Wednesday, June 24, 2009

First Father's Day Weekend

We celebrated Dan's first father's day this past weekend, so here are a couple of photos. On Saturday we checked out a riverside beach, and it was nice to have some warmer, fresh water to play in. Amelia really loved splashing around in the river, and it was also great to have the shade of some trees to protect her (and us) from the hot, hot sun. Sunday we treated her Daddy to a breakfast of blueberry pancakes, which Amelia also was a big fan of (as was I), and then took him on a picnic to the Bu├žaco Forest. Hope he enjoyed himself despite the temperature rising to near 100 degrees!

In other Amelia culinary news...this week she was a big fan of my mushroom risotto and stuffed eggplant. I hear they get pickier as they get older, but at least she has good taste for now!

The Algarve


Dan and I found out in April or May that he had 2 days in a row off of work earlier this month (we never know the schedule of Portuguese holidays), so decided to add one more and take a little 5 day get away to the Algarve, the southern coast of Portugal. It was our first time down there, and we decided to take the puppies for a little holiday of their own. We rented a little farmhouse apartment that we could walk to the beach from, and spent a few relaxing days in the sun (or trying to keep Amelia out of it), and exploring a little bit of the region. It was a change from the beaches where we live because the water was warm enough to be comfortable hanging out in it, and there we were hoping for a breeze to cool us down, while here we usually set up a wind screen to keep out of it! It was a great little relaxing mini-break, and when we returned we only had two weeks left until the big Spain trip coming up in a few days now.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Visit from Friends


Well you may know that we love visitors, so I was particularly excited to welcome our good friends Antonia and Zach to Portugal at the end of May.
Though with Amelia in-tow I can't say it was exactly like old times, but we did get to show them a bit of Portugal, and, like it or not, they got to see what toting around an 8 month old may be like for them someday! It turns out Zach is an excellent carseat entertainer and apparently just looking at him can make babies smile, and Antonia seemed like a natural while giving me a break for that all important chance at a morning shower and strolling around Lisbon with Amelia during dinner (and even finding her way back to the restaurant...eventually).

We've now got some good planning and sight-seeing under our belt for future visitors as well, so whatever your interests, whether it is relaxing on the beach, visiting Portugal's wine producing regions, historic castles and monestaries, hiking in the mountains, or enjoying the culture and museums of Lisbon, we can try to put together your perfect Portugal holiday (ok, I know that sounds like a travel brochure, but shameless promotion for visitors is acceptable isn't it?).
For some of the pictures of their trip, click here (though I forgot my camera a couple of days...so may post more from Tone later)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Madeira


In May as the rain blew away and some warm temperatures showed up it was time for a family getaway, so we made a short visit to Madeira, an island that belongs to Portugal but is actually closer to Morocco. We took a couple of vacation days from work to spend a 5-day weekend there. It’s only a 2-hour flight away, which after taking Amelia on an 11-hour flight from Frankfurt to Portland seemed pretty easy.

The island reminded us of the Caribbean and Hawaii with its steep volcanic mountainsides and tropical flora, with sun shining on the coast and rainclouds hanging onto the mountains. What was missing was the sandy beaches. Madeira has very few beaches and almost no sand. The switchback driving was exciting, though, and the views always tremendous.

Madeira has a famous system of walking paths that follow along the remarkable network of irrigation ditches (called levadas) that crisscross the island. It’s a wonderful way to explore the island since the paths are flat as they hug the mountainsides and afford amazing views along the way. It was a nice way to hike with Amelia and to see some of the waterfalls. One of our walking trails went through 4 tunnels, including one of 200 meters. Amelia didn’t seem to mind the darkness as much as I (Dan) did.

One of the highlights of the visit had to be Nelson, our rather comical B&B host. He was Portuguese/South African and was quite enamored with our daughter. He insisted on holding her during each breakfast and called her “Happy Face” and “Smiley Face” and referring to her as “well-adjusted”. He did seem to think it was necessary to warn us not to have another baby because we may not be so lucky with the next one. We’re still thinking about that.

Overall, a great little getaway, with a chance to spend time as a family, have some good seafood (including parrotfish, which we had never tried before), and explore a part of Portugal.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Biju

As if we didn't have enough on our hands doing damage control for Amelia, last week we added a new destructive force into our household. His name is Biju, and he is a 7 week old kitten that we adopted from a local group that rescues abandoned dogs and cats and helps spay and neuter street cats. He is already fitting into the family well, and has started to accept Tazzy's incessant attempts at friendship and play, and Amelia's rough love. He loves Amelia's toys, and so far is a very affectionate little fellow who enjoys a good lap to sleep on after the play is done. Watch for more from him in the upcoming months!