assigned to them. However, certain words, like “thank you,” are dependent on whether, as the speaker, you’re male or female. To cover the doubtful areas, such as if you’re a hermaphrodite, you default to male (in case you were wondering). By the way, the “o” at the end of words is pronounced “ooh,” just because you don’t earn sixth place by being the same as everybody else. So if you’re a man saying “thank you,” it’s like being surprised at seeing an obrigad. “Obrigad-ooh!” But don’t ask me what an obrigad is, we haven’t gotten that far yet.

As far as I can tell, everything that ends with an “a” is feminine, all the rest are masculine. Interestingly, the words for “transgender” and “asexual” are masculine, apparently because they didn’t want to bother with a third option. In any case, the powers that be who were responsible for assigning the genders way back when, apparently decided “potato” would be feminine. I won’t question the reasoning because men are just as likely to be shaped like a potato as women.

However, this must serve as proof that carrots must have had a different shape long ago, as the word for carrot is “cenoura.” Since it ends with an “a,” it’s feminine. That doesn’t make much sense to me, at least in regards to the shape of today’s carrots, especially when you realize that cucumber (“pepino”) is masculine, and rightfully so. But if carrot isn’t masculine, I don’t know how we’re supposed to figure this stuff out ahead of time, unless carrots used to be in the shape of potatoes. That’s the only way I can explain it.

Since we’re currently only armed with the total vocabulary of: please, thank you, sorry, I don’t speak Portuguese, banana, and a potato, I figured we could milk this thing for all it’s worth, especially since the Portuguese people are so patient and kind, even more so to foreigners. I thought, “wouldn’t it be fun to respond to nearly every question with a vacant smile and the simple retort of: ‘Uma batata?’”

At the check-out line in the grocery stores, we’re constantly bombarded with a machine-gunning of questions that sound like, “Porbridasush-issimorrr-shtush Continent shooma-mush-shoosh?” Which we figured out means, “Do you have a Continente card?” Continente is one of the largest chains of grocery stores in Portugal. The bigger stores rival the size of most sports stadiums, and contain enough supplies for several thousand people to weather the zombie apocalypse for a couple of decades. Especially since the dried cod would easily last that long. Sure, by year twenty their diets might only consist of dried cod and Twinkees, and they’d all smell like dead fish, but at least they wouldn’t be eating brains.

We assume that with a Continente card and a large budget you can amass enough points to pick out a prize from an awards chart that starts out with a small rubber ball and goes all the way up to owning your very own continent. We’re not going to shoot for that, however. Most continents have multiple languages, and we’re only up to “a potato” in Portuguese. Besides, we haven’t applied for a Continente card yet. An address that consists of “uma batata” probably wouldn’t get very much mail.

So far it has tickled us silly to see the expressions on the clerks faces when their query as to the status of our card-carrying membership is met with the answer, “A potato.” Granted, “uma batata” alone sounds funny to our English-speaking ears, so I think that aspect of the humor is lost on them. All they’re left grasping onto is the idea that perhaps Americans really are just crazy. Maybe we should say “batata” in an English accent so they can blame it on the Brits. Of course, we’ll still be giggling in an American accent. There’s only so much one can do.

There are all sorts of scenarios I can envision with this ploy:

Cashier at McDonalds,” What would you like to order?”

Reply: “A potato.”

Ticket taker at a theatre: “Which movie would you like to see?”
Reply: “A potato.”

Irritated Cop: “May I see your license and registration please?”

Reply: “A potato.”

Inside a confessional: “Bless you my son. How long has it been since your last confession?”

Reply: “A potato.”

You get the idea. Again, “uma batata” just sounds funnier so you can substitute that for added humorousness, but much of the humor is in knowing what the inquirer is hearing.

As a result of all this spud-itity, I find myself constantly singing this song in my head: “uma batata, uma batata… it means no worries… for the rest of your days! It’s our problem-free, philosophy! I say uma batata!”

