After two weeks touring Europe about 25 years ago and spending huge amounts of time viewing pre-medieval paintings in Florence and elsewhere I vowed that I would never again look at another 12th century gilt painting. And I’ve kept to that for 25 years.
Now, after our last trip to Portugal, I’m adding to that. If I never see another European church or vineyard again, I’m good. So good.
I’ve seen scores of churches, basilicas and cathedrals all over Europe. I am full up with them. Oh, sure. I’ll always go to my favorite church, the stunning Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, or St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Those are givens. But others? I’m done.
Vineyards are beautiful, I know. We live two hours from the California wine country and have visited dozens of times. I’ve now seen wine country in Italy, Germany and Portugal. That’s more than enough wine country for one lifetime.
These are the thoughts that came to mind as we visited yet another old church and yet another port winemaking facility in Portugal. In the rain.
If you travel as much as we do, you’re going to run into some bad weather, and that happened to us this month as we cruised the beautiful Douro River in the rain. We are not always guaranteed sunny skies, in life or on vacation. It’s not “owed” us.
Cruising Portugal in the rain meant that that beautiful light so distinctive in most photos of the place wasn’t there. In its place? Grey skies, wet streets, drizzles and downpours. As we trudged through sight after sight in the rain, I wondered why I was doing this. I saw nothing out of the ordinary in the usual visitor attractions. Nothing distinctive to speak of. Just more old European stuff.
While the formal attractions weren’t much to talk about, Portugal in the rain had a unique beauty all its own. The air was soft and quiet. The mornings I spent in the big, windowed lounge or, if weather permitted, on deck, by myself with my camera, were some of the best I had on this trip.
If I had this cruise to do over, I would have stayed on board ship while others toured churches and vineyards. I would have cruised with the boat, sat on the deck and looked out at nature. We don’t get do-overs, unfortunately, (well, ok, sometimes we do, and here I reference my remarriage to my first husband, after 26 years), but normally, we do not get to do it over.
Except virtually. I thought I’d give you my Portugal do-over and walk you through some of the beauty of Portugal’s Douro River in the rain. Because it IS beautiful.
A new discovery around every bend in the river, it was all beautiful, to me.
The river provided an idyllic reverie for someone like me who lives in a major urban center.
Whether it was ruins on a hill, a waterfall, mountains or just moody water, it was lovely.
Being on the water is always soothing, regardless of the weather. So, I didn’t so much mind the rain.
But the BIGGER problem was that so many women were hacking and coughing it felt like it was a floating bronchitis ward. To make matters worse, most of the coughing people were smokers, which meant that their hacking was deep, constant and super-obnoxious. So, no surprise that the first day home I felt as though I were coming down with something. And it lingered, not really doing anything. Just sitting there making me feel like shiz until it finally became a full-on thing. That lasted 10 days.
Still, nothing can take away the memories that are locked into each pixel of the photos I’ve shared with you today. I hope you enjoyed them.