We walked four kilometres and 5417 steps, but only because we went by bus to Punta de Teno. It is not possible to go there by car, as the roads are blocked during the day. A good thing because shoo! that road going through the mountain/s is snakey curvy…ssss…very high…don’t look down, too late…faint…and quite narrow. The views though. Fantastic! One can walk up, oh hell no, or use a bicycle, say what?, take a taxi or go by bus. A big green bus. BIG. BUS. They run often and drop you at the nearest point to the lighthouse. Here’s a shout out to those amazing bus drivers. Nerves of steel and always smiling.
We walked up to see the lighthouse first. Up. It was not accessible, that is, we could only see it through a gap in the locked gate, or from other points, one of which was climbing up the rock to the left, quite precarious, and probably not allowed, but you know, curiosity and all that…If we were able to get a bit nearer, without shivering knees from the top, or walk through the gate at the bottom, we would have liked to see the older lighthouse, anno 1890’s, in the front. It was not very high, only about seven or so metres and built with stones from the nearby island of La Gomera, that can be clearly or not so clearly seen, depending on the weather, from here. The new one is about twenty metres high and was built in the 1970’s.
This little corner of Tenerife was, for us, one of the hottest parts of the island. Don’t move and you’re fried. There are no trees here. No shade. Nada. Unless you’re a lizard. There’s not much to see or do if you’re looking for action, but the view of the mountains, the sea, the almost arid nature around it…estupendo! It somehow exudes this very calm, serene, beautiful and peaceful aura. One feels like ohming…but with all that heat it’s better to glugg-glugg, or take a dip…
If we had known how hot it would be, we would have brought our swimming stuff with us. The water looked so inviting! Imagine floating in the water and having all those views in front of you! Instead we took the bus back after only two hours spent on the peninsula.
The whole Easter celebration in Garachico started on a Sunday, fifth of March and ended on a Sunday, the sixteenth of April. Six whole weeks of events, church services and processions. We really had no idea that we would end up participating in and/or celebrating many days and nights of processions and social gatherings with the locals. It was the most unexpected and an absolute highlight of our stay here. The first inkling of what was to come was while relaxing on the balcony under a beautiful starry night sky, were the church bells tolling in a monotone bing-bing. Not long afterwards we heard what sounded like a choir singing in our street. Oh-oh! Was there a slurpy too many of local white wine, you know, Cherubim Seraphim chants and harps, or what was going on? We took a look and saw a lovely black adorned statue of the Virgin Mary, surrounded by beautiful lights and flowers (reflex sign of the cross, forgot glass in hand) accompanied by a priest (see you in the box tomorrow), altar boys and the local community. The priest read a few petitions, all praised and prayed, and the singing continued. Also on the balcony. False-shitto. The next day we found the full programme of the Semana Santa displayed at the town square. Whoa! This was going to be good!
Here are some photos and impressions of the most important celebrations of the Easter Week. Processions were mainly between the Parish of Santa Ana, and the Church of the Immaculate Conception, passing through the Plaza de la Libertad (the main square) and sometimes going to the Plaza de Santo Domingo.
Palm Sunday (celebrar la Entrada de Jesús en Jerusalén)
The Last Supper/Holy Thursday (Jueves Santo en la Cena del Señor)
It was quite a serious moment when the procession left the Santa Ana church. So serious that a barking dog on someone’s balcony was shushed by all and sundry. Woof-woof-SHHHH! It was also a full moon night. Notice that Judas is the only one without a halo…
Good Friday (Viernes Santo en la Pasión del Señor)
Processions on this day were long. Day and night. The one during the day was four hours long, with the Stations of the Cross walk and the Crucification. The first part leaving the Santa Ana Church was the Carrying of the Cross. This was a very sombre and quiet procession. No music. No drums. No church bells. Just quiet reflection and prayers. Fourteen barefooted congregants each held a cross that they placed at each of the fourteen stations along the way, the last cross at Plaza de Santo Domingo, the symbolic hill on “Calvary”. We all gathered to listen to a very emotional sermon and to pray. Then the Hanging on the Cross statue was carried out of the church and brought to the front of the procession for the long walk back to Santa Ana.
