Useful things to know about life in Portugal

These iconic yellow and white tram cars are a useful way to get around in Lisbon. They are very popular with tourists!

When I first spent an extended time in Portugal I noticed a lot of little differences about the way people do daily life compared to what is commonly done in the US. Now that I have been living in Portugal for more than three years, I just take all these differences for granted. But my current trip back to the states makes me realize how much I have accommodated to my new life in Europe. I also appreciate how many of the customs in Portugal reduce water, plastic and paper waste that is harmful to the environment.

Eco-friendly shopping

In Portugal the supermarkets and small grocery stores do not bag your groceries. You must bring your own shopping bags or buy one at the checkout. The bags you can buy are sturdy and generous sized so you can fit a lot into one bag. You yourself must stuff all the items you have bought into the bag at the checkout. This saves a mountain of plastic bags from ending up in landfills. I was saddened to see that in Albuquerque, where I used to live, the city council reversed a decision to ban those plastic bags.

Another practical innovation is the way you use shopping carts. They are typically linked together and you must insert a coin or a plastic token to release the cart to take it into the store. After you’ve unloaded your shopping, you return the cart, reconnect it and you get the coin or token back.

This is a simple way to ensure that carts are returned. In Albuquerque I was used to seeing shopping carts abandoned all over the place. On a windy day a rogue cart could damage your car. It was also probably a big expense for the supermarkets to lose them.

Bathroom etiquette

In a lot of private homes, restaurants and even small hotels in Portugal, it is common to see a sign asking you not to put any paper or other products into the toilet. In private homes it’s because they have a septic system that can’t handle large volumes of toilet paper. I’m assuming the restaurants etc have some similar problem. Anyway, you have to re-train yourself to put the TP into the small container next to the toilet. It took me a while to be consistent about this.

I have even found some bathrooms, such as at a train station or a shopping mall, where you have to grab a length of TP from a huge roll hanging on the wall by the sinks, BEFORE you go into the stall.

Of course men rarely have either of these problems.

A couple of other points about bathrooms. Most toilets in Portugal have dual flush options which save water. Bathrooms typically have hot air blow dryers instead of paper or cloth towels to dry your hands.

Time and temperature confusion

After more than three years of living in Portugal, I have become figuratively bi-lingual in matters of time and temperature. I am no longer flummoxed when trying to decide whether to take the train at 17:00 or 19:00, hint 5 p.m. or 7 p.m. Now, having to say a.m. and p.m. seems so inefficient. You also know immediately whether you’re talking about 12 noon (12:00) or midnight (24:00) .

I’ve also adjusted to using Celcius versus Fahrenheit when referring to the weather. I’ve become used to thinking that 20 degrees C (68F) feels pretty comfortable and 40 degrees C (104F) is nigh-on unbearably hot. Coming back to the US and reading that it’s 21 degrees I have to do mental gymnastics to remember that is really cold! Or, I could just stick my nose outside!

How far is that?

I must confess, I have not adapted so well to using kilometers versus miles, or kilograms instead of pounds. I used to be a very enthusiastic cyclist in New Mexico. There are mountains in NM but there are a lot of opportunities to ride on flat ground too. A 30 mile flat ride was considered pretty easy. I live in a hilly area in central Portugal and it is hard to find flat routes. Hence, a 30 km (18.6m) ride in my area is pretty tough!

I have to use grams and milliliters for European cooking recipes but I keep my bathroom scales on pounds so I still can’t tell you what I weigh in kilos. (I probably wouldn’t anyway!)

Follow my blog to learn more about daily life in Portugal.
Riding in the area around Figueiro dos Vinhos in central Portugal involves climbing a lot of steep hills but it’s beautiful.

Return to US, long trip and big culture shock

The Walmart sign has become pretty much synonymous with shopping in most US towns and cities.

I’ve been back in the US for a couple of weeks on my annual visit to my son and grandchildren. I have been living in Portugal for nearly four years now and have made the trip several times. The first time was in January 2020, just before the arrival of Covid.

The pandemic soon changed the world as we knew it. Restrictions introduced in efforts to prevent the spread of the virus made international travel impossible for many. I was only able to visit the US and return to Portugal in late 2020 because I had already obtained my Portuguese residency permit. Covid traveling rules also added to the already high cost of an international trip. I had to show a negative result on a Covid PCR test to be allowed on the flights. The test cost about 100 Euros in Portugal for the outward journey and $175 in the US for my return trip.

