Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sept 25, 2017 Return to Kelowna

Agnes and I were up at 7:00 am and in the shower.  This was actually only 11:00 pm Pacific time Sept 24 back  in Kelowna as there is an 8 hour time difference.   We had a quick breakfast with Liam and Siubhan before getting in the car at 8:20 am.   Liam had said it was only 50 minutes on a good day down to the Lisbon airport but at this time of day we were looking a rush hour traffic.   Liam made good time down to Lisbon until we got to within a few kilometres of the airport and then the freeway turned into a parking lot.   However Liam skillfully maneuvered us through what seemed like a maze of fly overs and under passes and dropped us at the airport just minutes before 10:00 am.   After the good byes and thanks on the departures ramp they were off.

Agnes and I found the Air Canada kiosk and dropped our luggage and headed for security.  It seemed pretty easy and then off to passport control to get our passports stamped.  So you are stamped in and out.   As it turned out they had the wrong date on the stamp but nobody seemed to notice or care.  Makes me wonder why they bother to stamp you out.   Finally down to the gate and a chance to catch our breath.  The flight was on time at 12:50 and while it looked like we had lots of time we got to the gate only 20 minutes before boarding. 

The plane was another of Air Canada’s cast offs now flying under the banner of “Rouge” and it was cooking hot on the plane as no one turned the AC on.   Once on board we sat on the ground for 30 minutes before being pushed back.   Didn’t get into the takeoff cue.   OOPS!  However we were on our way.  It seemed like we were surrounded by hackers.  There was a lady infront of us who coughed almost continuously and there were two or three others behind us who coughed sporadically.   If we avoid  the plague it will be a miracle.  The flight was pretty smooth and non-eventful so I guess that is a successful outcome.  Unfortunately neither Agnes nor I were able to catch a nap during the 7 plus hour flight.  

Upon arrival in Toronto we were still 20 minutes late and now had to clear customs, go through a second set of security screening and wind our way through the sprawling maze of the Toronto airport going from the international arrivals gate to the domestic departures. However we sat on the tarmac for 15 minutes as the ground crew didn’t have the gate ready.  I guess someone forgot to call ahead. OOPS! We did have a three hour layover. However by time all of this transpired all we had time for was to grab a quick Teen Burger from an A&W and get on the next leg of the journey to Vancouver.  

The leg to Vancouver was a brand new Air Canada plane with modern seats and built in tv monitors and power points on the seats. Agnes and I watched the new Guardians of the Galaxy #2.   It was good but not as good as Guardians of the Galaxy #1.  Lots of cameos by different actors and pretty campy.   The movie ate up 2 hours of the 5 hour flight.  So I still had lots of time to snooze but just couldn’t find a nap anywhere.   

The Vancouver layover was three hours so we had lots of time to wander down the corridor from one gate to the next.   We stopped at a panni shop and had a bite to eat which really helped to revive us or at least keep us moving.  The plane was a turbo prop and it was only a 40 minute hop over to Kelowna.  Maybe it was the drone of the engines but both Agnes and I slept the entire 40 minutes of the flight.  

The luggage rolled off and we headed out to find a cab home.  We opened the door to our place in Kelowna a couple of minutes before 1:00 am Sept 26.  Total elapsed time from our first show to Kelowna 26 hours.   Home sweet Home.

I would like to thank Liam and Siubhan for putting together and hosting us in Portugal.  It was a fabulous adventure and one Agnes and I treasure.   We look forward to our next adventure with you.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

