Aeroporto da Portela- Lisbon, Portugal

I wanted to really quickly touch on the Lisbon airport because I think an airport experience can really make or break your trip. So knowing what you are in for can help alleviate some of the travel pains.

Airports in general are inherently stressful, thousands of people of various back ground and cultures all desperately trying to get somewhere. On a schedule they have no control over, while they are quite likely under-slept, under-washed and underfed. I think it is safe to say that the actual getting there is often the least fun part of any trip.

I do a lot of research when planning a trip and try my best to make sure our flights are convenient and touching down on airport that I know will make our trip more pleasant.  In researching for our trip to Lisbon last year, I found a lot of negative opinions about the Lisbon airport but since there is no other viable options in getting to Lisbon on the timeline we were looking at we had no choice but to fly to it.

 

All in all I was fairly impressed with the airport, granted that might in part be due to my low expectations. But it was a lot better than people seem to have claimed. Landing, disembarking, locating the baggage claim and exiting customs was all clearly communicated and easily understood. Locating the rental car counter was just as easy and before we knew it we were on our way. My husband even left his sweatshirt on the plane and when we went back to retrieve it the flight attendant rushed back and got it for us without any hassle.

When we returned the rental car halfway through the trip, again it was all hassle free. We studied the signs heavily before returning the car since they aren’t in English and we knew going in that it would be confusing. But since we had done that pre-work we knew exactly where to go and the return was simple. The attendant was kind, the process was easy and we walked away cheaper than we were quoted originally. This was point a concern of mine as a lot of the reviews said they got hassled for more money upon returning the car. Maybe because we paid for the insurance a head of time, or maybe because we chose a well known world wide rental agency rather than a cheap local one I cannot say. Whatever the reason, it was quick, simple and pleasant.

The only trouble we had with the airport was when we left. We had a VERY early flight, and even though all the travel advice on the planet says to be at your international flight three hours early most ticket counters don’t open until 6am. So if you have a 6am flight (like we did) no one will be there until about an hour before your flight. I am not saying don’t show up early for your morning flights, because you never know who will open when. I am just saying chances are if you show up early for your early morning flight out of Lisbon don’t be surprised if the TV monitors don’t show your flight, and that there isn’t anyone to help you until slightly before your boarding time.

Since we didn’t know this, we didn’t know the airport and none of the signs were in English it took us a while to figure out what to do. So I will tell you, when you enter the airport go up the small flight of stairs to the right, and go back until you see the ticket counters, you cannot see them from the front doors and that was confusing. Once you get checked in you will have to go back into the airport even further to go through security, which is very strict for how unassuming it looks. Again we were confused but we followed the crowds and we wound up in the right place in the end. Last but not least the airport itself looks like it was built in two era’s, one part in a 1970’s sci-fi movie and another part recently renovated. All of the shops, food and bathrooms are located in the recently renovated part to the right of the security stop, and the older part of the airport is to the left where most of the boarding gates are. So now you know! Enjoy and happy traveling.

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Evergreen Aviation Museam – McMinville, Oregon

The Evergreen Aviation Museum is the second aviation museum my husband and I have been to. The first being the Palm Spring Flight Museum which I have not yet managed to write up even though it was two years ago that we visited. I will get there, eventually.

The Evergreen Aviation Museum is in McMinville Oregon. It is famous for currently housing the Hughes H-4 Hercules also know as Howard Hughes’ The Spruce Goose. The wooden plane built in 1947 famously only took one flight, which was mostly a 70foot hover above the Cabrillo Beach channel in California. After a not so successful test flight the plane was housed at Aero Club of Southern California next to the Queen Mary as a tourist attraction (both of which I visited as a kid) until 1993 when the plans for Port Disney were abandoned at which time the plane was bought and moved to Oregon.

The Spruce Goose which is quite impressive, however is not the only impressive thing about the museum. The museum as a whole is two large hangars and a theater which screens a variety of flight themed movies. One hanger includes the Spruce Goose as well as other planes starting with models from the very first attempts at human flight up through modern day military and private jets. My personal favorite was this gorgeous antique prop plane. I had visions of boarding with perfectly coiffed victory rolls and a ridiculously expensive mink jacket.

I think my husbands favorite was the Lockheed SR-71Blackbird”  which I have to admit was pretty impressive. The Blackbird is incredibly advanced and modern looking especially considering it was  a stealth spy plane that was flown in the 1960s.

The Blackbird was housed in the second hanger across the parking lot along with the the space flight displays. Which included model replicas of the moon lander, Russian space crafts and model sections of the ISS.

They also had this Russian re-entry pod on display which still has the scorch marks from when it entered back into the earth atmosphere. The space display was my favorite overall, it had displays that covered the beginnings of man’s dreams to travel off planet, information about the Russian and American space race as well as the extensive collection of artifacts, information and models.

For anyone who is interested in vintage planes, modern, military or space travel I would highly suggest the trip down to McMinnville, it is a great way to spend the day especially in Oregon in the winter. It gives you a great way to get out of the house and walk around without getting soaked to the bone.

