A Travellerspoint blog

Lisbon Portugal

sunny 22 °C
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We made it to Lisbon before six in the morning and to Travellers Point Hostel in time to drop off the luggage and go on a full day tour which included a city tour of Lisbon in the morning (9 - 1) and then a trip up Sintra mountain to an ancient city where we toured a small castle. We travelled from there to the coast of Portugal to the most westerly point in continental Europe and then down the Iberian coast back to Lisbon. We arrived back in Lisbon after 7 in the evening - this may have been our biggest day yet since we got up before 4 am to catch the plane. Back at the hostel we found new energy after a shower because it was 'Wine Night' - it started at 10 pm and there were 7 different kinds of wine to try for 1x cost each of 5 euros. Met a few interesting travellers and enjoyed this very much - then up to the top floor (I say 6 Leigh says 5 floors pretend there is a bracket here - first time on Apple computer and hate the keyboard.

Portugal is wonderful and much cheaper than anywhere we've been so far. The temperature is much better too in the high 20's instead of 30's. The area we are staying in is a huge pedestrian walkway between two major squares in the old section of Portugal near the Alfalma which is the original port. This is our first day of the trip with no real plans and we slept in until about 9 am. Tomorrow we travel down the coast to Salema which is a small fishing village where we will stay in a small apartment where we can prepare some of our own meals and really rest.

I'm looking for a cane! Sciatica the worst its ever been but so far we haven't missed any planned events but I start out the day moving like a hermit crab then progress to the hunchback of Notre Dame and finally I can stand up. Oh boy! There is a reason why your supposed to do this right after college or university!! These exclamation marks are courtesy of Leigh - we are in agreement about that.

Posted by 60somethin 02:46 Archived in Portugal Tagged seniors Comments (2)

Madrid, Spain

Unbelievable

Hello Everyone - thank you so much for the comments - its really great to know you are all still there and life will return to normal after this great adventure. We´re starting to feel like we are in the Amazing Race. Sometimes we win sometimes we don´t but its always an adventure. We arrived in Madrid on Saturday night (fairly uneventful first hop from Paris). The street our hotel is on is right downtown and in the middle of incredible action in a huge pedestian area. On the way in from the airport we could already see that Madrid is way different from Paris - a much younger city by Europe standards that is. Its incredible at night with human statues and entertainment everywhere.

First thing next morning we´re off on foot to find the meeting place for a Segway Tour of Madrid - that was our first challenge but we received help from an English professor (pretty good guess for someone who might speak the language). He directed us to the spot to wait for the tour and reassured us that although nobody was there yet not to worry because nothing starts on time in Spain (more about that later). Anyway our tour guide Anna (a Madrid native) taught us how to ride the Segways and off we went for about 1.5 hours - what an incredible way to get an overview of the city. Leigh absolutely loved this tour and has been plotting ever since how to justify owning one of these - apparently they can be purchased in the US for about $4000. They also have cross-country versions and golf and beach Segways!

I´m in the lobby of the hotel right now on their computer (don´t talk to me about WIFI yet). Leigh is upstairs filling our water bottles with red wine (here he comes now). On the first in the afternoon we had to find the ticket office for our bull fight tickets - this was our introduction to the Madrid metro - I think we´re getting the hang of metro systems. That evening we attended the bull fight - there were actually six bulls that met their doom. We wouldn´t have missed this experience but the first bull was a little shocking. After that we both got fairly calous although we were secretly hoping for the bull. At one point I involuntarily yelled ´chicken´as one of the matadors ran for cover. Leigh looked at me like ´shut the ... up - and said I don´t think you´re supposed to say that´.

