"It's Always Something..."

My Life Adventures, Travel Experiences and Reflections

Sunday

My Latest Obsession...

Little did I know that when I met this man...
Elliot Fallas
I would look forward to getting oil paint under my fingernails, use waxed paper as a palette, own a color-wheel, learn that 'GoJo' was my BFF and that odorless mineral spirits would be a close second.

Bob's Sea Turtle 2015
Far from being an expert, my latest obsession brings me joy.
Newfoundland, Canada 2015

Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada 2015

Tobermory, Ontario Canada 2015

Birds on a Wire 2017
Red Flowers 2016

'Protector'' for Michaela's Nursery 2016

Puppy Portrait: Lexi-Lou 2016

Who knew that 'gray' was not just a mixture of black & white?  That 'depth' can be achieved by combining at least 3 shades of the same colors? That I would find myself inspired, guided and challenged by such a wonderful artist? 

Thank you Elliot.




Saturday

Bullying, Health Care and Me

Photo credit: NurseTogether.comNurseTogether.com
It's not just nurses who can be bullies. It's Doctors, PA's, Secretaries, Respiratory Therapists, Managers ... you name it. The health care environment is just teeming with 'em. Throughout my 40 (eek) year  nursing career, I have been witness to and the brunt of bullying. I'm writing this for you. 

A few weeks ago, I attended a lecture, "Understanding and Eliminating Workplace Bullying' given by two nurses from Indiana (Terri Townsend & Pamela Anderson). It made me sad. Bullying interferes with the well-being of our patients, families and of ourselves. Here are some facts that were presented...
Consequences to individuals. 

  • Bullying engenders distress and emotional pain, anxiety, feelings of isolation, helplessness, and dejection, physical illness, and increased use of sick time. 
Consequences in the workplace. 
  • Bullying can create and sustain a toxic work environment. 
  • Bullying can erode morale and job satisfaction, leading to loss of productivity, work absence, and nurse attrition. 
  • Bullying is also viewed as a risk to patient safety. Bullying interferes with teamwork, collaboration, and communication, the underpinnings of patient safety.  
  • Canada is presently reporting one out of seven adult suicides result from workplace bullying (Workplace Bullying Institute, 2003).
Bullying affects not only the victim; but also the witness (Patten, 2005). The witness begins to wonder if she or he is next. Subsequently, self-esteem decreases, erodes, and gives way to depression and anger for nurses who witness bullying. 

What exactly is Bullying?
  • Repeated, offensive, abusive, intimidating or insulting behaviours
  • Abuse of power
  • Unfair sanctions that make one feel humiliated, vulnerable or threatened.
_________________________________________________

As a new nurse in 1976, "bullying" was just part of the deal. An expectation. A rite of passage. I just sucked it up and kept my head down. 

My first bully was my Nurse Manager. She would regularly berate and belittle me, using my peers and patients as her audience. On one occasion she called me out of a patient's room in order to critique my nurses notes. Bombarding me with unrelenting interrogation and petty questions, I started to cry. It just added more fuel to her fire. A doctor stood up and said "Stop!" then asked me to join him in the dictating room so that I could collect myself. I did. And she was furious. I later received a written counsel for 'not supporting management'. I resigned after one year. Upon receipt of my resignation she said, "Oh Joan, I'm sorry you're leaving - you could have been one of 'my girls'".
Ick. No thanks.

_____________________________________________

Managers 'Bully' by...

  • Public Discipline
  • Threatening Consequences
  • Playing favorites
  • Withholding information
  • Setting one up to fail
  • Verbal Harassment
  • Unfair evaluation
 The Manager Bully - The main and the foremost purpose of bullying is to hide inadequacy, incompetence and inefficiency. Bullying has nothing to do with managing etc; good managers manage and bad managers’ bully. Management is managing; bullying is not managing. Therefore, anyone who chooses to bully is admitting their inadequacy and incompetency, and the extent to which a person bullies is a measure of their inadequacy.—Himachali
________________________________________________

