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Entries about portugal

Hello Again - Spain and Portugal

Where do you go for 3 weeks in December? If you live in western Canada Arizona, Vegas and California come to mind. Mexico, Puerto Rico. Hawaii.
I am attracted to Europe.
We booked flights through KLM. We start our adventure in Barcelona on Dec 2 and fly home from Lisbon. Lisboa of the seven hills.

I am an extreme budget traveller but at 67 my tolerance for climbing 50 plus stairs to my room and sleeping on beds where the sheets do not fit - let alone sharing a bathroom with strangers - my tolerance, sad to say, has diminished.

This will not be a fifty dollar a day trip. For one thing the Canadian dollar does not go as far as it did in 2012 when our dollar was on par with the US dollar. Today one US dollar takes C1.35.
One Euro costs C1.43. Americans are lucky travelers these days - one Euro costs $1.05 US. Big difference.
A hotel right on the Mediterranean in southern Spain is a great deal, 69 Euros per night including breakfast for two people.
69 E equals C98.23 or US72. Amen.
The Costa del Sol. Coast of the sun.
It is currently late evening, approaching midnight in Malaga, and the temperature is a balmy ten degrees C.
We are enjoying an exceptionally nice November in Calgary but I did have to scrape my car windows this morning.

Wait til you hear this!!! The prototype cell phone wrist cord I developed and wore for 28 days in Sept/Oct 2015 (see blog, Chinaforcheap) has been modified and is selling like hot cakes. What to do?? I take comfort in being an inventive genius.
Mine was made with ribbon and 2 pony tail elastics (stretchy) - it was great. I suspect the girl we met at Hello Chengdu who sold cell phone cases online. She took more than a passing interest in my gadget. Idea theft alert. Sure they changed up a few things. Shades of Melania Trump borrowing Michelle Obama's speech. The press still talks about it. Hey what about me?
Pretty handy gadget for travel:
My budget for 21 days, excluding airfare and travel between cities is 75 dollars per day. $1575.
Here is the itinerary:
Barcelona - Gaudi, Picasso, La Ramblas
Antequara - dolmans and megaliths
Malaga - Costa del Sol
Granada - the Alahambra
Seville - flamenco
Evora - dolmans and megaliths
Lisbon - fado and custard tarts
Tapas and tortilla in Spain, Port and Piripiri chicken in Portugal. Heavy on Picasso, Gaudi - art, architecture and ancient culture.
Let the journey begin!!
I take one small carry on suitcase and a purse. The suitcase will be checked for air travel. Even so I am taking more with me than my last two overseas trips. I will let you know how this works!!

Posted by CherylGypsyRose 19:55 Archived in Spain Tagged seville barcelona spain granada budget bargain lisbon portugal malaga affordable value evora cheapskate antequara Comments (0)

The Algarve: Albufeira, Portugal

semi-overcast 16 °C
View The Iberian Penninsula in December on CherylGypsyRose's travel map.

The Southern coast of Portugal is called the Algarve. It has a Mediterranean climate and is known for its rugged beaches.
The word Algarve is taken from Arabic and means 'the west'. Moors occupied southern Portugal for 500 years.
We have just spent two weeks in Spain. It is fascinating now to hear Portuguese. 'It sounds like Ukrainians speaking Spanish,' my sister remarked. Thanks to Brazil, Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language.
I know two Portuguese words: Hola and Obrigada. The first is also hello in Spanish and the second reminds me of Japanese. Arigato. Thank you.

The town of Albufeira lies west of Faro and east of Lagos. The name is Arabic and means Castle of the Sea.
There are over three thousand Arabic based words in Portuguese.
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We took the bus from Seville. The first half of the ride was memorable for pouring rain. As we travelled west the clouds started breaking up.
It was sunny in Albufeira. Our hotel Sol e Mar, is right on the beach. Our room faces the beach and has a balcony. The room is spacious and there is lots of storage.
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The sand has a reddish cast, the beach is almost deserted, it is low season. The bar is busy, lots of people on the patio enjoying the sun. Mostly from England and Holland.
We order a light meal and enjoy the view.

