Conimbriga – Roman Ruins

The restored city of Conimbriga lies about 16 kilometers south of Coimbra. It harbors ancient tiled mosaics, Roman homes, the baths and other items of interest. It’s a good idea to take a sack lunch and spend the day.

When the Romans trekked into the area around 1 A.D., they discovered Celts already ensconced in the area. The barbarians then showed up to take the Romans down. In spite of the defensive wall the Romans threw up in the middle of town, the Swabian barbarians were kings of the mountain by 468.

We loved to visit Conimbriga when we lived in Portugal. It was magical walking on those beautiful mosaics that were so carefully crafted all of those years ago. We seldom passed Coimbra (site of near Portugal’s oldest university) without looking for what progress the archaeologists had made since the last visit.

The archaeologists have continued to uncover the secrets of Conimbriga, and due to modern technology, you can see the progress they have made yourself. You will find a 360 degree surround look at the excavation site. When you see the depth and width of it, remember that it is only about 10 to 20 percent of what the archaeologists believe is underground.

Click here to see Conimbriga. You can start, stop and adjust the size of the photos. Tell me what you think!

The Portugal Years: Year five – Our First Family Vacation(s)


Susie trying to open the door to the varanda so she could go out and read.
Susie trying to open the door to the varanda so she could go out and read.

Susie early established herself as Mommy’s girl. She was always content and happy as long as Mommy was in sight. If Mama was not in sight, oh my did she ever let her displeasure ring loudly and long. And, if Susie was not happy, no one was happy.

One evening we were in the living room and while Susie was busy, I tried to sneak out of the living room down the hall to the bathroom just to have five minutes for myself. Well, I got out of the living room, and went into the bathroom, leaving the door open and the lights off. I scarcely made it in the door when I heard her. She was creeping down the hall looking for me and every time her hand hit the floor she complained, “ma-MA….”

She also loved books from an early age. Do you see that twinkle of mischief in her eyes? Stay tuned for other photos that clarify that.

Bethy eventually decided that Susie could stay.
Bethy eventually decided that Susie could stay.

Bethy soon got over her fear of being overtaken by the new sister and began to practice the prerogative of the elder sister: she started to try to boss Susie. Fortunately or unfortunately, Susie had a mind of her own, and only minded Bethy’s admonitions when it suited her.

Susie in one of the colorful fishing boats in Nazaré.
Susie in one of the colorful fishing boats in Nazaré.


Most of the traveling we had done up until this time was work related. Now, with a car and some vacation time, we packed up our little family and headed for Nazaré, Portugal. Nazaré is quite possible the most famous beach in Portugal. Not for great treasures, but for the feeling of having walked into the past. We stayed in a Pensaõ, (kind of like a bread and breakfast) and spent a few days there.

Nazaré is famous not only for the fishermen mending their nets on the beach, but also for the women whose fancy skirts covered seven petticoats of various colors. Fishermen’s widows sit on their stoops dressed all in black. They weave a warm a wool that they make into shirts or double-sided cape with a hood by request. You can see some photos of Nazaré here.

On the beach in Nazaré.
On the beach in Nazaré.

Another favorite vacation that year was Curia. Curia means “healing” for the hot springs where people still go for “the cure.” The Romans discovered it when they were in the Iberian Peninsula  We stayed in The Grand Hotel for a few days. It was like a trip back to the 1920s in style. The service was superb as were the meals. Our suite was quite spacious enough for all four of us. Elisabeth discovered a table by her bed that, when she took the drawer out, she could hide inside –  one of her favorite things to do.


Curia - Mom and Susie
Curia – Mom and Susie
Daddy with girls.
Daddy with girls.
view from window
view from window

garden at curia

What is your favorite place to vacation?

The Portugal Years – The Fifth Year: One Plus One Is More Than You Think

Bethy was almost two-and-a-half when Susie was born. She looked so big and grown up next to her baby sister. And, I had some expectations. One of my goals was to get her out of diapers before the baby arrived, and I really thought we had achieved it.

The problem crept up slowly, and eventually became a visible pattern. Every time that I sat down to nurse Susie, Bethy would prance in front of me and tell me she had to go to the bathroom, and she needed help. So, I put the hungry baby down and dutifully attended to my eldest daughter. Then I spent some time calming down my hungry infant.

Two weeks later, I realized that she was playing m,  and it was not a good thing for Susie or for me. So what’s a mother to do? Reluctantly, I reunited my daughter with her diapers so that Susie could eat in peace. It was only a couple of months later before Bethy shed the diapers for good.

 Bethy and the flower

Bethy continued to grow. She loved to look at things in the farm across the street. One day we were walking and she suddenly exclaimed, “Mommy, Mommy it’s salad. I questioned her because it sounded like she was saying there was salad, and when I looked sure enough, there was lettuce growing in one of the fields. On this particular day, she found some wild flowers in the field.

Susie on the bed

Susie grew and was a happy sprite as long as Mommy was nearby. She did refuse to eat baby food – it got to where she would gag on pureed food and threw it up if I insisted. The pediatrician examined her, and said she was perfectly healthy and was gaining weight properly and to just let her drink mother’s milk until she wanted to give it up.

Along about her 8th month, she was sitting on my lap in the kitchen and pointed to the bread and said “pão,” which is bread in Portuguese. A month later, she pointed to a ripe pear on the table and allowed as how she wouldn’t mind eating that.

By the time she was a year old, she decided to try some broccoli. But she continued to find comfort in mother’s milk for quite some time.