We’ll see if our ever-expanding vocabulary creates more fun for us as we pinball around Portugal, leaving baffled Portuguese in our wake. But for now, “uma batata” is providing us all sorts of entertainment in our retirement. It’s the little things that keep us happy these days.

Our lifelong dream come true: We’re finally slumlords!

Oh, how many years have we dreamt of the day when we could close on a tiny apartment in a 200 year-old building so we could charge hapless tourists 150 euros a day for the privilege of spending sleepless nights listening to cats yowling, fellow tourists barfing in the street (or maybe it’s the other way around), and having their arms torn out of their sockets by cars speeding down tiny streets slightly too narrow for motorcycles.

Slumlords don’t like their pictures taken.

Yes, it’s the Portuguese-ian dream. And it has come true for us on this very day!

All kidding aside (well okay, never for long), we closed on our Alfama apartment today! Of course, since Murphy’s Law is an international law, when I carried my bride over the threshold (see, I told you the kidding wouldn’t stay aside for long), and we inspected our new home away from home for hundreds of sucker– er, tourists, we quickly discovered a water leak that threatened to turn the front staircase into a waterfall.

FloodingIt seems that they forgot that tightening the washers on a water heater provides excellent assistance in preventing the actual water from moving into places other than inside the pipes.

But, we decided to make lemonade out of the lemons, and so I rushed out to purchase some fish to stock up the lake that was now the apartment. I thought, “Fishing right in the Alfama!” would make a great marketing campaign. Unfortunately, to my dismay, I discovered that the fish in the seafood sections of the grocery stores are all dead. They looked so alive every time I scurried by while holding my nose against the noxious odors.

So with that marketing dream down the drain, we contacted the seller to complain of the problem, and he hustled right over with his handyman and they fixed ‘er right up. Just one of those simple oversights. All is well, and it’s back to being our nice little place.

It’s a small apartment, as they all are in Alfarma, a little under 500 sq. feet in size. But it’s right in the middle of a very tourist-friendly area, literally just steps from the “Panteon,” which is something every Alfarmasist will want to see upon visiting.

Here we are outside the apartment. This is the last picture of us taken before we entered the apartment as owners. It may be the last one of us smiling as well.
This is one of our windows looking out into the street. Just kidding. This was on an art studio window. I think they learned a new word in the Portuguese/American dictionary.
Okay, so the view outside the bedroom window isn’t “to die for,” (unless you figure on choking to death on oranges), but it’s kinda what you get in Alfama.
No, I haven’t grown six inches since we moved here. The ceilings can be a little low in these older buildings. But I only hit my head when I forget to duck.
The apartment was completely remodeled in preparation for our purchase. The kitchen is actually one of the more spacious ones we’ve seen compared to the other Airbnb’s we’ve stayed in. And you know Carolyn will decorate it all so nicely.

So there you have it! It won’t be available for rent for a couple of weeks since we have to stock it with furniture, dishes, a bed, a couch, etc., as well as of course a shredder with a sign above it that says, “Insert your comments and suggestions here.”

Next up, our house in Sesimbra closes on March 31st. April Fool’s Day will be a great day to move into our new home! And that’s no joke.

We Go From Plain Text to Italica

Just 30 minutes outside of Seville is a sleepy little town called Italica. Roman history buffs may find it interesting to note that it is also the birthplace of Roman Emperors Trajan and Hadrian. It was founded in 206 BC.

Carolyn and I founded it in 2017.

There is no entrance fee nor is there a lot of information (and none in English) about the place once you’re in. Still, it’s fascinating just to walk as you will throughout a reasonably well-preserved Roman town.

Like some other places we’ve seen so far, the amphitheater, which is very impressive and reminded me of a smaller version of the Coliseum in Rome, was used during the filming of some episodes of Game of Thrones.

So here are a bunch of pictures… you can wander through them like we did the town! (Click on the ones you like to expand ’em.)