It is more rugged here with the rocky outcroppings, hilly and really steep in places. Our hotel is built into the side of a hill so all of the guest rooms have sea views.
When the sun goes behind a hill it feels much chillier and one by one or two by two we guests drift inside.
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There are numerous shops in the streets behind our hotel. After dark we went for a walk to explore the neighbourhood. The full moon was hanging next to the church steeple:
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We are staying two nights.

The fifteenth is overcast. It is still warm 16 C.
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We walk on the fine sand in our bare feet picking up shells. There are plenty to choose from and my pockets are filled.

An escalator transports people living or staying on the high level to the beach. There is a lookout platform at the top and the hop on and off bus stops here. We buy tickets and go around once. Not a very scenic tour and no commentary.
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Back at the seashore someone is swimming.
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It turns out to be a pensioner from Bristol, 76 years young, yes, yes it is something he likes to do. His 82 year old wife is with him, she didn't go in today because last time the waves toppled her over.
They are vigorous and peppy. Just like they stepped out of Coronation Street. Wow they set a really good example of how to enjoy life in your later years. I wish I had their picture, they looked good, interesting faces and their own teeth.
They are staying at our hotel, half board, breakfast and supper, for fifty Euros. We just have breakfast included for 31 Euros per night.
They have stayed here before, you can't beat the price, in the summer there are so many people you can barely find room to put your lounge chair or towel.
It is much more tranquil in low season:
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We have a million dollar view from our balcony:
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Breakfast is a buffet with lots to choose from, hot and cold foods. They have bacon, sausages, scrambled or hard boiled eggs, grilled tomatoes, catering to the tourists from England, their biggest customer group.

We take the bus to Evora on December 16 th.

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The buses are clean and comfortable.

Posted by CherylGypsyRose 19:53 Archived in Portugal Tagged beach budget moon portugal mediterranean algarve Comments (0)

Evora Portugal - Ancient Cromlech Older than Stonehenge

sunny 15 °C
View The Iberian Penninsula in December on CherylGypsyRose's travel map.

IMG_4515.jpg
Evora is a historic 2000 year old city in the Alentejo region of Portugal. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The walled old town boasts Moorish, Roman and Catholic monuments, hilly cobbled streets, narrow lanes and spacious squares.

The Alentejo region is a major provider of the renewable resource, cork. All manner of cork items are sold including purses, shoes and hats. (Likely more necessary for the industry now that so few wines have actual cork stoppers!!)
IMG_4513.jpg
The bark of the Cork Oak tree is removed manually with an axe once every 9 years. Bark cannot be harvested until the tree is 25 years old. The bark is only taken from the tree base to the branch line. The Cork Oak lives about 200 years.
IMG_4491.jpg
The famous acorn fed pigs that turn into Iberian Ham feed off the acorns of cork oak tree.

There are numerous Neolithic stone formations in Alentajo but the ones not to miss are the 95 standing stones of the Almendres Cromlech about 15 km from Evora and 4 km from the village of Guadeloupe.

The term cromlech refers to a prehistoric circle of standing stones with a religious or spiritual overtone.

The Almendres Cromlech is older than Stonehenge and was in continuous use for 3000 years!

The dirt road from Guadeloupe to the parking area near the Cromlech is narrow, full of ruts and potholes. I was afraid the taxi driver would refuse to take his car further but he persevered and we did not get stuck in the muddy patches.

The one person in Evora who does tours was away for the weekend. The cab fare (and tour rates) on weekends is ten Euros more than on weekdays. The driver spoke German and Italian as well as Portuguese but no English.
Cab fare was 45 Euros because it is Saturday and we booked for 9 am
It was a fine sunny day, much nicer than yesterday. As I walked down the path leading from the car park to the stones I had no idea what to expect. The bright morning sun was shining in my eyes when the path curved and they came into view.
IMG_4375.jpg
63EE1365-2..CC05B8B017C.jpg

Beneath the shadows of cork and olive trees, a holy place, a message from an ancient people. It was larger and more expansive than I had expected, the placement of the rocks deliberate, their sizes and shapes purposeful.

The intimacy of the site was amazing. We were alone in the field, no other tourists, nobody but us. The stones were spread out in an oval shape, I touched them, hoping to leave a fingerprint, a bit of DNA.

Nobody knows exactly what this site was used for, possibly sun worshipers. Maybe they did ceremonial sacrifices here, I hope not since this is the highlight of my trip.

For thirty minutes I was completely engaged with mostly egg shaped stones, some taller than me. Words cannot describe, and pictures cannot capture, the beauty of this monument on a sun drenched December morning.
00ED4CD6E79770FD6546362163AD6B64.jpg

I reluctantly trudged back to the taxi. 'Wonderbar,' I said to the driver, 'magnifico'. My eyes watered as I climbed into the back seat.

It was a quiet ride back to Evora. We enjoyed a cafe au lait in the main square and were rewarded by the music of a folk choir along with a metal working demonstration.
IMG_4535.jpg

The square I really wanted to see was the one with the Roman Temple. Pretty impressive for recent stuff. I am all about pre history now. Where did they come from and where did they go?

On this sunny day the Roman Temple ruins are stunning. The Temple of Diana has been here since 200 AD.
IMG_4546.jpg

I like the saying painted on the fence, "Everything is a story".
IMG_4549.jpg

We had lunch in the courtyard of an upscale restaurant with Moorish architecture, seems to be connected to a pousada. It was very pleasant. I had plum cake and Rhea had a Bifana. The Bifana is a just cooked pork cutlet on a bun and was Rhea's go to Sandwich.
We each sampled a bite of the others food. Biting down on the chewy crust of the bun I dislocated my jaw.
Ouch, throbbing pain and my teeth did not meet on the left hand side.

The Museu de Evora is located in the Bishop's Palace. Admission was about 3 euros, it is closed on Mondays and free on the first Sunday of the month. We were disappointed in the small display of prehistoric archaeology, the Roman tombs were more impressive:
IMG_4590.jpg
We toured the museum, had a drink on the third major square, poked through souvenir shops and then stopped by the church with skulls and bones. The Chapel of Bones is located in Saint Frances Church. Very macabre, kind of a downer after this morning.
IMG_4609.jpg

There is a museum in the church and stairs lead up to rooftop viewing points, Along the way I looked at their collection of nativity scenes from around the world.
IMG_4622.jpg
A street fair was set up near the bones cathedral so we looked around and on the way back to our hotel stopped at an indoor market to buy cheese and fruit.

We are staying at the Moov Hotel just inside the old city gates. It is located in a refurbished bull ring but the hotel is ultra modern.
The room is not huge but very good value for money spent.
35817344EEC8133002CB80EB3117B33B.jpg

I asked for ice at the hotel desk and they helpfully scared some up. Back in the room I take an anti inflammatory and ice my jaw. The ibuprofen kicked in, I felt a bit better. We walked to a nearby wine bar "Winetime" for supper. I had a beer and dates wrapped in Iberian ham.
I recommend this place as the waitress was super friendly, the price really reasonable and there was some ambiance. My portion of the eight euro bill was 6.75 Canadian.

The next morning we had time for a coffee before getting to the bus station.
The main square, Placo do Geralda, is near our hotel. Back in the day, during the Inquisition, public executions took place here. Today it is pretty tame by comparison. We sat by the cafe window to enjoy the view with our coffee.

One end of the square features Santa Antao Church. Nearby is a marble fountain built in 1571.
Santa Antao Church is built over the old site of a Knights Templar church.
IMG_4533.jpg
4D08B4E3A15D9BF6C43E88639CCA1A87.jpg
I cannot put any of my teeth together and can barely open my mouth. It seems less painful when I don't move my mouth so I resign myself to remaining silent except for emergencies.
We get two seats each on the bus so I am happy, lots of room.
We are going to Lisbon, our last stop.
On the one hour bus trip I go through my photos of Evora. I edit the rocks, enlarging areas that might have a picture or some marking.

Archaeologists have found faint markings and drawings on some of the stones and put forward some theories, but it remains pretty much a mystery. Why would a neolithic society take the time to move, modify and embellish large rocks?
The cromlechs are 6000 years old.
IMG_4429.jpg

The scenery along the route to Lisbon:
IMG_4706.jpg
IMG_5637.jpg

Posted by CherylGypsyRose 19:50 Archived in Portugal Tagged budget roman stonehenge portugal neolithic cork alentejo cromlech megaliths pre-historic Comments (0)

Evora Portugal - Ancient Cromlech Older than Stonehenge

sunny 15 °C
View The Iberian Penninsula in December on CherylGypsyRose's travel map.