Even though it’s now easier, it’s still a long trip. The best connections I’ve been able to book meant a 17 hour journey. When my son lived in California it took 26 hours!

Mind boggling!

The sheer size of an ordinary Walmart store and the mind boggling array of choices for every kind of item is overwhelming after living in my small rural community in Portugal.

Coming back to the US has become a culture shock. The size of the vehicles, the size of the meals and the size of the people is, at first, mind boggling!

Other aspects of life here make my eyes pop too. My son is currently living in Kentucky, a solidly conservative state. There are flags and churches everywhere. The camo-bedecked, a genial grizzled old army veteran, proudly told me about his warm relationship with guns. I smiled and said nothing.

Kentucky is proudly celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, news anchors are beginning to talk about what hats to wear for Derby Day (May 3), and the stock market is on a roller coaster ride thanks to another banking scandal. Shades of 2008?

Follow my blog to read more about the real experience of daily life in Portugal. Lots of useful hints and tips if you’re thinking of relocating.

It’s “Carnaval” time in Portugal

A little boy drummer leads his school friends in the carnival parade in Ferreira do Zezere, central Portugal.

It was “Carnaval” time in Portugal last week. Yes, that is how they spell it here in Portugal, where every town and city around the country was celebrating with music, dancing and parades. The carnival tradition supposedly originated hundreds of years ago in Italy. Catholics were not supposed to eat meat during the season of Lent which begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts until Easter Sunday. So, they began the custom of holding a lively costume party festival on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. They called the festival “carne vale” which means “put away the meat.”

Here in Portugal, the tradition goes back to the Middle Ages. The oldest known carnival celebration started in the thirteenth century in the city of Torres Vedras, about 43 kilometers (27 miles) northwest of Lisbon.

Often groups in small villages all around a larger town will get together to create a float or parade group around a theme. Movies, popular bands and local sport clubs are frequent themes. Sometimes the floats have highly political messages, with signs or costumes satirizing current issues or poking fun at well-known government personalities.

Maybe Celtic origins?

The village of Podence in the Tras os Montes region of far northeastern Portugal is known for its unique colorful costumes and the bizarre antics of the revelers, called “Caretos.”

Men from the village and surrounding area are clad in home-made woolen costumes in red, green and yellow. They wear red masks made of wood or leather. They hang metal rattles and bells from their belts and often carry a wooden staff.

These “Caretos” go round the village shaking their rattles and bells at any women they find. Supposedly it’s all about spring, fertilization and new growth after the long winter. The festival in Podence and Macedo de Cavaleiros nearby, has been designated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Some historians believe the festival is linked to ancient Celtic fertility rites.

My village celebrated with a carnival dance “Baile Carnaval” in the local association hall. There was plenty of traditional Portuguese music, which sounds to me a lot like polka tunes or the kind of Mexican “rancheras” I was used to in New Mexico. A lot of local people showed up and danced enthusiastically or joined in the conga line if they couldn’t find a partner.

The nearby town of Ferreira do Zezere held “bed races”, where teams competed in pushing a steel framed bed on wheels up and down the main street. One member perched on the mattress and clung to the headboard for dear life while team mates pushed and hauled the unwieldy bed down the street, trying not to crash into the sidewalk or the onlookers.

Local musicians bring a carnival spirit to the local market in Chãos, central Portugal.

In the US, the carnival tradition is observed in New Orleans as “Mardi Gras” or Fat Tuesday. The days-long festival in Rio de Janeiro is world famous for its samba bands. My nearby town of Tomar also spread the festivities over several days with parades for children and night time concerts in the main square. On Tuesday, the actual carnival day, many businesses observed a holiday as the streets became choked with onlookers watching the parades.

Revelers crowd the streets of Tomar, central Portugal to watch the carnival parade.

Follow my blog to learn more about adventures in daily life in Portugal and check out my novel “The Power of Rain” on Amazon.

Portugal is great for hiking

Hikers walk beside a flower-covered stream in near Alvaiazere in central Portugal. The white, red and yellow marking on the tree is a symbol to guide walkers on the trail.

Springtime in Portugal is a wonderful time to enjoy the countryside on foot. Whether you walk by yourself, take your dog with you or join and organized hike, there are endless trails to choose from. Of course there are the famous hiking experiences; the Camino de Santiago and the Rota Vicentina. The Portuguese Camino traditionally begins in Lisbon and continues about 660 kilometers into the Spanish province of Galicia to reach Santiago de Compostela. But many people chose to start in the northern city of Porto

For those who want a day hike, many municipalities regularly organize events which are popular with participants of all ages. Even in my small village, several dozen people showed up for a hike during the fall.

