Blog Posts

Thursday, January 4, 2018, 23:37 | No Comments »

View down the Rio Homem valley from Brufe

Today I'm taking you to the village of Brufe, high in the Serra Amarela, the Yellow Mountains, by the border with western Spain. Mind you, when I was last there, at the end of a brutally hot summer, the land was so parched that it wasn't so much yellow as pale fawn.

There is an old English saying, "When gorse is out of bloom, kissing's out of fashion." I don't think kissing has fallen out of fashion in Portugal yet and so, if you look carefully, you will always find butter-yellow gorse in bloom somewhere in the mountains as well as a host of other wild flowers and shrubs.

To find out why we are going to Brufe, what we shall see on the way and what we find at the end of the ride, click here.

Thursday, January 4, 2018, 23:14 | No Comments »

Ad on the back of a loo door in Porto sirport

It was in Porto airport that I discovered what you have probably always known: that toilet paper is sexy. How, I ask myself, could I have spent a lifetime unaware of this crucial fact? But there's more. Portuguese loo rolls are apparently the sexiest on earth! Who knew?

Then I realised that there was no need for ignorance. There on the back of the loo door was an internet link with the popular prefix 'my': "Only an idiot would go to a web site to learn about toilet rolls," I thought so, of course.....

To find out what I learned plus why I used the word 'gothic' in the headline, click here.

Thursday, January 4, 2018, 23:05 | No Comments »

Crocuses amongst the brandas of Santo Antonio de Val de Poldros

One of the delights of Portugal is the proliferation of wild flowers. I've written before of the spring flowers that make the countryside around us such a delight. In April and May the fields in the Minho are turned into carpets of yellow corn daisies and the hillsides are clothed in lemon yellow broom.

To see more of the wild flowers up in the mountains, click here

Thursday, August 10, 2017, 21:33 | 1 Comment »

Lisbon Oceanarium

So what do you think this is? A factory, a nuclear reactor by the sea shore, a storage facility? Of course not: why would I be showing you such a thing? It is in fact the glorious Lisbon Oceanarium. You might guess that it had something to do with the ocean, from the sea creatures in white and black cobbles decorating the surrounding square. Can you see the joke octopus?

For someone living as far north as I do, a visit to Lisbon is already a huge treat but I had no idea how extraordinary the trip to the oceanarium would be. Even if you have already visited so many aquaria that you are thoroughly jaded, I would still recommend a visit to this world class exhibition of sea life.

To find out why I am in such raptures, click here.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017, 10:30 | 1 Comment »

Cast metal dancers outside the station in Viana do Castelo

You usually need to be both famous and dead in order to be immortalised in metal or stone but not in the Minho. If you come up from Porto to Viana do Castelo on the little stopping train, you will find this metal cast of traditional dancers just outside the entrance to the station. These statues aren't of long forgotten dead folk: instead they celebrate a vibrant, living tradition.

To find another example of folkloric statuary and see some real life musicians and dancers, click here.

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