Addition Information:

  • It is located in McMinnville Oregon, a short drive south of Portland.
  • 500 Northeast Captain Michael King Smith Way McMinnville, OR 97128
  • Tickets are 19-27 dollars depending on the age of the visitor, which is well worth it as you can make a whole day of the visit.
  • They also have an extensive array of special events, so make sure to check the calendar and plan accordingly.

Azulejo – Lisbon, Portugal

If you have seen even just a single image of Portugal, chances are it had azulejo in it. Azulejo is a form of painted glazed tile, whose history dates back to the 13th century. These beautiful painted tiles are synonyms with the country and Lisbon in particular. And for good reason, they are stunning.

My research so far seem to point to Seville Spain being the epicenter of the Azulejo movement in the 13th century, at the time it was heavily influenced by Moorish culture and as such the tiling technique were perfected here.  King Manuel introduced the techniques to Portugal after a visit to Seville and the rest his history.

The Sintra National Palace has an impressive display of both indoor and outdoor tiles. We wound up skipping  it because of sick family members and a want to get settled in Lisbon before Christmas but I would love to go back and visit. There is also a tile museum in Lisbon we didn’t make it to that would probably worth the time if you had an interest in ceramics and history.

My favorite tiles I saw in Portugal were at the Pena Palace in particular the gold tile in picture above. The room was dark so the picture is terrible but I was memorized and wound up holding up a long line of tourist trying to take pictures of it.

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A slightly better picture of the gold tile seen above, but it doesn’t show off how vivid the gold was.  I just want to touch it. Which is frowned upon and often ends in being ejected from the building. So I resisted, this time…

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Pena also boasts a large college of relief tiles, I couldn’t find any information on the history of the relief tiles, though given when Pena was built I would imagine it was all the rage in the 1800s.

Where as the more standard and repetitive tiles were more common closer to the 15th and 16th centuries.

At various points in history production of tiles moved out from Spain and Portugal to their colonies, a large amount of which landed in Brazil.

Where as the blue and white tiles were more likely from the 18th century and of Netherland origin.

And the blue and white tiles with scenic motifs are possibly even newer and mass produced with industrialized methoods in the 19th century.

If you are really intrigued by the history and tile facades Lisbon Lux has a nice round up of the prettiest facades in Lisbon. Complete with addresses for each building so you can go see them for yourself if you are ever in the area.

Lisbon Lux also has a nice round up of the best tile panels in the city, if you are more interested in the mosaic picture rather than the repetitive patterns.

Jackson Bottom Wetlands – Hillsboro, Oregon

One of my favorite local walking areas is the Fernhill Wetlands but since brining the pups home we don’t go there as much. It and the Jackson Bottom Wetlands are nature and bird preserves so dogs are prohibited.

However from time to time, we find our selves without the dog for a short period of time and wanting to get outside the Jackson Bottom Wetlands proves to be the perfect place for a walk.

The area is quite large and there are a good number of trails. Some of them were still flooded when we last went so not all the areas were open, but I think it took us about an hour to walk them all (again all that were actually open that day). It was spring, everything was in bloom and it was one of the first warm days of the year. The trails are very well maintained, well marked and despite the time of year very quiet. We only ran into a couple bird watchers.

Unlike the Fernhill Wetlands there is a very comprehensive interpretive center that holds community events and classes. They have in the past even had sunrise yoga classes outdoors on the observation decks, I would love to make it down for these. Fingers crossed I can get my act together soon!

 

To Visit:

  • Address: 2600 SW Hillsboro Hwy. Hillsboro, OR 97123
  • Open Hours: 10-4
  • Cost: Free but with a suggested donation of 2$ per person.

An Ode to the Amsterdam Airport

Traveling is a funny thing, for me it is the height of joy but it is also challenging. I start off my travel day in a frenzy, furiously driving to the airport, high on the excitement of starting out my vacation. Then about 10 hours later reality hits (at least for trans-Atlantic trips) that I have been surrounded by people in tight spaces with no fresh air and I am on the verge of a total meltdown. Tired, uncomfortable, overwhelmed, lacking a shower and so very ready to get to my destination, stopping yet again for another layover is often the worst part of the whole trip. I am not a shopper of luxury goods or terribly interested in paperback romances. So airport shops hold little drawn for me. After hours of sitting and consuming overly starchy airplane foods sitting in an airport restaurant consuming MORE food I don’t actually need is certainly not the answer. And as much as I love walking, walking a busy airport full of stressed out travelers often stresses me out more.

So imagine my surprise and delight while walking around the Amsterdam with my parents on our last trip overseas I found a small space where I could actually step outside and get some fresh air. Without warning I headed to the door and forced them outside. It may have existed for the purpose of smoking but lucky me there was no one else there. So while it was freezing cold (it was December after all) we sat outside in the sun and watched the planes move around the tarmac for a while. It is the little things, the small breaks back to normalcy that helps relieve the stresses of travel and for me something like this small outdoor rest area made all the difference to me. So thank you Luchthaven Schiphol for creating this space. I will always try to layover through Amsterdam when possible for this reason alone.