IMG_4515.jpg
Evora is a historic 2000 year old city in the Alentejo region of Portugal. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The walled old town boasts Moorish, Roman and Catholic monuments, hilly cobbled streets, narrow lanes and spacious squares.

The Alentejo region is a major provider of the renewable resource, cork. All manner of cork items are sold including purses, shoes and hats. (Likely more necessary for the industry now that so few wines have actual cork stoppers!!)
IMG_4513.jpg
The bark of the Cork Oak tree is removed manually with an axe once every 9 years. Bark cannot be harvested until the tree is 25 years old. The bark is only taken from the tree base to the branch line. The Cork Oak lives about 200 years.
IMG_4491.jpg
The famous acorn fed pigs that turn into Iberian Ham feed off the acorns of cork oak tree.

There are numerous Neolithic stone formations in Alentajo but the ones not to miss are the 95 standing stones of the Almendres Cromlech about 15 km from Evora and 4 km from the village of Guadeloupe.

The term cromlech refers to a prehistoric circle of standing stones with a religious or spiritual overtone.

The Almendres Cromlech is older than Stonehenge and was in continuous use for 3000 years!

The dirt road from Guadeloupe to the parking area near the Cromlech is narrow, full of ruts and potholes. I was afraid the taxi driver would refuse to take his car further but he persevered and we did not get stuck in the muddy patches.

The one person in Evora who does tours was away for the weekend. The cab fare (and tour rates) on weekends is ten Euros more than on weekdays. The driver spoke German and Italian as well as Portuguese but no English.
Cab fare was 45 Euros because it is Saturday and we booked for 9 am
It was a fine sunny day, much nicer than yesterday. As I walked down the path leading from the car park to the stones I had no idea what to expect. The bright morning sun was shining in my eyes when the path curved and they came into view.
IMG_4375.jpg
63EE1365-2..CC05B8B017C.jpg

Beneath the shadows of cork and olive trees, a holy place, a message from an ancient people. It was larger and more expansive than I had expected, the placement of the rocks deliberate, their sizes and shapes purposeful.

The intimacy of the site was amazing. We were alone in the field, no other tourists, nobody but us. The stones were spread out in an oval shape, I touched them, hoping to leave a fingerprint, a bit of DNA.

Nobody knows exactly what this site was used for, possibly sun worshipers. Maybe they did ceremonial sacrifices here, I hope not since this is the highlight of my trip.

For thirty minutes I was completely engaged with mostly egg shaped stones, some taller than me. Words cannot describe, and pictures cannot capture, the beauty of this monument on a sun drenched December morning.
00ED4CD6E79770FD6546362163AD6B64.jpg

I reluctantly trudged back to the taxi. 'Wonderbar,' I said to the driver, 'magnifico'. My eyes watered as I climbed into the back seat.

It was a quiet ride back to Evora. We enjoyed a cafe au lait in the main square and were rewarded by the music of a folk choir along with a metal working demonstration.
IMG_4535.jpg

The square I really wanted to see was the one with the Roman Temple. Pretty impressive for recent stuff. I am all about pre history now. Where did they come from and where did they go?

On this sunny day the Roman Temple ruins are stunning. The Temple of Diana has been here since 200 AD.
IMG_4546.jpg

I like the saying painted on the fence, "Everything is a story".
IMG_4549.jpg

We had lunch in the courtyard of an upscale restaurant with Moorish architecture, seems to be connected to a pousada. It was very pleasant. I had plum cake and Rhea had a Bifana. The Bifana is a just cooked pork cutlet on a bun and was Rhea's go to Sandwich.
We each sampled a bite of the others food. Biting down on the chewy crust of the bun I dislocated my jaw.
Ouch, throbbing pain and my teeth did not meet on the left hand side.