Ten nursing-years later, improved coping skills were developed including befriending like-minded peers, partying like it was 1989 and 'blowing off' the bullies. In this case it was a very bright ER Nurse who was the Nurse Manager's 'go-to' girl. I was the new kid and she smelled blood. To me, she was consistently angry, flippant and sarcastic. To others, she was intelligent and all-business. Her bullying was directed towards my inexperience in ER Nursing. She would critically assess my nursing care - in front of the patient - and would find fault in anything from the way I might have secured an IV to how I would apply a sterile dressing. All inadequacies were reported to the Nurse Manager as well. I dealt with this by forming close bonds with other nurses and creating a social circle that collegial and fun. I blew her off. It was how I coped. One afternoon, I received a hemorrhaging patient - after working diligently to save this patient, I heard 'Miss Priss' grunting about how shitty my care was, her audience was the Nurse Manager and a couple of his minions. It was then that I spoke up and told my offender to... "Go Fuck yourself". She, in a fit of fury, stormed out of the department and went home. That same afternoon I was counselled for "unprofessional conduct".  It happens.
____________________________________________

The Queen Bee - According to Cheryl Dellasega, a psychologist and professor at Penn State University, Queen Bees are the top of the bullying food chain.  They tend to describe themselves as take charge, having ultra-high expectations of others. They appear on the outside to have it all together. They fail to consider the consequences of their verbal grenades or sabotages. They are really very insecure on the inside, and feel threatened by other women in the workplace.Queen Bees who end up in positions of authority tend to feel they must be in control at all times. They intimidate through belittling, display arrogance and see themselves as being above the rules. They may single out only one individual at a time, making it difficult for their superiors to see what is happening. They have an uncanny knack to look good to their superiors. They also tend to feel very threatened by competent subordinates.
____________________________________________

Twenty nursing-years later my improved self-confidence helped me discover the 'silver-bullet' for dealing with bullies. Simply confront the behaviour. Privately and professionally. Who knew? The days of... "Go Fuck Yourself" had been replaced by "I want you to know that the way to spoke to me a few minutes ago was offensive and disrespectful". That was it. Do it quick. Soon after the event. Then get over it. The bully expects never to be called on their behaviour, especially in an adult manner. They assume you are going to "stir the pot" and gossip about the event. Don't do it. Every bully I have had the opportunity to confront - backed off.

Doctors are tricky. It's tough confronting them. But I encourage you to do it. They are just like everyone else who has a self esteem problem except they have MD behind their names. If a private and professional confrontation doesn't feel comfortable to you, ask for a meeting with your nurse manager, the physician and his/her director. I did this on two occasions and found that communication improved dramatically.

Needless to say, I don't have all the answers. I'm hoping that bullying will be eradicated in the workplace one day but unless we have zero-tolerance to bullying behaviours, I doubt that will be the case. So for now...hang in there and good luck! I hope this helped to shed a little light on such a dark subject.

Have you been bullied? I'd like to hear your story...


Tuesday

PTSD and the Nurse: Now What?


Love these Trauma 'Meerkats'
Despite spending 25 years of my life in Emergency Departments, it seems strange to me that I have trouble recalling the horrific injuries and events where I delivered care directly. And that is probably a good thing.

I do remember coming on shift one morning and learning that the night crew worked to save the lives of a mom and her two little boys following their vicious stabbing. The boys died.

I was met with incredulity when I asked ..."So why didn't anybody call us in?"

Part of what makes a good ER Nurse great is to "never letting them see you sweat" and being proud of it. Keeping your cool is extremely important and I totally support that but after witnessing the violent deaths of a 5 year old and 7 year old, I'm thinking that maybe - just maybe - these nurses, techs and docs should have had every effort made to relieve them of having to care for the yeast infection or snotty nose down the hall.

Call me a bleeding heart but I have never forgotten the nurse who came to me that morning, recounting all three stabbing victims arriving simultaneously at 3 am. CPR in progress on the two boys, their Dad pacing the corridors of the ER, the chaos that ensued and then wrapping it all up by reporting off on the other patients that remained in his care.

And no one was called in to relieve the ER staff.

I 'get' that in events such as these, the last thing on the minds of ER nurses is to have someone come in to take care of them. But I guess what I am suggesting here is that it might be a good idea to have a plan in place in the event that your ER staff might need to be cared for. Really. And I doubt you would catch a whole lot of flack from the nurses who are called in to relieve their peers.


...Now What?


Creative Visualization:

Years ago, I read somewhere, something about Creative Visualization.

It takes about as much time as it would to take 5 deep breaths. I've practiced this technique for years and I'm sharing it with you because it really seems to help... especially when you are feeling particularly overwhelmed, negative or angry. You can do it behind a curtain, in a bathroom, in the med room, anywhere.

