We’ve had a few folks ask us how we’re coping during the pandemic so here goes. Also, we’re starting to sketch out some travel plans within the country. Let’s look at both.
Shopping: We now have our groceries delivered every 2-3 weeks as that allows the gent with a nifty wheeled cart to bring all the heavy stuff to us since we don’t have a car. If the order is over 100 euros it’s a free delivery. We use Froiz, but you can order from a number of other stores this way. We always tip the guy since he’s doing all the hard work. We buy our perishable goods locally (fruits, vegetables, fresh meat and poultry), as needed. Works great. We are totally spoiled by this now and it´s great to know that if we are ill, like we were with the flu that first winter, someone will bring us food.
Travel: This was the year we were supposed to travel to Europe, starting with a trip to Prague in late April. To their credit Lufthansa refunded our tickets. It took a while (almost three months) but they honored their pledge to reimburse us and that means we’ll definitely be using them in the future. Some of that might be because the EU has pretty stringent laws regarding air carriers, but then I’ve heard tales of European travelers unable to get refunds from other carriers. (shrugs)
The other trip we were looking forward to involved a full day and overnight in Aveiro. Aveiro is often touted as the Venice of Portugal because of its waterways (see photo above). Then a few nights in Espinho along the ocean and from there we were going to take a train to Santa Maria da Feira for their annual Medieval Fair and spend a day wandering the streets. The fair lasts ten full days and looks to be a blast, but sadly it was cancelled this year. That was the right thing to do, but it will definitely be hard on the town and the region because that is a major tourist event and that income is paramount. It is definitely on our list to attend when it’s safe to do so.
We are designing seven-to-ten day car trips of Northern Portugal for when we feel more comfortable being out and about. Now that our cat is no longer with us (our dear Dali crossed the Rainbow Bridge last month) we can stay gone longer. Initially I planned a road trip that took us north to Viana do Castelo (see left) and then head east. But it seemed that as soon as I found one town with something really cool, there was another, then another, all within thirty minutes to an hour driving of each other.
We realized I had to alter my strategy and now there will be a town that serves as home base and then we’ll drive out to the other locations over two or three days. The less unpacking of luggage the better. One town in particular we would like to visit is Ponte de Lima (see the main image at the top of the page) which still has an ancient bridge courtesy of those all-conquering Romans. Other sights include São Bento da Porta Aberta (a sanctuary), Montalegre Castle, Peneda-Gerês National Park and Bragança (see photos below). There are abandoned monasteries, old farmsteads, churches, and villages to see, plenty to keep us busy for more than a week at a time. Also, it’ll be a great series of Portuguese lessons as often the only way you can order your meal is in the native tongue. Perfect.
We’ll begin those driving tours as soon as the plague has been mitigated, and in our own way, stimulate the economy. We’d love to visit the rest of Europe, but right now Portugal needs tourists and there’s just so much to see. We’ll definitely be doing day-by-day reports of those tours once we’re on the road, including photos.
The bottom line is that we’re healthy, we’ve adapted to mask wearing and hand scrubbing and all that jazz. We’re also very fortunate and remind ourselves of that fact daily.
Stay well! Wear your mask! This too shall pass.
Harold is a former software engineer. Jana is an author. Together they're exploring their new life in Portugal.