Last Sunday, two friends and I joined a hike set up by the municipality of Alvaiazere. The event advertised a 10 kilometer (6 mile) hike or a 14 km run. We opted for the walk. We had to sign up online and pay the princely sum of five euros. When we showed up at the meeting point in a tiny village, it looked like a fairground. There was a bright green inflatable arch, lively dance music and a crowd of about two hundred walkers plus dozens more runners. We had to check in and get a number.

The runners set off first. Then came the walkers. They ranged in age from gray-haired grandmothers to a little kid who looked about six years old, plus a couple of well-behaved dogs. Our group proceeded at a pretty leisurely pace and dozens of hikers soon passed us. No problem, it allowed us more room to enjoy the trail. The route took us through woods, past tiny villages, through a rocky dry stream bed, up two steep hills and along a beautiful stream.

A popular destination for hikes in Portugal is to visit one of the many giant swings (Baloiço) that have been erected on hilltops all around the country. They provide a great lookout point to view the surrounding landscape. It’s also fun to indulge your inner child and get on the swing.

A giant swing or “baloiço” looks out over the countryside in central Portugal. In the background you can see one of the many windfarms that dot the landscape. Wind energy makes an important contribution to the electricity grid in Portugal.

Follow my blog to learn more about daily life in Portugal, exploring this country and fun things to do here. Also, check out my mystery novel “The Power of Rain” available in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.

The hike organized by the municipality of Alvaiazere took us over this old stone bridge and on to a magical spring called the Olho do Tordo, or “the eye of the thrush”.

Cycling in Portugal is a dream!

Portugal offers miles of rural roads with little traffic and stunning scenery.

Cycling on the Portugal’s rural roads has given me some of the most thrilling rides of my life. The scenery is always changing, the traffic is minimal and the drivers you do encounter are considerate of cyclists. The country offers thousands of miles (kilometers) of wonderful cycling and plenty of weather to enjoy it.

Before I moved to Portugal in 2019, I was an enthusiastic member of a very active cycling club in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We did a lot of rides around the city and ventured out into the high desert countryside as well. There were places where you had to do a lot of climbing, but it was easy to avoid. Not so in central Portugal. There are hills everywhere! But the hills and valleys are verdant green and I’ve been able to ride beside rivers and even the Atlantic Ocean.

Autumn weather not helpful

Portugal has recently emerged from a nearly three-month spell of rain which brought flooding to several cities. At first the rain was welcome. In 2022 we had a very dry spring and very hot summer. Streams, rivers and lakes were drying up everywhere. But after nearly three months of constant rain, and serious flooding in Lisbon and Porto, people were thinking you can have too much of a good thing.

Finally the sun emerged and I was able to join two cycling friends for a long awaited ride this week. We met just outside the city of Coimbra, famous for its historic university. Our leader Graham, took us on a route he had pioneered that followed a road in a valley along the Mondego river. We could look down to the river and up at the many tiny villages that clung to the impossibly steep sides of the valley.

River beaches

We rode as far as the small town of Penacova which perches on the steep hillside above the river. Not wanting to tackle the 20 percent grade to climb to the higher part of town, we chose a cafe closer to the river to enjoy a coffee and a wonderful chorizo roll. After out coffee stop we crossed a bridge and rode along the famous N2 road on the other side of the river. The N2 is a national road that traverses the entire length of Portugal from the Spanish border to Faro in the southern province of the Algarve. It is popular with touring cyclists.

At several points along the return journey we took a detour down to one of the “river beaches”. Portugal makes good use of its rivers using the wide sandy areas as inland beaches. They are hugely popular in the summer months. I’m looking forward to a lot more riding and maybe even some kayaking on the Mondego!

Follow my blog to experience what everyday life in Portugal is like!

Why it’s useful to speak Portuguese, and how to learn

Rayburn/Lisbon skylie
The red tiled roofs of Lisbon’s Alfama district look out over the Tejo river.

Being able to speak Portuguese, even a few words, is a huge advantage for anyone planning to move to this lovely country. Yes, many Portuguese people, especially those under 40, speak very good English. They are ready to help you even if you start off speaking to them in their own language. But they are usually delighted when you show that you’ve made the effort to learn and they will often compliment you on your halting sentences.