Close your eyes and "visualize" or imagine the color pink (or purple, or blue ...whatever brings you peace). Breathe the color in through your nose. Visualize the color entering your lungs, exchanging into your cells, travelling down to your fingertips and toes. Now exhale forcefully. Visualize cleansing black soot releasing from your body and coming out of your mouth and nose.

Instant "Attitude Adjustment". I swear.

Meditation:

I attended a conference recently where Dan Harris presented his take on Meditation after experiencing a live "on air" panic attack... This 13 minute video is worth your time.

Meditation? The way I look at it... can't hurt - and might help.

Sunday

PTSD and the Nurse

Credit: Getty Images
Trauma Nursing was my thing and I was really into it.

Gunshots and stab wounds? Broken bones and collapsed lungs? Bring it on! An adrenaline junkie for sure and proud of it. My life as an ER nurse was entwined in that sort of thing and I had very little time or patience for those who just didn't 'get it'. My friends were ER nurses, techs, docs, RT's, ER clerical staff, cops and firemen. We spoke the same language and I really wasn't interested in developing relationships with 'outsiders'. No need to measure my story-telling with them, nothing could gross them out. I worked hard, partied hard, smoked like a freight train and fastened my seatbelt only after witnessing dental trauma of those who chose not to. I was young and indestructible. And totally desensitized.

My 'cold, hard slap in the face' came when Maureen, my dear childhood friend (after being regaled by my bloodiest and guts-iest stories of the ER) said..."Joanie, what happened to you? You sound like you couldn't give a shit."

Thanks. I needed that.

Ahhhh, and that was why 'normal' people and their trivial complaints pissed me off so much.

So, I gave my head a shake, re-evaluated my trajectory in life and took an opportunity that presented itself in corporate America as a Clinical Educator with a manufacturer of bedside monitoring systems. Nice. I travelled extensively and totally engrossed myself in clinical technology. A healthy change.

When the staff of the various OR's, ER's, and ICU's I visited learned that I had worked in the ER's of Parkland and Baylor, I was frequently encouraged to share 'war stories'.  I choked. Literally. Just couldn't do it.

Then, while on a flight and flipping through a magazine I saw a spread on Trauma Centers. A full page photo of of a Trauma Room - after the trauma - was featured. Inexpicably, my heart pounding, throat tightening, palms clammy - can't breathe. It got hot -  really hot - I turned the fan on above my head for relief. A panic attack? No way. I've been on planes a million times. Closing my eyes, I attempted to calm myself. Slow, deep breaths. Whew. I was OK. Opening the magazine where I had left off... the symptoms returned -with a vengeance.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - I had only heard of this disorder when referring to military war survivors. Was I (and so many of my sweet, kind, dedicated nurse-buds) afflicted by it? Who knows? But certainly food-for-thought.

This began my journey into understanding just how witnessing, inflicting and internalizing the pain of so many affected me.

Your 'take-away' here might be to look into PTSD and determine if it affects you or those you love. Treatment for those affected by PTSD? The experts agree that what works for one may not work for others.

Here are some links that you might find helpful on the subject...

PTSD in Emergency Workers
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Increased Prevalence in PTSD and Critical Care Nurses
PTSD in Nurses

Namaste.

Friday

Our Dirty Little Secret: Lateral Violence

I wish I could give credit to this artist...
Two years ago, I retired from bedside nursing. My initial anxieties of "what next.?", were soon relieved by sleeping late every day, volunteerism, crafting and oil painting. Ahhhh, Nirvana. A two-year nursing honeymoon period, for sure.

Last week, in an effort to maintain licensure, I attended the American Association of Critical Care Nurses' National Teaching Institute (AACN-NTI) where over 8,000 Critical Care Nurses converged on New Orleans, La.

I chose this conference because I could knock out over 20 CE's in 4 days. 

Coming to terms with recognizing my interests no longer lay in "Advance Concepts in Ventilator Management" or "Cardiomyopathies: Understanding the Complexities of Diverse Diagnosis", I chose to attend classes on topics that are rarely discussed outside of nursing circles... "Workplace Violence: Do You Have A Plan?", "Impact of Moral Distress on Perceptions of Work Environment and Patients Safety", " Bullying: An Unhealthy Intrusion in the Work Environment", "Silence: A Never Event" were just a few.

And I grieved. 