The Museu de Evora is located in the Bishop's Palace. Admission was about 3 euros, it is closed on Mondays and free on the first Sunday of the month. We were disappointed in the small display of prehistoric archaeology, the Roman tombs were more impressive:
IMG_4590.jpg
We toured the museum, had a drink on the third major square, poked through souvenir shops and then stopped by the church with skulls and bones. The Chapel of Bones is located in Saint Frances Church. Very macabre, kind of a downer after this morning.
IMG_4609.jpg

There is a museum in the church and stairs lead up to rooftop viewing points, Along the way I looked at their collection of nativity scenes from around the world.
IMG_4622.jpg
A street fair was set up near the bones cathedral so we looked around and on the way back to our hotel stopped at an indoor market to buy cheese and fruit.

We are staying at the Moov Hotel just inside the old city gates. It is located in a refurbished bull ring but the hotel is ultra modern.
The room is not huge but very good value for money spent.
35817344EEC8133002CB80EB3117B33B.jpg

I asked for ice at the hotel desk and they helpfully scared some up. Back in the room I take an anti inflammatory and ice my jaw. The ibuprofen kicked in, I felt a bit better. We walked to a nearby wine bar "Winetime" for supper. I had a beer and dates wrapped in Iberian ham.
I recommend this place as the waitress was super friendly, the price really reasonable and there was some ambiance. My portion of the eight euro bill was 6.75 Canadian.

The next morning we had time for a coffee before getting to the bus station.
The main square, Placo do Geralda, is near our hotel. Back in the day, during the Inquisition, public executions took place here. Today it is pretty tame by comparison. We sat by the cafe window to enjoy the view with our coffee.

One end of the square features Santa Antao Church. Nearby is a marble fountain built in 1571.
Santa Antao Church is built over the old site of a Knights Templar church.
IMG_4533.jpg
4D08B4E3A15D9BF6C43E88639CCA1A87.jpg
I cannot put any of my teeth together and can barely open my mouth. It seems less painful when I don't move my mouth so I resign myself to remaining silent except for emergencies.
We get two seats each on the bus so I am happy, lots of room.
We are going to Lisbon, our last stop.
On the one hour bus trip I go through my photos of Evora. I edit the rocks, enlarging areas that might have a picture or some marking.

IMG_4461.jpg IMG_4418.jpg

Archaeologists have found faint markings and drawings on some of the stones and put forward some theories, but it remains pretty much a mystery. Why would a neolithic society take the time to move, modify and embellish large rocks?
The cromlechs are 6000 years old.
IMG_5718.jpg IMG_4429.jpg

The scenery along the route to Lisbon:
IMG_4706.jpg
IMG_5637.jpg

Posted by CherylGypsyRose 19:50 Archived in Portugal Tagged budget roman stonehenge portugal neolithic cork alentejo cromlech megaliths pre-historic Comments (1)

Cabo da Roca Portugal - Where the Land Ends

sunny 17 °C

21 December 2016: the final day of our three week trip through the Iberian Penninsula.
We are taking the train from Rossio Station, Lisbon to Sintra.
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Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its many castles and manor houses.
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Frequent and inexpensive trains leave from Rossio Station. The trip to Sintra is just 40 minutes, an easy day trip from Lisbon.
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Right beside the Sintra Station a series of buses can be taken to the various castles.

First we took a bus to Cabo da Roca.
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Cabo da Roca is the most westerly point of land on Eurasia. Cape Roca.

It used to be considered the end of the world.
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The cape is located 42 km west of Lisbon. The rugged cliffs are over 100 meters above the Atlantic Ocean.

The shoreline is exhilarating - with the wind whipping our hair into spirals and a casual approach to safety along an un-fenced path, we join other tourists happily taking selfies above the crashing waves.
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We are glad we came. It seems a wild kind of beauty, a bit edgy. I keep an eye on the other tourists since I don't want some psychopath to give me a little shove.

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The mat of greenery is an invasive succulent
Carpobrotus edulis. Native to South Africa, it was introduced to a domestic garden about 30 years ago and has taken over the landscape.
IMG_5686.jpg

The poet, Luis Camoes' (1524 - 1580) line, "Where the land ends and the sea begins" is inscribed on the monument:
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Back in Sintra we take a bus to the most spectacular castle. Wow, the Sintra Mountains are fairly steep, the road is very narrow and twisty. The bus driver honks at frequent blind curves to warn oncoming traffic we are taking up the entire road.
After the majestic Cabo da Roca it is too pedestrian to view a castle. It is heavily treed here, colder, we are quite high up. The road where we line up to catch the bus back to Sintra is so steep it would be easy to topple over and roll back down to town.
There are so many tourists we end up standing on the ride down. This is low season!

