The Vignette Less Traveled

I’m running out of data on my Spanish cell and our internet isn’t connected yet so I have to be very judicious with my posts. So here is a montage of the past several days. Observations – perhaps some insights. Reader’s choice.

The 3 B’s

It seems where we live there are a plethora of birds, butterflies and bees. The birds are varied and they hang out on the palm plants on our lower terrace. Butterflies of every stripe and color flit by. We were gardening today and I was visited by at least five different kinds who took an interest in my goings on. And then there are the bees. Sure, there are the regular sized ones. Bumble and other. But then there are these huge bees – of several different varieties- who visit us as we sit on the upper terrace. It makes me wonder if we are some sort of landing strip for the scary bee population of Portugal. One today was more than an inch long with a black and white striped furry body. I let out an ‘eek!’ As it buzzed me.

Speaking of internet

We have been using the data on our phones and tethering our laptops. So I needed a solution. Sounds simple enough. It was not. I went to Vodafone (who we have in Valencia). They gave me the old ‘who are you? Cause we don’t know you’ after two years of loyalty. So I went across the street to MEO. They provide all kinds of services so I thought I’d be good to go. But No. I don’t have all the documents I need to get set up. Basically ‘No internet for you!’ So I did what I seem to do daily now. I called Pedro.

Don’t worry Kelli, I have a friend. We will take care of this tomorrow.’ And it turns out he does have a friend who bent some rules of setting up foreigners with internet without perfect documents. And voila! We will get it installed this week. It includes two cell phones, gigabit internet, and cable tv for €73 per month. Thats half what we pay in Valencia. Crazy.

I had to meet Pedro at his restaurant after the lunch was completed and he had time to take me over hill and dale to where his friend had her office. But not before he showed me around. They serve very traditional Portuguese food – I’m not 100% sure what that means except there will be a grilling meat and seafood and bread. Lots of bread. He gave me a tour of the kitchen and then a tour of the garden where he grows some of what he serves in the restaurant.

He explained about how fruit trees need one male and two females to bear fruit and his kiwi arbor was epic. He also has peaches, oranges, lemons and limes. and herbs and veg by the acre.

Inside he’s obsessed with old culinary measuring devices and I took a photo of these old wooden measuring cups. He says they’re more than 100 years old.

Pedro and the family have been so helpful. They’re on holiday for two weeks down in the Algarve but when he gets back he says he will find me a duck egg supplier.

Home Improvement

We located a Leroy Merlin (sort of like a Lowes in the US). But its a half hour away. So I set off with Jeff’s list and promptly got lost – yes, even with gps. Finally, I found my way there. And what was in the Parking lot? An outdoor antiques market. I’ve never met an outdoor market I didn’t like so browsed a bit. Not harm in browsing.

But I was on a mission. And I needed to focus. Jeff needed a pressure washer and other stuff. So I gathered it all together in two carts – like the American I am – and loaded up the buggy to make for home. There had to be a reason this crazy gps as misdirecting me. She and I have had words before. So I dug into her menu settings and saw ‘Vignettes’- it said ‘avoid’ or ‘with’. Now vignette sounds like something short or small. Like these would be roads in corn fields or small villages. All I needed to do was say ‘avoid’ and I should be cruising down the autopiste in no time. Turns out..No. Avoid Vignettes doesn’t mean that. Apparently, in upside down world it means ‘take me on every small road – even roads this car you’re in can’t fit down – in Portugal.

So it took me 1 1/2 hours to get homee. But I did see this gorgeous place I wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t decided to ‘avoid vignettes’ and the gps took me down every back alley. I swear I drove thru a chicken coop at one point.

Spain vs Portugal- Observations

Spain and Portugal are not the same. And I know this because the Portuguese tell me all the time. ‘This is not Spain’.

The realtor asked Jeff if he likes beer in Spain. Jeff is not a huge fan of Spanish beer, except Alhambra. He likes that. The agent laughed.

‘You know why? Its the water. The water in Portugal is just better than Spanish water. Nothing against them, you understand. Its not their fault their water is so bad. But good beer starts with good water.’ We have no idea if this is true. But he does like Spanish wine.

Graffiti is not a thing where we live on The Silver Coast. So named for the silver color of the ocean here. We’ve seen graffiti exactly twice. They sell cleaning supplies to get rid of it every where. You just don’t see it.

Stray dogs are a thing here. Its sad to see and they wander into traffic. Upsetting. We never saw this in Valencia- ever. I want a dog so bad I thought of stopping and herding one black and white shepherd into the car.

That Crazy American

No matter where I go, there I am. But I’m too old to care. We walk on the beach every day and each time I bring a bag with me to pick up plastic. And there is a lot that washes ashore. The oceans are filled with it. Sometimes we see very little but sometimes my bag is filled up right away.

Do people stare at my trash collection habits? Sometimes. But I think its our duty to do our part. To walk past it all and pretend its not there seems wrong. Jeff is into it now too. We can easily fill two bags on an otherwise pristine beach during a 6k walk. And they have recycling receptacle permanently installed at beach access points.

We’ve spent our weekend weeding and listening to our neighbors throwing a wedding on their terrace until midnight last night. Their live singer wasn’t amused that Jeff was pressure washing the terrace and the stucco walls. But then we weren’t amused at hearing Elvis at 11:30 last night and the final Macarena as the clock ticked off another day.

My data is fading. That’s all I got. Until next time when I’m broadcasting via super fast gigabit internet – at long last.

2 thoughts on “The Vignette Less Traveled

  • So where did you all move to in PT? I had followed your blog since the move to Valencia as we seriously considered Valencia too but after much thought and a visit we instead are opting for PT. Just more suitable for our lifestyle. We will be coming on the Queen Mary2 with our 70 choc lab next June 2021 and making our way there. Probably land in Lisboa first then explore some more or longer term accommodations for ultimate SEF Residency appointment .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Joe. I remember you from before we moved to Valencia. PT wasn’t in the plan but we ended up finding a wonderful house on the coast west of Leiria. No Americans or Brits about where we are. Everyone here seems to speak English. But we will do our best to learn Portuguese. I sure hope Covid will be in the rearview mirror in time for your trip across the Atlantic!


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