Força Portugal!

The courtyard at Quinta da Pacheca.

We are heading into week number 4 of lockdown here in Portugal and, I have to say that it hasn’t been too bad. The lines to get into the stores have been minimal. There has not been a shortage of much of anything so far. I am happy to report that there is plenty of TP, food, and drink.
It is a far cry from the pandemonium we are hearing coming from our friends in Italy, Spain, and the US. We wish you all well. So sorry that you are the victims of so much trumpery. (Yup, it’s a word. Go ahead, look it up.)

Kudos to the Portuguese government for handling the crisis so well thus far. Thanks to the quick official response, and cooperation of the people, it looks like the virus will be contained here sooner rather than later. We hope so. In any case, it is being taken a lot more seriously than in a lot of countries.

Springtime in a glass!

There have even been some perks. One of our favorite wineries, Quinta da Pacheca, has been offering 20% off their wines with free delivery on a case or more. We now have plenty of wine. More and more restaurants are offering take-out and delivery. That includes our favorite pizza place, Rei da Gula, here in Gaia. So, theoretically, we wouldn’t have to leave the house at all except to walk the dog. The mandate is to, “Fique em casa.” Stay home, which we are doing. We hope that you are too. Lay low and know that better times are coming. Stay strong and stay well, everyone.

Moving

I think we would all agree that moving is hell.  Even with movers, you must go through all your things and decide what to ditch and what to keep.  This move happened on short notice, and we didn’t have a lot of time to get it together.  You never realize how much crap you have until you go to move it all.

We were fortunate that we found takers for all the over-sized things that were a tough sell, some at the last minute.  Large architectural flat files and a seven-foot-tall harp case were two of them.  (Mr. Roberts, harp purchaser, and Craig’s List to the rescue!)  There is a big Good Will store in Stapleton, and I must have made 25-30 trips over there with carloads of stuff.  Still, there was too much to do, and we weren’t ready when the movers came.  The goal was to rid ourselves of 80 percent of our belongings.  I think we might have hit about 60 percent.  Oh, and the apartment to which we moved is up three flights of stairs.  And it was about 95 degrees that entire week.  Ugh.

We had a new understanding of the word exhaustion by the end of it.  My calves were screaming for mercy from lugging boxes up the stairs.  The closing went well, but we signed the place over at 10am and still had things in the house to move!  Ack!  By law, in Colorado, the buyers take possession when the sellers sign it over.  The fact that we weren’t out by the time we signed was unacceptable.  The buyers were understandably annoyed, but what could we do? At that point:  apologize profusely and get ‘er done!  We both had to work that day as well.  The timing was abysmal.  So, at 8:30pm, we went back over to finish up.  After a few more trips back and forth, we were finally out by 10pm.  We left the new owners a bottle of bubbly and some restaurant coupons and hoped they would be ok with it.  Happily, they were.

Our goal is to leave for Portugal by September.  We now have about two months to relieve ourselves of a lot more stuff and ship over the rest.  Holy mother of F:  why do we need so much stuff?!  We don’t, that’s the thing. The purge continues, but now we have a new neighborhood and time to breathe, at least.

The next step will be to go over and find a place to live.  The plan is to do so at the end of August and then apply for our visa.  That’s the catch 22:  can’t apply for a visa without an address, can’t really get an address without going over.  Why can’t anything be simple?!  Those online con artists have ruined it for the rest of us!  Apparently, there are plenty of Eastern Euro scumbags taking your money for an apartment and running with it, so internet renters beware!

Now it’s near 100 degrees in Denver for the next three months, and where can I go RIGHT NOW to escape this heat?  This is why I wanted to be gone by June.  The sweltering continues!  I must remember that it could be worse.  We could be in L.A. (120 degrees last week), Arid-zona, Palm Springs, or Las Vegas.  All versions of Hell on earth right now.  Which level would you like?!

In the meantime, cool off with a cocktail!  Or three…

Curio Bar, Denver Public Market

El Five Bar, Denver

Coach Museum/O Prado, Take 1.

Being older helped us out with the timing of everything we did on this trip.  While the rest of the Portuguese world has lunch around 1pm or later, we were usually hungry by noon.  The same went for dinner.  We usually wanted to eat around 6pm and were the only ones in the dining room at that time.  Restaurants got busy after 7pm, which suited us just fine.

We re-visited the Pasteis de Belem at about 11am in the morning and, guess what?  There was no line!  The place is also much bigger than it looks from the outside and seats around 400.  We ordered coffee and two pasteis de nata, as they are known.  This is the Café du Monde of Lisbon.  They serve delicious little custard tarts in a parchment-like pastry shell.  Not as good as beignets, but still, quite tasty.

After our “breakfast” of custard tarts and coffee, we decided to check out the Coach Museum.  Now, Joe thought, really?  A coach museum, how interesting could it be?  Boy, was he surprised!  As was I.  These were historic coaches built for royalty, and they were amazing, to say the least.  Having been a carriage driver in Denver for many years, I could really appreciate these mobile works of art.  They made our carriages look mighty pedestrian, I’ll say!  Well, look!Coach.1

Coach.2

After being wowed by the antique coaches for royalty, we found O Prado for lunch.  This little gem of a restaurant is on Rua da Junqueira, 474, 1300-341, Lisboa, and if you are ever in Lisboa (Lisbon, to us foreigners!)  you need to dine there.  We sat at the bar and were entertained by the Johnny and Christina show!  These two run the place, and they are awesome, as is the food.  I had a salmon steak that was crazy good, super fresh, and cooked to perfection, that is not overdone, and Joe had a pork dish that melted in the mouth.  We shared a bottle of the house red wine that was a red Vinho Verde.  Why, oh why, do we not get this wine over here?!  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not against the white Vinho Verdes, but the red is so perfect with everything!  Beautiful dark red color, a hint of effervescence, light- bodied with dark fruit flavors, and nice and dry on the finish.  Yumilicious, it was.  It reminded me of the dry Lambrusco from Emilia-Romagna in Italy.  I wish I could have brought some home.  One of the many reasons we’ll just have to move there!  Seriously, I have traveled a lot, but never have I visited a country where all the food and drink is so consistently good, if not great. 

Given the great fun, food, and drink, we became instant friends with Christina and Johnny and said we’d be back before we left Lisbon.

O Prado house red Vinho Verde.