Ireland Hiking – Quarter Three

Wow, how is this already the third quarter of my Ireland hiking training!? In a year the trip will be over, how sad.

In other news we are officially booked with a tour group. We chose to go through a group so that we could save ourselves on transportation, hotel booking and from having to cart our gear around with us. I am the laziest hiker in the world, don’t judge, at least I am hiking. Next step we have to start figuring out flights, which turns out is not that easy going from a small town in Oregon to a small town in Ireland. Once we get more details settled and planned I will start sharing some tips on how to plan a similar trip.

As far as training is concerned it has been a slow summer, outdoor speaking.  I had high hopes of being able to get out over the summer, which I mentioned in my prior training post. But as summer came to a close the wildfires in the area got too bad to really spend a lot of time outside. I am hoping for everyone’s sake that the fires get under control soon and Oregon can go back to being the outdoor wonderland it normally is.

Most of my exercise has been working out via YouTube video instruction. Between Jessica Smith’s barre, and weight training workouts and Adriene’s yoga videos I have managed to really focus on strengthening those knee, ankle and stability muscles as well as getting more strength and flexibility in my arms and shoulders.

I have also managed to find a couple decent routes to walk the dog, which puts us up to about 6-10miles a day (depending on weather). And I have bought my hiking boots and have started to wear them on dog walks now and again to start breaking them in.

(Quarter 3) – September through November:

  • Continue daily strength and stretch exercises at home (15-45min daily).
  • Weekly hikes getting longer and adding the daypack with realistic weight.
    • Hopefully once the fires are squelched and the weather cools a bit we can get back to the woods.
  • Daily walks outside with dog for 6-10 miles.

Tram 28 – Lisbon, Portugal

Tram 28 is the longest public transit route in Lisbon. Starting in the Baixa district, making it’s way up into the Alfama, back down through Baixa and over through Estela. The cable cars that consist of the Tram 28 route are the original 1930 Remodelado cars complete with polished wooden benches, dials, doors and windows. Everyone likes to reassure tourists that the breaks have been updated since the 1930s, though the joke is that they are a bit too good, stopping can be quite jarring.

We took some advice from the rental office of our apartment and went to search for the starting stop of the tram line but it wasn’t where we were directed to go. This could be the fault of our inability to follow directions though. So we popped on a stop in the middle of the Baixa at about 7am and made our way up the front of the Alfama district.

The tram winds up through the ancient and narrow streets toward the castle, eastward into a slightly more suburban looking part of town then down the back side of the hill and back into the Baixa. At this point we didn’t actually know what was happening…everyone got off but it was the middle of a square and we thought everyone had just gotten off to go to work. We saw another tram up ahead with a huge line waiting to get into it and scoffed that the poor people that didn’t have the good sense to get on earlier. Then we got kicked off because evidently we were at the end of the line. Whoops.

So we very sulkily got off the tram dashed across the street to the other stop and waited in line to get on the Tram at the start of the line and we promptly got back on the same Tram we had just gotten booted off. It was all very silly. To avoid this confusion and embarrassment and a wasted Tram ticket, go to the actual start of the line at R. Sra. Saúde 6B, 1100-390 Lisboa, Portugal and try to get there as early as possible. You will see why later.

We enjoyed seeing the city from the new point of view, getting to see parts of town we had missed because we were always on foot and getting to watch people go about their daily lives is always something I thoroughly enjoy.

There is a lot of ongoing construction in Lisbon, this guy was just walking his work tools to work in the middle of the street. The mix of new and old is lovely and as always makes me dream of getting the chance to save an old crumbling building by brining it back to life.

These two building were right next to one another, one a crumbling shell of a building, only a façade left standing. If you look carefully you can see daylight through the windows as the building had no roof. Then directly next to it, this beautifully restored multi purpose apartment and shop building.

I am sure the Tram 28 cars are still operational for aesthetic reasons in part, as it does draw a good number of tourists to the area. However part of the reason why they are still operational is because modern day train cars cannot pass through the narrow streets. During most of the route the car swung through curves and around corners with only an inch or two to spare which at first startled me a bit but toward the end I felt a bit like I was on a ride. Or at least I did until we met a tour bus that clearly didn’t realize it wouldn’t fit up the street, and we came to such a quick stop I think I may have bruised a rib or two. The tram and the bus stood at a stand still for a good while, the bus eventually had to try to maneuver around the corner and past the tram on the VERY narrow street, I think the side mirrors touched. And as it passed I could see the look of sheer terror on the bus passengers faces. It all ended well and safely but what an adventure.

We chose to get off at the Baixa again as the tram was starting to get crowded and we didn’t have enough rides on our bus tickets to get back. Tickets again are bought at newspaper/lottery stands which bear the sign “Jogos Santa Casa” they are hard to miss and can be found on more than one street in the Baixa. We spent an hour or so after that eating gelato and watching the tram go by, it didn’t take long for the tourist crowds to take over and pack the tram to an uncomfortable level.

Close up, LOOK AT ALL THOSE PEOPLE! Needless to say, go early and go to the origination stop so that you can get a seat next to the window to fully enjoy the ride.