Monday, 26 November 2018

Lisbon #4 - Where we test the Portuguese health system!


We had such plans for Lisbon. Museums to see, restaurants to sample, churches to visit. We’ve been able to do none of it.

Last Sunday, I fell in Vancouver airport trying to get into one of their too high people carriers – you know the ones I mean. They look like tanks and the step up into them is about 18 inches. I scraped my leg and actually punctured it.
By yesterday, five days later, it is badly infected and we had the experience of checking out the Portuguese Emergency Medical situation.

Portuguese health careI asked at the hotel desk about a doctor I might be able to get an appointment with and they assured me I should go to the hospital instead and register as a “private” not “public” patient. It was a long cab ride, almost to the airport to a big and quite new looking hospital complex. Once registered (and my credit card billed for 95 Euros) everything moved quickly and efficiently. It went in stages: blood pressure (way high) and temperature in one little cubicle; On to triage in the next; Then the doctor, an adorable young man with soft brown eyes and curly hair; Then the treatment room – bandaging and heavy antibiotics. They all gathered here to chat at the end. A delightful experience for us – and they don’t get many Canadians, so they were more than curious about the two old ladies traveling instead of staying home knitting.

Top kudos to the Portuguese medical system. And Thank God it didn’t happen in the US. The last minor accident I had there cost me over $3000 in Emergency Room fees.

I’ve been warned to keep the leg elevated as much as possible. It shouldn’t be hard to do that once we’re on the ship, tomorrow.

Our time in Lisbon has been low keyed, but we’ve had WONDERFUL food! Portuguese cuisine is very different from either French or Spanish and is largely based on seafood. We’ve eaten like kings every night for quite modest sums. After our first time, we were greeted like long lost relatives on all sequent visits to our favorite little restaurant around the corner from the hotel. And our lunches served by “Hugo” in the hotel bar have been a delight of little sandwiches and tapas. The thin sliced ham, like Italian Prosciutto is
especially delectable.

So in spite of my accident, and a week of rainy weather, we thoroughly enjoyed our time here. Jeanette braved the rain today to walk up the Liberdade as far as the Pombal Monument. A truly magnificent piece of sculpture dedicated to the man who re-designed Lisbon after the earthquake and tidal wave leveled it in 1755.





..............................................................................................................

Coming Soon!  

The Re-Launch of One of Blair's most popular books with more storyline and additional characters.


My Guilty Obsession - 4 Stars
This truly was a great fun read that I had a hard time putting down. I almost read it in one sitting.
....More

Click here for more information and reviews from the original book.

..................................................................

Blair's latest thriller, Fatal Charm 


A perilous scheme to thwart ruthless adversaries hurtles successful jewelry designer Caitlin Abernathy from her comfortable California studio to the streets of Paris and the beaches of Brittany as she attempts to return a priceless stolen heirloom to the Louvre.

Colin Stryker, the devastatingly handsome history professor from Ireland who has appointed himself her protector, fights to rescue her before her captors add murder to their crimes, while at the same time unraveling the torturous train of events that led to the original theft.


With every moment fraught with danger, can the chemistry already between the two ignite into passion?


Praise for Fatal Charm:


"If you love well-crafted romantic suspense where the mystery is every bit as mysterious as the romance is romantic, check out Blair McDowell's work.  I found her through a book tour 5 years ago, and she is one of my happiest discoveries."
-  Marlene Harris, ReadingReality.net

"The elegance and beauty of Paris as the central backdrop for the intrigue, adds color and movement to the drama.... I particularly liked the attention to food as a gathering point and motif throughout. I was drawn back to my memories of Paris -- the sights, sounds and aromas. It's these small touches that inject an extra dimension, a 'je ne sais quoi' into the mix."
-  Heather B, Eyes2creviews.blogspot.ca

"Fatal Charm is well-written and engaging.  The book has a fast pace which makes it easy to read and enjoy.  Blair McDowell is an illustrative writer which allows readers to visualize the scenes in their head.  This brings the characters and story to life for  me.  I thought the mystery was complex and intriguing.  I enjoyed the many twists and turns."
-  Kristina Anderson, Doodlesinkspot.blogspot.ca

Click here to view and purchase Blair's books.


 The books of Blair McDowell

    

Friday, 16 November 2018

Lisbon #3 - Portugal and the E.U.


I must write immediately about the conversation I had with a taxi driver on a 30 minute ride today. There were a mass of people waving red flags in front of the government buildings, causing some problems with orderly traffic. Of course I asked him about them. He said today it was the “cleaners” demonstrating, but that tomorrow it will be another group, perhaps taxi drivers. There followed a diatribe that was extremely interesting as a view of life in Portugal from the standpoint of ordinary working class people.