In the evening the procession started from Santa Ana after a church service commemorating the seven last words from the cross…
Burial processions. A group of uniformed men, probably a guard of honour, carried the cross through the main square and then took it away. Later the body, covered in beautiful shimmering cloths with candles around it, was carried back to Santa Ana.
Easter Saturday (Sábado Santo Vigilia Pascual en la Noche Santa)
It was going to be a very late in the evening procession, including an all night vigil, so we chose to skip it. We. Were. Tired. The bed was calling. Around ten-ish we answered the call. One of us has a pillow problem. After tossing and turning, a perfect position was found and then both fell into a deep deep slumber. Zzzz. Miracles do happen hee-hee. Then it happened. One of us was thrown out of bed. Thrown. Out. Of. Bed. Launched. So this is it. The volcano is erupting! Staggering to the balcony and wondering why the hairy one is not panicking, or screaming or showing any kind of reaction for that matter (checked out or what?), it took a lot of courage not to scream. Boom! Boom! Another deafening boom! Smoke. O. Mg. Oxygen. Magnesium. This is the end! Then the realisation. Glitter in the sky. Fireworks. Oh. But seriously, when someone is paranoid about the volcano erupting, then maybe ringing the church bells and setting off fireworks at 00h54 is not a good idea. Oh, okay, so we should have known, but still…Yep, living across from the church has its advantages heh-heh…And the hairy one??? He thought it was funny…yep…
Easter Sunday (Domingo de Pascua de la Resurrección del Señor)
The day of the resurrection and solemn procession of the Sacrament.
Second Sunday of Easter (II Domingo de Pascua o de la Divina Misericordia)
Procession from Santa Ana of the Resurrected to meet the Virgin of Glory. At the same time a procession from the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin of Glory to meet the Resurrected. The two processions then met, facing each other, and all of us gathered around for prayers and singing. Then both proceeded to the town square and back to Santa Ana. A wonderful and amazing end of Easter 2023.
Here are some of the main players of Garachico, plus a very elegant lady and her beautiful sandals. She was at all the processions too. These photos were taken with their permission and they happily agreed for us to post it on our blog. The band was amazing. Young, old, and in-between, all marching and playing music to suit the mood of every single procession. The last day they did an honour march to a resounding applause from all of us. Thank you. Gracias! The beautiful ladies in traditional Spanish attire are locals (not widows as some thought) and are specially selected to accompany all the processions. They exuded such elegance and walked with pride alongside the statues each and every day. There were some men in the group too. All were magnificent, awesome and tremendous. And friendly. Very friendly. Muchas Gracias!
As a child we’d all gather evenings in the lounge to listen to stories on the radio. One particular story, about cops and robbers, really had us biting our nails in anticipation. Every new episode would always start with these words, and in a deep serious sounding male voice: they prowl the empty streets at night, waiting…So there we were, almost five decades later, waiting. Waiting until all the tourists left town for the day. Waiting for everyone to sleep. Waiting to take a walk. Waiting for midnight. We had this crazy idea to prowl the empty streets of Garachico, just-because-wink-wink. At the stroke of twelve there were a few people still around, like the owner of a small coffee shop closing for the night, or was that morning, and three others from a corner restaurant chatting and laughing as they locked the doors. Also a dog somewhere made a gonna-sleep-now-woof-woof noise, but some minutes later, silencio. Tranquil. Soft. Shhhh!
The view from our rooftop terrace of the lovely moon, left, and the other view from the old harbour towards the whereabouts of where we are staying, showing the dark black mountains on our backs. Yep, we have lava rocks outside the bedrooms…Eeep, but loveleeeeeeee…
The Plaza de la Libertad, with the Santa Ana Church nearby, was so hear-the-pin-drop quiet. This is usually the busiest area of Garachico. People. Birds. Children. Church bells. Coffee drinkers. Ice cream slurpers. Tour guides. Camera clicks. Talking about church bells. They ring every hour, and one little tinkle every half hour right up until midnight. The tolling of the new day starts again at seven, methinks…
The streets and alleys of Garachico. Just us and cobblestones. Standing in the middle of this normally busy road would be impossible during the day (last photo), as this is one of the main coastal routes in Tenerife. A very beautiful and interesting route, so very popular.