Seville: Day Two

And this, dear reader(s)… (the “(s)” is just in case, there might be more than one of you), will be our last blog for a little while because we’re headed back to Bobadela and our spacious and nearly perfect apartment with the slight blemish of having no internet. As it turns out, I burned up all sorts of minutes by playing music through the iPhone as we drove here, so I probably won’t look at much on the phone either. I wish there was some sort of meter that showed up in the background telling you when you’re using minutes, because we had no idea we were burning up minutes faster than a pyromaniac in hell. Apple puts in these great technologies like “music from the cloud” but neglects to tell you that you’ll spend $50 on one road trip listening to them. Now we’re going to force ourselves to love the sound of rubber on pavement during our four hour drive home.

At any rate, we went back down into the heart of Seville, where the three main things to see are the streets and charm of old town, the Real Alcazar (as opposed to the pretend one), and the Seville Cathedral.

Here is the best of the 4,302 pictures we took today (give or take three or four thousand):

This is a view from The Puente de Isabel II bridge overlooking the Canal de Alfonso XIII.
I don’t know how all those guys on the roof keep so still for so long just to please the tourists.
The buildings aren’t as old as they are in Lisbon, and the architecture is more varied and much of it is quite beautiful.
Just another example of the variety and coolness of some of their buildings.
We were shocked to find out that Sevillians not only eat ferrets, but they have entire stores dedicated to nothing but! Unfortunately, this store was closed, so we didn’t get a chance to sample the delicacy. And I was so looking forward to ferret-on-a-stick!
We like castle walls.
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This is the outside of a bullfighting ring. We don’t really have any desire to see an actual, gory, bullfight, however. There’s enough bullshit to go around right now anyway.
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This is the goddess-of-holding-up-a-ball.
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This is for my sister Lynne. Finally, a statue of a woman on a horse! She did look a little bit like the Wicked Witch of the West, however.
Old Seville is filled with lots of narrow streets and outdoor cafes. You can just wander around and get lost while experiencing the charms of the area.

Next up was the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, better known as Seville Cathedral. It is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world as well as the third-largest church in the world. It was completed in the early 16th century, not long after Christopher Columbus sailed for the new world to “find out what all those Indians were doing over there.” It’s also the place where he’s now buried, as you’ll see below.

This is the altar as seen through the gates.
Their idea was to build a cathedral that made you feel pitifully small, putting you in your place next to the grandeur of God. Actually our tour guide told us their motto was “to build something where future generations would say they must be crazy.” I’d say mission accomplished.
This organ has 6,000 pipes and used to take 13 people to play it: one to hit the keys and 12 to pump the air through the pipes. It only plays a couple of times each year so that the 12 can catch their breath. Just kidding, it’s now all electronic. But now it takes 35 people to maintain it. Probably.
This has blub-blub-blub kilograms of silver in it. How am I supposed to remember exactly how many our guide told us? Anyway, it’s a lot. Heigh ho!
These are priceless crowns made of gold and innumerable diamonds and rubies and other shiny objects. It’s possible it is the most expensive thing we’ve ever seen. Besides that last medical bill anyway.
This was the place where the word “Goddy” turned into “gaudy.”
This particular ceiling goes all the way to the top.
Did we mention that it’s a very large organ?
And that it has 6,000 pipes?
And that these ceilings go all the way to the top?
This is a close-up of the most expensive thing we’ve ever seen. We couldn’t spot the price tag, however. We were hoping it was on sale. See the little angel in front? Her torso is made from one of the largest natural pearls ever found.
You can’t help but walk in, mouth agape, and mutter, “Gawd…” which is pretty much what they were after, I think.
Just li’l ol’ me to give you some perspective as to the size of this structure. I think God was trying to shine his light on me but he missed by about six feet.
If you look in the center ring inside this piece, the curly thing is thought to be one of the thorns from the crown placed on Jesus’ head during the crucifixion.

