His girl Sarra, wearing purple, is always on a bleacher high

Paul Plant is pitcher
in the Wild Wood Bewitcher
League. He’s all twitcher

-like with each pop fly
and stretches to catch each, aye!
N & P so shy.


Portugal Trip Day 7 (Saturday, Sept. 22)

No swim!

The beach was a whim
but we’re stopped before the brim
not wet on no limb.

The old guard was grim
and his view of us was dim.
Riptide’s no one’s gym.

Saved by an ancient ingrained Persona

In a fog gonna
hunt for that old–Madonna–
cliff! Belladonna!

The next day we were on the road again with our destination a new air B&B in the Leiria region (that’s central and north of Lisbon) but on the way we made a special stop. P&N had arranged to get a guided tour which was the only means to enter the Estação Arqueológica da Herdade da Sala/Gruta do Escoural. That cave may deserve such a long name since it can boast Paleolithic rock art of horses and aurochs which are roundabout 22,000 years old. After seeing that I can claim to have been exposed to relatively immortal art. Enough to give one pause about one’s own creative endeavors but I’m forging on anyway.
That part of Portugal has been used by ‘man’ for far longer than even that. There’s evidence of the use of the cave by nomadic Neanderthal Hunter/Gatherers between 40,000 and 50,000 years B.C. yet knowledge of this archeological wonder is scant. The cave was only rediscovered in the 1960’s so our modern awareness is only as old as I am. Still, if you search for it on the web you won’t find much and there’s just the one picture on the wikipedia page.
I heard someone once say that the internet is thousands of miles wide but only an inch deep. Now, granted, it’s not very old: I can remember setting up my first web page for a University department back in the early 1990’s but I’d like to think that with world wide use things have improved since that time. If we can afford space for so many cat pictures and other things that aren’t so cute why isn’t there more room for our own past? I suspect that some scholars somewhere are being stingy with the results and photographs until they’ve milked all they can for their careers. As if they’d paid for the research themselves. Sorry, I’ve seemed to digress into a mess.
Back on the itinerary we headed west and then north. During the trip we saw something odd along the side of the road: it was a forest of conifers being tapped. It reminded me of maple syrup collecting back in Canada. Later on I looked it up and was surprised to learn they do that for turpentine and other volatiles.
Anyway, we made it to the silver coast and to one of the most popular seaside resorts there: Nazaré. There are three ‘neighbourhoods’ to this town: Praia (beach), Sítio and Pederneira. The first is the newest part though no one lived there actively until the nineteenth century because of Viking, French, English and Dutch pirates. Although I don’t think all at the same time.
Our plan was to go dip our toes in the Atlantic but as we went down the beach a middle-aged and agitated beach guard in a speedo herded us back from the steeply rounded sand by the water with very rapid Portuguese including much use of the word ‘perigoso’. Dangerous.
The underwater Nazaré canyon, apparently the largest in Europe (230 km long and 5 km deep in places) ends just off the beach and funnels in huge waves. The Guinness World Record for biggest wave ever surfed in 2017 was an amazing 80 feet high and there’s some talk about a 115 footer surfed in January of 2018. With waves that high, the undertow is going to be strong in the extreme. As well, people have been swept away simply from rogue waves. So here’s a big thank you to Perigoso Man.
But there’s lots to do there including the Ascensor do Nazaré Norte. That’s a funicular (318 metres) with two cars linked by underground cable which is the fastest way to get from Praia to Sítio on the prominent cliff looming above. The line up was worthwhile as the ride carried us quite a height up a 42% slope through wickedly sharp succulents on either side.
Sítio has a wonderful view with just as much tourist merchandising as the beach for those who like that.
Unfortunately we were in quite a hurry and had to hurry back down so we couldn’t see much of the place. If I’d known about it, I would have very much liked to have seen the famous wooden and very old ‘Black Madonna’ at the church there. But hindsight is only good for looking at your behind.
We certainly didn’t want to get to our Roman House too much after dark.
This new place was in the hillside town of Alqueidão da Serra and was one of the most unique places we stayed in during the entire trip. It’s perched high on a hill beside a two thousand year old Roman road and hosted by very warm Portuguese couple. The thick and ancient stone walls were a stark antidote to the 30°C September heat and when we closed the windows it was like we were in a cave. A very homey cavern. When Karen had picked this place several weeks before, she’d thought it special. But, once there, the stage was set for us to begin to appreciate just how terrific it really was.