I grieved for the thousands of nurses broken by workplace violence, bullying, lateral (aka Horizontal) violence and workplace violence delivered at the hands of patients. 

I grieved for my oppressed and subjugated peers. I know it sounds bad - really bad - and for so many, it really is - but it's time to talk about it and delve into why it occurs so frequently in a profession that is consistently ranked as the most honest and ethical by the public.

In my twenties, a manager taught me a valuable life lesson ..."Don't come to me with a problem unless you have a solution." So I'm writing about 'our dirty little secret'. Not to 'slam' nurses - but to share what I have learned, if only to begin the uncomfortable conversation and possibly support those who are experiencing the phenomenon and to prevent future pain to those who are on the frontlines of healthcare delivery. 

Incidentally, ER Nurses are subject to this form of violence at a much higher rate than any other specialty.
_________________________________________________

25 years ago, Meissner coined the expression... "Nurses Eat Their Young". I disagree. In my experience, many of my peers have a less discriminatory palate and will "eat" anything that has let their guard down (ie: the nurse who has been on their feet for the past 12 hours and too tired to fight) .

I was 50 years old. An ER nurse for 25 years, it was the lateral violence I experienced at the hands of several young ER nurses that helped cement my decision to leave ER Nursing permanently and try my hand in the ICU. Usually, it was non-verbal, eye-rolling and sarcasm during patient-report at the end of my shift that really got to me. Giving "report" became dreaded. Miffed, badgering and nit-picking nurses who would get their egos massaged by trying to prove just how much more knowlegeable they were. It wasn't just one nasty nurse or one isolated incident. It was repeated several times a week. And it got old.

Wisdom told me that the confrontational report had very little to do with me. It had everything to do with them and their perception of themselves and their personal power. But I was getting to old for this shit and recognized that staying in the ER was not a healthy personal choice for me any longer. I transferred to ICU full-time.

Lateral Violence: Definition.

A consistent pattern of behavior designed to control, diminish or devalue a peer (or group) which creates a risk to health or safety (Farrell, 2005).

Some specific examples are:
  • Overt. Name calling, bickering, fault finding, criticism, intimidation, gossip, shouting, blaming, put-downs, raised eye brows
  • Covert. Unfair assignments, refusing to help someone, ignoring, making faces behind someone's back, refusing to only work with certain people or not work with others, whining, sabotage, exclusion, fabrication.  See more at: Break the Spell and End Lateral Violence
My experience was minimal compared to many, and I admittedly did not have the skill set (nor the inclination) that was necessary to deal with the problem. I was fortunate enough to have an 'out'. 

Several years earlier, our hospital offered a 6-week program in ICU Nursing. Although I loved being an ER Nurse, I knew the frenetic pace and physical requirements of the job could possibly be impacted as I aged. Attending those classes and gaining some part-time work in ICU nursing was one of my best career decisions made. My personal ICU nurse-nurse experience was by and large, welcoming, supportive and nurturing. It worked for me. 

But for those of you who can't bear the thought of leaving the specialty of where you work, I have a few suggestions...
  • Consider creating (or joining) a multidisciplinary departmental committee on Healthy Work Practices.
  • Develop a departmental"Safe" word or phrase when you are feeling oppressed or bullied by someone ("Peace").
  • Develop a departmental "Safe" word or phrase when you recognize someone is failing to complete job requirements or slacking (ie: "Dude")
  • Develop or tweak the current "Code of Conduct"
  • Violations in Code of Conduct should include clearly defined disciplinary actions
  • Prepare now for an 'out'. 
Now, take a long, hard look in the mirror. Could you be the problem? Maybe it's time to reflect and regroup.

My own, personal 'Year-of-the-bitch" was 1995. It wasn't pretty. And then I gave myself an attitude adjustment. Why was I such a bitch? Just like the experts say... I was feeling oppressed. powerless and silenced. Simple as that. Fortunately, I (hopefully) made amends to those nurses I may have hurt.If not, I am truly sorry. 


_________________________________

In an effort to promote healthy work practices, I plan on writing about the ways I have learned that we, as nurses can care for ourselves. 

Who knew?

Some of this info I gleaned from the NTI - some I just made up. I hope it helps. I look forward to hearing from you and your experiences in this area as I have learned that "getting your cards on the table" is generally a good place to start when the topic causes discomfort.

