A very full day in Lourdes, France.

This place is growing on me as I settle in to the rhythm of the schedule. After letting myself sleep in this morning, I was off and running at about 1030. First stop was the tourism office to plan the rest of my stay. I already knew that I would be going to the 5pm Procession of the Sacraments and the 9pm candlelight procession. It was very overcast so I have put off going to the top of the mountain until tomorrow. The lady that was helping me reminded me that today was market day. If you’ve known me long, you know that I adore farmer’s markets. So, with map in hand, I set off. What a treat, culinary and otherwise. It’s funny, I was so worried that my French wasn’t strong enough for this trip, but I seem to be understanding and understood very well. I bought some local cheese, a local cake type thing, and some tomatoes and those apricots that look like little sunsets. Following that, I stopped in a hardware store and bought a travel iron. Neither my apartment, nor the boat have one and I feel strange all wrinkled up. Quick side trip (not really, got lost again) back to drop everything at the apartment and I set off again, this time to the Sanctuary. I was most interested in seeing the underground Basilica able to hold 7,000 plus people. While huge, it doesn’t feel like it and you don’t feel overwhelmed by people. The old church is beautiful and I also got to see St Bernadette’s crypt. By that time, I was ready to go to where the Procession of the Sacraments starts. It’s very impressive to see all the groups gathering with their banners. The languages were French, Italian, and German. Although, several times they used English. I was thankful for the German. I’m eating dinner now, as is everyone else here. I opted for a mushroom omelette and it was fantastic!!! This morning at the market I had seen a mushroom as big as my head, guess it was still on my mind. I’m going to break a rule and have a coffee before I leave, it’s going to be a late night. I also want to warm up in case it gets chilly during the candlelight procession. Then, I’ll head back over to the Grotto, to offer prayers for friends and family. I’m planning on trying again for the baths in the morning. If all of this sounds like a foreign language to you, google Lourdes and St Bernadette. I’m here for the healing miracles, the pilgrimage, and some family history.

Last night, I posted about changing all my pump settings and then promptly forgot to write about it. Duh! I really was tired. For this first half of my vacation, I’ve been having lows all over the place from too much walking and climbing. On my T-slim, I duplicated my settings into a new “pattern” and then lowered the carb ratios and correction factors. Happy to say, today was much better. Climbing hills (mountains) has always made me go low.

Brief intermission while I go to the candlelight procession and the grotto.

The candlelight procession was everything I had hoped it would be. The pictures speak for themselves. There is something so basic about receiving light and giving light. My heart was warmed numerous times this evening by people who offered to hold my candle while I took pictures, none of whom spoke English. I walked with an Irish group for awhile and then an Italian group. Couples are plentiful and it seemed as though it was a beautiful experience to have together. One favorite moment was asking the Pacific Islanders if I could take a picture. I have no idea where they were from, but we smiled a lot and sometimes that’s all the communication you need.

And so tonight, my parting thought for you….. Being kind and smiling require no translation.

unable to upload pics tonight, will edit in the morning.


Porto discoveries!

This was my second day in Porto and last day in Portugal and wow, did we stuff as much in as possible!!!

As you’ll see in the first couple pictures, I had a crazy shower…….Surround sound and a bunch of jets. Ok, it was a little bizarre, but good bizarre. It was a nice way to start the day. The hotel provided a light breakfast and then we were off. We rode the trolley/tram over to where the Lello bookstore was, but we were distracted by the university gift shop, which had some really cool and innovative gadgets. A short walk away was Lello, which today’s visit was planned around. Enjoy the pictures, because nothing I say will come close to describing how wonderful it is. Fran bought a couple books and we were off in search of lunch. But, this time we were distracted by a favorite china shop “Bordello Pinheiro”, where I found a piece I’d been wanting since June….. St Anthony as a sardine…..it’s a thing. We ended up at a lovely Art Deco cafe sitting under the trees….having a toaster for me and a crepe for Fran. But then, a lively coffee and port macaron which was fantastic! I ran across the street for just a minute to photograph the fanciest McDonalds I’ve ever seen, complete with pastry case.

Next up, we grabbed a cab to head to the Graham’s tour, but he didn’t want to take us. Our reservation was for 3 and time was closing in. We hoofed it down the road and suddenly a cab appeared and the woman agreed to take us up the hill to Graham’s. The tour was fabulous!!! The aroma, incredible. And the tasting? Well, I did. This was a special occasion and I sipped all three glasses in my flight. Afterwards, I purchased one bottle available only there and in the UK and Fran bought 2 for Fritz. I just have to say, after serving Graham’s Malvedos vintage port for 20+ years of my career this was a special afternoon for me.

We then got a cab to visit the student’s store at the university, which was cool and reminiscent of Harry Potter again. From there we raced down the shopping street, ordering dinner for aboard the train along the way. While it was being made, we ran to the hotel to pick up our bags. Back to the restaurant to pick up food and grab a cab to the station where we found out it was late….of course. So that meant we were able to catch our breath. Train showed up and we are on our way back to Lisbon. What an awesome day!!

