Blog 5 Book 2 ‘Crossing The Pond’ by Junebug Jorgensen       

     It’s finally in the works!

    The sequel to my first book is being written in baited enthusiasm, penned each day with vigor any writer would be proud to boast of.

     Not that it was ever forgotten; at the very least, some stories were started a while ago, even year’s ago.

     The delay was perplexing to me also. Given the fact that I needed a break after my first book, and the same old excuse, life got in the way, plus fun and pleasure took first priority after our lockdown, plus the fact I had other writing endeavors, eighteen months between books was a given.

     My first book, I Heard the Alps Call His Name, was written in less than a year. Covid helped to push it forward into high gear, but it was shear determination and the unfailing desire to put to rest a painful past that drove me to finish it.

     This one, God willing, along with my sanity, will take six months, not including the accumulated time of some stories written long ago.

     Writing a book of 70,000 words or about 300 pages is no easy feat, let me tell you!  It means getting up earlier than I would like (seven) and planning my day around completing my goal of writing 1000- 2000 words a day, give or take. I’m one of those writers who must first do all of the things one does in a given day- have a coffee, feed the cats,, house clean what I assigned myself to do that day, appointments, meditation and exercise, answer  my emails, texts, phone calls, do the laundry, cook lunch and supper in one simple meal, and grocery shop (usually once a week).

Then, if I have no afternoon appointments, such as dancing or rescuing a cat, which is usually kept to a tightly regulated schedule, I begin writing by 2 o’clock.

If I’m easily in the groove, which doesn’t happen that often, I will write until six, eat my pre-cooked dinner, write another hour or two, or do research related to my story, or read something to relax me. Evenings are usually spent, if I’m home, watching documentaries or Dr. Pol, one of my weaknesses. Before sleep, I’ll review what I want to accomplish for the next day, then lights out at midnight. Sometimes I feel inspired and burn the midnight oil by finishing a chapter, but often my eyelids are heavy and drooping by one.

There are days, I must admit, when I can’t pen a single word, or I start, give up, then turn on Oprah.  The words allude me. I have now learned – through frustratingly long, silent moments, that can stretch into hours – when to stop, and accept it as part of writing; I turn off my Words App and go onto something else. Even Hemmingway and Margaret Atwood had writers block. The only one who didn’t, it seemed, was Steven King, who set a goal of 2,000 words a day; but I wonder where fiction begins and the truth ends.

Then, there are the re-writes, draft after draft….after draft. Beta readers and my editors critique, picking away at my not so tough skin, only to re-write, review, again and again, until I’m satisfied; one final edit, then I fall into a state of exhaustion and relief that it is almost over.  Self doubt creeps into my thoughts- when is enough, when is it ready for print?

     Then I realize I have to let my baby go, my manuscript that has grown into a third arm. I cut it off and prepare it for publication.

    I now wait in gleeful anticipation for the first print to come in the mail, and hope I will still like it. I will breathe a sigh knowing in my heart of hearts I did the best I could. I hope the world will think the same.

     Then back into the real world of fun and play, and travel, already thinking of the next book.

     So why do I do it?

     Because it’s in my blood, intertwined in the layers of my soul. I cannot imagine not writing.

‘Follow your passion and the truth will emerge.’


     The book will be a sequel to my first book – a book of short stories or anthologies: spanning from 1990 to the present. 

(If you haven’t read my first book, you need to right now to follow the sequel)!

 Anthology: a collection of short stories with one similar theme – linking together stories – flowing the stories from one to the other, making sense and coherence of the characters and their lives.

Index of Short stories:

  1. Life from 1990 – 1994: Marcus and Andy take on America- return to Switzerland/ Fabian and our new life in Bern/back across the pond.
  2. Birth family/ our Indigenous past/ Adoption and how it affected our lives/cross dreaming-a beginning.
  3. Life in Canmore: 1994 – 2005/short hops.
  4. Hungary – 2006-2007: father’s history/mother/more short hops across the pond
  5. 2008– 2015: Mexico/Leaving Canada, where to settle? Traveling/bigger hops.
  6. 2015 – present: Coming to Portugal/ new life and new values, coming into myself/the crossings become a trickle in the deep, blue pond.

        ** photos, and poems related to the anthology


     Here is a small sample of one of the stories, beginning in 1990, before Andy went back to Switzerland.


Spring 1990 – The Boys take on America!

        The rays hit the boat strong and bright on that warm late March day in 1990. In the distance, waves could be heard lapping the shoreline. The boat, the name the boys gave it because of its size, was an old grey 1972 Ford car that they bought for three hundred dollars in Calgary. The four-door monster of rust and metal, had worn out seats that sent clouds of grey dust in the air once a mass of any proportions touched its surface. Constantly farting black smoke out its tailpipe, it whined like a kid who lost his lollipop when they tried to start it in the cool mornings. The belly was so huge that Marcus and Andy could both sleep in it, one in the front, and one in the back seat. Whoever flipped for the front seat had to curl their feet around the steering wheel, while plopping their head up against the side passenger door, a pillow supporting their head and a blanket tucked around them to keep out the cool air at night.

       Andy usually got the front seat as he was shorter than Marcus.

       But even with the added leg room in the back, Marcus would often wake up with a crinkled neck and red marks on his face from sleeping with his cheek pressed against the door handle.