The sights and sounds of the ocean, the sea, the water, the crashing waves, the whatever, and a lone fisherman sitting in the “door without door” waiting for some thingies to nibble. Is life not beautiful? Especially at midnight!
Tenerife is the largest, most populated and most visited island of the Canaries, a group of islands conquered by Spain around the middle to late fourteen hundreds, the fifteenth century. Spain had a tough time conquering Tenerife, an almost three decade long tough time, until the Guanches, the indigenous inhabitants at the time, finally surrendered. It’s quite admirable how they fought so long for their island and could only be defeated because Spain had fifteenth century high-tech weapons. Yay to the Guanches! Nay because they no longer exist. Colonial genocide. History.
We landed at Tenerife South airport sometime in the afternoon, got our rental car and off we went. We took the wrong exit. Three kilometres later and driving in the wrong direction, the car screamed. Ding-ding-ding-non-stop-ding. Seatbelt? Nope, we were buckled up. It was the rucksack. On the back seat. Car is small. Car wanted the rucksack to be seat-belted. Car waited three kilometres before it shouted. Make that understandable. So there we were, on a busy highway with impatient motorists, ding-ding-ding. The problem was solved in mid-drive. Passenger with large hindquarters touching windscreen managed to shut the dang ding-ding up. Rucksack ended on the floor. Phew! We found our way back on track so could finally enjoy the ride. The first-time-she-is-here person was not so impressed. Traffic. More traffic. Big city vibes. Holiday resort concrete jungle. Where’s the glamour? Thankfully the scenery changed. Ooh. Aah. Ohhh. Less traffic, with the ocean to the left and the imposing mountains to the right. Fifteen minutes later…yelp! OMG! Everything went uphill from there. Curvy mountain roads, Very curvy. Up, up, UP! Into the clouds we went. Visibility was zilch, zero, niente, nada. Spooky. We crawled up the mountain. On one occasion there was a gap in the clouds, and there it was, the magnificent volcano, Teide. A quick ooh-aah and back into the clouds we went. So what, we were nearer to heaven or not? Not. The GPS guided us along, away from the main road, all the way through the narrowest of narrow streets, just to get us back to the same main road. Clever little so and so, eh? Just when we thought it could not get any scarier, and the passenger holding a gag bag, the clouds cleared and there it was, right there at the bottom of the mountain, Garachico.
Our holiday rental is a four-bedroom penthouse apartment in the centre of this beautiful town, with no elevator and a total of sixty one steps, plus one, to climb. Despite the central location, it is not noisy at all. All we hear are birds. Lots and lots of birds. There is a large church right in front of us, with amazing sea views to the left and right. Everything is within walking distance, uphills and downhills, but so what, them knees they be cracking anyways.
View from our apartment by day and night
During the day there are many tourists in Garachico. Bus loads. In the evening it’s almost like a ghost town, except for the church bells tolling. Why is this town so popular? First of all, the history. Believe it or not, Garachico was founded by an Italian. This was also once a very bustling and wealthy town with a strategically famous sea port, the first in Tenerife. Then the Montana Negra volcano erupted in 1706. A whole week lava flowed, covering the port and destroying most of the town. Garachico rose from the ashes, but was never used as a port again. What they have done though was preserve its historical charm. This can be seen in every street or plaza. The buildings. The balconies. The locals. The whole seafront is so pretty, where the sea sometimes is turquoise, sometimes just blue, or silver grey, or just grey and other times in-between. There are also many tidal pools created from the lava, popular in the summer season.
Views of Garachico
Almost all the balconies are made of wood, adding a lot of charm to this attractive town.
Walk the streets, look through some large open doors and you will be amazed at all the treasures you will find, like this 17th-century former Augustinian convent of San Julian.