As mentioned above, Christopher Columbus is buried in this church, or at least half of him anyway. The rest of the bones may or may not be in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Or maybe even Cuba. In any case, since one of his sons and some other relative is also buried here they were able to do a DNA test to confirm that the bones in the coffin in this cathedral is actually that of Christopher Columbus. Not that he cares anymore.

This is the Columbus family crest.
This is to prove we were actually standing in front of Christopher Columbus’ tomb.

And this is the tomb. As you can imagine, Chris is a pretty popular figure around these parts. After all, if it wasn’t for him, there wouldn’t be any McDonalds or Burger Kings in the city!

The tower below is part of the cathedral. We walked all the way to the top, which I think was 143 stories or something like that. It was all via ramp, because the king who had the tower commissioned wanted to ride a donkey all the way up. We appreciated that, even though we didn’t get a donkey.

And here are the views from the top:

We also took a guided tour of The Alcázar of Seville, originally developed by Moorish Muslim kings. The palace is renowned as one of the most beautiful in Spain, being regarded as one of the most outstanding examples of mudéjar architecture (which is a combination of Islamic and Christian) found on the Iberian Peninsula. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe.

We were surprised to find out that Jesus is now a tour guide of these ancient holy sites. True story: his name really is Jesus (Hay-zoos).
You can see the Muslim influence, as well as the chandelier in the window at the top. The top floor is still used as a residence for the royal family.
They had a bunch of tapestries all in one room that were absolutely huge. Took each one two years to make. I think that’s why the ended up inventing sewing machines.
This is only half the room.
This was the bathtub for a queen. They sometimes filled it with milk. Jesus didn’t tell us if it was whole milk or 2%. Either way, that was a lot of udder work.
The entrance. We walked right on through because we were being led by Jesus.
Apparently there are lots of “Virgin thisses and thats” in Spain, but they’re all the same virgin. Here the Virgin of (I forget) stands over Christopher Columbus and some kings and other dignitaries.
I am duly impressed by something.


These channels were kept from the Islamic construction (much of which was otherwise destroyed), and were originally used to clean one’s feet before one entered the temple. I think they had smaller feet than me.

Much of the grounds are dedicated to a large garden area. Pretty and peaceful, and surely a cool place to come during the heat of the summer.

That’s it! We wrapped up our day by enjoying a late lunch with Gary, a gentleman from Seattle we met on one of the tours. It was nice to chat with an American-accented voice and share our experiences. He takes a month out of each year to motorcycle around Europe. We all agreed that more Americans should get beyond the borders and experience the world!

Why I Drove 144 Miles for a Haircut

1. Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 11.07.38 AMRemember this picture from the last blog? No? Okay, well then you get an “F” in Retention (or maybe you just don’t read every word, eh? In which case, you probably missed the $1,000 reward I posted for the first person to send an email with a special code, buried in one of the blogs below, eh? And by the way, no one has emailed me yet, which means… well, um, hehe, I guess it means no one’s reading the blog very thoroughly. Oh, well. I’m doing it for our own posterity anyway.

In any case, I used this picture to illustrate where the Sagres Fortress was, at the far southwest corner of Lisbon. Well, do you notice the city of Seville off to the right? Yeah, we did too. A couple of days ago I mentioned to Carolyn, “while we’re down here maybe we should drive to Seville!” After all, exploring is sort of our job now.

So we booked a hotel for a couple of nights and drove the 144 miles from Abufeira to Seville. It’s the first time either of us has been to Spain. Now I’ll never be able to sing that Three Dog Night song again… “Well I’ve never been to Spain… but I kinda like the music…” Now I’ll have to change the words as I sing with it to: “Well I’ve never been to Croatia…” Of course, we may actually end up in Croatia sometime…  at which point I’ll really have to go all out and changeIMG_4954 the lyrics to Afghanistan or Kyrgyzstan or something.

