Continued…(really)

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Port wine tasting in the Calem Cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia across the river from Porto. All of the big Port wine cellars are in Vila Nova de Gaia.

But wait.

Before AGMA wraps up her Barcelona/diarrhea & barf cruise/Porto travel post, I need to share an exchange that my travel companion, Mary, and I had during the trip.

It started out innocent enough. We were getting ready for dinner one night and she said something like, “That’s as good as it gets.” while looking in a mirror. Mary is a young looking 76 and very pretty when she has her hair done and all her make-up on.

So AGMA, being the magnanimous person that I am, told her I thought she was lovely. She thanked me then, about 5 minutes later said….

Wait for it…

“You know the saying that beauty is only skin deep? Well, they aren’t right about that because you are really beautiful INSIDE. No – I mean that. You have an INNER beauty about you.”

Huh? Did I just hear what I thought I heard? Was the beotch saying that I wasn’t pretty? To my face?

Evidently so. And I think she was pretty pleased with what she said.

Now I know I’m not beautiful in the classic sense. My nose is too big and I wear glasses and I have a receding chin (they used to call it a ‘weak chin‘ back in the day.) And I don’t wear any make-up.

I’m AGMA au naturale…. What you see is what you get. No nasty surprises.

But I always thought that ‘cute” was the word for me.

Yeah…I’m just real cute.

So rather than grabbing her by the hair, yanking and clawing her with my non-existent fingernails (I’m a massage therapist remember?), I just looked at her sideways and mumbled, “Well bless your heart!”

For those of you who have spent any time at all in the American South, you know EXACTLY what I was saying to her….

Okay. I really needed to get that monkey off my back.

Back in Barcelona, Mary rested in the non-sticky room while I finished up my Barcelona sightseeing. She was much improved by the end of the day and ready to roll.

That night we flew to Porto (Oporto to some,) Portugal to continue in the Griswold vacation tradition of, “Oh God…what’s going to happen next?”

But seriously, Porto was beautiful! Great food, beautiful architecture, interesting history.

And AGMA learned an awful lot about Port wine.

That was fun.

So with a nod to my travel friend The Wife of Bath at Picnic at the Cathedral’s latest post about bad travel photography that made me laugh out loud, I present to you AGMA’s photo journal of Porto and environs…

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The Riberia neighborhood waterfront in Porto on the Duoro River. Gotta love the satellite dishes!

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The fantastical (is that a word?) Livraria Lello bookstore. J.K. Rowlings lived in Porto for a year and was said to have gotten some of her Harry Potter inspiration here! It’s so popular that there is normally a long queue, and they charge a 4 Euro admission. But you get a 4 Euro credit on any purchase you make so of course AGMA made a purchase!

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The incredible tile work in the Sao Bento train station.

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The colors of Porto!

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This is an old Rabelo boat. They are wooden cargo boats that were used for centuries to transport people and goods (especially Port wine barrels!) along the Douro River.

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This street used to be the Beverly Hills 90210 of Porto back in the day.

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This is your cardiologist’s worst nightmare… It’s the famous (in Porto) Francesinha sandwich. It’s cured ham, linguica (a Portuguese sausage), fresh sausage and steak stacked between two pieces of fat bread smothered in melted cheese with an egg on top and covered in a special, slightly spicy tomato and beer sauce. We didn’t get the egg and got the sauce on the side. Party poopers….

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The beautiful Douro Valley where the Port wine grapes are grown. It’s about a 90 minute drive from Porto.

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The most elegant McDonalds ever! It’s called the Imperial McDonalds because they took over the old art deco Imperial Cafe on Liberdade Square.

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Italian churches ain’t got nothing on Porto churches! The interiors were all over the top, covered with gold leaf and life sized statues! This is Igreja do Carmo Catholic Church.

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We climbed all 200 steps to the top of the Clerigos Tower (built in 1763) for a spectacular view of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia across the Douro River.

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AGMA loves the contrast of the modern fountain with the traditional homes. In the Riberia neighborhood of Porto.

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The narrow streets of the ancient Riberia. Don’t you love the color coordinated laundry?

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Quinta do Tedo – a small boutique Port producer in the Duoro Valley. OMG…they still stomp grapes with their feet to crush them in the Fall! AGMA feels as if she needs to go back in September to see that!

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Port sampling makes for new friends! AGMA the Cougar’s new BFFs from Croatia. The absolute BEST part of travel is the people you meet. I’m just thankful that most folks seem to speak English.

