Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Europe 17 Day 9 & Day 10

There was a time when you travelled, you would see different fashions, people wearing different clothing to what you were used to at home. Not so now. The world has become generic. In every European city we visited, fashion was the same as here in Australia. If R's great nephew is to go by, the fashions in Britain are the same.

This is our apartment in Barcelona. It was a very direct and straight route from the airport to our apartment, with us arriving mid afternoon and R's sister and brother in law arriving by about 10pm. It was a very late night with lots of booze involved. R and myself had been out to get provisions and afternoon tea. We didn't feel like dinner.

Language: Portugal never had much in the way of colonies. There was some horrible tin pot African country, Sri Lanka for a while and a bit of India. Its mega colony was Brazil, where Portuguese is still spoken, except it must be a different version of Portuguese as on the hop on hop off buses, there was a separate selection for Brazil Portuguese. I read beforehand that the Portuguese speak and understand English much better than the Spanish. This is because of television. While television programmes are made in Brazil, they are generally not of high quality and perhaps difficult for Portuguese to follow. So, in Portugal they watch tv in English and learn English better than the Spanish, Spain had many more colonies and so a greater source of television programmes in Spanish. But in the tourist areas, everyone spoke English well enough to get by when dealing with tourists.

The day after we arrived was a total waste and I was not too happy about it. We did nothing except go for a wander and have lunch out and have dinner out. I made sure we got busy the next day.

Tomorrow I will post a few photos of a modest church nearby. (Hels can guess what is coming).

Monday, May 29, 2017

Europe 17 Day 8

Backtracking a little, for the record, this was our hotel in Lisbon.

Our second day in Porto had us back on the hop on hop off bus, this time upstairs and by the photos, at the front. The Atlantic Ocean continues to pound the coast.

A sweet little church near our hotel.

A statue within the parkland at Boavista Roundabout that without close examination appears to be lion having killed a large bird.

Avenue de Boavista has buses separated from car traffic.

Saint Francisco Xavier Fort.

Another quite stylish modern bridge.

A small tram museum. Note the tracks in grass.

We left the bus at a stop short of where we left it the day before on the southern bank of the river and walked across the iron bridge lower deck. My goodness, are there some tourists in Porto. I think many were Portuguese. Here we go. We will get up the hill using the Funicular dos Guindais. As the hill flattens out at the top, the carriage needs to change its angle to remain level, hence the bellows.

One up, and one down.

Lookee. A tram. I had already checked and it took a circular route. We can't go wrong. Well, we did really. We should have gotten off when it was at a low point near the river.

Our driver checked her phone before setting off. The tram was rough and noisy and tourists crowded in around her. R remarked, they ought to be well paid to work with such vehicles.

Not a bad way to get around.

A brief stop for a fortifying espresso.

And then down, down and more down.

I felt faint once we reached the northern river bank, like low blood sugar or something, so I needed food.

We found food, endless amounts. Now there is tourist cafe rort that happens in Portugal and Spain and elsewhere too. You sit down at a table, a waiter, at cafes usually a younger person, brings out your drinks and maybe a bowl of nuts and maybe another plate of a snack. The nuts are free, but the other snack is not. It is up to you to send it back, otherwise it will be added to your bill.

We walked along the river bank to the nearest bus stop and we just missed a bus. Damned old ladies kept coming to the bus stop to catch regular buses, so no sooner did we sit down, we had to get up again to give them a seat. A very old female tourist with curly grey hair was waiting for the same bus as us and she had this monster camera with massive lenses. A segway tour group crossed the road. Oddly, the next bus went straight past us, but a short time later another arrived and picked us up. The driver apologised as he would be going from here straight to the stop at our hotel. That suited us very well.

I wonder who she is?

Outside our hotel was a callistemon, that is an Australian bottlebrush.

Lights in the ceiling of our lift.

I think in North America ground floor in a lift is called 1. Here it is usually marked as Ground. Anything here below ground is a hodge podge, undercroft, basement, carpark.......many variations and no consistency. Isn't this system below so simple. 0 for ground floor and minus for lower levels.

Bye bye Porto. We are off to Barcelona in Spain tomorrow. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Europe 17 Day 7

There is only one hop on hop off bus in Porto and only one route. We bought tickets and the tickets included a river cruise. The bus was busy when we arrived, so we sat downstairs. Each bus we used for the entire holiday had plug in earphones and a commentary, which we all fine. Some commentaries had a bit too much detail. You just plugged the earphone into the socket at your seat and selected the language you wanted. There were a minimum of eight. We travelled west along the grand Avenue de Boavista. Very nice houses.

Oh wow, this is the first time I have seen the Atlantic Ocean. It seemed calm. No longer used tram tracks in the foreground.

But there was a huge swell that rose up on rocks and the breakwater at the entrance to the Duoro River.

The road ran along the banks of the river, and so did the route 1 tram. I would have loved to taken a tram ride along the river bank, but as we had already travelled along the river bank in the bus, and would do so again the next day, there wasn't much point.

Wow! Our bus had come along the river bank on the left from the left, crossed the iron bridge on the lower deck and we left the bus near to where our cruise boat departed. 

We did not have to wait too long for the boat to depart. It went up river, then turned around and headed towards the sea. Again, there were earphones to plug in for a commentary. As we reached the mouth of the river, a heavy rain shower came down and everyone skelted to the inside.

While I love the old iron bridge, this newer bridge is very elegant.

Time for lunch on the river side. We had some delicious fishie tuna like patties in an elongated shape. They were so nice, we ordered some more. Wine was only €2 for a generous glass. The wine in Portugal and Spain was very mild, almost innocuous, and quite cheap. What are these gondolier thingies passing by. Daddy, can I have a ride?  

The price included a free port tasting at one of wineries. We think R left his sunglasses sitting on the barrel at the window. 

While steep, we just loved Porto.

Here we go, up to who knows where.

Great views. Porto has a couple of modern light rail routes and you can see a tram crossing the iron bridge. Ah, I should tell you the name of the bridge. Ponte Luis 1. I will translate that as the Louis the 1st Bridge.

I am not sure if it a 500 metre drop below the wall or a 100 metre drop. Regardless, you will die.

R spied something he wanted to see the next day, but he could not be precise about what it was.

We went back for more fish cakes and more wine to the same place as earlier, after waiting a good time for a seat. There was a dispute over the bill but I am not sure if R sorted in our favour or not. A street vendor sold R a new pair of sunglasses, Raybans for a mere €10! We caught the hop on hop off back to the hotel from the stop where we left the bus in the morning. There was a kind of family restaurant opposite out hotel, so we dined there. In Australia we are used to young temporary waiters in cafes and restaurants.......students and backpackers and the like. Not so in Portugal. They were nearly all male and over 50 and quite professional. They take their job seriously. In Portugal and later in Spain we tipped by a couple of euros. One euro is about AU$1.50.