This morning Liam and I were up early and on the road by 8:40 am.  It was quite foggy as we rolled out of the house and the temperature was reading only 12 C on my Garmin.  I had not put any leg warmers and had only short finger gloves so I was a little chilly.  As you leave Liam’s place there is a long steep downhill and at the bottom I was questioning my choses of clothing.  However this was quickly put behind me as there is a nasty steep pitch of around 15% almost right around the corner.  Half an hour later the sun was out and burning all but the stubbornest of fog patches off. By 10:00 the sun was out and it was a brilliant blue sky.   I cannot believe the luck we have had with the weather on this trip not a rainy day, or even a cold and blustery day.   
By 10:00 we are cycling through some of the ex-pat communities which hug the coast line.  These are really upscale places with fancy golf courses and Marriot hotels.  I have to admit the views are spectacular and the places look palatial.  After leaving the ex-pat communities we passed the motor scooter club going the other way.  There must have been 2-300 scooters and a few tiny motor bikes.  All of them were two cycle and the blue hazy was chokingly thick.  We joked that we had just smoked a couple of cigars.  
Liam and I are just cruising along and taking our time. It was a lot of fun not rushing and stopping to take pictures.  The views along the ocean are magnificent.  The coast has vast sand beaches below 100-200 meter high cliffs.  Along the head lands the waves are crashing against the rocks.  This was just a beautiful day with very nice temperatures in the low 20s and beautiful blue sky. 
We rode out on to this little spit of land at Balale which was few interesting as there was a beach on both sides of this little concrete road.  Out on the spit were a few houses, cafes and hotels.   It was crowded with late season tourists and locals getting in a last opportunity to enjoy the sand and sun. We sat in a beach side café and had a coffee.  It was great watching the people on the beach. 
From there we rode further along the coast to our main goal of the day which was the Peniche Peninsula which as the town of Peniche on it.  There are old walled fortifications long sections of the peninsula indicating that it was a major military post.  Now there are fish canning factories and tourist infrastructure. Along the north side of the peninsula is huge sand dune which protects the town. The front of the peninsula has tall cliffs with very large flat cliffs. Liam was talking my picture just as the section of rock I was standing on broke loose and I slid down along way before it stopped.  It took a long time to scramble back up.   The south side of the peninsula had a fishing village and a harbour which has some ship servicing facilities and a large marina.
As it was getting on we headed home.  Liam entered home in his Garmin and we flew off aided by a nice tail wind.  It was a great day of riding we covered 88 kms and climbed 1100 meters.  I have really had a lot of fun riding here in Portugal.   
Tomorrow is a long day as Agnes and I fly home.
Agnes and I really have to thank Liam and Siubhan for hosting us.  This has been a really great trip, exploring Portugal and Spain.  They did a wonderful job picking highlights, organizing hotels, driving us around, planning bike rides and a thousand other things.   Special thanks to Liam who lent me his spare bike which was a great ride.  The triple front crank and the low range gears were perfectly suited to the hills of Portugal. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sept 23 Caldha De Rainha

This morning we were up early and off to see the local farmers market.  We arrived about 8:45 and it was in full swing.  In fact we had to park quite a distance from the market in order to find a spot.  The center of town is completely given over to the market.  This was in the truest sense a real farmers market as there was not any crafts or junk being sold.  It was all produce (fruit and vegtables) and flowers.  The variety of vegetables was amazing.  There must have been twenty different kinds of potatoes, of every imaginable colour.  The tomatoes ranged from tiny little cherry tomatoes to huge segmented tomatoes which were a blotchy red and red.  The fruit was also amazing as the number of different kinds of apples and pears for sale was huge.   The prices were extremely low as a lot of the apples and pears were priced at 0.50 Euros per kilogram.   Regular potatoes were 0.20 Euros per kilogram.  The flowers were also very cheap by North American standards. Huge bouquets were selling for 5 Euros.  It looked like everyone was enjoying the bountiful harvest.

We walked through an interesting tiled art display in the center of town.  It was kind of hard to understand what the artist was thinking of.   Maybe it was some type of post-modern meets apocalypse.   But then modern sculpture was never my strong suit. 

After lunch Liam and pulled on some cycling gear and headed off for a short spin.  We headed north along the coast into a quite stiff head wind.  The views along the coast were absolutely stunning.  The blue green of the ocean and the green of the cliffs was great.   We rolled into the small sea side village of San Martinho de Porto which has a beautiful beach front and a lively front street.  Liam and I decided we needed a gelato.   Sitting in the sun eating ice cream was great.   The trip home with a stiff tail wind was a lot of fun even though we had some major climbs to complete.

Supper was a treat at a local restaurant in Cladha de Rainhas. 

What a great day.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Sept 22 2017, Rest Day Caldas de Rainhas

Sleeping in was really nice this morning.  Liam has put together a real whirlwind tour and it was great to just be able to lay in bed.  It was well past 9:00 am before I was out of bed.  I was awake earlier but lying in bed an picking up my book to read for a bit was a real luxury.

There had been a problem with the hot water tank so Liam had arranged to have the plumber come to check out the hot water tank.   The gas to the tank is supplied off a large propane tank which serves all of the condos in the development and it looked like the tank has not been filled so the pressure was low.  The plumber bled the lines and got the system running which was great. 

