Free Time (November 29, 2019)

With the luxury of a late departure Matt, Emily, and Dan enjoyed a lie-in while Murphy, Josie, and I check out one of the well-marked trails on the property. After passing a whole lot of fluffy white sheep and their frisky lambs, we merry wanderers followed a well-marked trail through the cork forest. It was effortless to tell which trees had been harvested because the cork below branch level had been stripped away. A number was painted on each stripped trunk indicating when it was last harvested.

The sleepers and the walkers rallied late in the morning for our transfer to Lisbon, a 90-minute drive. The afternoon was intentionally left unstructured, so in the spirit of Black Friday we shopped the afternoon away. We decided to do our Christmas gift exchange by buying one another gifts of our choice. First stop: the tiniest of tiny leather glove stores, Luvaria Ulisses. Think two people max plus the sales lady. Matt and I each selected gloves. Christmas shopping game on! We found two Portugal-products-only shops where Murphy, Emily, Dan, and I made selections, and a bedroom shop and a department store where Josie made her choices. A unique store where no purchases were made was in a luxurious converted stable with cobblestone floors, foo foo ceilings, and feeding troughs.

A late lunch at the opulent Palacio Chiado made our last meal in country a memorable one. The restaurant is housed in a palace that dates back to 1781. Fun fact: the same dude that built Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra (think hidden initiation wells) carried out the last major artistic alterations to the palace. Marble stairs, stained glass, filigree ceilings with elaborate paintings, and a life-size winged gold lion hanging from the ceiling of the bar combined to made quite a statement. As expected, our meal was delicious.

We strolled slowly back to our hotel, Memmo Alfama, after everyone had their fill of popping in and out of stores. After dropping our coats and gifts in our rooms we met in the bar for a farewell drink. Josie had introduced us to the idea of the ‘one word close’ earlier in the trip, so we decided to end our wonderful week by each offering a one word close. My word was love; Matt chose family; Josie’s word was legacy; Dan’s was happiness; Emily’s was blessed, and Murphy chose thankful.

We said our goodbyes in the bar because we were all going separate ways at different times the following morning. Murf and Josie had a 5:30 flight necessitating a pre-dawn ride to the airport. Matt and Emily flew at 8:30, so they saw the sun rise in the car. My flight home was at 11:00 and Dan headed to Vienna at 2:30 in the afternoon on his way to the Middle East on business.

… Put a Cork in It …

The bark from a cork oak regenerates every nine years.

Cork oak trees can be harvested for the first time when they are 25 years old.

As the weather moves from cold to warm, the trees “sweat.” During this narrow three-week window each year it is possible to separate the cork from the inner bark.

Pigs are rotated from section to section of oak forests, so they can feast on calorie-laden acorns that have fallen to the ground. The delicacy of acorn-fed pork is very much a tradition in Portugal (and Spain). We tried it and thought it was pretty terrific.



2 thoughts on “Free Time (November 29, 2019)

  1. Great summary and closing!!

    Matt Mongeon, PMP, Technical Project Manager II
    Engineering Management Office
    PMP,ITIL Foundation, RCV, OSA, SOA, PPO
    5159 Federal Blvd., San Diego, CA 92105
    • 619.266.5675 (ex. 55675) |( 619.822.4661 | •


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