A little away from the crowded centre you will find this lovely I.E.S. Garachico Alcalde Lorenzo Dorta building. A high school. Wow!
The former 17th Century Dominican Convent and the Plaza de Santo Domingo. This was one of the few buildings not destroyed by the 1706 volcanic eruption.
Centre of Garachico
Some views of the coast and coastline, also showing a stainless steel sculpture called El Pez (the fish). A symbol of gratitude to the men of the sea and also as an indication of the gastronomy of Garachico. The other statue, al Motin del Vino (the wine riot), is made with white Carrara marble and lava from Garachico. The statue shows the how the Canarian wine growers battled against the English monopolising their whole wine producing industry.
View of the little port of Garachico from a strange area with many paved paths lined with palm trees and lamp posts. It seems abandoned and mostly fenced in.
Iglesia de Santa Ana (Church of Saint Anne) founded in the early 1500’s and fortunately not completely destroyed by the Montana Negra volcanic eruption. Santa Ana is the patron saint of Garachico.
Castillo de San Miguel (Saint Michael’s Castle), built in the 16th century to protect the then vitally important harbour. It was not destroyed by the eruption, but lost status when Garachico lost its economic importance.
La Puerta de Tierra (The Land Gate) the entrance to Garachico before 1706, where all people, products, commodities etc. had to pass through. The entrance still stands, but now the area is a quiet and serene park filled with trees and flowers.
More of the coastal areas with lovely sculptures as follows: The Tensei Tenmoku (Doorless Door or Door without door) is a white Carrara marble sculpture by a Japanese artist. Then there’s the Las Pescaderas (the Fishwife) dedicated to the fisher women of Garachico. Last but not least is a large modern stainless steel structure with no obvious name or details.
Playa de Garachico (Garachico beach), a lava stone beach and Piscinas Naturales de El Caletón (the Caleton natural tidal pools)
Oh what a glorious time of the year this is! Spring. Our citrus and fruit trees are blossoming. Pesky flies. Buzz. Buzz. Non-stop buzz. Pollen. A-a-aaa-tishooo! Oh, and lots more birds than usual are singing in our garden. Tweety-tweet cheep-cheep. It is also much warmer now. Our property is south-facing, so there are some areas in our garden where it feels like you’re sitting in a pizza oven. Okay, pizza-nating here, but we’ve just been at a pizzeria with our dear friends. Pizza was hot, piri-piri hot, so there. Anyway, you get it, we have a hot garden. Zzzztt.
When it’s hot, you hydrate. There we were, sitting in our pizza oven, enjoying some cool refreshments and minding our own business when a relentless bzzzz-bzzzz-bzzzz flying object thought it was a good idea to swim in a glass of beer. So it was too hot for you too, eh Mack Fly? It fell through the foam, so we could not see it unless someone takes a sip, but wait, lo and behold, there it was, crawling back out. It flapped its wings and flew into our winter garden, why there, Mack, why, then fell down on its back and started spinning like crazy. Was it drunk?? Was this the last dance before nirvana? Then it stopped. Sleeping? Comatose? Dead? Whatever, one less buzz-buzz to swat. To our amazement, fifteen minutes later it “woke up” and flew away! You go Mack! Whoop-whoop! Yeah, some of us are entertained by such nonsense. Buzzhaha-haha-buzz.
