Cruising the Cyclades – Santorini

I had no expectations going into Santorini, and perhaps that’s the best way to first get to know it. I had done very little reading about it prior or during our trip, just knew it was our last stop before flying back to Portugal. My education on Santorini began when Hariz, who we rented our car from, picked us up at the ferry port and brought us to his office, a few blocks from our beachfront hotel. On the way he told us about Thera, the volcano, and what we should see and do in Santorini.

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Cruising the Cyclades Islands on Prosecco III

In the Spring of 2015 we cruised the eastern seaboard of the United States, from Florida to Washington, on board the yacht Sockeye Blue with our good friends John & Tina Philippson. Their 80-foot Nordhavn was a beautiful ship, and we enjoyed three fun-filled weeks exploring this coastline. They would eventually sell Sockeye Blue, but in 2021, eager to get another Nordhavn and this time to explore the Mediterranean and the rivers and canals of Europe, they bought Prosecco III, a 41-footer fresh off the production line in Turkey. Prosecco was purchased purposely smaller, so it could fit inside the locks and canals.

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The Dao Region of Portugal – Biking & Boarding

In the north of Portugal, just above Coimbra but below Porto and a little east towards the Spanish border, lies a region known as the Dao. Through it the river Dao and alongside it were once tracks for a train that ran between the towns of Santa Comba Dao and Viseu from the 1890s to the 1980s. It is about 50 kilometers in length and back then it provided transportation for locals and delivered them supplies. When it was discontinued a “Rails-to-Trails” was put in its place. This is the process of converting abandoned rail lines (“Rails”) into bike paths (“Trails”), and it has become very common in both Europe and North America. In Portugal these bike paths are known as “Ecopistas.”

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Madeira, Portugal

Madeira is a place we’ve been wanting to visit since we first began visiting Portugal about five years ago. It’s an archipelago  that is part of Portugal, made up of the islands of Madeira, Porto Santo and the Desertas with an overall population of less than 300,000.  It’s situated to the south of Portugal about 500 km off the coast of Morocco. Madeira was claimed by Portuguese sailors in the service of Prince Henry the Navigator in 1419 and settled in 1420. From Lisbon it’s just a little over 1 1/2 hours flying time. Covid caused us to cancel our trip last year, but in March we decided to try again as it was open to Portuguese residents as long as you had a Covid test recently done. 

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Exploring Northern Portugal

Our trip into northern Portugal took us to the very top of the country, to a region that has the Spanish border both to the north (which follows the Minho River) and to the east (marked by the Peneda-Geres National Park). To the west is the Atlantic ocean while the Lima River forms this region’s southern border. Through the middle flows the Vez River from the north until it empties into the Lima River. 

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A visit to the Arabida Peninsula

Well, after a few delays caused by a couple of dreaded the “C” diseases (Cancer and Covid), we have finally been able to venture out of our apartment and do a little exploring once again. It seems that our travels for awhile will be limited to Portugal as the borders in Europe are not all open yet and flying anywhere right now is not only a little risky but downright complicated. So we’re happy to just take this time to get to know Portugal a little better.

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Biking Portugal

Anyone considering biking in Portugal, there’s an essential tool you must have and that’s the National Cycling Network guidebook, which maps out nearly 5,000 km of routes and includes GPS tracks in KML and GPX file formats, so you can follow the routes on your smartphone. As well, the guide has great photography and descriptions, so you have a really good idea of what your trip will entail before you begin.

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