Saturday, 14 November 2009

Visiting Family in England

Ages ago now, in October, I flew across to England to visit my niece and nephew, Oliver and Imogen, where they were visiting brother-in-law Jono's family.

It was all quite last-minute, as I only just found myself with enough time on my hands to take leave from work at quite short notice. So I booked flights and headed off without really much planning and almost didn't make it through border control in England when I didn't know the address of where I was staying.

Anyway it all worked out quite well and I spent a nice couple of days with Jono's family, who very nicely put up with my self-invitation.

Being in Europe we've missed so much of the children of friends and families, and it was really good to catch up with Oliver and Imogen and see how much they have grown.

The flights in and back were so cheap and - now that we live so near Geneva - easy, that I think Linda and I will have to make plans to visit England some more before we finish our time in Europe!

A walk in the woods

One of the great things about living in Switzerland is that you are seldom more than a short distance away from some patch of nature.

Both at home in Nyon or at work in Renens, I am only about 5 minutes walk from a nice bit of forest, and we often take advantage of this to go for a walk, run, or bike-ride through them.

This has become especially true this Autumn since we haven't been heading out as often as we normally do because of the weather, but also because the Autumn colours are really amazing!

Of course being Switzerland also means that these patches of nature are not exactly wild - normally you will find the yellow-signposted paths winding their way through any patch of nature - making the whole expedition very safe and easy.

We are looking forward to Winter proper when we can take our snowshoes up the hill behind us into the Jura mountains for some winter walks through the snow up there!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Portugal - Vila Nova de Milefontes

Our last night in Portugal was at Vila Nova de Milefontes.

Our stay got off to an excellent start with an amazing dinner at a local restaurant, followed by an equally amazing breakfast served in our B&B.

The town of Milefontes was quite quiet - being outside of tourist season meant a lot of the shops had shut down - but it was really nice just wandering around the town looking at the white and blue (and sometimes yellow) buildings.

From there we continued up the coast to Porto Covo, which our host at the B&B recommended to us. This was another really nice town, just as model village-like as Milefontes.

We spent more time wandering around the streets of the town and the cliffs facing onto the ocean.

Finally we had one last meal in Portugal, another delicious seafood affair, before hopping back in the car for the drive up to the airport.

We had a fantastic trip and we're both quite motivated to return to Portugal for its good food, cheap prices, friendly people, and interesting countryside.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Portugal - Algarve

From Evora we drove down to the South coast area of Portugal - Algarve.

We stayed in Silves, which was the Moorish centre of Portugal and has an impressive fort at the top of the hill in the town.

We were a little underwhelmed by Silves, however, and soon continued on to Lagos on the coast with some amazing cliff-top views, where we watched the sun set. We stayed for a delicious seafood dinner before returning to Silves for the night.

The next day we returned to Lagos for a tour on a fishing boat around the cliffs, which was really amazing and we took hundreds of photos.

There was fish everywhere in the water - it's hard to see how a fisherman could fail to catch anything!

We continued around the coast to Sagres which is the most south-westerly point in Europe, where you really feel like the Atlantic Ocean begins. This is the point where many famous Portugese explorers set out on their epic voyages.

We went first to Sagres Point where there is a fort on the cliff-tops. We watched the cliff-top fishermen, who seemed somewhat crazy, cast their lines off the cliffs into the water 75m below.

Then we continued on to Cape St. Vincent, where we took photos of ourselves looking out over the Atlantic and watched the sun breaking through the clouds in the distance.

It was a really amazing place to visit, and it was only unfortunate that we didn't have more time to spend there, however it is a long way back from Algarve to Lisbon and rather than spend our last day in Portugal stressing about the long drive back, we decided to drive up the West coast to Vila Nova de Milefontes.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Portugal - Evora

Last weekend Linda took me off to Portugal for four days as a surprise for my birthday. We didn't really have a firm plan but Linda had booked our night of arrival in Evora, a medieval town to the East of Lisbon in the Alentejo province.

After our first night at the hotel, and eating a delicious breakfast, we pretty quickly decided it was so nice there that we should stay the next night also!
Practically the first thing we did was to hop back in the car and head out of town to the Cromeleque dos Almendres, a group of 92 menhirs which date back to around 5000BC, found amongst the cork trees that seem to be everywhere in Portugal.

Back in Evora, we wandered around the town, visiting the Cathedral, museum and markets, ate Pastel de Nata, and generally relaxed.
The dinners we ate in Evora were also delicious, being hearty and full of flavour, and surprisingly cheap for a Euro country!
We had such a nice time in Evora we were actually a little reluctant to head away from the Alentejo province and into Algarve, which was actually the main goal of our trip to Portugal.