The only thing I knew about Seville was from the title of the opera, The Barber of Seville. And that’s all I even know about that opera. I did need a haircut, so Carolyn agreed to give it a try, seeing as how I don’t present all that difficult of a challenge and all. True story: as she was cutting my hair from the back, suddenly she burst out laughing. That’s not something you want to hear when someone’s cutting your hair. I still haven’t seen the back of my head, but whatever happened, I figure it’ll grow out.

Seville has a population roughly equivalent to our hometown Portland, Oregon, except for some reason it has many more Spaniards in it than Portland does. It’s also the hottest major metropolitan city in Europe. We were tired of the chilly mid-70’s weather in Portugal anyway, so bopping over to Seville meant we got to bask in the warmth of weather in the 80’s. Yeah, we’re not complaining. We’re just glad we didn’t come in July, when the average high temperature is 97 degrees!

But it’s a beautiful city, and we thoroughly enjoyed walking around it on the first day. We ended up in old town after starting at the Plaza de España, built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition World’s Fair. Now it is mostly used as a government building. It is, without a doubt, one of the most impressive buildings we’ve seen, even if it combines multiple architectural elements and is now kind of overkill for government offices. Still, it  was also used as a location in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, so if you’re a fan of Star Wars, there’s always that. Otherwise, without further ado, and with no additional comments to speak of because all we did was walk around gawking and taking pictures, here are some pics of Seville, Spain. Hope you enjoy.

Finally, a door in Europe I can fit into!

Faro Out, Man!


After traveling down to the Algarve and setting up shop in Albufeira, we set about exploring the area. Our first stop was Faro (pronounced Faru), which is Portugal’s southernmost city and has about 50,000 residents in the city itself.

Behind us is a portion of Faro surrounded by walls built in the 6th and 7th centuries, with some Roman architecture from before that thrown in for good measure. We like old walls and castles.
This sign was created a little later. In the 1200s, the Portuguese called the town Santa Maria de Faaron. We’re glad they changed and shortened the name because we couldn’t have been in this picture otherwise.
Despite all appearances, this town is not for the birds. It’s just overseen by one. This stork is kinda famous, at least as far as whether having a picture on a postcard makes you famous.
Intricately paved streets with colored stones add to the charm of the city.
It obviously took a lot of balls to create this sculpture.
This exercise equipment doesn’t date back to Roman times, but if it did, Carolyn would now be fit to be a slave in one of the ships’ galleys.
We like castle-y things.
Including ones with bells.
This is inside the walls, where there is a maze of narrow streets and cute shops and the occasional plaza area. It’s very charming.


While Faro was lovely, we didn’t find a ton of specifically interesting things to see otherwise. Additionally, I have no idea what it means when you search in TripAdvisor for “Things to Do in Faro,” and the number one ranked thing is: “Taxis and Shuttles.” Since we have Marco the VW Polo, we certainly didn’t need to engage in whatever frivolity and excitement that entails.

But we did find something called the Palacio de Estoi, which ranked number 8 (we passed up the Segway Tours and ATV off-road tours which also ranked ahead of it), and it sounded kinda cool, seeing how we like palaces and everything. When we got there, we walked in and politely asked how much it cost to enter as well as how late they were open. We were surprised to hear that it not only cost nothing to enter, but it was also open 24/7! We thought this place must be a very cool place to see if they has to be open 24/7 to accommodate all the throngs! But then we found out that it was actually a hotel. Oops. It is billed as a “small luxury hotel,” and was quite beautiful, as you can see by the below pictures.

IMG_4282IMG_4822IMG_4823IMG_4828So that was it for Faro. The next day we decided to bop over to Lagos (which we think is pronounced: Lagoosh, but we could be slightly wrong). While headed there, we thought it would be fun to first venture to the southwestern-most place in Lisbon, which is guarded by the Sagres Fortress. We ended up spending much more time there than we planned, because it was very cool. Speaking of cool… the weather wasn’t. A gorgeous mid-70’s day with nothing but sunshine. Which lead to our first sunburns. We had been meaning to protect ourselves, but didn’t realize that we’d end up in an area that would hold our fascination for so long. Oh well, goofy hats and sunscreen our now on our must-bring-everywhere list!