Their average income, he said was 500 Euros a month, but groceries, he said, are as expensive in Portugal as anyplace else in Europe. As members of the European Union should there not be a minimum wage for work done, the same in Portugal as in Germany or France? The Portuguese do not eat less, they need money for food and books... education... as much as the Germans or French... so why, he argued, should the Portuguese be expected to live on 500 Euros a month!

Countries of the European Union
Current Member Countries of the European Union
Why indeed? As an outsider, I assumed that when a country joined the EU there would be some leveling of the playing field. Apparently not.

As people who travel widely, J and I have noticed the vast disparity among EU members in standards of living. It is possible for a traveler to stay and eat exceptionally well in Greece, for instance, for very little money, but to have the same standard of accommodation and meals in Italy costs precisely twice as much. And if it’s Scotland, the traveler can expect it to cost double the cost of Italy for accommodation and meals at the same level. And I won’t even mention the cost of traveling in Austria and Germany.

And these costs to travelers reflect the states of the economies in those countries.

As to how I happened upon this interesting and very vocal driver, that’s another story. See my next blog.

.........................................................................

Coming Soon!  
The Re-Launch of One of Blair's most popular books with more storyline and additional characters.




My Guilty Obsession - 4 Stars
This truly was a great fun read that I had a hard time putting down. I almost read it in one sitting.
....More

Click here for more information and reviews from the original book.

..................................................................

Blair's latest thriller, Fatal Charm 


A perilous scheme to thwart ruthless adversaries hurtles successful jewelry designer Caitlin Abernathy from her comfortable California studio to the streets of Paris and the beaches of Brittany as she attempts to return a priceless stolen heirloom to the Louvre.

Colin Stryker, the devastatingly handsome history professor from Ireland who has appointed himself her protector, fights to rescue her before her captors add murder to their crimes, while at the same time unraveling the torturous train of events that led to the original theft.


With every moment fraught with danger, can the chemistry already between the two ignite into passion?


Praise for Fatal Charm:


"If you love well-crafted romantic suspense where the mystery is every bit as mysterious as the romance is romantic, check out Blair McDowell's work.  I found her through a book tour 5 years ago, and she is one of my happiest discoveries."
-  Marlene Harris, ReadingReality.net

"The elegance and beauty of Paris as the central backdrop for the intrigue, adds color and movement to the drama.... I particularly liked the attention to food as a gathering point and motif throughout. I was drawn back to my memories of Paris -- the sights, sounds and aromas. It's these small touches that inject an extra dimension, a 'je ne sais quoi' into the mix."
-  Heather B, Eyes2creviews.blogspot.ca

"Fatal Charm is well-written and engaging.  The book has a fast pace which makes it easy to read and enjoy.  Blair McDowell is an illustrative writer which allows readers to visualize the scenes in their head.  This brings the characters and story to life for  me.  I thought the mystery was complex and intriguing.  I enjoyed the many twists and turns."
-  Kristina Anderson, Doodlesinkspot.blogspot.ca

Click here to view and purchase Blair's books.


 The books of Blair McDowell


    

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Lisbon #2 - Bronze Statues


Bronze statues by our hotel
We’ve both been to Lisbon many times, I, for the first time almost fifty years ago. I can’t say I find the city much changed except for the way too many cars (not good) and the whimsical bronze figures scattered here and about the city, doing mundane everyday tasks (very good). They are utterly delightful.

Two of these bronzes are near our hotel. The sidewalks everyplace in Lisbon,  are made up of small squares of black and white cobble stone probably about two inches by two inches, set into fantastical shapes and designs. Waves are a common pattern, enough to make you sea sick if you look too far ahead. But that is not all, there are stars and flowers and ships and compasses and almost anything else the creative Portuguese mind can devise. They are art at your feet wherever you go in this city. And of course they require vast resources to maintain.

So, just a few feet from the front door of our hotel there are two bronze figures, life size, repairing a small section of sidewalk.  Whimsy at its best!
Another of the many bronze statues






Lisbon is a walking city. Take cabs between distant points, 
but for the rest of it, walk! You’ll miss a great deal if you don’t. Above all, skip the so called “hop–on-hop-off” buses. They are very time consuming and spend far too much of their time in traffic jams. Decide where you want to go next and take a cab. They’re inexpensive and they know their way around. 








Blair's latest thriller, Fatal Charm 


A perilous scheme to thwart ruthless adversaries hurtles successful jewelry designer Caitlin Abernathy from her comfortable California studio to the streets of Paris and the beaches of Brittany as she attempts to return a priceless stolen heirloom to the Louvre.

Colin Stryker, the devastatingly handsome history professor from Ireland who has appointed himself her protector, fights to rescue her before her captors add murder to their crimes, while at the same time unraveling the torturous train of events that led to the original theft.


With every moment fraught with danger, can the chemistry already between the two ignite into passion?


