Bom Dia from Portugal!
We've returned to the northern hemisphere this month and are all happily enjoying spring time in Portugal. So far our plan of following the sun is working out well as we've had either spring or summer since we left Portland in October.
During the last week of April we finished our time in South Africa along the Garden Route. We watched, fed and the boys even rode Ostriches in the Ostrich capital of the world, Oudtshoorn. We then spent a couple of days in the "Napa Valley of S. Africa" - a town called Franschhoek wishing our wine friends (you know who you are!) were there with us to enjoy some of the fantastic local vintage. Finally, we returned to Cape Town for one last tour - a sobering and moving visit to Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years behind bars. A former political prisoner was our tour guide who shared his story - his spirit of hope and reconciliation was inspiring for us all.
We then flew from Cape Town to Lisbon, Portugal - a beautiful, vibrant, fun city and a great place from which to start exploring Latin Europe. Our Portuguese friend and former Portlander, Patricia Gaspar met us in Lisbon and helped us navigate the city, the menus and the sights. We then drove north to the city of Leiria, Patricia's hometown. Oliver got to spend a day working with Patricia, helping teach English to the local kids. Her family has a beach house in nearby Pedrogao that they graciously offered us as a home base for our visit here. Once again, our friends have shown incredible kindness and generosity. Patricia even did some babysitting for us so we could enjoy a rare night out...Obrigada!
We were joined for a few days by our friends from The Netherlands: Mirjam, Marc, Isabel and Carsten. It was nice for us all to have some friends join us here as we visited the local sights including The Monastery at Batalha, the walled city of Obidos, the University town of Coimbra and the Leiria Castle. The Leiria area is also home to the famous Chapel of Fatima - where, as legend has it, 3 young shepherds were visited by The Lady of The Rosary and then many people witnessed a miracle on May 13, 1917. As this day draws nearer, we are seeing many pilgrims walking (and some crawling on their knees) towards Fatima from the surrounding areas.
We continue our adventure as we head for Spain on May 12th. Missing you all and wishing you a warm and beautiful spring...