This morning we had a bit of a drama. Winter garden. Breakfast. BANG! What the dot-dot was that? A little bird had crashed into a large window. Poor little thing kami-zanged right there, fell down, had a poop, then just sat there motionless for a couple of seconds. Then it tipped over, bum in air and head buried in the grass. Was it dead? No Schatzi, it would’ve fallen over if it was dead. But it has fallen over! Nooo, it’s still on its feet. Should we do something? Should we be worried? Yes, we were now very worried. We asked doctor goggle, yes, spelling mistake intended, but found too many conflicting information. As always. So instead of, as per goggles, putting it immediately in an organic cardboard box (uhm…where do you find such a thing?), or call the wildlife veterinarians (more goggling), we opted for the wait and see. Wait two minutes then see what happens. It was still standing. A good sign, yes? We did not want to disturb it either as it might have stressed it out more. A while later he lifted his head. We now knew it was a male blackcap bird. He sat there for another ten minutes before flying into the forest. Will it survive? Sincerely hope so! Oh, and there’s a large bush about two metres away from where he landed. This bush is filled with birds, like a bird sky-rise appartment building. Did he belong to any of them? Hmmmm…
Phew! What a week! Busy. Busy. Busy. Today we planned to have a slow and relaxing day. Eat breakfast. Dawdle. Take a shower. Dawdle. Dally. Go out for lunch. Dawdle. Dally. Dilly-Dally. That’s it. Day over. But noooooo. Our village had other plans.
We were on our first dawdle when the doorbell rings. The police. Oh holy number two, what have we done?! The one still in pyjamas opens the door. Bom dia. He smiles and Bom dia’s back. He smiled. We’re good. He says something then realizes that lady with uncombed frizzy hair does not understand (lady sort of understood but was too busy spitting on hand to comb down frizz), so he switches to perfect English. This is a fire drill. We should evacuate our property and go down to the lavanderia, the village communal laundry. When? Right now, Senhora.
The lavanderia is not far from our house, but it still took us almost ten minutes to get there. The pyjamas. The hair. The Senhor of the house.
Our village is very proud of the fact that we have had no forest fires, especially last year, when it seemed like the whole of Portugal was burning. Here they are very vigilant and exercises like today are done regularly. Everyone helps where they can. We even had a visit from a very important minister. After his speech, he came to chat to us, also to explain what he’d just said because he saw a neighbour trying to translate for us. The press was also there, so let’s wait and see if we appear in the newspapers, hee-hee.
When the drill was over, one of the villagers invited us over to his place to have lunch with his family. Obrigada! It was still an hour away, so we went home and undawdled. At one o’clock we were there. On the dot. Eye roll. We took one of our homemade orange jams as a thank-you-for-having-us gift, and some leberwurst. Our host could speak some German, so he explained to everyone what it was. We in turn were offered to nibble on delicious roasted pumpkin seeds while waiting for the meat to braai (grill, bbq). There were at least thirty family members from all ages there, all very warm and friendly. What an amazing time we had. We ate, we drank, we talked. We met the architect who designed our house, also the one who built it, and heard a few titbits about the original owner. And yep, all are related to one another. We love this village! By the way, the leberwurst was a hit.
A few hours later, after lots of slurp-slurp uhm…wine, meat on soft rolls, juicy orange cake for dessert, we toddled home with such joy in our hearts, oh, and a big bag of oranges. What a wonderful day!
This will be a short one, as the blah-blah will not do any justice to all these wonderful photos taken of an amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of Portugal. Afonso, the first king of Portugal, established the monastery almost nine hundred years ago and gifted it to the Cistercian Monks as a thank you for defeating the Moors in Santarem. The monastery and the church were the very first Gothic structures built in Portugal. The church is still the largest Cistercian Gothic Church in Europe.
Walking through this imposing structure can be quite jaw-dropping. The pillars, the arches, the domes, the windows, the rooms. Oh, and the kitchen. The monks did not have a dining room, so had their meals here. There’s a ginormous chimney in the middle of the room, like geez, what were they cooking there, and a very large basin is on the other side. The basin is more like a pond. At first we thought that it was for washing feet or for something else that we won’t tell, yep, imagination running wild, but nooo, it’s just a basin. They’d channeled water directly from the river into it. So not only did they have an abundance of fresh water, but plop-plop, fresh fishies! There’s also a funny story, myth, or whatever about this kitchen. Apparently there was only one way in, through a narrow door. Narrow, as if you-don’t-fit-then-you-starve kinda narrow. It has since been closed off, so no thoroughfare, but you can still stand in the opening. Did that! Would definitely have starved to death. Bums and boobies. Whoops!
