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Entries about cliffs

Some Cliffs, a Battle, and Fish & Chips

BY ABBY

semi-overcast 5 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Today we went out as a threesome, and left Hannah and my mom at home, as they were both feeling a little ill. But my dad, aunt and I braved the cold and the wind to go for a walk at Beachy Head, which is a very green area right on the side of some cliffs, looking right over the water. It was a very pretty spot, and the cliffs were extremely high and went straight down. Our walk was a little under two hours, and despite the strong wind and low temperature, we all enjoyed it.

After our walk we took a little drive to Battle, a small town near Hastings where the Battle of Hastings took place. On the way we stopped at a place for lunch called Crown Carveries. It reminded us of a cross between ABC's and Denny's back home. Unfortunately, earlier that day they had a little mishap in their kitchen, and the only thing they were able to feed us were desserts or starters. Even though there wasn't much to choose from we decided to give it a go, as we didn't have very many options otherwise. I ordered some tomato soup and cheesy garlic bread, my dad had a ham and cheese melt and my aunt had some nachos. Unfortunately for me, my soup was a little on the cool side, but I was happy to have a little food in me.

Beachy Head

Beachy Head

From there we drove into Battle, and went to the Battle Abbey as well as a couple other stops included in the site. We saw where King Harold died, as well as the area in which the monks stayed. We saw a very short but informative show about the Battle of Hastings, which allowed us to understand what we were seeing. The Normans won by the way.

Click here for a little more information about the battle.
Click here for information on Battle Abbey.

After this we started on our way home, and came back to find the rest of our group sitting on the couch with some hot chocolate, in a very warm house that felt like an old folks home... just how I like it.

I started to cook some chili for dinner, but instead of just coming home with a few more ingredients for the meal, my mom and my aunt came back with some fish and chips from a food truck they had encountered on their journey. Here is a first hand account of their travels:

Muriel's notes:

Battle Abbey

Battle Abbey

Running into the fish and chip truck seemed so advantageous that we couldn't pass it up. When we asked them how long they would be around, they told us only for another 15 minutes (and they only came once a week). We quickly continued on with our original errand of getting a couple of things at the store, knowing we would have to hurry back. They all know everyone here, and everyone's house name as well, it seems. At the shop, the storekeeper asked "Who are you staying with?" (apparently, we stuck out like sore thumbs). When we mentioned the cottage's name, he immediately identifed the owner. He explained they don't get many visitors. Running back to the chip truck, we put in our order and started a conversation with three young British guys while we waited. They were surprised we were in Plumpton Green, they too stating Plumpton doesn't see very many tourists. It turns out one of the young men had been to Canada, staying in Vancouver for two months and becoming a fan of the Canucks en route. Two of the group were planning a trip back to Canada in January, to capitalize on the skiiing. When I mentioned they would have no problem meeting women with those British accents, he said with a cheeky grin, 'Why do you think we're going back?'

We put in a reasonable order for some scampi, 4 large cod pieces, a small one (for Abby) and three large orders of fries to share. Well, what we got was massive! Five small pieces of fish and 1.5 orders of fries would have done us just fine as it turns out. We had chips galore and masses of newsprint to carry them in. When we got our bounty home, everyone was excited and dug in with relish (and ketchup and vinegar, too). The meal on the stove was relegated to the next day.

Posted by KZFamily 02:08 Archived in England Tagged cliffs united_kingdom england walk battle uk cold hastings beachy_head carvary battle_of_hastings Comments (2)

Taking a Break / Kicking Back in Luz

By Hannah and Ben

semi-overcast 14 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Taking a Break

My parents decided to separate themselves from Abby and I today, and we both enjoyed our breaks from one another. Abby and I rose very late, as the whole family had stayed up past one o'clock the night before, and were up and about for less than an hour before Mom and Dad headed out the door. We enjoyed our lazy start, reading and chatting and eating breakfast, and finally decided to get out and about by taking a look at the pools that are located at the back of the apartment complex. Dipping our fingers in, we found the shallower of the two to be mildly heated, while the other was rather frigid. In the end, we decided to go out on a walk up the cliffs by the beach, and maybe even take a small tour of the town. The view from the top of the bluffs was just as incredible as it had been before, though the sky was a little cloudier, the wind a little nippier. We sat there for awhile, looking down at the grey-blue waves and quiet village below. It's not a view that grows tiresome quickly.