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Before we even got into the fort, we were mesmerized by the beauty of the ocean, the waves, and the cliffs. Of course, I’m always mesmerized by the beauty of my wife. Just sayin’.
This looked like a mini version of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. We took dozens of pictures trying to capture the perfect wave and just because it was so beautiful.
Carolyn with her high-tech camera equipment.
Off in the distance you can see Casablanca. Well, maybe only if you bring a portable DVD player and watch the movie, but the city is right out there if you feel like rowing. For a long time, maybe, but just keep repeating, “Row it Again, Sam,” and eventually you’ll get there.
One side of the fort has a beautiful and tumultuous sea, the other is as calm as a bathtub.
Historians don’t know if this was a sundial or navigational aid. Personally, I think it was the first version of the Trivial Pursuit game, except they had more categories since there wasn’t nearly as much trivia accumulated as there is now.
Off in the distance is a lighthouse. This is all on the southwestern-most point of Portugal.
There were plenty of places where you could leap to your death. Or be pushed over. Somehow she regained her balance and I pretended it was a joke.
Yeah, we live in this country. Sigh. We’re in love. With each other too, the joke above notwithstanding.
These guys are fishing and standing on a cliff hundreds of feet above the water. We didn’t see any of them catch anything, but it must take them ten minutes just to haul it in when they do!
Perigo means danger. The fishermen didn’t care about that. One guy was fishing on the cliff in the distance, standing precariously (to us anyway) about ten feet down from the top.
Cliffs of Moher-lite, I’m telling ya.
The area there resembles a moonscape. But only if aliens constructed a beacon on the moon.
“Perigo Will Robinson, Perigo!” I’m thinking more like: Peri-stop.
We like cliffs.
It kinda looks like an alligator head, doesn’t it?
This was a cistern. It’s where the term, “On the rocks” came from.
Since yellow and blue are coordinating colors, this image is perfectly color-coordinated.
However, it’s maybe a little more picturesque without the yellow-shirted guy.
The view of the fort from the outside.
By the end of the day, Carolyn thought my forehead was getting a little sunburned, but I didn’t believe her. I do now.
Kevin shows off his big –er, well, old, guns.
On the grounds, in the middle of nowhere, was this structure we knew couldn’t be ancient. Puzzled, we walked in, and found out it was a sort of sound amplifier (called “The Chamber of Sound”) for waves when they come crashing through some underground tunnels. It was really cool. The sound sometimes wooshed so loud it rattled your bones.

After enjoying ourselves immensely at the fort, we journeyed on back to Lagos, which now held a distant second place in our fascination with this part of the coast. However, as luck would have it, we found it to be an exceedingly charming town, with beautiful streets lined with lots of shops and restaurants. Probably our favorite city in Algarve so far.

I’m not sure which is holding up what.
I got confused with the sword in the stone thing.
This was a museum we didn’t go into. I am just pretending to walk out. I mean, it cost like three euros to get in and everything. The truth is, I was just holding up one leg so it looked like we had gone in. I don’t know why we went to all that trouble for me just to contradict all that effort in writing, but it was near the end of a long day.
We do like free castle-y walls, though.
Simply beautiful. I’m her husband, so you know I’m not just talking about the street.
The afore-mentioned goofy hat. The sun will rain its rays on my bald pate no more!