Driving in Britain: Lessons Learned

"An adventure!"
"It'll be fun!"
"A whole lot easier than having to drag luggage."
"Driving on the 'wrong side of the road'? No problem!"
"Hell, I drove in L.A. - what could be worse than that?"
"Mo (my BFF) drove in Ireland!"

... All thoughts while making the rental car arrangements for our two-week trip to tour the English countryside of Britain.

We arrived at Europcar and picked up our adorable Peugot at 11am. With Mr. Something behind the wheel, we were on the road within 20 minutes. Our chosen mantra? "Stay to the left, stay to the left, stay to the left". Wiithin 15 minutes I changed it to ..."Let's just call a cab to come get us, let's just call a cab, for God's sake, pull over and call a cab..."
Source: AMC
Let me explain... We started our rental car experience in the historic city of Bath and highly recommend Europcar. I booked online and was careful to request a car with automatic transmission - I noticed that the car prices quoted are for standard transmission cars only. The sheer thought of driving a stick in England, using my left hand would be disastrous problematic.

Yay me.

The 'die was cast' however, when the Europcar guy handed me a map of Bath. It was then, that I realized, driving all over England would be a crap-shoot for us. Our car was outfitted with GPS (SatNav) and although we are thankful for that, we really just needed to take the train. That being said, GPS  was our virtual life-preserver.
City of Bath, England
In retrospect, Bath was probably not the best choice when picking a place to start driving in England.

If you look carefully, there are few streets that go north/south/east or west. They're just all over the place. Really. Add that to the fact that the width of city streets originally were made to accommodate horse-drawn carriages, metal barricades in place to prevent innocent pedestrians from getting run-over, 'roundabouts' failed to make any sense to us, and familiarizing ourselves with U.K. traffic laws was purely an afterthought... a perfect storm.

So, after our initial terror had subsided and we had travelled in the completely wrong direction, circling Bristol a couple of times,(and God only knows where else) we finally made it to Stonehenge admist flying expletives, only to learn that it was 4:05 pm and Stonehenge closes at 4:00 pm.

I needed a drink.

Mr. Something explained to the guard that we had travelled soooo far and were leaving the next day... She caved and told us we could "park and walk about 3/4 mile through 'the pasture' to take a look". After our lengthy drive, we looked forward to the exercise.
I had no idea we would be on the cow's turf.
(City-girl)


Excuse us...
Stonehenge
My offer of driving back to Bath was quickly accepted by (the rattled) Mr. Something and we were off, in the sunset. Being aware of the 'roundabouts' and having devised a plan to "just-hug-the-inside-lane-and-keep-circling-until-we-see-our-exit", our trip back was less trying... with the exception of my hitting a parked truck with the Peugot's left side-view mirror.

It was just a flesh-wound.

Lessons Learned Driving in Britain:

  1. Get online and review British Traffic Laws and signage before driving in the U.K.
  2. Request Automatic Transmission. You might have to pay a little more but it's worth it.
  3. Stay to the Left.
  4. Following the car in front of you really helps.
  5. Be aware of the left side of your car. It's really easy to hit things (cars, people, buildings etc.) Just sayin'.
  6. The Highways in the UK are great. When in doubt - find a highway and get on it.
  7. Eating and smoking while driving is illegal in England.
  8. A GPS/Sat Nav is priceless.
  9. Carry plenty of change for parking.
  10. When entering a traffic circle - hug the inside lane and keep circling until you find your exit.




Saturday

England...Our Grand Tour

The Lakes District
Our 'Grand Tour' of the English countryside was all that we had hoped it would be...

  • Windsor
  • Bath
  • Salisbury Plain: Stonehenge
  • The Cotswolds: Charlecote
  • Warwickshire: Stratford-upon-Avon
  • The Lakes District: Keswick - Sawrey - Braithewaite - Lake Windemere
  • Hadrians Wall
  • Durham
  • Ripon
  • York
  • London
Our trip began with taking a train from Windsor to Bath, then renting a car in Bath, travelling throughout England, then returning the car in York where we caught a train to London. 

Sounds relatively simple, right? 

More on that, later.

Photo credit: www.LonelyPlanet.com
Beginning in Windsor, a lovely village located about 25 miles away from London, it is the site of Windsor Castle, where Her Majesty, The Queen of England visits frequently and is the home of Sir Elton John as well. Although we didn't get a chance to catch a glimpse of either Queen, our trip was made complete by my re-connecting with a dear friend from my youth.
Being the first to admit that I'm not the greatest person for keeping in touch - know that once you've found a place in my heart, you are there to stay.

