Sunday, June 16, 2019

Spring in Freiburg

This post has pictures of the local Rieselfeld rose garden and the outdoor garden at the restaurant Chada Thai.
Lovely orange roses

Travel from Sevilla to Zurich to Freiburg meant planes and autos. Liz took me to the airport, very much appreciated. Flight was delayed after we had boarded due to high winds in Zurich, they had to re-direct planes to different runways. Landed, I meet at the meeting place of the driver that takes me to Freiburg. This van service is available between Frankfurt and Zurich airports, based in Freiburg. They do airport to door service, or visa versa. That day we were two passengers so he took the fellow home first which added time to my return journey. My flight delay caused the driver to be late for some thing else and he got, what I would say, a bit aggressive in his driving which made me uncomfortable. While the service is valuable to the fellow who got delivered to his door, no obvious transit in that town, I think next time I’ll be taking the train. 

The flat looks great here in Freiburg, Dawna and Erwin always leave it sparkling clean and it’s now 8 pm and the sun is streaming in the windows, frankly showing me that I need to clean my computer.

I had a great lunch with Frank, Ina and Rosie couldn’t make it, due to an important prior commitment. We talked about our travels, Frank has travelled extensively across western Europe and Australia. He told me of a time where friends and him travelled by car to Florence a 17 hour journey when they only stopped to gas up, this was in their twenties, ah, the young. 

May 30th is Ascension Day and a stat holiday, nothing happening too much. It is also Father’s Day which I’ve written about before where men get together and party with wagons of beer and snacks. I went down to the train station to find some of those fellows, they are amusing, but didn’t. Did get a Thai red curry from what had been a previous favourite, a bust, terrible in fact, and disappointing. 

Lexi needed a couch blanket, she has always slept on the couch, when she is not in bed and I gave away the one we had, not thinking, dumb mum. I bought a lambs wool one which when she isn't using it, lumpy, is a nice addition to the couch, made her happy, a goal in my life…

Couldn’t seem to hook up with friends in the building who were good to me when Bruce passed so I pushed and bought her a rose bush and him some Spanish wine and left it at the doorstop. We are getting together next week after their son’s visit this weekend.

Christoph took me for lunch, just called and was here in 20 minutes. We went to Chada Thai, always good there. He got talking to our waitress, she has a PhD and her thesis for becoming a Biochemical Engineer is in correction phase, smart lady. The garden there is always lovely!

Adrienne invited me to her house for breakfast, again those stairs to her place are colossal, but I made it and enjoyed the visit. We seem to be able to bounce ideas off each other, even life’s dilemmas. She is recovering from a fourth hip operation but still buzzing around her apartment. Her son lives with her which is a blessing in times like this since he does the shopping and probably most of the cooking. She told me there is a Paris metro station reserved and used just for filming movies, little tidbit most people probably don’t know. She also told me about (English language button on the top). I visited the institution and was impressed by their library with many English language books and the friendly people working there. Dawna had left some novels here with instructions to get rid of them if not read so I took a picture of the spines as requested by Shawn at the institute and they may take them. I thought of it as a real find! Thank you Adrienne!
The bees were loving all the flowers.
Christoph is extremely busy now with tours into various countries for the summer starting pretty much now, so we’ve been getting together as much as possible until he leaves. He will do a tour for me for a few days in Dijon, France where I will spend the summer while Dawna and Erwin have their usual occupation of the Freiburg flat.

I chose Dijon because I love the mustard, long time fan, but they don’t make it there in quantities any more, mustard seed comes from Canada. It’s a city smaller than Paris or Lyon (Lyon by population is as large as Paris), but still has a metro. I am staying in two flats, one in the city centre and one outside with metro access, a month each. Thought it might be a change to swap city for more rural, the second is near a canal, yeah for water views!