Unfortunately, this was my last day in Portugal with Fran and Fritz. Very early tomorrow, I will fly to Toulouse, France and then a train. You’ll just have to tune in tomorrow night to see where I end up! Enjoy the pictures!

First visit to Porto

I titled this “First visit to Porto” because I think I’ll be back. This is an awesome city! It’s laid back, beautiful, and fun. I’m here 2 days and won’t come close to seeing everything.

We arrived early and immediately bought hop on hop off tickets. I love these, because you get a great overview and become oriented to the city. It also ate up time until we could check in at the hotel. Wait until you see the view!!

After eating a great lunch we were off to the Ribiera area. I’m super tired so will probably leave a lot out. We did the boat ride to see all six bridges and took some great pics. Weather was hot and sunny

Ok, just too tired to write. Enjoy the pictures. By the way, blood sugar was a pogo stick today..

Attending church in a foreign land….

My friends invited me to attend church with them this morning and I was more than happy to go with them. My friend is a retired Episcopal priest and has associated with the local Anglican Church. It’s very interesting, there is a Portuguese branch of the Anglican communion and then an English church here is Lisbon, where expats attend and services are in English. I’m sure I’ve explained that incorrectly, but not sure how to.

The service is the same, just a few words are different. And how nice to hear the Queen’s English ! The people were very nice and I was welcomed. Admittedly, I didn’t know the hymns. After the service, there was a nice coffee hour where quite a lot of people showed up. I love that and was able to meet several interesting people.

I went back to the sanctuary to take pictures and learn a little history of the church and graveyard .Fascinating stuff (I will edit later to include a link to the history. I loved wandering around the graveyard and you’ll understand why when you see the pictures.

The readings this morning were about healing, which really moved me as I’m headed to Lourdes later in the week. Currently, I’m on the train to Cascais. It would seem everyone is headed to the beach today. I’m including a picture from the train that I found funny. You’ll understand why. Hoping to take a lot of pictures in Cascais.

Thoroughly enjoyed myself in Cascais, weather could not have been more perfect. I wandered around somewhat aimlessly taking pictures and enjoying the sights. I found 2 markers for the Camino, not realizing previously that in went through Cascais. I’m told the water is freezing here, but there were plenty of people swimming…..hardier folk than I! Food trucks were set up along the beach and I got a crepe to tide me over. Fran and Fritz are fixing dinner tonight and I’m really looking forward to it. They have been such great friends (and hosts).

T1D update: while I don’t usually change the time on my pump when working, I did change it to local for my 2 weeks in Europe. I’ve had a few lows attributed to some steep streets and foods I was unfamiliar with. As always, my Dexcom is my lifeline and keeps me from going too low. Things I’m planning on reviewing during this trip are the InPen and MedAngel. Both have been great info for you.

Link as promised to the St George’s history


Quite smitten with Coimbra….

What a lovely day!! Dark and early we headed for the Oriente train station to ride to Coimbra. We were lucky to sit across from a young couple from Rockville, MD and chat the whole way, so the ride went very quickly. We arrived early in Coimbra and went straight to the central plaza, where we stopped for the local pastry and coffee. Shops were already open so we looked around a bit and found one of the small music troupes singing fado. This particular group were all female and attending medical school. They were very good and funny too. If you didn’t see the video earlier on my Facebook page, check it out. Next up, we hired a Tuk Tuk to give us a tour of the city and give our tired legs a break. The driver was training a new guy so we learned a lot. I was very happy to see the Roman aqueduct and the mermaid pool. Along the way, we saw the university store where all the Harry Potter-esque uniforms are sold. We went back but they were closed. We purchased tickets to see the 500 year old library that I was so excited about, with an entry time of 5pm. The library was incredible, as expected. You are not permitted to take photos in the library, so I’m sharing pics of the postcards I purchased. Then, we took the river boat ride which Fran had done previously. It was great for picture taking. One of the highlights of the day was meeting the young law student who was selling decorated pencils to raise money for one their traditions (the ribbon burning ceremony, google it). I must say, this is one of those cities I could live in , much to offer. Enjoy the pictures and stay tuned for tomorrow’s entry.

An afternoon at Fatima

After arriving in Lisbon this morning, my Friend Fran picked me up and we hit the ground running. First stop was the train station to pick up tickets for two trips… Coimbra and Porto. Next up, a stop at the house she and her husband Fritz are living in during there retirement in Portugal. It is absolutely incredible and I hope they’ll let me post pictures tomorrow. It has incredible tile and woodwork and an outside kitchen I hope to duplicate. A picture of their lovely cat will have to suffice for tonight.

Then, we were off on our day trip to Fatima. It was , of course, incredible. I was amazed by the quiet. Despite there being many people (children included), it was near silent. I doubt such respect would happen at home. I’m going to let the pictures do the rest of the talking. I didn’t get more than an hour’s sleep on the flight and I need it. Tomorrow, we are taking the nice train to Coimbra and I’m so excited to see the college and library.