Floral Arrangement, Louisa, Virginia, May 2018

Beauty can be found anywhere.  This floral arrangement was in our room at the wonderful Whistle Stop bed & breakfast in Louisa, Virginia.

Floral Arrangement

Cafés, Portugal, March 2018

Travel can be stressful, with planes, trains, or even ships that must be caught, unfamiliar roads to follow, schedules to be met and new languages to learn.  It’s nice to be able to slow down from time to time and to stop at a café for a coffee or a glass of wine.  We experienced a lot of interesting cafés and we took advantage of them to stop and relax for a few minutes on our journey.  Here are just a few.

Aveiro is home to one of our favorite cafés, A Mulata.  It’s a tiny place on Avenida Santa Joana and a block from the Museu do Aveiro.  A Mulata has a nice breakfast and fresh baked goods with a lot of vegetarian options.  It was also a quiet place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine or beer.  We like quiet.

Porto’s most famous café is Café Majestic.  Opened in 1921, this art nouveau café was a favorite of British author J.K. Rowlings, who is rumored to have worked on the first Harry Potter book here.  The notoriety that comes with being associated with anything Harry Potter means that the café is always crowded with tourists.  We were looking for a nice quiet atmosphere where we could sit and enjoy breakfast and coffee, and Majestic was not the place for us.

Majestic Cafe

Fortunately, Porto has another iconic café just a short walk from Majestic.  Named for a Brazilian indigenous people, Café Guarany has been a popular gathering place for Portuenses since 1933.  It’s a beautiful restaurant.  Renovated in 2003, the interior’s centerpiece are two paintings, “The Lords of Amazonia” by University of Porto alum Graça Morais.  We had a wonderful breakfast at Guarany and, later, stopped there again for dessert and coffee.

Braga has a pair of nice cafés in the Arcada at Praça da República, Café Astória and Café Vianna.  We chose to have breakfast at Café Vianna.  In operation for over 150 years, the café is supposedly where the 28 May 1926 coup d’etat began.  Portuguese novelists Eça de Queriós and Camilo Castelo Branco are said to have been visitors to the café during its long history.  We enjoyed a relaxing breakfast while we planned our day.  Located at the end of Praça da República, it proved to be a nice place to people watch.

Cafe Vianna Interior

Coimbra is home to another interesting historic café.  Located in what was once an auxiliary chapel, Café Santa Cruz has a wonderful interior, with vaulted ceilings and stained glass.  Opened in 1923, it’s another great place for coffee and a snack.  It’s location on Praça 8 de Maio and next door to Igreja de Santa Cruz make the café a good place for people watching.

Chincoteague Ponies

Back in the 90s we spent Easter weekend on Chincoteague Island, home to the wild horses made famous in Marguerite Henry’s “Misty of Chincoteague” books.

There are actually two herds of horses, also known as Assateague horses, living on the island, one herd on the Maryland end of the island and one herd on the Virginia end.  Each herd has about 150 horses.

The Maryland herd, or Assateague herd, is owned and managed by the National Park Service and, other than contraceptive and emergency medical treatment the Maryland herd is treated like other wildlife, with no special attention or treatment given to them.  They’re one of the last free-ranging feral horse herds in America.

The Virginia, or Chincoteague herd, is owned and managed by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department.  Through a special agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the herd is allowed to live and graze in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

Each year the Chincoteague fire department holds a roundup and auction of the horses.  The auction serves two purposes.  First, it controls the size of the herd.  Second, it helps finance the fire department’s operations.  The auction draws as many as 50,000 people who watch the herd make its annual swim from Assateague across the channel to Chincoteague.

The horses are quite beautiful and seem oblivious to the tourists around them.  We saw many of the horses around the island, usually from a distance, but we did have the opportunity to see several of the horses grazing along a bike path.  While they may seem harmless, it’s important to remember that they’re wild animals and can easily run over a nearby person.

Here are a couple photos of the horses from our visit to the island.

Chincateague Stallion Color Efx Graduated Ektachrome 64p foliage

Grey Horse Chincatigue HDR Realistic