Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Portugal Day Dois

So once upon a time we lived in England. And we made a few friends, and these friends are now quite literally scattered to all corners of the globe, which means getting together requires a bit of planning. It was decided last year, that this year we'd all meet up in or near the medieval town of Obidos Portugal. Let the flight booking and continent hopping begin!

There were seven couples in total-one came from China, one from France, one from the UK, one from Chicago, one from D.C., and of course hubs and I, representing the delightful Garden State. The seventh couple also arrived from D.C., but returned to the UK since they keep a foot in both places. Actually three places, but whatever. Like I said-not simple.  

Everyone made their way over in whatever time frame suited their schedules, but we all agreed to be in the hotel for a Thursday evening dinner. Which was fabulous, but I'll get back to that in a minute because first we had some time to kill.

Four couples headed to the nearby village of Caldas da Rainha on Thursday morning. We chose this town because one couple in our group lived in this area several years ago, and the Mrs. half of that couple happens to speak my love language-ceramica. She knew Portuguese pottery was for sale in the town of Caldas so we had a plan. As you might imagine the guys were not quite as thrilled, but they knew of a go-kart track in this same town, and concocted a plan of their own. 

All's fair in love and pottery.

Be still my heart. I could just walk around this little shop all day long. I saw a pitcher and a great big bowl I really wanted...they looked like a cantaloupe.  I knew we'd see more pottery later so I waited, and ended up buying just the bowl in Obidos. By then we'd made a couple of other purchases and hubs was getting twitchy about how we were carting all this fragile stuff home.

Simple. We buy another carry on bag. He may be a seasoned traveler, but he's an amateur when it comes to matching wits with a team of women determined to get their pottery across an ocean. One friend purchased some inflatable water wings in the US and brought them with her. Just inflate and wrap around wine bottles or fragile souvenirs, and voila! No broken glass. Obviously a bowl this size wouldn't fit into a pair of water wings, but know that shopkeepers the world over are always at the ready with a hefty bit of bubblewrap too.

One of my favorite things about meandering around these little towns is connecting with people who live there. Stumbling across a fabulous place to eat while doing so is a bonus.

We rounded a corner and found just such a place. Our lunch was made better by our delightfully spunky server. She had a great sense of humor, and I think she enjoyed our little visit as much as we did.

Essentially we sat at a table in the middle of a 'street', ate local dishes, and laughed a lot.

That evening the whole big group enjoyed an elegant Vintner Dinner served in a special dining room in the hotel. I don't think anyone was expecting such a lovely event. Everything was absolutely wonderful, beginning with the way the hotel staff made this large dining room feel intimate.

The Vintner was a charming and knowledgeable Englishman who's been living in Portugal for a number of years, with his wife and their seven children. Later we found out the children are all boys, so bless her heart. Anyway James chose the wine, and shared stories of his life as an expat, the Portuguese wine industry, and his own vineyard. The food was not like any hotel food we'd ever sampled, and the cheese course at the end of the meal was just right.

Well the cheese and the macaroons.

In other news I returned to boot camp today. This feels like the right time to insert that piece of information, and wrap up a day of eating and walking and then more eating. In Day 3 we get wet, contemplate buying a vineyard, and try to work out why a replica of the Terracotta Army sits in a Portuguese field. Stay tuned!


  1. The people really do make the place. I love chatting with locals wherever we go. The photo you show of the winding street sure does look like a painting. I figured out why I like streets such as that---because they're curved. They lend mystery: what's around the bend? In the states our straight streets don't hold the same intrigue, do they? I"m enjoying your visit vicariously.

  2. My goodness Joyce, I don't know how you keep up with yourself. You have been a traveling maniac the past couple of months. What fun to meet up with dear friends in such an awesome place.

    Our new home is about 4 miles from where we currently live. It's on a hill with only 13 homesites and we're #11 and we know everyone there. It was a much prayed over and thought through decision as to where we were going to build, but we are excited.

  3. When we were in Italy, we shipped our Murano glass back home, as well as a case of wine. BUT, we also had four bottles of wine in our luggage - in socks. Wish I had thought about water wings!! Great idea! The pottery is wonderful!! Looking forward to tomorrow's post!

  4. Those macarroons!! beautiful

  5. I would have liked that pottery store too, your bowl is darling!
    Water wings, good idea!

  6. Amazing how you all were all able to work out this fabulous trip. That pottery is gorgeous, that was fun! Lunch and dinner sound fabulous. You know I've never had one of those fancy maccaroons! Saw them everywhere in Europe. Cant wait to hear more about your trip.

  7. Ok, hope this doesn't double post. I just got an error and it sent me back and my post is gone.

    Anyway, as I said before. I love reading your posts about your travels and looking at all the pictures. I'll probably never go to Portugal, but it is fun seeing it through your eyes. Thanks for sharing.