It is late afternoon when we get back to Lisbon.

Now the longest day begins as we leave for home at five am - it has come to that point where it is past doing anything but mark time.
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We wander around Rossio square, pick up a few souvenirs, have coffee, dodge the homeless who hang around the steps of the National Theatre and one last time walk down Avenida Liberdade. We have been staying near a very posh street, where the rich folks shop.

Right on the corner of our street and Avenida Liberdade is a neighbourhood bar. Rhea has tea and - I forgot to mention I fixed my own dislocated jaw the other night, long story but it worked, I had a sandwich with a nice glass of red.
My suitcase is stuffed, I am also carrying my day-pack and purse. Souvenirs fill all the nooks and crannies and Rhea has my shoes in her larger suitcase. I threw out my old sandals - (I had planned on this if necessary) since I purchased the espadrilles. Still, to choose a carry on size suitcase, which I check, limits space for souvenirs.
So we are back in the hood, cab fare is 13 Euros to the airport, so much construction or it would have been less.
On one congested corner a lone policeman was directing traffic. It turned out to be cheap entertainment as one driver kept trying to sneak ahead - 4 times the whistle blew and 4 times traffic completely stopped to enable this guy to back up and wait his turn. The cop was visibly ticked off and ignored the offending car when his actual turn came up. The driver did creep ahead again but got waved back.

I flew home from Lisbon 4 years ago and don't recall the airport being so confusing.

We are early for our flight and the KLM desk isn't manned until two and a half hours before takeoff. We have to hang around on the third level common area with other people who are laying on all the seats and using all the charging stations.
I filled out a complaint card as I had nothing to do. My cell phone and tablet both needed charging, Rhea's phone was dead too, boring!!

I wanted to look up a word I read at the information Centre in Cabo de 'Lusitania.'
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There was a group of young people monopolizing the three (THREE) charging stations with their laptops ???
Finally I went over and made a general announcement:

"I have to use a charging station."

I may have struck them as a little bit crazy, and who knows if anybody spoke English, but one young man acknowledged the charger I was waving around and unplugged.

I looked up Lusitanians - oh, ancestors of the Portuguese people.

Rhea covered her face with a scarf and tried to sleep while I kept one eye on the luggage and the other on solitaire and before you know it we were last in line for the KLM counter. Lucky we didn't miss our flight.
IMG_5734.jpg

We change planes in Amsterdam, very straightforward and I spent the waiting time getting rid of all the change in the bottom of my purse. Dutch cookies, licorice and peppermints prove I spent three hours in Holland.

We had changed our seats for this leg of the journey - Rhea had an aisle seat a few rows up and I had a window seat. Why a larger person would accept a middle seat is beyond me. I had not taken my jacket off before sitting down and basically missed my chance.

KLM0677 was held up on the runway for 30 minutes. I sat scrunched in the corner pocket for 8 and a half hours.

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If he folded his arms, which to his credit, he did for at least five of those hours, I shared the armrest with his stomach. He had a nap right after takeoff so I surreptitiously snapped a few pictures. I felt sorry for him also by the way, he couldn't have been comfortable either.

I am miffed at KLM. Their economy seats are too small. They crowd us in like sardines.
KLM has enhanced economy for which there is a substantial additional charge. Those seats are the size of normal economy.

Why it is acceptable for me to be sharing my seat with a stranger on a trans Atlantic flight is beyond me. Aisle would have been so much better, I could have moved one leg and arm into the aisle and had access to more air.

When things got to be too much I leaned my forehead on the window and took pictures.
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This one is very interesting as it is over snow, not clouds, and I could see, but the phone camera did not really pick up, the lights of a settlement. I wondered if we were over Iceland or Greenland?
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The time passed, I survived, it is 12 degrees C in Calgary, we are lucky!
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And my sweet three year old granddaughter was thrilled that I was home. She loved her ladybug dress and ?
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Posted by CherylGypsyRose 19:45 Archived in Portugal Tagged coast west atlantic budget europe lisbon portugal souvenirs klm sintra camoes rossio azulejo Comments (0)

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