Portugal is becoming a popular potential retirement destination for an increasing number of people from the US. If you are one of those considering a move, it is worth making a scouting trip to explore different parts of the country and get a feel for life here. It is also very valuable to familiarize yourself with the language before you come.

That said, if your pronunciation is off you may get blank stares even though you think you have said the word correctly. It’s worth mentioning that there is a big distinction between the Portuguese spoken in Portugal and that spoken in Brazil. Think about the variations between the English spoken in the UK, the United States and Australia. Or the Spanish spoken in Spain versus that used in Cuba, Mexico or Argentina.

Online language learning options

There are several online options to learn Portuguese. I followed an online course offered by It was simple, practical and fun. The monthly subscription is currently $11.15 if you sign up for six months, less for longer subscriptions. Duolingo as an app you can use on your mobile phone with a free option. It gradually builds your vocabulary and grammatical skills. It also nags you daily to keep going. Babbel and Duolingo only offer the Brazilian version, but I still found them useful. After all, Portugal still has close ties with its former colony Brazil. There are hundreds of thousands of Brazilians now living in Portugal.

There are options for learning European Portuguese too. You can try the app Memrise, which does have a limited free version. There is also PracticePortuguese where you can listen to short conversations. If you subscribe, you can follow along with the text. The idea was developed by a Portuguese guy and his Canadian partner. It has useful information on the nitty gritty stuff like verbs as well. PortuguesewithLeo is a fun alternative available on YouTube.

Lost in translation?

There are of course a lot of Portuguese people who do not speak English. Some people use Google Translate to help them communicate in those situations. However, it’s not always foolproof. I know one woman who somehow managed to ask a very formal Portuguese man she met at a grand country hotel if he would marry her! Luckily he had a sense of humor. I have found the app Deepl to be very helpful when I need to translate a sentence quickly.

A couple of words and phrases that will stand you in good stead. “Casa de Banho” pronounced “cah-zah de bahnyo” means bathroom. A conta “ah cawn-tah” means the bill at a restaurant. Cerveja “ser-vay-zhya” means beer. Thank you is “Obrigado” for a man, “Obrigada” for a woman. “Bom dia” is good morning, “boa tarde” is good afternoon. So, good luck, or boa sorte, with learning Portuguese.

Follow my blog to learn about daily life in Portugal and check out my novel “The Power of Rain” on Amazon.

Rayburn.Skyline of Porto
Porto, Portugal’s second largest city is a gem to visit.

Portugal’s pall of precipitation

Fed by weeks of heavy rain, the Rio Nabão gushes over this weir in Tomar, central Portugal.

Back in early October everyone in Portugal was praying for rain. We’d had an unusually warm dry spring and a long hot summer that continued well into what is normally autumn. According to Portugal’s Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA), 2022 was the second driest year since records began in 1931.

Then it began to rain, and rain and rain. As I write I can still hear the rain drumming outside my house.

Winters in Portugal are mild compared to other countries in Europe with average temperatures in the day time reaching around 14-15 degrees Celcius (57-59 F.) November and December are typically the wettest months with most rain falling in the central and northern parts of the country.

This year we have had a “bumper crop” of rain and it has cast a pall on everyone I talk to. It’s not just the daily showers and drizzle. While not quite on the California level, we’ve had periods of torrential downpours which have caused serious damage. During two days in December, the capital city of Lisbon received 15 percent of normal total annual rainfall. Neighborhoods like Alges and Alcantara had dangerous flooding. Pictures on the evening news showed water pouring into metro stations. Dozens of homes had to be evacuated and one woman died when she was caught in a flooded basement.

Porto’s turn to swim

In January it was the turn of Porto, the country’s second largest city. It is located on the coast about four-hours north of Lisbon by train, at the mouth of the Rio Douro. A twenty-minute cloudburst on January 8 transformed streets in the center of the city into raging rivers. The downtown São Bento train station was flooded. News coverage showed a man being borne along by a torrent of water and mud.

The other aspect of this endless rain is the dampness inside the home. Typical Portuguese houses are not well-designed or constructed to ward off the effects of high humidity. Everyone I talk to has a constant battle against mold, mildew and condensation. The best advice I could give anyone who plans to buy a house, or who has recently moved into a Portuguese house, is buy a dehumidifier! Buy the biggest one you can find. You will need it!

Water was released at the Barragem do Castelo de Bode near Tomar in mid-January because the lake behind it was becoming overfull. The dam was built in the mid-20th Century to contain waters of the Zezere river, a tributary of the Tagus which flows past Lisbon. The release of water was used to generate electricity. I’ve been told that the 60 km-long artificial lake created by the dam holds sufficient water for the region for two years of use.