Below are some photos of the altar depicting the Death of Saint Bernard, Gargoyles, intricate carvings and a renaissance water basin which is also mentioned in the Internet as “fountain where monks washed their hands before meals”.
The most famous tombs are that of King Pedro I and his mistress Ines de Castro. Pedro, the only surviving son of King Afonso IV, had an arranged marriage to Constanza, a Spanish royal. She was married before but it was annulled after only two years because her then husband, Alfonso XI of Castile, wanted to marry someone else. It has to be said that this first marriage was on paper only because she was still a minor when the powers that be married her off. The marriage was never consummated. Her second marriage was more a “revenge alliance” between her father and King Afonso IV. Her and Pedro were married by proxy and it took quite a while before she was able to travel to Portugal. Politics. Kidnapping. Man ego. Constanza arrived in Portugal with her lady-in-waiting, Ines. Ines, the daughter of an affair between her father and his mistress, descended from very influential Spanish and Portuguese noble families and was also related to Constanza. It was not long before Pedro fell in love with Ines. This affair lasted for many years and caused quite a scandal. After Constanza’s early death due to complications after childbirth, Pedro asked, expected, wanted, Ines to now become his wife. His father refused and tried to match him with other eligible partners. Pedro was having nothing of that. He wanted Ines. End of story. They were already living together, with their children. Afonso IV feared for the future of the monarchy, so took matters into his own hands. About nine years after Constanza’s death, Ines was murdered. Pedro raged and went into battle against his father. He lost, but not long thereafter his father died, so he ascended to the throne. Now that he was King, he exhumed the body of Ines and declared her as the Queen of Portugal. Apparently he dressed her up in finery and jewels and placed her on a throne. He then forced everyone in the royal court to kiss her hand. Apparently. He had two tombs made, one for Ines and one for himself. They are facing one other so that they will see each other on the Day of Resurrection. Constanza is buried in Coimbra,
Constanza and Pedro had four children, two of them died not long after birth and their only surviving son later became King Fernando I. Ines and Pedro also had four children, one of whom died after birth.
Just thinking. Romeo and Juliet was written two centuries later. Okay, it’s not exactly the same, but did Shakespeare know about Pedro and Ines? And…a personal opinion…the story of Constanza is more intriguing. Watch this space!
Amazing sculptures and artwork!
Look at the beautiful azulejos, typical Portuguese blue tiles.
The town, Alcobaca, is very vibrant and oozes history.
Street art in Alcobaca.
The name of the town derives from the Alcoa and Baca rivers.
Even the birds are in love in Alcobaca. Kiss-me-baby!
What a difference two trips can make. The first leg to Portugal was supposed to be close to nine hours until our first stopover in France. Ha! We opted avoid the toll roads, so though it was a very interesting drive through the countryside, especially in France, it was way too long. Lots of farming chugga-chugga’s. The second time we hit those toll roads. There. Are. Many. La France ka-ching ka-ching. We did not save much on kilometres but wanted to get there fast. We did.
We were about three hours into our journey, the first one, just having crossed the border from Germany into France when the mobile phone rings. Boo-shoe Madame or something like that. Madame was snoozing and that is what she heard. Boo-shoe. In a very heavy French accent the owner of our overnight stay tells us, in his version of English, that they must cancel our stay because one of them had just tested positive for covid.
Uhm, okay, sooo?? So, Madame, you cannot stay with us. Wait, what? Where are we going to stay then? We book you in hotel in city so and so. We do not want city, definitely not that city, that’s why we chose you. His accent got heavier and his sighs louder, and madame was getting nauseous. Mobile and moving car, big problem. Oh alright. Whatever. Send the details. Bye, and thank you. Ow Riv-waa, good-bye.
Madame did not like.
He sent a message a minute later. We were cancelled. Nothing to do, he’d booked us in city so and so. How nice of him. A cheap hotel in a big city. On top of that we now had to drive an extra unplanned hour. Oh well, what’s one more hour if you still have two thousand more to go. Felt like kicking something with that boo-shoe, but whatever.