Mini-irises in the mini-gardens around lamp posts here in Rieselfeld.
I’ve seen Frank, Ina and dog Rosie a couple of times. Ina had a severe knee injury a month or so ago and has had the operation to correct it this week. She wants to use a motorized wheelchair to walk Rosie while in recovery, I still have Bruce’s large chair nicknamed Pepe le Pew which needs new batteries. Poor Pepe, the bike not the person, has been neglected and was kicked out of our garage by building management the day before I left Freiburg in November. Found a garage for storage for it and still neglected. Today in an effort to get motorized wheels for Ina, Christoph took me to two stores that specialize in wheelchairs and other aids for people with disabilities. The first one will have a mechanic go over the chair, and install new batteries so I can sell it in good condition. Second will rent chairs short term, Pepe is too big for Ina I think, but a good day to get both sorted.

The farmers are taking the hay off the fields this week mentioned because of the many, many storks following the tractor for the good bugs they find, feast time for them!

All for now, just to let you know I haven't fallen off the edge of the earth. Cheers, Bev and the spoiled Lexi Cat

Friday, May 17, 2019

Day Trip to Grazalema

First off, Ryan's post of a great lunch we had together with Rocio and Pepe in Sevilla!

My friend Liz, archaeologist and artist (met her at the Sunday art market) took me on a day trip south of Sevilla. We went to see the caves named Cueva de la Pileta about an hour and forty-five minutes out of town, in the mountains.
The bottom picture is what we would have seen, top one is only accessible by professionals.
The Rules
Didn’t see them, because I chickened out. Rocky steep, stepped, terrain to get to them and I got dizzy. I'm not usually a shrinking flower, maybe it was the elevation that I hadn't been to in a long while. Whatever, disappointed with myself but the rest of the trip was absolutely wonderful!

We took a drive around another mountain and had lunch in the rainiest town in Spain, nominated and documented called Grazalema. 
Picture doesn't do the terrain justice.
This is a white washed town of many in the mountains, in the park Sierra de Grazalema, Province of Cadiz. 

The town is known for Payoyo cheese made from goats milk.

Also for textiles made from sheeps wool, many blankets on offer, which were hand woven and felt warm.

A few pictures of the town.

We, Liz did, manoeuvred around very, very curvy roads, one lane in some parts, through beautiful rugged landscapes. 

Flowers are at their best this time of year and green hillsides. Lots of farm animals, sheep, goats, cattle, horses. Lots and lots of the yellow bush we call broom in Canada. Wednesday in Feria week is a day off for Sevillanos to go to the fair so traffic was light. Coming back we had to turn around three times, but that was fine, time to turn around was short each time.

It was a lovely trip, a real change from the flat landscape of Sevilla, Thank You Liz!

Lexi and I are back in Freiburg. 

Cheers, Bev and Lexi Cat

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Lagos Part 4 and Last for Lagos

Friday we drove to Odiaxere to meet up with Paul and Anja for a Peri Peri chicken lunch. Peri peri is also called bird’s eye chilli, the main ingredient, and while it is available in Lagos, Paul and Anja like it here best. 

It was scrumptious! It came with hand cut fries and a tasty green salad. 
Served from a water bottle, low key...
The owner topped it off with a potent ginger tasting drink. 

After we went for a coffee in full view of a windmill that was used to grind the corn harvested in the area. 

Then we drove to a beautiful lake viewed from on top of a hill with a dam recommended by Paul and Anja. White wild flowers covered the hillsides and they said the smell of them in the morning was wonderful.

Doors on the way to the car, we all thought were unique.
Dam at one end of the lake.
Next we went to Praia da Salema, coastal town for a drink, I had a Cosmopolitan, Angela had a Whiskey Sour and Ryan a scotch. We sat in the sun at seaside watching the dogs play. 

Working fishing boats.

For my farming sister, they have Massey Ferguson here, just like Dad did.
Saturday and we leave to come back to Sevilla. It was a wonderful trip to see new sights and many beaches. My sincere thanks to Ryan and Angela for having me along!
Bye, Bye Lagos!
Cheers, Bev and Lexi Cat

Monday, May 6, 2019

Lagos Part 3

Belated Happy Mother's Day to those of you who are!

