No Fish Rice for You!

You may recall when we were in Porto last June we rode the metro to the end of the line and had an amazing lunch of “Fish Rice”. So this morning we decided it was time for a repeat visit.

We walked 15 minutes to the metro station in Vila do Conde, rode four stops (1.20 euros each) and then walked another 15 minutes to Petisqueria Barca. Of course when we arrived they were closed until Saturday! Arghhh.

So we are instead at a beachside sandwich place having the beer pictured above and a franchesina, the heart attack on a plate that is Porto’s lunch dish.

Luckily we should burn off all the calories as we plan on walking the beach promenade back to our place-2.5 miles….here’s hoping we make it!

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Phew.

For those of you who are keeping track, you may have been wondering why I hadn’t reported on our budget lately. I think it was fear that we had overspent due to the unplanned Baltic Cruise. But I finally brought myself to input our September expenses into the spreadsheet and thankfully even thought we spent more than budgeted for September, the surpluses we had been running all year more than covered the overrun.

We have budgeted $5,800 a month and in September due to the cruise and its associated expenses (airfare, hotel, tours, etc.) we spent $9,937. But for the year we are still under budget by $3,900. Yay!

I don’t think I’ve posted this yet, but at the suggestion of our friends Peggy & Lowell who are joining us for the upcoming Transatlantic, we are staying aboard the ship after we reach Miami on November 19th for an additional 11 days. When I just told Mike the good news that we were still under budget for the year, he said, but we won’t be after you input the additional cruise. “Ha!” I said, yes we will…the cruise for both of us all in (including drinks and gratuities) was only $1,609 and we have $1,600 budgeted for rent in November plus $500 for food. So we should have a surplus in November too.

Of course I suspect we will need it to cover December!

Edinburgh.

Yes, I know this post is at least two weeks late. Sorry about that but I’m retired ya know and can’t be but so bothered by deadlines. LOL

After saying goodbye to our wonderful hosts Jenny and Bryan as they started their drive back to Aberdeen and a short train ride from Glasgow, we arrived in Edinburgh. After a “short” walk (mostly uphill 😢) we arrived at our hotel. Jenny turned me onto a U.K. based travel consolidator called, Secret Escapes https://www.secretescapes.com/current-sales which we used to book the 10 Hill Place Hotel at the Surgeons Quarters. https://www.tenhillplace.com/ This hotel is adjacent to Edinburgh University and from what we could gather was originally part of the Medical School. It is now a series of buildings that have been combined into a very nice hotel. The deal was 20-30% under their going room rate and added afternoon tea. Our room was very nice and the shower was incredible! Highly recommend to anyone looking for a moderately priced hotel in Edinburgh especially if you are attending anything at the Festival Theatre as it’s literally at the end of the street.

After checking in we walked through the University (founded in 1582) towards Edinburgh Castle which is at the top of “The Royal Mile”.

The mile-ish long street (actually a series of streets as it changes names several times) ends at Holyrood Castle which is the Queen’s place in Scotland.

The views from and of the castle were beautiful.

We then headed down the Royal Mile which has become tourist central. I can’t tell you how many tartan stores, kilt stores, and whisky shops there must be.

But if you look beyond the storefront or venture down in if the wynds (alleys) and into the courts behind the buildings you can imagine how it must of been 300, 400, or 500 years ago.

About a third of the way down the Mile we reached, St. Giles cathedral of the Chur h of Scotland. This is considered the mother church of Presbyterianism. It’s steeple is based on the crown of Scotland-that’s it at the top of this blog post. Interior photos weren’t allowed but below is one I found on line.

It was getting close to our tea time so we headed back to the hotel. While the tea wasn’t as wonderful as that at the Willows in Glasgow, we enjoyed it on the chilly overcast day.

It had been a long day so we ended up being lazy that evening (hmm, this appears to become a pattern) and stayed in and enjoyed our room and the bucket of ice we requested from the bar with a Diet Pepsi and some chips for a snack. After the afternoon teas we didn’t need supper. The simple things. LOL

After the huge Scottish breakfast buffet (haggis AND black pudding along with delicious scrambled eggs- no powder here!) included with our room we headed out to finish “the Mile”.

The bottom half of the mile wasn’t as touristy as the top portion just lots of beautiful buildings!

The last building before Holyrood Palace is the new Scottish Parliament building. We had hoped to go in but alas it was closed to visitors the day we were there. The architect says that he was trying to reference Scotland’s natural geography with the unusual windows which relate to the rocky outcroppings and the sunscreens which harken to the forests.

Directly across the street is Holyrood Palace. Since we had just had tea with Her Majesty at her main trailer we elected to not go inside to see her second ( thirty-third?) home but instead just walked around outside the gates.