It was quite difficult finding the hotel underground parking, so we parked illegally on some blue line, but again, whatever. Madame ran into the hotel to ask, but…
Who are you, we do not ev your booking!
No, no, NON! We called your hotel a few hours earlier to confirm.
Geez, like it was fun being in the middle of nowhere with limited mobile reception and those buzzards circling overhead while we were wetting the grass. All this stress and still we called the hotel. They said every-zing izz alright. Now nuzzing was alright! Where’s that boo-shoe…After clack-clacking on his computer for what seemed like forever, we got the last and only room available, yeah okay, but where do we park.
Just go around ze corner.
Oh, thank you, sounds easy, merci (clasping hands as if in prayer).
Should’ve saved the merci because the around ze corner was a very narrow lane and the bays inside the garage were not made for modern cars. Okay, BIG modern cars, but oh, look, there’s a biggish bay, so quick, park there. Lots of French toot-tooting because of driving in the wrong direction. Toot to ze hand. We were in.
The covid cancelled room had two large twin beds. We know how small the beds in most countries are, that’s why we mostly prefer twins. What we now had was one modest bed with not even enough space to the wall on the sides for a big bum to turn in. As if that wasn’t enough, the toilet was the lowest we’ve ever come across, with not even a single handle or bar thingy to hold onto. Plonk! Gravity and lots of ouch. Oh, okay, so the toilet paper holder is supposed to hit the head then. Might as well also start practicing those squats while at it.
We were tired, hungry and the telephone conversation we could hear from the neighbouring room didn’t bother us at all. Thin walls are not as bad as low toilets. Whatshisname next door was chatting to his partner, wife or girlfriend. It was a very l’amour kind of chat. Click, end of call. Then we heard him l’amouring again, but this time with a woman in his room. Ooh-la-la! Time to play. Let’s just leave it at that hee-hee. The French women we met here looked like a million dollars. Them ladies carried chic to another level, even in this cheap hotel. One elderly lady sat there with such a beautifully made-up face, sipping her coffee, that someone scrambled in her handbag for her lipstick. Red them lips.
The other French thing that is so amazing is the language and the accent. It’s like when they shout at you and all you hear is a love declaration. That’s why Madame loves it when beard-man throws out those French words. Shyoo are so crayzzeee. Shmoe-shmor-mmm
We slept well. The breakfast buffet was lifeless and meagre, with no black tea, only one of those machine thingies, so one of us had a milk coffee and the other one settled for hot chocolate. It was a hot and brown concoction because le chocolat had left the room. We were in France, but those long fresh crispy baguettes and fluffy croissants decided to stay in Paris. What we had were ice cold boiled eggs. Tap. Tap. Crack. Oh. Oops. What, they’re not boiled yet? Aah, look, there’s a big boiling pot (swear it wasn’t there before) next to the eggs. We plopped two in and waited. It took too long, so we left. Someone else might like blue boiled eggs. We were happy and ready for the next leg to Spain.
This time was much, much better. No calls. No stress. No surprises. Okay, one or two. Nice ones. The hairy one had booked us into a hotel in the countryside of France not far from that city so and so. As we drove through the imposing gate and crunched over a gravel path, we could not stop ooh-ing and aah-ing. What was this please? Ample parking and a distinguished gentleman waiting to welcome us. He took us up to our room. Whoa! This place oozed history. We were spending the night in a medieval castle. Ooh-la-la-le Chateau.
We walked around the property that is surrounded by a forest, got followed by a dog that did not seem to bark, and eyed by two horses wondering what we were up to.
Later that evening we had a scrumptious meal cooked especially for us by the owner. Oh, and local wine. We sat in a huge dining room, with a table fit to seat at least twenty.
They explained some of the history of the chateau and allowed us to take some photos of the inside. It is after all, also their private home. We slept well, ate well, and ooh yes, there were croissants for breakfast.