Wednesday and Rain! Hmph, so we drive downtown for an extended breakfast, savoury ham and cheese crepes which I haven’t had in a while, you’ve heard me write that before on this trip. Watched people walking by who clearly had not seen a weather forecast, wearing shorts and sandals and shivering. Came back to our respective flats to veg with a book for me and work for them. It got to be about 3:00 and I was getting a bit of cabin fever so decided to go out for a bite. Checking in where I thought I wanted to go, a Chinese restaurant on the Marina next to the Italian place and the reviews were bad! Really bad, like “run away”, “worst food”, etc so decided to go to a nearby place called Avenida. Upmarket, rather fancy but it was worth it I thought. Bread served with special Portuguese olive oil, sea salt, truffle and chorizo infused butters served on rocks and oyster shells, simulating a beach, the presentation was worth it, read on. 
A beach in a bowl!
I chose the langostinos or large prawns, seared but left raw in the middle, see website for further description and the following picture. 

Small in portion size, as the waitress warned me but so tasty, not sure I’ve ever eaten raw prawn before but this is a highly regarded restaurant so I trusted they would be fine. Glass of wine and I’m good and I got out for a short walk. Coming from the we(s)t coast I’ve got to keep going out in the rain and not let a little damp impede my travel. 

Thursday at Oasis on the marina for breakfast, English style here and portions are more manageable than the first place we went. I went downtown to look for a jewellers to fix an earring that the post had dropped off and the earring stepped on. No dice but did end up with a set of three rings and two pairs of earrings. The raincoat I love to wear seems to have it in for posts on earrings, two lost this trip alone. 

Get ready for pictures! The afternoon we drove east to the beaches ending up in Luz for a drink and a bite at The Bull in full hot sun.

View from the terrace at The Bull, original sports bar.
Then further along the boardwalk for shade at The Endless Summer, tag line “Life is better at the beach”.
View from Endless Summer, many tidal pools here.
Spectacular views of oddly shaped rock formations and cliffs due to the sea’s battering waves and clear azure coloured water. 
Note the stairs, Bruce and I walked them on our first trip to Portugal, also note the left hole in the rock, coastline is studded with holes.

Stunning wild flowers.
There are several ways by water to investigate the coastline, via big or small tour boats, kayaks which would be my preferred method, there are dolphin sighting tours, deep sea fishing tours, trips in boats of all sizes and either in stink pots (motor boats) or rag baggers (sailing boats). My Uncle Jack taught me those "nautical" terms.

Ryan and Angela kept commenting it was definitely more busy than times previous because they typically come earlier in the year and almost have the coastline and beaches to themselves.

All for this post, look out for Post 4.

Cheers, Bev

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Lagos, Portugal, Part 2

Group selfie, Ryan's long arms come in handy for this...

On another news front, closer to “home in Lagos" We did a lot of things Tuesday but firstly we noticed long line ups or queues at the gas stations on the way out of town. Coming back into town they were even longer Angela found out there was a truckers strike which is causing shortages for groceries and fuel deliveries, even dried out gas station tanks, causing the stations to close. I read this isn’t just a Portugal problem but world wide over this latter week, causing shortages at airports as well, well timed from the trucker’s point of view over the Easter holidays with so many travelling for the break. I had totally forgotten how much fuel costs to fill up a tank, a wake up call for me, at close to 60 Euros for about half a tank. Update, the strike ended Thursday morning but it took a while for all stations to get filled again.

Okay, to start Tuesday over from the beginning, we had an extremely large breakfast at Lazy Jacks at the marina. We could have ordered two with food left over for three. The waiter was from Moldova, which for those who don’t know, is between Ukraine and Romania, we had to look it up. Friendly fellow who spoke five languages.  

