I'd buy a fancy phone just to be able to take photos like these all day long

Snow is white and my face is red

I think we are a bit off with the weather: if last weekend we spent it on the beach, this weekend we spent it in the snow with the company of Sam and Susanna. On such a last minute arrangement, I posted a “who needs a ride to Covilhã?” on the Couchsurfing website only 3 hours before leaving and Sam said “We do!!” So we were a foursome ready to hit the mountains.

The day before we went to buy waterproof boots and matching jacket which made me look quite dandy and very professional! I think Pete was proud of how great I actually looked!!(Either that or he was just being nice!) I missed snow: the cold, the wetness, the crunchy sound when you walk, the white brightness.
The plan was to hike across the Serra from where we were camping (Covão da Ametade) to the Torre, the highest point and by far the ugliest spot in the whole Serra, but nonetheless, our very own summit!

We had been told that it had snowed the previous night, so the Covão was nice and white. The whole “let’s sleep in the snow” was bitterly amusing: bundled up with only our face poking out in hope that the tent and sleeping bags were waterproof, looking forward to the hot tea in the morning.

Saturday there we were ready to venture into the wilderness in a soundless march towards “the tower”or as Sam put it “the intrepid explorers crossing the snowy waste”! There’s something about the immensity of the mountains that is so compelling which really makes me want to come back. (But this time with sunscreen!)

In the mail

Just got home, opened my mailbox and ta-dá...  postcard from Christine. She wrote it in deutsch with a catchy opening phrase: "Just ask google!"

sunday afternoon

you definitely complete me

50 km by bike

From Caldas da Rainha to Óbidos a ride with scenic views that made me forget that I have 99 pages to write until I finish my thesis and reminded me that I have to buy myself a bike (# 36 on my list).

Sergio, a rider habitué, kindly organized the whole thing: a train ride to Caldas da Rainha, from where we parted to São Martinho do Porto (Portugal’s tinny tiny version of Rio de Janeiro) and stopped to go fossil hunting; then all up hill (very painful) following an amazing downhill (very pleasant) until Foz do Arelho; a small inconvenient detour of 5 riders, Pedro and myself included; a smooth ride around the Óbidos lagoon discussing my near future; to finish off, some more ups and downs until Óbidos. 

Óbidos has this annual International Chocolate Festival and Sunday was the last day. So you can imagine families hurdling themselves into a small medieval village and not mind paying 7€ for an entrance.
After going for a drink and relaxing a bit from the trip, we let the festival close down and everyone leave and that’s when we decided to go have a sneak peak at what had been the chocolate fever festival. We got so lucky: since the vendors were closing down and beginning to pack up, we decided to start asking for free samples and they started offering us all the chocolate we wanted! Soooo gooood!!

And what did I learn from all of this?
One: I need to exercise more.
Two: always visit a chocolate festival right after it closes!! 

PS: Thank you Sergio for sharing your photos :)

In the mail

I was in debt with postcrossing. Today I finally sent out the 5 cards: Finland, Spain, Vietnam, USA and Russia. Since we are commemorating the 100 years of the republic revolution, all the cards were replicas of vintage cards from the beginning of the 20th century. Considering that a great number of the population at this time was illiterate, the republicans used image based propaganda to spread the news about republican ideas and how the revolution was carried out. I really enjoy sending out these type of cards rather than boring scenery and views of Lisbon. I just hope the recipients enjoy them as much as I do.

I must belong somewhere

Today I feel like this

targeted post II

now I really really miss you...

targeted post

To whom it may concern: right now, I really miss you and your very complicated vision of life's simplest things (like sleeping in on a rainy day!!)

15 more items and I finish my list!!
I am reconsidering parachuting...
This weekend I'm heading north.
To do list:
- go to the seamstress for the dress fitting
- make another video of my grandfather
- plan the roadtrip with my sisters
- bring some old photos back home to scan
- start my quilt
- have a nice weekend with the family
- forget all my troubles


Lisboa Restaurant Week

Yesterday was Wednesday. We had a nice Wednesday evening, finally.
It’s Lisboa Restaurant Week again and this time we reserved table at Suite, a baroque-chic styled restaurant inside Lisbon’s casino.
Restaurant Week is simple: eat out at fancy restaurants for 20€. The restaurants that join the event, propose a complete menu were you choose one starter, one main dish and one desert. The beautiful thing about Suite is that their menu isn’t divided into starters, main dish and dessert. On a regular basis,  you can choose randomly from a list of dishes and try out five, nine, twenty, or all, depending on your appetite (and bugget) because the dishes are “snack size”. So, the nice thing about Suite is that this concept was kept during the event. Here's our delicious seven dish menu. Highly recommended... during Restaurant Week!!