Do we really want to move? That’s the question we kept on asking ourselves when we tripped over boxes scattered all over our entire place, and this for months on end. Exciting? Uhm, yeah. It was like completing an exercise course. Course one: ow toe (kick a box). Course two: balance (avoid a box). Course three: butterfly sit-ups (fall over a box). Course four: meditate (avoid looking at boxes). The other question was where does all this stuff come from? It’s amazing how much two people can collect over the years. Some things we forgot we had, others we didn’t even know we had, and then there were those that drew complete blanks, like seriously, did we really buy this? The whole preparing to move to another country process is not for sissies. Been there, done that, got the beer and the Weiss Wurst, but somehow this time it was, oh em gee, overwhelming. The last time was spontaneous and simple. Squeeze your whole lives into two suitcases, take your little child’s hand, say your good-byes, then sit in a plane for hours on end. This time there were a lot more decisions to be made. We had a new house to fill up. We were also keeping our current one indefinitely. Most of our furniture had to stay, but we tried to divide some other things between the two. There were lots of other things. Geez!
The first thing we did when we bought our house in Portugal at the beginning of the year was contact a few removal companies to get some quotes. The first one was astronomical. Okay, there’s currently a crisis going on, but we only wanted to move a few stuff, not buy the truck. The second one we streamlined our take-with items, but this too was expensive, so we cancelled the others and decided that it might be better to just post some boxes. Lots and lots of boxes. We fortunately also had a car with a large boot space, so when we drove to Portugal in July, we packed everything delicate and personal in it. We did the same when we finally moved a few weeks ago. Oh, and the posting of boxes idea was absolutely super. They were collected directly from our house, and four days later they were delivered in Portugal.
The last six weeks were the busiest. One still had a very busy full-time job, the other one was helping to unpack in another appartment, then there were farewell dinners and parties, and…and…and. We also used the opportunity to re-organise the cellar, sell some stuff and still find the time to breathe. By the time we left, we really needed a holiday lol.
But first we had to get to Portugal. We wanted to drive all the way. Oi. Oi. Oi. Four countries, three days, two stopovers. Crazy yes, but we needed our own vroom-vroom. This whole moving business added some serious kilometres to our tachometer. We first drove over during summer, then back again after two weeks, then a few weeks ago, finally to Portugal.
It was a little more than eight years ago when we visited Portugal for the very first time that we decided, sort of, that it would be nice to live here one day…a long, long in the future one day…as retirees. Seed planted and life carried on. We continued to travel the world, also spending a few weeks in Portugal, our annual break from those very long winters further up north. Bye-bye brrrr…
Just over three years ago we seriously started scouting for a property to buy. An agent chauffeured us around and explained more about the areas we were looking at. After a few viewings, we found one we liked. As we had at least many, many more years to go before retirement, we considered offering it as a holiday rental during those times when we were not using it ourselves. Another couple were apparently more desperate to buy it than we were, so they offered way too much for what it was worth. We stopped bidding. You can have it darlings.
Then the world got crazy. Pandemic. Lockdown. Isolation. It was also a very emotional year for us, as we both lost our mothers within three months of each other. The next year wasn’t rosy either. Twenty-twenty sucked real plenty! Twenty-twenty-one, that’s it, we were done! It was time for drastic changes. Some super-duper fertilizer on our planted seed and yay, decision made. One put in a request for early retirement and the other flew to Portugal to buy a property.
There were still some strict pandemic regulations to adhere to, but after seeing at least fifteen properties, a beautiful house made the heart go boom-boom. We made an offer and let our lawyer check the legalities. Arghhh! We had to let this one go too. Madam beautiful was mostly built illegally. Bye-bye to the house and thank you to our very sharp lawyer.
To cut a long story short, we both spent weeks looking for another house. The one we ended up buying was not on our must-see viewing list, but when we’d finished looking at it, we decided that this is the one. Boom-chucka-boom-boom! Deal sealed. Six months later we travelled to Portugal, by car, in the middle of a very hot summer, to properly introduce ourselves to our new house. Hello baby, what’s with the flies? Three months after that, we moved in. Now here we are. Yippee-yay-yay! We will be telling you a bit more about our life in Portugal, including, as usual, our travels wherever we may be.