Praise for Fatal Charm:


"If you love well-crafted romantic suspense where the mystery is every bit as mysterious as the romance is romantic, check out Blair McDowell's work.  I found her through a book tour 5 years ago, and she is one of my happiest discoveries."
-  Marlene Harris, ReadingReality.net

"The elegance and beauty of Paris as the central backdrop for the intrigue, adds color and movement to the drama.... I particularly liked the attention to food as a gathering point and motif throughout. I was drawn back to my memories of Paris -- the sights, sounds and aromas. It's these small touches that inject an extra dimension, a 'je ne sais quoi' into the mix."
-  Heather B, Eyes2creviews.blogspot.ca

"Fatal Charm is well-written and engaging.  The book has a fast pace which makes it easy to read and enjoy.  Blair McDowell is an illustrative writer which allows readers to visualize the scenes in their head.  This brings the characters and story to life for  me.  I thought the mystery was complex and intriguing.  I enjoyed the many twists and turns."
-  Kristina Anderson, Doodlesinkspot.blogspot.ca

Click here to view and purchase Blair's books.


 The books of Blair McDowell


    

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Lisbon, Portugal - Arrival

Lisbon Skyline

Some might say it is insanity to take off on an overseas flight to Portugal in order to take a sailing ship to the Caribbean, but that is what we did. The less said about our flight, business class on an Airbus, the better. But eventually we arrived at Lisbon Airport. The difference between this airport and ANY we’ve been through in recent years was astounding. There were no soldiers standing around armed to the gills. There were no visible police. There was no obvious “security” at all, just lots of people greeting friends and neighbors.

We were whisked through immigration so fast I hardly realized we’d been there, and about 10 minutes after deplaning we were being herded into a taxi. Kudos to the two delightful young men who made this miracle happen.

Avendida de Liberdade
We gave our taxi driver the name of our hotel, the Bessa, on Lisbon’s main drag, The Avenida de Liberdade. He looked pained. “The Liberdade is closed to all traffic all day today,” he explained. “Remembrance Day Celebrations.” Of course we should have known, but sleep deprived and exhausted it just hadn’t registered.

We drove through the Lisbon hills, to the sound of Fado on the driver’s radio, beautiful guitar accompanied songs unique to Portugal. The private houses, apartment blocks, office buildings, government buildings and hotels we passed were in a veritable rainbow of colours.  Pinks and yellows and blues and greens, no staid greys or classic whites for this town.  All climbing up or tumbling down steep hills toward the centre of town and our destination.

A block from our hotel we came to the blocked road and a stern looking policeman. Our driver with much gesticulation toward our white hair and my walker managed to convince the officer because he literally walked our taxi the block to our hotel entrance, and then helped our driver escape.

Bessa Hotel
We arrived just as the parade reached our part of the Liberdade. Planes overhead, WW I followed by jets in formation, marchers on the sidewalks waving flags, martial music. Altogether the most impressive welcome we’ve ever had anywhere.

And miracle of miracles, our room was ready within 15 minutes of our arrival. The best handicap accessible room I’ve ever had anyplace.

There is all of Lisbon, a truly beautiful city, out there for us to see, but first, some sleep.

.............................................................................................................
Blair's latest thriller, Fatal Charm 


A perilous scheme to thwart ruthless adversaries hurtles successful jewelry designer Caitlin Abernathy from her comfortable California studio to the streets of Paris and the beaches of Brittany as she attempts to return a priceless stolen heirloom to the Louvre.

Colin Stryker, the devastatingly handsome history professor from Ireland who has appointed himself her protector, fights to rescue her before her captors add murder to their crimes, while at the same time unraveling the torturous train of events that led to the original theft.


With every moment fraught with danger, can the chemistry already between the two ignite into passion?


Praise for Fatal Charm:


"If you love well-crafted romantic suspense where the mystery is every bit as mysterious as the romance is romantic, check out Blair McDowell's work.  I found her through a book tour 5 years ago, and she is one of my happiest discoveries."
-  Marlene Harris, ReadingReality.net

"The elegance and beauty of Paris as the central backdrop for the intrigue, adds color and movement to the drama.... I particularly liked the attention to food as a gathering point and motif throughout. I was drawn back to my memories of Paris -- the sights, sounds and aromas. It's these small touches that inject an extra dimension, a 'je ne sais quoi' into the mix."
-  Heather B, Eyes2creviews.blogspot.ca

"Fatal Charm is well-written and engaging.  The book has a fast pace which makes it easy to read and enjoy.  Blair McDowell is an illustrative writer which allows readers to visualize the scenes in their head.  This brings the characters and story to life for  me.  I thought the mystery was complex and intriguing.  I enjoyed the many twists and turns."
-  Kristina Anderson, Doodlesinkspot.blogspot.ca

Click here to view and purchase Blair's books.



 The books of Blair McDowell