Portugal Trip Day 3 (Tuesday, Sept. 18)

A suggestion tipico from João

Try bacalhau
said the guy but to which bow?
So many to endow.

But salt fish know how
in any recipe now
will wile we wild. Wow!

The next morning, while Peter and Nadine slept off some of their jeg lag, Karen and I went for a further exploratory walk of our Bairro Alto/Chiado neighbourhood. We walked down through Santa Maria do Carmo square, past the Church of the Blessed Sacrament to Garrett street. Karen had a coffee at the Nespresso place there on the corner and then we went and looked in at the Cathedral of the Martyrs which had some very interesting side chapels.
Most of the igreja’s or churches in Portugal are ancient by North American standards and, of course, Catholic. And we found you couldn’t always assume that the tabernacle is behind the main altar. So every church that Karen and I went to became a new game of ‘hide and seek’ the tabernacle. Sometimes it was so well hidden that I had to ask ‘Onde esta o tabernaculo?’
Side chapels could be large and super ornate and common statues contained were Jesus crucified, Mary (especially of Fatima), Jesus scourged (sometimes with a purple robe, sometimes with real hair), Saint Anthony (but not of Padua, of Lisbon: the one who preached to the fishes), Saint Sebastian, nativities and even just a column (the pillory post). Most churches are built on a traditional cross plan but within that format lay many alternatives. Behind the main altar seemed to be yet another place for incredible artistic license though one thing I saw often repeated were six or seven rectangular stacked boxes, each smaller than the one below. Still not sure what that signifies.
Back to our tour. Across a side street was the Libraria Bertrand which is in the Guiness book of records as the oldest bookstore in continuous operation. It’s been in its present location since 1743 so I decided it had a good enough reputation to buy some postcards.
We walked back up the hill toward the Igreja de Sao Roque and popped into an interesting and upscale store that featured objects made from cork. Karen had bought her Portuguese guitalele so I considered it high time for my big purchase for the trip. I acquired a fedora style hat made with cork. Basically they cut thin cork layers and then glue that to a cloth backing. It’s surprising how many things that could be made with this versatile substance. My hat is died brown so most guess it’s made of leather. Not only is it awesome looking, it’s waterproof. And, if there was a flood, it would survive.
Now that I was shielded from the sun we continued on our way until we came upon the Chocolataria Equador. This place seemed way too upscale for the likes of me, even with the hat, but I’m very glad I ventured all the way to the back. In a continually stirring glass appliance was the most amazing hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. And it came only in dark: self serve and definitely not toothachingly sweet. We both got one, a Port truffle each and continued up the street with me raving about this drink the whole way. If I could have a morning routine including anything it would involve drinking that chocolate! They don’t give out the recipe nor the powder so I’d have to figure out how to make it for myself.
Igreja de Sao Roque is a magnificent church with amazing side chapels. We attended our second portuguese mass there. There was a museum attached but we didn’t have time as we had to meet up with Peter and Nadine.
With our friends we walked down to Praça Rossio and then to the Martim Moniz metro station. P&N had to buy their own transit cards and we loaded more money onto ours. Then it was the matter of waiting in a long line of other tourists to get on the famous Tram 28 which is the craziest roller-coaster ride that Lisbon transit has to offer. Still… there were so many of us non-Lisboans riding I had to feel some sympathy for those who try to use Tram 28 for actual public transport. But the fact is that it goes up and down the Castelo hill as well as others and was an excellent introduction to most of the downtown as it worms its way through curves so tight and barely misses buildings, pedestrians and other vehicles. The end of the line is at the Cemitério dos Prazeres (which Google says is ‘pleasures’ but I’m pretty sure means ‘Passion’ in the biblical sense) which has some truly remarkable vaults. Some of these, though small at about the size of one or two graves here, were stunning and endlessly inventive pieces of architecture using stone and metal.
The Igreja de la Senhora dos Prazeres, across the road, was disappointing to me in its modernity after all the old church architecture I’d seen.
We headed back on the tram but got off at Praça Luís de Camões to hoof it over toward Praça Rossio and the limited seating of ‘A Merendinha do Arco’ on R. dos Sapateiros 230 before the supper hour rush (7pm: more on that later; and yes it is across from a peep show). That was what they call a restaurant tipico which means real Portuguese food. Tables were all put together so we were eventually elbow to elbow with other people; Karen and I had a really nice couple from France beside us who we exchanged wine with. At that place we were all there for the food. We had the scabbardfish and the bacalhau. Both were excellent.