Centre of town
Just loved this sign.
We then walked all over Lagos, among the tatty tourist shops mixed with shops for locals and surfing shops. They make purses, belts and others from cork which is prevalent here. My guess is they need to find new uses of it since many wineries are moving to screw cap closure on wine bottles. 
One of the most photographed buildings in Lagos, magnificent!
What I noticed is that they use a lot of tile on the outside of buildings where Sevilla uses it on the inside.
Just a door but what character! 
Former station where sailors unloaded their wares and paid the duty on them.
Art gallery we didn't go in, next to the former slave market, now a fish and vegetable one which was disappointing with lack of choice we thought.
Next we went to one of Ryan’s favourite villages outside Lagos by about 20 minutes called Carvoeiro, beachside opening from arched cliffs with buildings, tiny town, very pretty and geared to tourists. 
Working fishing village, also big on tourism.
I did a bit of beach combing, left the two shells for the landlord's kids. This is my crazy sun hat which saved my head that day.
Had a drink at a sandwich place on the beach, I had a British cider, treat since I hadn’t had one in a long while, but then moved on to an authentic Portuguese restaurant when things and food got interesting. This restaurant showcases Algarve dishes, well prepared and great service. 
Alicia flaming Chorizo sausage next to the table.
Our waitress, Alicia, is from Northern Germany hired because she caters to the tourists with her excellently well spoken English and German. She made the meal an experience mostly due to Ryan and Angela’s banter with her, and she gave it right back. Portions again were huge but very tasty! 

That was Tuesday, with all the pictures Ryan and I have taken I think this series of posts will be per day in Lagos and surrounds. 

This is a link to a youtube video I couldn't upload properly but it shows the fantastic views from hiking and kayaking vantage points of the area. Copy and paste if interested, there are many more videos I've discovered so do a search.

Cheers, Bev and Lexi Cat who didn't come on the side trips.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Happy Easter and I'm in Lagos, Portugal!

Lagos marina, note the tiled boardwalk, view from my rental flat.
Happy Easter to you my friends from Lexi Cat and I!

I was booked to go back to Freiburg on April 17 and woke up one morning a week prior and asked myself why not stay in Sevilla a bit longer? Angela and Ryan planned their annual (avoid Semana Santa) trip to Lagos, Portugal to visit friends and since train service there is sketchy I asked if I could tag along, basically invited myself. Bruce and I had been to the beaches and spectacular cliffs at Lagos (pronounced Lagosh) but hadn’t lingered to really see much of the town and it was an opportunity for me to do that. 

Driving down the spring flowers were out, yellow and purple on bushes, the earth is a coral almost dark orange tone that stands out from the green, just beautiful. Portugal is on regular European time one hour behind Spain’s. That is where I am writing this from now, in a studio apartment across from the marina. 

First off upon reaching town we went to see their good friends Anya and Paul to get the keys for the flat Angela and Ryan are renting from them in town. They live in a very small town, Odiaxere, outside Lagos with their collection of old rescue dogs, the stories they tell about each one’s escape from hell are horrifying. But those dogs have these two humans in their corner and they all looked happy, healthy and free living with Anya and Paul.
One of them, like the ears!
Another, this one likes scraps from the table, we were warned not to feed him.
Anya and Paul put out a spread of lovely munchies which included one of the best guacamole I’ve ever had (secret is cumin). Anya grows a fantastic cacti garden.

Came into town to get Lexi and I settled meeting Daniel to get the keys. Angela and Ryan got themselves settled, then a large grocery store run to buy a few basics like coffee!!! for the mornings at Intermarche, the very large, new grocers. Dinner at a high class but casual Italian restaurant across the marina called Portofino’s where they were short staffed and very busy so we gave up our table to sit outside after eating very tasty pasta. They appreciated our move so much they comped us a drink. Food and service was excellent with a view over the marina. P.S. Happy Hour exists here, there are many British expats along the Algarve and I expect it is a custom from them.

This is the first post of more to come, we've been busy here exploring the town, and the Algarve, it's been wonderful!

Happy Easter to you! Cheers Bev and Lexi Cat