We have arrived and for the most part, have settled back into our winter home away from home. How wonderful it has been to wake this past two mornings to the sound of birds, pigeons cooing gently…..we have a large cage of homing pigeons within earshot…and glorious sunshine streaming in the windows. At times this past 18 months it frequently felt as if we might never have the opportunity to return to Estoi but, good things come to those who wait!
For those of you who want to know about the travel situation given the pandemic…..arrival in Montreal, and our time spent in the airport, felt calm, safe, and was efficient without hassle. The flight was excellent (Air Transat). An announcement was made to inform folks that if anybody did not conform to the regulations regarding masks, staying in your seats, etc., you would be met by security on the other end. Happily that didn’t become necessary. All passengers were given a sealed bag with a fresh mask, gloves, gel, and sanitizer pads. Arrival in Lisboa was equally well managed, everybody we saw, both in the airport and at the train station, were masked, social distancing, and tables in cafes were being sanitized after each use. We felt perfectly safe and comfortable. The train to Faro was also tranquil, everybody masked and orderly exiting.
We arrived at the train station in Faro to find our car rental company waiting for us. As we were completing the necessary paperwork a man, standing right next to our vehicle looked at us, waved, and called out “Olá, está tudo bem”? I thought he must have been talking to somebody behind me when suddenly I heard Marc chatting back and then realized it was Denis who owns a restaurant we frequent near Fuzeta!!! How wonderful it was that he greeted us with such warmth and gusto, happy to see us. One more “pinch me moment” where I felt we were home again.
Arrival at the quinta was, as always, just like coming home. Konrad was there to greet us, a fire blazing in the fireplace, lights on in every room, food in the fridge, fruit on the table, wine on the counter….a welcome greeting for two very tired middle aged men!!!! (Comments not necessary).
Our first full day was all about groceries, laundry (all the things we have in boxes here during our absence), and moving at a snail’s pace. We did make it to the square mid afternoon for a bica and a visit with Elsa, a server in our frequent lunch spot. The balance of the day we were snuggled up on the couch reading, relaxing, chatting, and wallowing in the happiness of simply being here.
This morning was complete indulgence. Breakfast of our favourite Portuguese bread (thank you Bela) toasted and for me, smothered in Konrad’s dense flavourful homemade marmalade and a round of fresh goat’s cheese accompanied by strong black coffee. Marc had the same but maple syrup instead of marmalade. I think we both purred through the meal as the sun was blazing through the patio doors which simply magnified the pleasure of the dining experience. What bliss!
We had decided that today would be low key, a wander through the village of Estoi, meandering in and out of small lanes, fields, and stopping to take a few photos, our final destination the main square for lunch on the patio at Snack Bar “Com Tradições”.
We thoroughly enjoyed our walk around the village discovering that not a lot had changed in our absence. A few places closed and a few new things opened. Many places had been freshly painted and several renovation projects are underway. Life goes on as usual and we are content that we will be part of it for the next six months. I hope you enjoy some of the gorgeous flora and fauna we experienced today, they certainly brought a smile to our faces.
As we neared home we discovered that the small church just outside our gates had also been freshly painted since we were last here.
And nearby, a new tile had been inserted in a family home…
During lunch today we were greeted by several people we’ve come to know over the years. The owner of a small boutique on the square, the ex-mayor, who speaks marvelous French and loves to chat with us, but the most important…….
The jet-lag continues to haunt us, probably for a couple of more day. At present, we are cocooned in our living room, a blazing fire in the grate, music to sooth our souls, and I think I hear the sound of a cork being pulled…..life as we know is more than grand with the reality of our last several months making us that much more grateful and feeling blessed with having been able to return to our beloved Portugal. Now if we could only have all of you here with us!
Até breve R&M