Our Portugal Adventure: Day 4

Our last day in Sintra had arrived –Day 1 , Day 2 & Day 3 had been marvelous  and the weather was terrible! Pouring down rain, we hurried to pack, knowing we had to catch a 9:40 train, but obviously wanting to have un Americano and a sweet at Gregorio’s first. But blast, Gregorio’s was closed on Mondays!!! So, we slugged our soaking wet selves and luggage to the train – to catch an earlier 9:16 to Oriente, where we’d change trains to get on the metro to head to the Lisbon Airport to pick up our rental car. It sounds like a lot of hoop-la and possible confusion, but it was extremely simple and I’d recommend to anyone traveling only a few days in Portugal to rely on the public transit – it’s really convenient and straight forward.

The only down side of all of this was the weather….but once we got on the train, we were able to dry off. A quick pop in to a cafe at the metro station allowed for a coffee and pastry – yum – and we were off to the rental car counter.

Our Fiat was ready, so we hopped in and almost 3 hours of Portugal countryside later, we found ourselves in the sleepy town of Odeceixe. I choose this area because the Rota Vicentina, a beautiful set of hiking trails connecting at different areas throughout southern Portugal. The section we’d hike was mostly along the coast – one of the most beautiful sections I had read about.

We pulled into town, parked, had lunch at one of the first restaurants we saw (big mistake) and ordered some vino, beers, and lunch.

Well, the beers never came, but a bottle of champagne did (huh?) so we drank and ate the whole fish that came out and hoped the town had more selection.

From what we could tell, with the narrow streets, and lack of people, it was a sleepy shore town, in the off season. Again, more our speed, just want of better restaurants! Our bellies were full, so we headed up the hill to our Airbnb- not knowing where to park our car on these narrow streets warranted an on-foot surveillance. The owners met us, an older couple who spoke zero English, and checked us in, showing me how to use the insta hot water, and were the two bedrooms were. One smelled a bit like my grandmother, so we opted to put our things in the other. We would call Odeceixe home for only two nights, mainly using the small town as a jumping off point for the coastal hiking.

Having had many a night out and about, we decided to head to the local grocery shop to pick up dinner – angel hair, bread, garlic & zucchini and two bottles of wine. I mean, when in Portugal!

The night was perfect – and walking into town to the grocery store showed us there was in fact more restaurants to try.

Our balcony view overlooked the whole town, so we headed back to relax, unpack and cook our first Odeceixe dinner in. Tomorrow, we’d hit the trail!

 

 

 

Vieques Vacation: Day 1

Our island vacation has arrived! Yesterday was filled with an early morning wake up, four (yes 4!!!) flights that finally landed us on the island, a taxi shared by a fellow passenger & the pilot that flew us from the main island to Vieques, and a beer with the owner of the apartment we rented…all in all, a long day! Today, today was muuuuch better!

On our way to Vieques

We rose to the sound of roosters. Not a menacing sound, by any means, as we are early risers (although we did sleep until 8:30, super late for us!). Our next mission: coffee or cafe, as the locals call it.

Our humble abode in Vieques
Our humble abode in Viequess

 

Dressed and sunscreened up, we meandered down the Main Street of Vieques, where colorful buildings mixed in with dilapidated ones gave us lots to look at. Walking about 1/2 mile down to the ferry, we noticed most placed listed 10a.m to open, so we grabbed a cafe negro from the local corner panaderia in the main square. Before our cafés, we popped in a car rental place and booked a jeep for the following 3 days. While it’s a small island, we were told there are several remote beaches and a south part of the island worth exploring. Totally warranted spending $75 per day on an adventure vehicle!

Wild Vieques Chickens
Wild Vieques Chickens

Feeling wonderfully relaxed, we sipped our cafés on a bench while watching wild chickens romp around.

Next up: snorkeling! Needing to grab our own gear back at the apartment, we headed through town and bumped into Black Beard Sports. They do Bioluminescent Bay Tour!!!!! Signed up on the spot with a guy hailing from Denver! Fate for sure.

Our vehicle & bio tour all set up, breakfast was in order! We headed back towards our homestead to grab some breakfast at the panaderia closest to our apartment. Creole omelets with some cafe con leche y pan. Delicious!

Sea glass beach
Sea glass beach

Fully caffeinated, we popped back in the apartment to grab our snorkel and were off in search of sand & surf. Sea glass beach fulfilled our wishes, although the choppy water provided less than optimal visuals. But my oh my, the water is gloriously blue and warm here!!!

Yoga on the rocks!
Yoga on the rocks!

How magnificent to be in the ocean, swimming freely! After snorkeling, we headed past the ferry to the north east side of the island for another view. The waves were thrashing quite violently, so we didn’t venture in, but proved amazing views.

Bar Iguanas!
Bar Iguanas!

Worn out from our swim, we sought refreshment and headed to a funky bar (Cafe Mamasonga) and had a few medellas (the local beer). It was a lively place and complimented the island vibe perfectly. Feeling a bit giddy after no lunch, lots of sun, and a few brews, we decided to head back to grab more dinero so we could grab a proper lunch. Well, we decided to take a nap instead! This is vacation!

Sunset in Vieques
Sunset in Vieques

Refreshed and raring to go, I got up and did some yoga, then we headed out in search of the sunset. Azuls bar fit the bill and we watched the sun slip out of sight and the sky explode with color. Gorgeous!

Dinner was at a local spot, El Yates. Rice, beans, conch, sweet plantains and a whole grouper! The meal was good, drinks were tasty, and the first day in Vieques was a success!!! Can’t wait for tomorrow’s adventure…

Happy Wednesday!