19 May 2018

Is Your Vacation Doomed?

Is Your Vacation Doomed?

Did you wake up with a monster headache the day of your flight? Did you twist your ankle mid-way through your first city tour? Did you... drink the water?!?

If you are seriously considering going home early because of an unexpected reduction in mobility, take a moment to think through your options.

Let's say you had planned to walk all over Porto, a steep city, but can now only manage 30 feet at a time. You can:
- add a driving tour (We Hate Tourism is a fantastic company for this)
- hire a taxi (try the mytaxi app - 50% off when you use it in Porto!)
- hire multiple taxis, and add in buses (caution - you may have a hard time getting to a given stop; review the terrain carefully)
- modify! Spend less time strolling museums, shops, and parks, and more time sitting in cafés and on city benches. If you have prepurchased museum tickets, call ahead and ask about wheelchairs and elevators.

Your room is up a flight of stairs, and now you can't get there? Obviously, this is a bigger problem. Call around for a hotel with an elevator (Ibis is reasonable and basic, as well as ubiquitous). You may have to just eat the cost of your apartment, but it's still less cost and hassle than booking a flight change. Also consider whether you can make the stairs at least once a day - it makes for a more structured and rigid day, but that might be the best thing to do.

More and more European airports have do-it-yourself wheelchairs available. Just ask about them at an info desk. Also, ask for help at the check-in desk - you're supposed to arrange for help ahead of time (48 hrs), but if you just got hurt the day before, you obviously can't do that. They can sometimes still work it out. Just remember to update your next flights!

Don't be shy about asking for help from a local pharmacist - they will have (or can order) something that will help. Even if you have to buy something without a prescription or insurance, the cost still will likely be well below USA prices (virtually everywhere).

Essentially, continuing to travel with a sudden mobility problem is more expensive, and you do less than you expected, but it's still worth it!

All of this makes me think about how I will travel when I'm old and decrepit - some things will change to accommodate the physical realities, but I'll still get around and enjoy plenty of places!

In fact, the day we got home, I caught myself looking at a picture of an azure sea murmuring to a white sand beach, and thought, yeah, that's a place to be pampered - nothing to see or do, just the sun, the breeze, a lounge chair, and a cold drink...

16 May 2018

Porto Highlights Tour

Porto Highlights Tour

After our great tour experience in Lisbon, we decided to book a Porto tour with the same company - We Hate Tourism :-D

Bruno was great! It was just two of us, and he modified his usual so we had a minimum of walking! We saw a lot more than I got to photograph (see the album for more), and even that was a lot...

This is a pair of churchs from the 17th century, called the Carmelitas - they are side-by-side, but not connected, for two different orders.

One chapel...

And the "other" one...

More buildings

Bookstore of Harry Potter fame

This roundpoint monument commemorates the alliance with Portugal of England (the lion) to defeat Spain (the Eagle).

Casa de Música (House of Music) museum

This monument commemorates the massive loss to the fishing village here - before the breakwater was built, the seas could get very rough. Within sight of the people on land, but too far to help, most of the village fishermen died. These are their wives, watching in anguish.

A sculpture in a roundpoint - a giant fishing net! It tells you how important fishing is here

This is the "Nice" of Portugal - a mayor's wife enjoyed her visit to Nice so much, she wanted a bit of it recreated right here...

On to another viewpoint, where we sipped some tawney port and enjoyed the breeze, views, and stories of Portugal

Then we drove across the river Douro, and up to the Monastery - to these views!

If you wondered if Porto was steep, this should tell you - just to the right of the bridge is one of the funiculars, struggling up the hill

Here's a close-up

The boats lined up along the bank are now used for porting tourists up and down the river, but they used to carry barrels of port!

Looking down from the monastery courtyard - we got from there to here in about a block of steeeeep climbing!

From here, we almost went on to port-tasting, but decided it would be smarter to call it a day. And what a day!

15 May 2018

Porto On Our Own

Porto On Our Own

After a nice, lazy morning, we walked across the square to Casa Guedes and had a Sandes de Pernil com queijo - a sandwich made with slow-roasted pork, with cheese - mmmm mmm!

Then off for some cash! It took some doing! The ATM turned out to be very close, but at a very confusing cluster of intersections :-\ What I learned:
(1) the Portuguese are extremely helpful
(2) If you want to really hold up the check-out line, ask the cashier for directions
(3) Don't pull out a map - that only takes more of their time
(4) After waiting all that time, the lady in line still looked for me after she came out of the store - to help even more!

Following the advice of our hostess, we took a taxi to the tram, and rode this traveling museum to the mouth of the Douro river and back.

Across the river (aka, not Porto)

This bridge - we went under it...

The parks along the river, and at the end of the line

The gate to the Atlantic!

A church at the beginning of the line

Interesting buildings on the way home

You can see more in the Portugal album here: