Retirement update: One year Later

Thursday

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.

I have started to consider my 'new' self to be a traveler, writer, volunteer, activist and artist but will never regret 38 years at the bedside as a Registered Nurse.


Portugal: Porto

Sunday

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.

Portugal: Lisbon

Saturday

Lisbon, Portugal.
 One of the oldest cities in the world.
Our terrace in the Baixa district
Arriving by train from Faro, Portugal - we arrived at the Oriente Station in Lisbon where we caught the oh-so-easy-to-navigate-color-coded-metro to Baixa Stn..
Do yourself a favor and download a Lisbon transit guide before you go. It just makes sense ;)
  • Praco do Comercio - Our first stop. A large public square located closest to 'Terrerio do Paco' Metro Station - We picked up our 'Lisboa Card' at the Tourist Information Center, good for travel on trams, trains and subways - more on that, later.
  • Tram 28 - If you have time to ride the trolley car, take Tram 28. It's route takes you all around the city. Be aware that riding this trolley is fairly popular so you might want to do it early in the morning

A little 'Gypsy Swing'
  • Speaking of 'Gypsies'...I'm not saying Gypsies are thieves but ...pickpockets abound here and Gypsies get the bulk of the blame. Just be aware.

Remember the "Lisboa Card"? We used the beejezzus out of it. Just Google 'Lisboa Card' and you can reserve it online. 
  • Sintra - If you want to save yourself this experience ...
Ticket-line for Sintra
Get online and buy your ticket to Sintra 'Moorish Castle' before going. http://www.parquesdesintra.pt/en/commercial-area/ticket-office
You're welcome.
Sintra "Moorish Castle"
  • Jeronimos Monastery - The final resting place of Portuguese explorer, Vasco de Gama who discovered India.
  • Belem Tower - a Unesco World Heritage site, located in Belem - FYI: Don't take the tram to get there. Your Lisboa Card works for the commuter train to Belem. Just sayin'. The tram was about a one hour journey. The train? 15 minutes.

What did I love about Lisbon?
The transit system.
The cafe-culture.
The history.

I'll be back.

Portugal: Faro

Cork.
Portugal is all about Cork. 
Who knew? 
Cork Trees live about 300 years
Bark is harvested from the cork tree once every 9 years
Harvested cork is soaked and pressed to make wine stoppers, shoes, handbags etc.
The process is entirely unautomated.
And wine.
Portugal is all about wine.

Our trip to Portugal began in the town of Faro - located on its southern coast.

It's where we learned of Portugal's cork industry and its importance to the national economy. The Portuguese are very committed to sustaining their Cork farms and want you to know that screw-tops on wine bottles are negatively impacting them. Also - look to buy cork handbags, flooring and shoes...every little bit helps.
Being educated about the wine-making process
Wine. Wine was everywhere. Are there wines of Portugal that are specific to the region? Who knows? I was drinking wine at the time and can't remember.

I do recall our tour of Quinta Dos Vales Winery was just lovely. It included wine, food and art - who could ask for more? A tour of the winery, followed by a traditional Portuguese lunch.
Dessert
Vineyard Muses...The Dancing Fat Ladies
Mr. Something was enchanted.

A beautiful day

Crotchetyness Prevention Plan

Tuesday

crotch·et·y
/ˈkräCHədē/
adjective

synonyms;
bad-tempered, irascible, irritable, grumpy, grouchy, cantankerous, short-tempered, testy, curmudgeonly, ill-tempered, ill-humored, peevish, fractious, crabby, crusty, prickly, touchy, snappish, cranky,ornery 
"it's the dreadful arthritis that has made him so crotchety"


"Getting old is not for sissies". 


I have always thought of myself as a glass half-full sort of gal. I tend to look on the bright-side and generally have a positive outlook on life. As I age, my tolerance for ignorance, stupidity and placating manipulation by the media wanes a little more with each passing year. In my youth, I would blow-off ridiculous news articles and chalk them up to sensationalism. So I was as surprised as the next guy (Mr. Something) when I read the B.S. about "Planned Parenthood selling baby body parts" and announced that not only was I "too old for this s*#t" but that I "was sick and tired of special-interest groups filling the minds ..." 

You get the idea.

I allowed myself to get sucked into the chasm of crotchetyness. It's a dark place and I don't like going there. I have always thought that if I have a problem, then I need to come up with a solution. Herein lies the problem...you can't fix stupid.

That being said... Mr. Something and I are on the 'Crotchetyness Prevention Plan'.

We struck a deal. If either one of us is sounding "Crotchety" we call them on it.

It's just our way of trying to prevent ourselves from becoming bad-tempered, irascible, irritable, grumpy, grouchy, cantankerous, short-tempered, testy, curmudgeonly, ill-tempered, ill-humored, ill-natured, peevish, fractious, crabby, crusty, prickly, touchy, snappish, cranky, ornery, older Americans. Are you 'in'?

Paranoid in South America

Anticipating travel to South America was both exciting and scary. Admittedly, reports of muggings, kidnappings and police corruption go...