Today we took off early in the morning for a 1/2 day tour of Toledo - this is one of the oldest cities in Europe with walls from the 9th century. Long story short we were at the correct place 2x and sent away until we missed the trip by 10 minutes (so much for nothing starting on time). We were able to take the afternoon tour which was LATE in leaving. This was fabulous to see - much more later because we could talk about this tour all day. The last place we visited was where master artisans hand make swords, knives, jewellery, with inlays of gold and silver. Leigh is still disappointed that he couldn´t buy a knife because we wouldn´t be able to take it on the plane. He saw in particular a miniature fold out stileto.

In the morning to fill in the time waiting we took in the Royal Palace, Armouries, and Pharmacy. All were very interesting and the Palace was extremely informative. No photos allowed but Leigh did try to get a picture of a Stradavarious for you Gary but failed! The Armoury (claimed to be the best in world) was incredible. Armour from the 14th to 16th century was on display along with cross bows, rifles, muskets (some 10 ft. long mounted on wheels like cannons with a bore 1.5 inches in diameter). Sheryl you would have loved the Royal Pharmacy with apothecary jars full of chemicals and herbal remedies and a 16th century chemistry lab.

Sorry about the lack of pictures so far - need to get the WIFI working for that. Leigh is the camera man and believe me he´s taking lots of great pictures.

Off to Portugal tomorrow morning at 4:15 AM -

Posted by 60somethin 12:46 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

Leaving for Madrid

Au Revoir

sunny 22 °C
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The bicycle trip yesterday to Versailles was awesome - beautiful weather. After the early morning adventure of the metro to find our meeting place for the fat tire bicycle tour before 9:00 o'clock the group set off with bicycles to the train headed for Versailles. We shopped at the outdoor market and had a picnic lunch on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles beside the canals built by Louis XIVth. In the afternoon we toured the palace then headed back to Paris on the train. There was a little excitement disembarking the train as one of the young girls on the tour got her bike stuck in the door of the train and the tour guide had to pry the doors open to pull it out. Then a young travelling with us discovered they had left their pack sack on the train!!! Believe it or not the metro authorities tracked it down for them. The whole trip took 8.5 hours and we both survived quite nicely. We won't talk about the 4 hours it took us to get back to the hotel! We are finding out that we're not really night owls. Anyway we're off on another adventure on the metro to Port Maillot where we plan to take a shuttle to the Beauvais airport to catch a plane to Madrid.

Posted by 60somethin 01:10 Archived in France Comments (3)

Paris

Whirlwind Tour

sunny 32 °C
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Hello all - having some problems communicating with blackberry but finally I'm able to use the computer in the hotel lobby. We booked a 2 day Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tour and have travelled miles the past two days taking in the sights. We travelled down the Champs-Elysees and under the Arc de Triomphe. Yesterday we toured Musee d'Orsay and received an education about French art of the 1800's by the Impressionists Edouard Manet, Monet, Renoir, Edgar Degas, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, and Paul Gauguin. Today we investigated Notre Dame Cathedral and the archaeological crypt below the 'new' 700 year old cathedral. These Roman ruins trace the street plan of the medieval village and show how the earliest Paris grew since before Christ. We also spent over 3 hours at Musee de Louvre which is Europe's oldest, biggest, greatest, and second-most-crowded museum after the Vatican (to quote Rick Steves). Here we saw famous works like the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo and many other masterpieces by artists from the Renaissance to the 1800's. We wouldn't have missed it but especially liked soaking our feet in the fountain after this tour. Out hotel is on the right bank in the Marais section which is very historic. Oh yeah - almost forgot to mention that it was 39.5 °C yesterday and a mere 34.5 °C today. I am a puddle typing this but I'm livlier than Leigh - I'm sure you can all figure out what he's doing. Tomorrow we're off on a day trip to Versailles (bicycle tour) - praying for cooler weather. I'll be sure to let you know how that goes! PS - hate this keyboard but love you all.

Posted by 60somethin 11:12 Archived in France Comments (3)

High Finances

Six More Days

sunny 22 °C

Ordered the EUROS today! Getting closer to being reality! Next step packing, packing, packing!

Posted by 60somethin 16:35 Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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