Douro River and the Wonderful World of Port

Posted by Pat on November 10, 2017 in Travel |

28 October 2017

One does not need to cruise the Douro River Valley for Port because most all wine houses can be found along the Cais de Gaia. However, river cruises up the Douro, though what is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest demarcated wine region in the world, is a pleasant and tasty way to pass a few days. So much wine – so little time! Read more…

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Oporto, My Porto

Posted by Pat on October 29, 2017 in Travel |

26 October 2017

Architecture, cathedrals and towers, food and Fado, wine and Port, polpo and jamon, bookstores and Harry Potter, the Ribeira and cafes. Porto, let me sing thy praises.

An explanation on the naming of the city. Portuguese call it Porto, the English Oporto, evidently because of linguistic misinterpretation. Way back when, the English erroneously heard Portuguese say “o Porto” meaning “the port.” They thought the name of the city included the article “o.” Locals hate that the error stuck. Read more…

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Lisboa Portugal

Posted by Pat on October 27, 2017 in Travel |

24 October 2017

Iconic ‘waves’ of Lisboa’s cobblestone streets.

I return to Lisboa after 45 years. Will I recognize its changes? Will it have changed? How have I changed? I certainly am a different traveler from the novice who visited Lisbon on a budget. In June of 1972, I wrote: Read more…

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Posted by Pat on October 25, 2017 in Travel |

21 October 2017

Just 46 minutes and about 15€ southwest of Madrid by train is Sevilla. Our Hotel Doña Manuela is ideally located overlooking the northern end of the Jardin de Murillo and the Royal Alcázar. Its neighborhood of Santa Maria La Blanca offered a plethora of cafes and bars. Perfect!

Sevilla is easy to wander and difficult to get lost as the Cathedral’s marvelous 12th century La Giralda Bell Tower soars 342’ over the city. Originally built as a minaret during the Moorish era in 1198, it was later converted and heightened after the 1248 Reconquista when the mosque was redesigned into a Catholic church. Read more…

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Posted by Pat on October 23, 2017 in Travel |

19 October 2017

Roman columns dating to the time of Hadrian

A 90-minute train from Madrid’s Atocha station takes me to the beautiful, historical city of Córdoba. Our hotel, La Boutique Puerta Osario, sits in a narrow, quiet street a few minutes from the train station. Most sights of interest lie within easy walking distance. Hotels still push paper maps; I have come to rely on Google Maps. Before leaving home, I plan what I want to see and the best route. Saves me wasting time, I see what I want, and I save trees. I load up my Google route and start my walk. Read more…

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Madrid and Toledo – Spain’s Temptations

Posted by Pat on October 20, 2017 in Travel |

15 October 2017

Spain has become one of my favorite countries, a temptation to return again and again. I lacked appreciation, too much a novice during my initial 1972 visit to Madrid and Barcelona. However, my return in 2016 left me with the desire to explore in more depth. Thus, once again, I sit enjoying a churros and chocolate with my friend at Chocolatería San Ginés. Read more…

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In Flanders Fields – The Flanders Field American Cemetery

Posted by Pat on April 14, 2017 in Travel |

11 April 2017

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”

– John McCrae   

As a student in elementary school in the 1950s, I was expected to learn “In Flanders Fields.” Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel McCrae wrote it on 3 May 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. I don’t remember particularly relating to his words, or even poppies. After the past few days, after seeing “row on row” of soldiers who died, after walking in the trenches and “between the crosses,” this poem symbolizes so much more to me today.  Read more…

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