Jaxx found a place in my heart 30 years ago and although we have not seen one another in decades, our reunion was as comfortable and natural as if we had just met for lunch a few weeks prior. Her warmth, sense of humour, intellect, beauty, heart and soul were all just as I had remembered...Perfect.

See: The Train

Friday

Mia's 1st Birthday

She has been the most easy-going, happy and laid-back little girl.

Quick with a smile and easy to please.
She loves...
Stuffed Animals
Playing with blocks
Cars
Patty-cake
Peek-a-Boo
Strawberries
Sweet Potatoes
Tortillas
Mia, Abby & Annslee
Mia's 'partner-in-crime'?
Her big sister, Abby.

Thursday

Retirement update: One year Later

I retired from being a Critical Care/Emergency Nurse one year ago. Nursing was never 'just a job' for me. It was who I was. I loved my job, my patients, my co-workers and the demands of nursing. Despite the 12 hour shifts, the heartbreaking sadness, the administrative 'special-interest' groups, the germs and the chaos - it was also flexible, soulful, interesting, motivating, profound and challenging. All reasons why I loved nursing. It was where I found my calling...or so I thought.

And then, I retired - Gulp - What will become of me? Will I lose my mind? Will my friends forget about me? Will I end up sitting on the couch, watching TV and eating Cheetos? What about my hip to waist ratio? 

Well folks, as far as I can tell, I have not lost my mind (yet), my friends are forced to remember me (Thanks, Facebook!), I don't have the time to sit and eat Cheetos and fortunately, my hip to waist ratio has not change a whole-helluva-lot.

In the past year, I have started to consider my 'new' self to be a traveler, writer, volunteer and artist. But, just when I got comfortable with that idea...BAM!...an interesting nursing opportunity presented itself.

I will not be back at the bedside but I have accepted a position with a company that creates Emergency Department Information Systems. I will be travelling (on an 'as-needed', basis) to various ER's throughtout the country, helping implement the system. 

And this is yet another reason why I have loved nursing.


Sunday

Portugal: Porto

Who knew that Porto, Portugal was all about Port Wine? Silly me. I thought it was all about the fact that it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
So, just what is a UNESCO World heritage site, anyway? 
  1. UNESCO World Heritage Site
  2. A World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as being of special cultural or physical significance.
  3. The programme catalogues, names, and conserves sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity. Under certain conditions, listed sites can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund.



OK, back to Port wine...
Our "Welcome Port" at our AirBnB
It  was lovely. And memories of sipping Port with my dear Uncle Andy came rushing back with that first drop on my tongue. 
Auto-shot vending machine for tasting Port
When in Porto, make time to visit one (or two) of the Port Wine Distilleries. They close around 6pm.
We visted Burmester and Sandeman. They offer tours in different languages throughout the day. Most are located along the Douro River. We walked across the bridge to get there. No big whup.
photo credit:http://catavino.net/bodega-profile-the-house-of-sandeman-doc-douro/
Another "must" is The Majestic Cafe. 
Circa 1921, the Majestic's Art Nouveau decor is a perfect accompaniment for the glass of White Sangria you will order when you get here. Trust me on this one. It will change your life.  Oh, and the food is pretty good too - not to mention the outstanding sevice. Yes, tourists abound here but so do the locals and it's not to be missed.

Any Harry Potter freaks out there? I thought so. I understand the the author of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling lived in Porto in the early 90's and was inspired by this bookstore. For those of you who are 'into' Harry Potter, you get it. 

For the rest of us out there, we are fascinated by its architectural beaurty. 
Livraria Lello.
Porto's public transportation system is OK. A city built on a hill, there are buses, trolleys and and Metro system. We didn't use it much as Porto highly walkable.  We hailed a cab when we arrived from the train station though as it's less of a hassle when you have luggage.

If you get the chance, take the Trolley 'Linea 1' to Foz. It's a beach community with great little restaurants, spectacular views of crashing waves and working fishermen.
Lunch in Foz. It was fabulous. Really.
Bottom line? If you get a chance to visit Porto? Do it. It's a 3 hr train trip from Lisbon and you won't regret it. You can reserve your train tickets online. I've used RailEurope.com and have not been disappointed.

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