Sunny Days Ahead – I hope

Thankfully, my trusty iPhone is showing that next week, we will have a few days of sunshine!! Hooray!!

Follow my blog to get updates on life in Portugal. Check out my book “The Power of Rain” available in digital or print format from Amazon.

Fireworks, sunshine herald new year in Portugal

Fireworks launched from boats herald the start of 2023 at the beachside town of São Martinho do Porto.

Fireworks are a tradition on New Year’s Eve in Portugal. Although villages and towns all over the country create their own displays, firework shows in coastal cities like São Martinho do Porto and Nazaré draw huge crowds. A big part of the attraction is the way they are launched from boats moored a short distance offshore. Rockets soar skyward flashing light into the night air all around them and blazing reflections from the water below.

I was lucky enough to be invited to join a group of friends driving from my area in central Portugal to see the display at São Martinho. First we made a stop at the town of Caldas de Rainha which is popular with British and US expats. Located just a few miles from the Atlantic beaches, Caldas is in part of the area known as the Silver Coast. Our destination there was a large exhibition hall where the New Year’s Eve festivities were just getting underway at around 9:30.

A band was belting out one of the typical Portuguese songs that remind me of what a Latina friend of mine in Albuquerque called “Mexican Polka Music.” The entertainment included a couple of girls dressed in short glittery dresses enthusiastically dancing cha cha steps from one side of the stage to the other. The hall gradually filled and the dance floor became crowded. Food trucks did a brisk trade in “bifanas”, the Portuguese sandwiches consisting of a bread roll filled with slices of grilled pork. Bar stands sold beer (cerveja) or wine (vinho tinto) in plastic glasses for around one Euro.

Festive Foods

New Year’s eve traditions in Portugal include eating “passos”, raisins as the hour strikes midnight. If you eat one for each bell it’s supposed to bring you good luck. Another tradition is to eat “Leitão”, suckling pig. I went to a party my first New Year’s eve in Portugal where they had the treat displayed on a large skewer on the sideboard along with the other foods. I didn’t try it, but it is supposed to be tender and delicious.

Here Comes the Sun

A really welcome gift to us all in the first few days of January has been the return of the sun. Since the middle of October we’ve had days and days of rain. On Christmas Day it poured in torrents! Portuguese houses are notorious for dampness. Many people I know have been complaining about mold, mildew and condensation. I’ve been running the dehumidifier I bought a couple of years ago regularly in each of the bedrooms in my house and gathered A LOT of water.

Oh well, now the sun is out we can enjoy ourselves for a few days.

Bom Ano! Don’t forget to subscribe to follow my blog, and get a copy of my novel “The Power of Rain

Fireworks turn the sky red on New Year’s Eve in São Martinho do Porto.

Portugal lively with Christmas spirit

Festive lights and throngs of people reflect the lively Christmas spirit in the Baixa area of Lisbon.

Christmas spirit is everywhere in Portugal in December. Markets in cities and towns sell handmade specialties and decorations. Churches and public places stage nativity scenes called “presépio” in Portuguese, and the streets of my small town of Tomar, ring with Christmas music.

December has been an unusually wet month, with torrential rainfalls causing widespread flooding in coastal areas, especially in the city of Lisbon. But the Christmas spirit survives. The town of Tomar, near where I live in central Portugal, set up a mini-winter wonderland in the Praça da Republic, its main square. A tiny train chugs around a snowy landscape, and a festive carousel twirls round while several market stalls sell artisanal items, sweets and seasonal drinks.

Of football and families

My Portuguese teacher recently told me Portugal is all about the three “Fs”, which stand for “Football, Fado and Fatima.” The first one needs no explanation to anyone who was alive during the last month when the World Cup dominated the sport world. Football (soccer in the US) is practically a national religion in Portugal. When I watch the evening news on SIC Noticias, there is about five minutes of spot news coverage before it switches to interviews and discussions about leading Portuguese teams such as Benfica. And of course, Cristiano Ronaldo, is pretty much a national hero.

Fado is the traditional Portuguese singing style, which has a slightly mournful sound meant to convey a sense of longing. Fatima is a pilgrimage site in central Portugal where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to three shepherd children in 1917.

