Porto Portugal on a weekend

If Coimbra’s train station makes you initially question why you are there, Porto’s embraces you with open arms. It’s walls are adorned with blue and white ceramic tiles with “scenes of daily life” and everyone seems happy to be there. Stop, look up, take a minute and soak it in…. welcome to Porto. This city straddles the Douro River where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. It’s multiple bridges rise higher and higher towards the sky from the banks of the Douro approximately 280 feet below. The pastel colored buildings of the old city and waterfront landings bustle with restaurants, wine…

Top 10 Lisbon, Portugal

1. Fado Music. As previously discussed in our first post on Lisbon, we loved Fado. It’s soulful and stirring, sad and uplifting and penetrates your emotions. Close your eyes, sit back and listen. Simply beautiful. 2. Music in general, everywhere. One thing we loved about Dublin was that there was music on nearly every street corner. Lisbon was much the same. Guitar players, African style steel drum music, Fado, etc. Soak in the tunes and enjoy. 3. Public squares with views and kiosk bars abound. People bring bottles of wine, buy cocktails at the kiosks and sit, sip and enjoy…

Exploring Lisbon, Portugal (aka I wish this place had some hills)

We touch down in Lisbon really ready for some time off from the day to day. Immediately, we notice how friendly the people are. We’ve packed our phrase book but hardly need it as most everyone speaks near fluent English and no-one seems to resent that you don’t speak Portuguese (at least they pretend that they don’t) though a well placed Obrigo (or Obrigada, if you’re a lady, this translates to I thank you, which is why gender matters) is appreciated. We are staying in Alfama which is a neighborhood of the old, original city. It’s full of narrow winding…

Rock me on the water: our first cruise top 10

Rock me on the water The wind is with me now So rock me on the water I’ll get down to the sea somehow (Jackson Browne) Now that we’ve been back on terra firma for almost a week and back into the grind, begrudgingly, it is time to reflect on our time at sea and the top 10 things we liked about our first cruise together: 1. The staff. I am not sure if Viking is unique in this (I suspect this may be so) but the staff are wonderful. The bartenders, waiters and waitresses, excursion people, cleaners, etc were…

Cruising tips for non cruisers

As we sit in Miami preparing to board our plane home we are reflecting on our experiences on board. As a first time cruiser (second for Melissa), a few tips we thought we’d share for the non cruisers follow: Find your spots, be a regular and become a local. This goes for both communal spots like bars or poolside and private ones like little nooks where you can tuck away. It’s not really about establishing turf, it’s more about finding places you love and visiting them often because you will have a chance to really get to know people who…

The Rose Hall Great House, Jamaica

Ja mon, we come to Jamaica for a ghost story. But this one does not involve Bob Marley but a native son of Arkansas, the man in black, Johnny Cash. But we will get there…. On our day in Montego Bay, we toured the Rose Hall Great House. Built in the 1770s, and later owned by John Rose Palmer the Great House was once a great plantation with 3 wings and 12 bedrooms. A sugar cane plantation, according to Wikipedia, more than 250 Africans were enslaved here. But the most famous occupant was Annie Palmer. John’s second wife, reportedly a…

On Roatan, Honduras

When we’ve traveled to port cities on our own we’ve often come away with the impression that where the port is doesn’t really give you the flavor of a place. To us, Coxen Hole in Roatan Honduras fits that description. The contrast between the cruisers deboarding their fancy ship and the poverty of the port city is striking. Like many poorer areas reliant on tourism we were accosted with a wave of offers to buy trinkets, take private tours and for taxi rides to “anywhere we wanted to go”. We were entertained by “William” who wanted to show us his…