Algarve: on top of the world

Algarve: on top of the world

Eventually, we headed back down the cliffs, and meandered for a bit, stopping to watch a sand sculptor and looking for an open shop to take a look inside. The only stores that seemed to be open for business were a pharmacy and a cramped shop selling various odds and ends, like jewelry and hairpieces. On the way back home, we stopped to take pictures of some of the colourful blooms outside people's houses, and only took one wrong turn. When we arrived, we were saddled with the task of preparing dinner, which I think we did well and without complaint. No dishes for us, at least.

By Hannah

Just Kicking Back in Luz

When we first planned to visit the Algarve we were only going to stay for four days, but after having the kids input we decided to extend our stay to a full week—why would we leave sun and luxury prematurely? Today and tomorrow are to be our lazy days. Muriel and I promised to leave the kids to their own devices until dinner today and we would do our own thing. I slept until after 9:00 and enjoyed some coffee on the balcony and then got caught up on some international news. We are on the Sky cable service in our apartment which gives us news channels from around the world and many are in English. I watched Russian News, Chinese News, South African News, French News and British News. It was very interesting to see the differences.

After Muriel got up we had a fruit salad made from fresh pineapples, mangos, and a few other fruits. It seems that frequent trade between Portugal and Brazil make for some very inexpensive prices on mangos and pineapples so we are taking full advantage.

Algarve: overlooking Luz

Algarve: overlooking Luz

After a leisurely breakfast Muriel and I went to hike up the lower and upper bluffs above Luz, which Hannah and I explored a few days ago. The sun was warm and the view free of any mist. We lingered up top for a long time just sitting on the rocks and enjoying the view. We sauntered down into town to look for a cafe for a lunchtime snack. I was nudged out of my laid back state when I found out I had left my sunglasses on top of the bluff. But since time was not really an issue I just took it as second chance for a work out and jogged up and down in about 20 minutes.

Algarve: Yum

Algarve: Yum

I now felt entitled to a Sagres Beer.
We found a homey looking sidewalk cafe and sat outside. Even though it was getting a little cooler it was still comfortable to sit outside. Muriel had a coconut milk shake and tomato soup complete with an egg floating on top (standard practice for Portuguese soup as we recalled from 20 years ago). The bowl of soup was just 2 euros. I ordered my beer and a bifana, which is a pork sandwich. I remember these sandwiches fondly from visiting Lisbon 20 years ago when every street cafe served them for about a dollar apiece. I was not disappointed, although the price had gone up a fair bit.

We wandered the streets a bit, finding most shops closed for the Christmas season. Muriel talked to a local and found that there will be no increase in tourists here over Christmas vacation and that the area really only fills during the summer months, when the town population increases tenfold. It seems that the price of our accommodation goes up proportionally as well. We are paying 63 dollars Canadian, and in the summer our place goes for about 325 dollars Canadian. We are really enjoying the benefits of the off season.

Abby and Hannah cooked us a salmon dinner with wild rice and sautéed carrots and peas. It was delicious! It is so great having the kids doing their share of the cooking, dishes and shopping. They really are growing up and are great travel companions.

We have made plans for leaving the day after tomorrow. We are heading for Tarifa, Spain for a night and leaving from there the next day for an overnight trip to Tangiers, Morocco. We will leave our car and most of our gear back in Spain. It should be quite an adventure. We will return and spend one more night in Tarifa, head off to visit Gibraltar for half a day and then go to Granada. We will visit the Alhambra there and make for Valencia for a three night stay before we go to Barcelona for a weeklong stay over Christmas.

by Ben

Posted by KZFamily 13:14 Archived in Portugal Tagged cliffs beach walk portugal algarve luz Comments (6)

Exploring the Algarve

By Hannah

sunny 20 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Abby and I awoke in much more comfortable beds than we had the night previous, and enjoyed our breakfast in the plush and well heated apartment we currently call home. I can't say we're missing our previous address. We planned to tour the coast and its beaches today, though Abby elected to stay home in order to get a start on her schoolwork. This will be my fate as well in the next couple days. Before we left, we had a sort of special lunch, trying a whole variety of new foods. Earlier, we'd purchased something that we thought might resemble our much loved and very Canadian Kraft Dinner, and decided to try it today. It didn't taste anything like it, unfortunately. The noodles were coated in an abundance of a sort of cheesy and vaguely chicken flavoured sauce that stopped tasting pleasant about halfway through. We also tried a persimmon and a tamarillo, two very different and not altogether appetizing fruits. The persimmon had a papaya-esque flavour and a mushy texture, while the tamarillo seemed to be some sort of pomegranate-nectarine hybrid with a bitter aftertaste. In retrospect, it was probably better that we didn't like them, as both were on the expensive side. Finally, we tested soft Portuguese cookies that tasted like Tai Tai, and not half bad after the other food related endeavours of the morning.

