Tuesday, March 23, 2021


When you come out of our little neighborhood onto Avenida de Liberdade, if you turn right, it leads to Rua do Souto and to Praça República. If you turn left, however, just a couple of streets away is the Rio Este (East River). Across it is a pretty little park with a church in one section, and picnic tables and benches all through. Beyond the park is a mountain. So close! (My apologies for the poor lighting.)
On the southern side of the bridge, walkways and a jogging path flank each side of the river, well-used by bicyclists and joggers as well as people just strolling along. (I am sorry to say that in the book I’m presently writing a body will be found on the jogging path, though the victim didn’t die there.) You can see the park beyond.

A few days ago, the trees along the lower part of Avenida de Liberdade toward the river were just "misting," with faint green smudges along the boughs. By yesterday the leaves were unfurling. So quickly! Sadly, the view of the mountain in the distance is marred somewhat by billboards. But at many angles it’s an arresting mountain. and you can see it from many intersections in the main part of the historic section.

The mountain.

Trees along Avenida de Liberdade
I'm not sure what kind of trees these are, but the Avenida is lined with them, right on up to the Praça (which is Portuguese for "plaza.")
We walked on up Avenida de Liberdade to the Sé Catedral area, where we encountered another dear friend, Marisa Rocha, who was walking around with a friend of hers. What a happy surprise! We’ve really been limited for the most part to contacting friends here by email or Facebook because of the virus. Since this was out in the open, and we were all masked, we did elbow bumps and kept our distance, and then had a really nice chat. Naturally, we didn't think to take any pictures of our encounter. We were all too busy catching up on news.

Sunday, everything was closed, but we did more exploring, taking a new route out of our neighborhood and ending up on Rua 31 de Janeiro that took us up to Largo Senhora-a-Branca. And there we had another pleasant surprise: We have noticed places of business getting things ready for April fifth when hopefully more restrictions will be lifted. Hotel Sra.-a-Branca’s doors were open, and we went in to say hello to Maria and her husband, the proprietors, since we stayed there so many times in the past. We didn’t see anyone, so we came out again, and encountered our new American ex-pat friend, Bob, sitting on a bench. We had a nice "safe" (masked up) chat with him, and then Maria and her husband came out of Sra.-a-Branca and waved at us, so we went over and had a safe chat with them. It was great to see them again, and I do hope their hotel opens again and the Spanish border opens up. She said they get most of their tourist traffic from Spain.
Again, we went to the area, even though everything was closed, since it was Sunday. Walking back to the gardened area of Avenida de Liberdade, we stopped and bought a bag of hot chestnuts from a kiosk run by two women. It was just before they were closing, but the coals were still hot. For 3 Euros, we got a dozen chestnuts and ate six of them on the way home. There is just nothing like the taste of hot, salted chestnuts!
On AVenida de Liberdade, at the Praça end, it's been beautifully landscaped, and the flowers change with each season. Right now there are red and white cabbage plants alternating with beautiful small flowers I can't name yet.

It also has some of the more name brand shops, as well as banks, and the Teatro Circo where concerts are preformed.
The end closes to our neighborhood and the river is made up of a lot of apartment buildings that have flats above and small businesses below. By small businesses I mean little produce markets, odds-n-ends stores where you can buy everything from dishes to mops and brooms and dustpans, storage jars, breadboxes, bathmats, towels (and more, seriously), clothing stores, etc. Right now, with some of the restrictions lifted, for the latter, you can buy at the door: stand in a socially distanced line, and when it's your turn, tell the proprietor what you want and pay for it at the door. (The odds-and-ends stores are different, you can go inside to find what you want, and then pay in a socially distanced line.) (Everyone here wears masks, by the way. It's only rarely you see someone wiwthout one.) 
Anyway, to return to the Avenida (and many side streets as well), every flat seems to have a balcón overlooking the street, and many of these are full of plants, some flowering, some even small trees. One captivated us especially: The balcony was overflowing with plants, and the woman was tending them so lovingly it was an irresistible photo.

How about you? Do you like to walk? Do you keep a small garden on a patio or balcony? Or do you have a yard with a garden?

Friday, March 12, 2021



We arrived in Braga February 21st, and have been busy ever since, having work done on our flat as we stayed at a hotel for 2 weeks, and then moving in and having some follow up work as well as doing lots and lots of cleaning. Our attorney arranged for the flat to be painted and then cleaned, but that was cursory cleaning: vacuuming, dusting, mopping. The people who lived here before didn't clean much, and you really wouldn't be able to pay someone to come in and do the cleaning we're doing. But we are undaunted. It's a beautiful flat. It just has needed some TLC.

What was strange was to see Braga without all the tourists. The streets in the historic part usually have throngs of visitors, and now it's normal life in the side streets and empty plazas outside the cafes and restaurants. Below is Cafe Vianna, one of our favorite hangouts, as it used to be, and as it is now. They even hung black on the door handles for mournng.

But Braga is always a city of gardens, rain or shine: Above my first paragraph are tulips at the Santa Barbara Gardens (photo taken by my husband.) And below are some white and red cabbage plants also at Jardim de Santa Barbara: 

And here is Avenida da Lliberdade in the rain, yesterday:


And a few days before, looking out our hotel window, my husband saw this:

Meanwhile . . . the flat. It's coming along. It looks a bit stark in these photos because our shipping hasn't arrived yet. It was due to come in on the 18th to Lisboa, but now that has been postponed to April 7th. 
Thus the walls are bare of pictures and our bookshelves are empty. (Sniff.)

The dining area. (Actually the living room and dining room are part of one large room. This is one end. 

This is the other end: The sliding glass door leads to an enclosed balcony. We plan to put pots of herbs out there. 

It's a continuing adventure. But despite a few surprises and challenges (all  manageable) we are happy
to be here. BTW: the beautiful blue orchid was a house gift to us from the gentleman who was contracted by our immigration attorney to organise all the work to be done.

I've never seen a blue orchid before, have you?