After a leisurely breakfast and a nice hot shower I fought the urge to lay down for a nap.  Instead I pulled a chair into the sun and did some reading.  I am reading a Michael Crighton novel called Rising Sun.  It is kind of dated and not quite the page turner he normally puts out.   However it a is pretty easy read and nothing better on an easy day.

This afternoon Liam and Suibhan headed off to do some shopping so I pulled the bikes out and cleaned the bikes.  After the long hard ride up Pico de Veleta and the long drive back they were covered in road grim.   We had taken the seats and bags off the bikes for the drive back so in addition to cleaning there was some assembly to be done.  Bikes are now cleaned and the chains oil. 

Liam and I spent a couple of hours sitting in the sun enjoying a couple of bike stories and sipping a few beers.  It was a very nice enjoyable talking about rides we would like to do.  A circumnavigation of the Iberian Peninsula was the favoured ride. Maybe in 2019. 

Suibhan made a wonderful baked salmon for supper.

I didn’t take pictures today.  In fact I didn’t even take any pictures.  So I have posted some pictures from other days


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sept 21 2017 Cordoba to Liam’s

Today’s photos are a collection of night shots from our evening out in Cordoba and playing with the camera in the backseat. Last night was a really fun evening spent in a typical Spanish restaurant getting totally stuffed with an amazing collection of tapas.  The walk back across the river to the hotel in the warm evening air was very nice and the lights on the old town and bridge were very pretty, so I have included some of those shots.  
We had a 550 kms journey home this morning from Cordoba.  Even though it was mostly on the freeway it was still a 6.5 hour travel time journey.   As we wanted to be home at a reasonable time and didn’t want to have too stressful a journey we were down to breakfast at 8:00 am and packed up and on the road by 9:00 am. 
Like all good car journeys it was pretty uneventful.  Liam and Suibhan did a masterful job of navigating us out of the city of Cordoba and down the freeway. 
As for Agnes and I, we had the easy job of napping in the back seat.  I played with my camera and took a lot of pictures of things along the way.  This is the beauty of digital cameras.  You can take a lot of pictures that you would never do with a film camera.  
In Europe when you order a coke and you get one bottle with no ice and I had been thinking that I would like to go to a place which had a soda fountain with North American style unlimited soda and ice.  Later on we stopped at a mall along the way and went in and had a burger for lunch and they had a soda dispenser with unlimited refills which is quite unusual.   I made sure to tank up on Coke.  Of course I had to take a lot of heat about how far down the road we would get before a pit stop was required.   In the end it wasn’t me that made the call for the pit stop so I was vindicated.
I think everyone was glad to be home and everyone is looking forward to a sleep in day. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sept 20 2017 Granada- Alhambra and Córdoba

After yesterday’s major outing the 6:30 alarm was not a welcome noise.  However there was only one opportunity to visit the Alhambra and I wasn’t going to miss it.
It was still dark but the taxi pulled up spot on 7:30 am and we were off.  It was a very short ride and with almost no traffic we were dropped off at the Alhambra only moments later.   I had booked tickets on line months earlier however the booking process on the Spanish cites was unclear and what I had actually booked was a big question mark. So finding the lineup was a bit of a panic however we did get into the right line and spot on 8:00 am the gates opened and we went in.   
Alhambra was originally constructed on 889Ad as a small fortress on top of an earlier Roman fortress. It was continually expanded and reinforced by the 1333 was made into the royal palace by the Moorish Emir Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. When the Islamic kingdom fell to the Christians im the 14 th century is was intended to be taken over by King Charles V of Spain and he constructed a new palace on the same grounds but it was never finished and the place fell into disrepair.  Fortunately it was recovered and has since become a world heritage site.  The place is a beautiful example of Islamic architecture.  The tile and plaster work is beyond belief.  The huge carved panels and engraving are incredibly beautiful.   I cannot imagine how the walls could have been carved with so much skill that panel after panel is totally faultless.  
Agnes and I were on a bit of a tie crunch as we had to be back at the hotel by 12:00 so we hurried through and the 4 hours just flew by.   We jumped back in a taxi and pulled up just as Liam finished loading the car and bikes.  What timing!   In the car and down the road to Córdoba.   We are staying here for the night before heading back to Liams tomorrow morning. 
Córdoba is a beautiful city on to itself.  We are staying in an interesting hotel just across the river from the old down town so we all walked into the town across the Roman bridge.  The Roman bridge has been rebuilt several times and is now a modern walking bridge.  In the old town we had a wonderful supper of tapas and walked back to the hotel.
What a great day!