There should also be a fourth “F” for Family. The family is extremely important to Portuguese people especially at Christmastime. On Christmas Eve, families get together to celebrate with a meal called “consoada”. The tradition is that they abstain from meat, so the main dish is salted cod “bacalhau.”One favorite recipe for the cod is “bacalhau com broa” in which a bread made from corn meal is used along with sliced onions and potatoes. This is often served with boiled potatoes and cabbage. In the north of the country, close to the border with the Spanish province of Galicia, octopus is a traditional dish.

On December 25, Portuguese families in typically resourceful fashion, use the leftovers from the consoada meal to make a dish known as “roupa velha” or “old clothes. I remember a similar sounding dish called “ropa vieja” on the menu in a Cuban restaurant in Miami. When I went to order it, I made a critical mistake, calling it “ropa sucia” which means “dirty clothes. Luckily the waiter understood what I wanted.

Sweets and other traditions

Portugal has wonderful bakeries where you can always find a tempting display of sweet pastries. Stores everywhere at Christmastime sell the traditional “Bolo Rei” (king cake) which is a round, rather heavy, cake decorated with crystallized fruits in red and green.

Streets and marketplaces in towns all over the country are festooned with lights and decorations. Seasonal markets selling artisanal crafts and liqueurs are typical as well. And what would Christmas be without a nativity scene. In Portugal a nativity scene is called a “presépio”. One of the best-known presépio displays is in the town of Penela, central Portugal. Set up around the town’s hilltop castle, it features around 200 animated displays as well as an array of street entertainment and cultural activities.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, or as they say in Portugal, Feliz Natal e um prosper Ano Novo.

And of course, don’t forget to follow my blog and get a copy of my book “The Power of Rain.”

A giant conical yuletide tree graces the Praça do Comercio in Lisbon at Christmas time.

Of rain and Spain and the train!

The Puente de Palmas, the Bridge of Palms over the Guadiana river in Badajoz, was originally built in 1596.

A trip to Spain is easy by train from central Portugal. I recently discovered that there are two trains daily to the Spanish city of Badajoz from Entroncamento, an important rail hub about 35 minutes south of where I live. The trip takes about 2 hours 45 minutes, stopping at multiple towns along the route, including Abrantes, Portalegre and Elvas. The cost is 12.45 Euros, or about $13.20, each way.

My friend and I decided to take the early train, which departs from Entroncamento at about 9:30 in the morning, reaching its destination at about 1:15 p.m. Spain is in the European time zone an hour ahead of Portugal so this “adds” an hour to the outward trip and visa versa. When we found our way to the appropriate platform we did a double-take. The train for this international journey consists of exactly one carriage. Most of the trains in Portugal are electric, but this one sounded as though it ran on diesel.

One carriage diesel train that runs from Entroncamento to Badajoz.
The single carriage train travels twice daily from Entroncamento, Portugal to Badajoz, Spain.

Why travel to Spain when there is so much to see in Portugal? Well, it’s an easy trip and I love a sense of adventure.

Badajoz is in the Spanish province of Estremadura. It has a rich and varied history as we discovered. After checking into our hotel, we crossed the Puente de Palmas over the Guadiana river and found ourselves at the Puerta de Palmas. This was the huge door of an old wall that formerly surrounded the city of Badajoz. From that point, streets to the left lead into a more historic area while heading to the right will take you toward the more modern shopping district.

When we visited Badajoz, the Puerta de Palmas was surrounded by roadworks and Christmas decorations.

We wandered through the historic district and found the Museo de Bellas Artes (MUBA) which offered free entry. Of much more interest to me was the Museo de la ciudad “Luis de Morales”. From the exhibits in this museum you get a real sense of the city’s past under the Romans, the Moors and the decades during the 17th century when Portuguese and Spanish forces fought over possession of the city. British visitors may also be interested in the city’s role during the Napoleonic Wars when an Anglo-Portuguese army under the then-Earl of Wellington laid seige to Badajoz in the spring of 1812 and forced the surrender of the French garrison. According to several sources, it was one of the bloodiest battles of the Peninsular War.

We were fortunate enough to only have half a day of rain while we were in Badajoz. After a long dry spring and summer, the rains hit Portugal in mid-October and have barely stopped since. We returned from Badajoz on 7 December and it seems as though the rain has fallen non-stop since then. Tropical-type downpours have filled the depleted reservoirs but also caused widespread flooding and misery. In the Lisbon area many neighborhoods were flooded and one woman died. We all knew we needed the rain, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing!

Follow my blog to learn more about life in Portugal, and check out my novel “The Power of Rain” available in paperback or Kindle format on Amazon.