Doin’ the Willie Nelson

On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
And I can’t wait to get on the road again

Perhaps the best part about this new journey is that we have wi-fi again! Woo hoo! While we love our new place, and even more the generosity and kindness of our attorney in letting us use it, it’s sure amazing how quickly our lives have become dependent on good internet access. Of course that also means it’s once again a lot easier to post pictures on the blog (you can take that as a “Reader Warning! Lots of pictures below again!”) We used my iPhone as a hotspot for a while, but not only is that slow and intermittent, we went through our minutes faster than Trump goes through hairspray. Plus I can’t use my computer to do it, which puts a serious bummer on my blogging, dude.

And so, without further ado, here are two batches of pix, one from a trip to Nazaré, and the other to Albufeira in the Algarve, which is where we are right now.

Nazaré is world-renown for surfing waves that are totally righteous. In fact, world record-setting. In November 2011, Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara surfed a wave that was 78 feet from trough to crest. There have been a couple of surfed waves that may even be bigger than that since then. So we set out on a hour-and-a-half drive to see if we could rock a tube. Or at least see a big wave or something.

It was windy, and it was cold. There were times I actually had to hold my iPhone with two hands to take pictures, for fear the wind would blow it out of my hand.
This is something like what we were hoping to see there.
We would’ve even settled for something like this.
Instead, what we got was this.

If you don’t believe how big those waves can get at this spot, just click here for a radical video. And yeah, that’s right where we were. We just have to come back in November or so to catch that surf. And we will, by God. That’s something we really want to see.

The wind has quite a nip to it. Poses were struck on the fly.
The town of Nazare´ from a view near the lighthouse. The beaches are slammin’ in the summer.
“Take the frickin’ picture so I can get back into the car!”
Beneath the lighthouse, a display of surfboards used by some of the famous surfers. We didn’t know who any of them were, but we’ll take their word for it.
I think this is a Guinness World Record for the lowest I could stoop to look out a window and then stand up again without grunting loudly.
Even without monster waves, it’s a beautiful area. However, driving down this road toward the lighthouse entails being a very cautious driver. Those cement barriers aren’t present every part of the way. One wrong push on the gas instead of the brake and you’re headed downhill in a hurry, and for the last time.
Rumor has it surfers enjoy a fair amount of ganja. I can explain this no other way.
Picture-postcard worthy. Guess we have to settle for blog-worthy. That’s the lighthouse in the pictures above.

Next up– a trip to Algarve! Algarve is a big tourist destination in the summer, especially for the Brits. Even in the off-season, as we wandered around town we heard more British accents than the time we were in London. Well, maybe not, but after hearing nothing but Portuguese, it was noticeable. I did get a kick out of a musician singing Neil Diamond and other American and British pop songs in a restaurant. Why do people want tastes of home when they’re traveling in another country? We’re glad we didn’t consider moving to Algarve permanently.


I haven’t been told that I have a stick up my butt very often, but now you can figure it’s true, as long as you substitute “fire hydrant” for “stick.”
This is the main beach in Alburfeira. We had to taste the gelato to make sure they made it as well here as everywhere else we’ve been.
It may look like a jumble, but that’s only because it is.
As the son of a son of a sailor, I went out on the sea for adventure… As a dreamer of dreams and a travelin’ man, I have chalked up many a mile…
The view from our new wi-fi equipped flat. Cloudy when we first got here, but the weather forecast is for 22 and 23 degrees as a high. Which is 72-74 for those of you stuck in the measurement dark ages. Ha! Did I mention we now have wi-fi?
And here it is the next morning, with the clouds dissipating. We hear it’s snowing right about now in Portland. Um, sorry?
Sittin; in the mornin’ sun, I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ come. Watching the ships roll in, and then I watch ’em roll away again. I’m sitting on the dock of the bay, watching the tide toll away. Ooh, I’m just sitting on the dock of the bay, wastin’ time…
If that was a thought cloud above my head, you could be sure I’d be pissed off about something!
I didn’t realize how much of a Peeping Tomette Carolyn was until I caught her snapping pictures of some people in their house. I refuse to use her picture in the blog. We’ll see about counseling when we get back to Lisbon.
For some reason Albufeira has a preponderance of cats. It may have something to do with all the fish, I dunno. Or maybe it’s just the Brits.
In the summer that beach is packed with pasty-white Brits, all clamoring for a cup of tea with their suntan lotion.