I went out today after lunch in a t-shirt, Spring is almost here.

Wet weekend in Évora

The forecast for the weekend was thunder storms, wind and plenty of rain: the perfect mix for outdoor activities. But still, we wanted our wet weekend in Évora!

We got to Évora in the morning for an orienteering competition in which we were to participate in the open categories doing a 4.5km route with 13 check points.
I had done orienteering before, though in an urban context, which anyone with minimum sense of orientation can easily identify on the map streets, tress, houses, walls, etc. But this time it was in the county side: this meant being able to identify small bushes and dense vegetation, rocks, boulders, ruins, fences, creeks, ponds, open area from densely treed area, and the list goes on. So imagine: little me, completely oblivious to what was awaiting, pass through the starting point, take hand of a map and suddenly get knocked away by the completely confusing appearance of the map that was going to guide me through the route!

It took me 45 minutes to find checkpoint number 1. Let’s just say that the participant that ranked first completed the route in 56 minutes! Plus: I only found the first checkpoint after feeling so so lost and asking for help. After 2 hours and a half of roaming the wilderness looking for checkpoints, I finally finished in …. (drum roll please)… LAST! But, nonetheless, extremely satisfied with my participation considering I didn’t give up. Which, I have to say, I really felt like doing. Pedro, a more experienced sport, ranked fifth completing the route in 1h13min. Of course, he had to patiently wait for me not knowing if I was completely lost or dead in some ditch!
All in all, we enjoyed it and are looking forward to our next orienteering competition in 2 weeks in Sintra.

Next on our list: geocaching!
Thanks to Pedro’s fancy phone we were able to find our very first cache. Something we were meaning to do for some time and it is number 23 on my list!

After a 10 km drive away from the city, we parked the car on the roadside and walked amongst mud, trees and bush until we came across the megalithic monument, named Portela de Mogos, where the cache had been hidden. The geocache website indicated that someone had last found it on the 25th, so we were sure that it was hiding somewhere. After a look around the premises of tall phallic formed ancient stones Pedro finally found a blue Tupperware hidden under some rocks. How exciting! Inside it was a plastic ziplock with a couple of papers explaining the history of the monument and instructions in case anyone finds the cache and doesn’t know what it is and also some random objects: a pen, an old key, a sharpener, a toy car, a tiny wooden cube.

We decided to take the old key and leave our orienteering map and signing the log book, carefully returning the cache to its place and trying to hide it even better than before. We were then determined to find more caches around Évora!

Évora is more or less flat, so the idea was to take a bike riding tour of the city just before dinner. The cool thing about dating a geek (and I mean geek in the nicest way!!) is that he does these really neat geeky things, like track our bike ride on his fancy phone.

We had bought tickets to go to the theater after dinner, thinking: no better way to end a perfect day than with a play. We were so wrong! It was a historic theater from the 19th century with beautiful à la epoch decorations and not having a heating system, awaiting us were red blankets to keep us warm during the show. But the play… well… Pedro fell asleep after 10 minutes and I tried to keep awake for a bit longer but ended up snoozing through most of it. The play was “Happy Days” by Samuel Beckett and, with nothing personal against the author or the actors, we simply found it tedious and left during the break between the two acts. Sorry…

Initially, we weren’t considering camping in Évora, because of the bad weather, though, just in case, we brought along the basics for a night out. And we’re glad we did, because on our way to the geocaching location we found this old school with the perfect terrace to set up our tent in a dry, comfortable and wind-free location. It even had a bathroom, with running water and toilet paper! It was an old primary school transformed into a natural reserve’s interpretation centre that had been used for some time.

Sunday was very stormy and we ended up not doing much, though we did manage to find one more cache in Évora’s main square. The interesting thing about geocaching is that it can lead you to nowhere places or to busy city centers and where they still manage to hide caches. This was the case: the GPS indicated the Praça do Giraldo and we were in a 10m perimeter around the coordinate’s area. We looked inside water tubes, behind trash cans, within cracks in stone walls, everywhere and no cache… until I looked under a heritage information panel and there was a small magnet with the log book cache we were searching for!

Not being able to do much outdoors, we decided to drive back home and have dinner at this cheap but very delicious oriental restaurant with a matching name: Sushi Delicioso!

It was an excellent weekend and I am definitely looking forward for more!