Algarve: South Coast Beaches

Algarve: South Coast Beaches

Our first stop was at one of the many beautiful beaches along Portugal's coast. We walked down some stairs hewn into the side of a cliff in order to reach the sand and surf below. Immediately taking off our shoes, we strolled along the water's edge, digging our toes into the unseasonably warm sand. It was a 20 degree day, and we had to remind ourselves that it was December. At the end of the beach, there was a little cave in the cliff face, and we cooled off in the shade for a bit. Though I could've lingered much longer, we eventually moved on to our next destination.

Algarve: St Vincent

Algarve: St Vincent

We arrived at the southernmost point of Portugal, and consequently Europe, and took in another spectacular view. The sheer cliff faces and miles of ocean make for stark contrasts in angles and colours. There still wasn't a cloud in the sky. Along the road, there were a few tables laden with woollen sweaters, jewelry and assorted souvenirs. Just imagining wearing the heavy ponchos in this weather made me pant. The jewelry ranged from blown glass pendants to wire rings to cute beaded bracelets, one of which I bought. They were called "Finno" bracelets, which I first took as a reference to the material. Upon further investigation, I have discovered that it has something to do with the cultures/languages of a few countries in eastern Europe. Heading back to the car, we saw a couple people on the cliff adjacent to ours casually walking along the edge, apparently unafraid of the massive distance between them and the water below. It was enough to send shivers up my spine.

Algarve: Ceramics

Algarve: Ceramics

As we drove, we came across a shop covered in decorative plates. It was quite the effect, and we stopped briefly to examine the wares. Most of the vases and assorted kitchenware was of the mass produced and slightly garish variety, though we did see a few pretty hand painted dishes whose decorations seemed to have a Mexican influence. However, we were generally nonplussed, and stuck to admiring the artistic exterior of the building. On our way back home, we saw another shop decked out with plate covered walls. Wonder who had the idea first.

Algarve: Salema

Algarve: Salema

We stopped at another beach that was surrounded by small fishing boats, vacation villas, and old fisherman staring out at the ocean, watching the world go by. It was quite the picture perfect scene, though we weren't actually able to get a picture, as we didn't want the men to see us photographing them. This is not for lack of trying, though. My mom and dad argued over which beachfront home had been theirs on their first European tour 20 years ago. We took a short walk on the cobblestones, looking at the rows of homes with their tiled and whitewashed walls. There was an abundance of stray cats, perched on doorsteps and rooftops and boats, lazing around in the sun. Most regarded us with disinterest, though one hissed and arched its back at a seemingly impossible angle. I refrained from getting too close after that. It was a quaint and very sleepy town, closed up for the winter and left for the locals to enjoy in peace.

Algarve: Burgau Friends

Algarve: Burgau Friends

On our way back, we met an older man who seemed to think we were from Italy. Apparently it had something to do with our licence plate, which is red because it's a rental car, or at least that's what we presume. We have yet to see another one. When we told him that we were from Canada, he became very excited, telling us in broken English about how he'd worked in Toronto, and had a son living there as well. Though he was charming and very animated, we only understood about half (if even that) of what he was saying. Nevertheless, we enjoyed meeting him immensely, and had quite the conversation with him, though he did most of the talking. We learned that his family had lived in Luz for generations, and that he had another son who lives in Israel. He warned us about thieves and lamented the political and economic state of Portugal. Apparently even the level of tourism is dropping off, though we took the relative absence of tourists to be a result of the time of year. We thanked him for the chat and the information, and gave him a small red maple leaf pin with "Canada" printed on in. If he had been excited before, it was nothing to his reaction at the gift. He immediately pinned it on his hat, and even allowed us to snap a picture of him and his companion, who also happens to have a son currently living in Vancouver. It was a warm and friendly end to the day.

Posted by KZFamily 14:50 Archived in Portugal Tagged beaches cliffs cats portugal algarve luz Comments (7)

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