You know you’re retired when your idea of fun is to try on different sunglasses and laugh at each other and take pictures. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is what retirement is like.

….And lovin’ it.

As a final flush– er, close to the blog, I just have this one question. What in the world is this bidet-thing used for? I mean, I’ve used a bidet. In Japan, they have sophisticated toilet seats with controls that rival an airplane cockpit. They make you want to sit there for hours, just luxuriating in the, well, we can leave the rest to your imagination.

I was going to joke about all the bidets here in Portugal by asking what we’re supposed to do with these feet washers. Now I wonder if that’s really what they are. The faucets only point down, so if they’re supposed to wash your nether regions, well, let’s just say no one could ever unsee what they saw if someone were actually washing their nethers with that faucet.

Since we’re pretty sure no one has ever used it, we’re using it as an ice bucket. Cheers!


Evicted again!

That is, we’ve been evicted if your definition of “evicted” is “when your previously agreed-upon move-out date has arrived.”

The really cool part about this particular move is that we have moved into a very nice apartment owned by our attorney. She wasn’t using it, and so offered it up while we await for our properties to close. This is but one of many kindnesses we have seen or been the recipient of from the Portuguese in general; whether strangers or friends. People are people, so it’s not like everyone in Portugal is dancing around throwing daisies at everyone while kissing them on the cheek (although they do do that here. That’s the standard greeting between females and everyone else (Men just shake hands with each other, thank God.). The standard greet and good-bye is air kiss-air kiss-both cheeks touch. It’s really kind of sweet. After I got over my initial American-bred discomfort with the practice, I’ve approached it with gusto. I did have to be reprimanded a couple of times though: “No tongue! No tongue!” Also, grocery store checkout clerks and cops aren’t particularly appreciative of the greeting.


The sunrise from our new apartment.

The only downside to this apartment is that it has no internet or TV. I can get on the internet with my phone and iPad, but it makes handling pictures a little cumbersome. So, for the next month or so the blog may not be as bloggy, or as picture-full, as it has been. Which I know will disappoint all of our fans, most of whom have been pestering us with emails, and I quote: “Enough with the pictures already, I want to read more words!” And “You’re only blogging every couple of days, could you please try to make it a couple of times a day?” And “I’ve reread the entire thing from top to bottom four times now, going all the way back to your first visit to Europe, and I found a couple of typos. Can you fix them please?”

To all of you lovely fans, including those of you who were thinking all of the above but simply neglected to send the email, I say, “hey, I don’t want to walk out of this apartment to a hoarde of reporters and papparazzi, which will interrupt and complicate our sightseeing, so you’ll get what you get, and be happy with that. There’s always some John Steinway or Earnest Hemingbeck to read instead, y’know? Better yet, I heard something about this Shakespeare fella, apparently he’s an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more. Try him.”

Another view from the apartment of one of the longest bridges ever in this picture.

In the meantime, we have made an offer and had it accepted on an apartment in the Alfama district. It’s a small one in a very old building, which is what the Alfama is all about. It is a tourist hotspot within Lisbon. We hope to close in a week or two, after which we’ll be scrambling to furnish it so we can stay there until we can move into our home on April 1st or thereabouts.

So yeah, if you’re wondering if we should “get a job,” somehow we’re staying plenty damn busy. We’ve been living out of suitcases for so long we can’t wait to get into our house. But with everything going so well and then some, we’re sure not going to complain about anything.

Our attorney is so nice she brought a birthday cake to the document signing we had with the owner of the apartment (pictured here with Marta). Of course, his birthday was four months away, but still. Just kiddin’. Everyone came in to sign on Fat Tuesday, which is a national holiday here. With all the food they have, every day of the week is a fat day!