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Tuesday, 9 March 2010

I've been on the road so long my friend

With under four weeks left of our trip it is difficult to hang on to that elevated feeling we had last April as we set off with looking for adventures, with a whole year and all those places ahead of us. We try and generally succeed, to live each day as it comes, but not surprisingly occasionally thoughts of how life will be back in Salford creep in to our minds and with a place and date set for our sailing our roaming is naturally limited; it is difficult to suddenly decide to shoot off to somewhere particularly warm, for example.

Portuguese cafes are one of those small things we have delighted in and will miss. They are often elegant, but slightly shabby; designed with flair and imagination, but with an air of having not been re-decorated since the 1950s. The only place that comes close in England is the fantastic Bruciannis in Preston. The Portuguese cafes are always individual and the coffee is always cheap; it is good to be in a Costa-Mega-Bucks-free-zone; apart from Sevilla, we’ve not even seen one of those chains since Manchester.

The Monastery in Alcobaca, north of Lisbon, could have been an ABC moment, but the monumental scale of the building makes it worth a visit, if just to see the kitchens; with marble floors, high tiled walls and ceiling, a small stream cascading in to a pond providing running water, a massive central fireplace and two enormous marble tables for preparation, it would have been easy to feed the five thousand from this kitchen, never mind a few monks.

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