Portugal

Chapter 11-  September 16, 2005

Eric Webster

Old electric trolley in Porto, Portugal.  Sam, Kaizen and cousin Eric.

It was almost a surreal transition.  One minute I was staring at the same Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that I had manipulated all summer long at my less than exhilarating internship, the next minute I had somehow arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, to embark on what became a spectacularly relaxing and enjoyable vacation.  Portugal, a country I knew almost nothing about, proved to be a beautiful backdrop with its quaint little port towns and lighthearted people.  The diet, which consisted predominately of fish took some getting used to, but I was never disappointed by a meal.  But perhaps the best part of the entire trip was getting to spend some time with my Uncle, Aunt and Cousin.  Kaizen seemed to have grown immensely since I last saw him, and has taken up the hobby of collecting sticks at every port.  As we walked through the cute towns Kai would make sure we were each carrying a stick for him, as if to say “You’re with me, now take this precious gift.”  Sam and Deb seem to have the sailing lifestyle down to an art, if not a science.  Sail one day; rest in port the next…  a winning formula for a lazy land lover like myself.  Their magnificent vessel, the Debryn Ruth was comfortable, and more importantly, very seaworthy.  Of course, it took me a day to get used to the whole concept. 

 

Cask ships on the Rio Douro in Porto.  

 

These boats brought port and wine from the bodegas to the shipping port.

Porto Street Scene.

The Moorish influence can still be seen in some architecture.

Adjusting the jib sheet.

After a few days of antique hunting and wine shopping in Porto, the town from which Port wine derives its name, we set sail for Figueroa da Fas, which I insisted on simply calling “the Fonz” after a favorite character from the 70s TV show Happy Days.  This first trip left us at sea for about 12 hours, which turned out to be about 11 hours longer than my stomach was prepared to endure.  Fortunately, after this first lesson on ignoring the pitching of the seas, and after convincing myself that the boat was not going to tip over at every wave, I bid my seasickness “Adieu,” never to be bothered by it again. 

            It was in Figueroa that I came to realize one of the most delightful aspects of a sailing journey is getting to know your fellow sailors.  Here we met a Finnish father and son team who would be sailing all year.  The son, a math Ph.D. student at the University of Helsinki was excited to tell Sam and I more about his research on Hilbert spaces (or subspaces thereof,) than either of us cared to understand.  The father also had lots of interesting insights on financial markets.  But the point was that these two Finnish sailors continued to pop up along our trip.  I believe we saw them two other times during my week there.  With consistency comes camaraderie.  And surely, some of Sam and Deb’s closest friends along this journey have been sailors that have played leapfrog with them for nearly the entire trip.  It was neat to see the development of these friendships among the sailing community, which is about as international a bunch as one can imagine.

 

Drying out the auto-helm computer.  It worked!

Cruising as it's meant to be.

Next we traveled to Nazare, Peniche and finally Cascais.  Each of these towns sported a different feel and tempo.  The day we sailed to Nazare, I managed to catch two fish.  I brought in a Loweina (???), which was very good eating, and a mackerel.  Sam added a mackerel to the pot and Deb prepared a great dinner of them.  On the short sail to Peniche, our boat was greeted by a pod of about 15 dolphins, which played about the bow of the boat for probably 20 minutes.  They were amazingly fast, and would race each other and leap out of the water to have a look at the strange folk looking back at them from the deck of the Debryn Ruth.  That was really a special treat which we all, Kaizen included, got a kick out of watching.        

The trip really turned out great, and I was truly lucky to be able to get out there and do it.  This most certainly marks my last international trip with United flight benefits, and I can’t imagine a more fun way to close out a chapter of my life, which has included some really exciting travel.  I want to extend a special Thank You to Sam and Deb for having me out there.  Best wishes,

 

Eric  

 

Freshly caught loweina.

 

"... about 15 dolphins, which played about the bow..."

 

 

 

Peniche light.

 

 

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Links:

Map of Spain and Portugal

Map of Portugal  

 

Eric Webster's email address:  erkwebster@hotmail.com                                     

Web design:  Don Webster        websterdr@yahoo.com                Don's Home Page

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