Can you tell how gorgeous Porto is? It’s an extremely welcoming city – the people could not have been friendlier or more helpful. It’s very compact & walkable (but lots of hills.) But Uber is really cheap if you poop out. And, overall, it’s less expensive that other cities in Europe. And the food is amazing!

Score!

AGMA’s advice…put it on your Bucket List!

Pass the cava

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Even though I’m in Barcelona now, AGMA’d love to tell you that I’m enjoying a cafe con leche and writing this post in a small cafe in the Gothic Quarter.

But I’m not.

As much as I want to dash off a post after our first few days in Spain to let everybody know how it’s going, AGMA is a realist. I’ve been through this too many times before. It ain’t happening.

So I’m in my favorite coffee shop in Atlanta. And I’m going to use that future post date function in WP.  I love that.

This trip is going to be really interesting.

Hubs is staying home taking care of the Princes of Casa AGMA, otherwise known as our cats, Max and Gus.

So I’m traveling with a dear friend who is getting ready to turn 77 in March. She’s young in mind and spirit, and is in great shape physically.  Plus she’s a voracious international traveler.

However, she’s hard of hearing (and won’t get a hearing aid) and I think she’s starting to have some memory issues.

And she has really fuzzy personal space boundaries.  This kinda makes me more crazy than I already am.

You know the type…physically, she moves really close to you whenever you interact. We spent 9 days in Paris 5 years ago and by the time AGMA got home, I wanted to move into a monastic hermitage and live alone the rest of my life. We would look at something in a store window and she was practically right on top of me. I may have gently thrown an elbow at her once or twice.

Don’t judge me.

It was a relief to be in a restaurant and have my own side of the table.

I think it might be related to her hearing loss?

So I’m looking for some suggestions as to how I might let her know in a sweet, kind, but firm way that she tends to get a bit to up close and personal. Anything?

Since I’m getting over the flu, I can use that for a few days.

“Don’t get to close to me Mary, I still have an active virus inside of me and could soon be a biter on the Walking Dead.”

Our trip is in 3 parts.

Part 1 – Barcelona. Cava, tapas/pintxo, paella, cava, crema catalana, bombas, cava, jamon ibericao, cava.

Can you see the pattern? AGMA loves me my sparking!

Since my last visit in Barcelona was so brief, I’m anxious to see what I missed the first time around.

Added bonus…AGMA has a former co-worker working on her masters in Barcelona so she’s going to hang with us on some of our adventures. Nothing beats having an insider show you the local scene!

Part 2 – ‘The Cruise’  THIS is going to be the true adventure. We are going on a 7 night Mediterranean cruise on a cruse line that gets terrible ratings on the all of the cruise bulletin boards. The ship itself is new and supposedly amazing, but everything else pretty much sucks according to the reviews. But it’s cheap – really cheap – and we’ll be seeing places we’ve never been (except Rome and you really can’t visit Rome too much…)

AGMA’s a firm believer of going into something like this with the lowest possible expectations. That way, if something is actually decent, it’s thrilling!

I’m planning on bringing lots of hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes.

Part 3 – Porto, Portugal. Portugal is hot right now. Not with heat (although temps aren’t too bad) but as a tourist destination. In 2017, it was voted by the Word Travel Awards as the Best European Destination. Portugal actually took home 37 of the 123 awards.

Smokin’ hot.

Who knew?

AGMA visited Lisbon and the Algarve about 5 years ago. Since Mary abdicated all of the trip planning responsibilities to me, I decided that we’d go to Porto, home of Port wine. It’s supposed to be incredibly charming and a throw back to “old” Portugal (whatever that means…), and prices for food ‘n stuff are less than in Lisbon.

And after sharing a tiny interior cabin on the cruise for 7 nights with a person who has personal space boundary issues, I booked a 2 bedroom AirB&B in Porto.

Of course.

I’m hoping to be able to post while we’re on the cruise (or at a port with wifi) so you may actually get some real time AGMA updates from the road. Or water.

‘May’ being the operative word…

AGMA has to admit that I’m so looking forward to 2 1/2 weeks without hearing about the Massively Yuge Sh*thole Cheeto every minute of every day. Ignorance is definitely not bliss when it comes to the attempted destruction of our democracy, but a little respite now and then is good for the soul.

The only problem is that, when people find out we’re Americans, EVERYBODY (I know this from experience) will be asking us, “What the hell is going on with the US??”

I think my answer will be, courtesy of Molly Shannon’s horrible alter ego comedienne, Jeannie Darcy….

“Don’t get me started. Don’t even get me started.”

Pass the cava.