But wait, we didn’t completely give up on seeing the Queen while in Scotland. We next headed to her former floating palace the Royal Yacht Britannia which is now docked at Leith. Similar to the Docklands in London, this part of Edinburgh is becoming the site of new and contemporary offices, hotels and residences.

The yacht is accessed through a large shopping mall which like those in the US seems to be dying. But Britannia was very popular and given the amount of space given over ashore to hold crowds I was very glad we were here off season.

The yacht is beautiful and gives you an idea of what Royal life at sea must of been like in the 50s and 60s.

I was impressed by the specially designed storage areas aboard-they even had room for the car!

While not as fancy as the Royal rooms the officers and crew aboard had it pretty good. Their bunk rooms were tight and not private but there were several bars and dining rooms aboard for them. We took a selfie at the crew bar with the fake beer Nd fake corgi and Mike tried on several of the crew’s caps.

The exhibit also includes the Royal Barge which was used to render ashore (hmm, maybe the cruise lines could learn a lesson?) and the Royals’s racing yachts. The barge was refurbished by a few of Britannia’s now retired crew for the Queen’s Jubilee in 2011. That’s a picture found on Google of Liz and Phil leading the 1000 boat flotilla down the Thames.

After saying good bye and thanking HRM, we walked around the quays in Leith in search of a late lunch.

Our friends Peggy and Lowell had HIGHLY recommended that we have a pot of mussels at Mussell Inn but unfortunately it was 30 minutes away and was going to be closed so we ended up having our pot of mussels, bowls of Cullen Skink and a local libation at a pub on the Quay while sitting outside in the glorious sunshine. Quite the change from the dreary day before.

After our great late (very) lunch we headed back towards the hotel and called it another lazy evening. Mike went out at one point and bought us some meat pies for a little snack while I packed us up. Tomorrow (well ok we went the next day but who knows when I’ll get around to blogging about it) it’s Dublin and our first visit to Ireland. I sure hope this won’t be our last to Scotland.

Friday Market.

Went to Vila do Conde’s weekly market this morning. Quite a haul for only $20. Starting at 12 o’clock and moving clockwise: prosciutto-like ham, sausage, apples, olives, bread, carrot, big tomato,pastries, cherry tomatoes and figs right in the middle.

We didn’t get any of the flowers though I was very tempted by the protea. Nor did we get any of the salted cod but it is interesting to see it stacked up.

Vila do Conde

It’s a beautiful day in Vila do Conde today. Some fluffy clouds, 70 (21c) degrees, nice breeze/ warm in the sun, cool in the shade. My version of perfect!

We walked from the apartment towards where the Friday market will be held tomorrow. The town is interesting-new vacation rentals, beautiful old buildings in need of a savior and everything in between.

We had a great lunch for 7.50 euros each of wine/beer, bread & olives, salad, mains and coffee/tea. As usual we split each main. One was tasty lasagna-it appears to be a universally available dish these days and the other was a cod casserole with an egg on top. It had lots of corn meal in it so mostly tasted like mushy cornbread with some cheese and an egg on top. It was yummy.

From there we walked to and along the River towards the beach. We are now relaxing on a bench alongside the river. There is a lovely walk that includes a historic ship, a modern sculpture (which Mike says is a prime example of how the Europeans “thin the herd” as there is nothing to keep someone from climbing on it), the fishing boats and market and a statue of what we presume to be a fisherman’s widow looking out to sea. Over it all is the Convent of St James. More about it in a future post as we plan to attend a festival there this weekend.

After I finish this we are going to leave this bench where I have the view below and continue back to the apartment along the beach. Hopefully with a stop to dip our toes!

Addendum:

well the pictures didn’t upload so am finishing this back at the apartment. We walked along the river to where it meets the Atlantic at the fort and then along the broad promenade north towards our apartment. I live watching and hearing the waves crash into the rocks.

We walked in the sand (it’s really soft and not easy to walk in) and dipped our toes as promised…

The water was cool but not frigid. mike says it’s too cold for him to go for a plunge but if the warm weather holds, I might just have to.

Beach.

We slept in this morning but after a delicious breakfast of bacon and eggs we walked down the three long blocks and indeed there is a beach! We walked along the promenade and then back to the center of town via a different route.

There are lots of one story houses and three and four story apartments and condo buildings. Most of the condos appear to be buttoned up for winter but I suspect in the summer this place is jumping. Right now it appears to mostly be locals going about their daily lives.

There is a nice little store across the street, a bakery three doors down and the takeaway place (which had delicious food yesterday) a block and a half away, so with the close proximity of food, the cool weather and the proximity to walk along the Atlantic, I think we will enjoy our time here