       They had one significant advantage being on the Pacific coast. It was not Alberta, where traces of snow still dotted the brown prairies, and temperatures hovered just above freezing.  

       Vancouver was a pleasant reminder of what a Canadian winter should be, mild and wet in January, but sunny and warm in the spring.

      “Ah, my head!” moaned Andy in the front, turning over for a more comfortable position, almost falling off the seat.

      “Hrmm?” could be heard in the back as Marcus tried to open his eyes, only to shut them fast, the light from the sun striking his retina with such force he winced in pain. Shifting his weight out of the sunlight and bumping his head against the door handle, an array of profanities resonate throughout the misty air.

     “Verdammt! Mein Kopf!”

     Andy laughed, “Ja, my head hurts too!”

     “What a night! What time did we leave?” Marc asked, tossing the sleeping bag flap open and raising his head, blinking into the rising sun poking its head through the clouds above the waves.

     “Donno.” After that last round of tequila shots, all I remember is someone shoving me against the bar, then all hell broke loose when that guy with the yellow teeth took a poke at the cowboy, and ended up on the other side of the bar,” moaned Andy, sitting slowly up in the back seat and rubbing his head, trying to focus his blood-shot eyes through the grey mist that was settling on the coastline. Blinking, he stared at the red sun that peaked its head through the clouds and shone on the Pacific ocean in glowing orange and pink. Soft, swirling sounds could be heard as the waves caressed the sand in the distance, a few short meters from the boat.

     “I don’t remember much after we left that last bar. That native guy with shiny black hair in pigtails pushed us out the door when the glass started flying,” moaned Andy, covering his neck with his sleeping bag and digging his body into the seat.

    “Yeh, I’m really glad he got us out of that brawl. It was that yellow-toothed bum who started the fight!”

     “Too bad we had to leave those chicks behind. That blond was hot!”

     “How the hell did we get home? And where’s my wallet?”


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Blog4Travels With The Crazy Cat Lady Carnivals

Blog 4 Travels With The Crazy Cat Lady Carnival- Portugal Junebug Jorgensen

It’s Carnival time!
“Are you coming to the carnival in Loule next week?” asked my friend Gerry.
“No, I don’t think so, I have too much to do,” I answered, with a hint of trepidation, knowing full well I was in the minority.
Carnival season had started a few days ago, February 19, 20 and 21st in Loule, about 40 minutes from where I live. The highest point is on Carnival Tuesday, a public holiday February 21st, when the parades and festivities take place, giving locals the days off to celebrate. Everyone dresses up, the children are out of school, and the whole country celebrates.
With the last carnival (Entrudo in Portuguese) held in 2020, the country of 10 million was back to its normal self.
Sitting in my sunny living room listening to Buddha chant softly in the background from YouTube, and revising a second draft of my essay, I mused over what I was missing.
“Hmmm, now why would I want to see the oldest carnival in Portugal, dating back to the 13th century, with 14 gaily coloured floats, 9 animation groups, 3 samba schools, and more than 600 entertainers in vibrant displays of bright colourful costumes, music, bands and dancing frenzy over three days of song and dance, carrying into the early hours of the morning?
Or see a caterpillar, a gecko, or the king of the parade, a Metoposaurus Algarvensis, an extinct amphibian similar to a giant salamander that lived 227 million years ago, and which inspired the bid to become a UNESCO Geopark.
Or eat Chourico (Portuguese sausage), Arroz de Marisco (fish, rice stew), Bolinhos de Bacalhau (salted cod patties), Pastel de Nata (world famous custard tarts) washed down with Cerveja (beer) and locally grown vino (red, white or green wine), in the crowded cafes and restaurants and tents that lined the parade route, along with the other eighty thousand merry partygoers?
I hurriedly checked online for other carnivals in my area.
Portimao, Albufeira, Faro, and many other towns had festivities and floats, but they were also from February 17 to 22 – almost over.
Today was the last day, but I had line-dancing at 3 pm, an end-of-the-month writing deadline, and Portuguese lessons (I had to be somewhat clear-headed)!
I decided to look elsewhere in Portugal as every location had some Mardi Gras- like Carnival going on.
One of the biggest Carnivals of all was in Lisbon, where the city almost comes to a standstill for a few days. Trapeze artists and clowns are part of the parade route. Hotels are full and if anyone knows how to party it’s the Portuguese. It also finished on Feb. 22.
The Carnival in Ovar, Portugal is one of the biggest Mardi Gras parades, from February 1 – March 5th and hosts the most important event for the folklore of Portugal. I can still make it; just have to figure out how to drive 3 hours north of here and find a cheap hotel (and amigos to tag along)! Huge carnivals are also in Sesimbra, Torres Verdras (considered the most Portuguese of Portugal), and Funchal, and on the islands of Madeira and Azores.

Carnivals began hundreds of year’s ago in Italy, of Catholic origin, where people dressed in outrageous costumes the day before lent. During lent, Catholics abstain from meat, so the festival was called ‘Carnevale’ which literally means ‘put away the meat,’ and the name ‘Carnival’ stuck.
Over time, carnivals in Italy grew in popularity, and the party spread to all Catholic countries in Europe.
As the Portuguese, Spanish and French began to discover and control the Americas and other parts of the world, they took with them their tradition of celebrating carnivals.
You heard of the Carnival in Brazil, right? Well, Portugal brought the Carnival to Brazil in 1723!
Searching in the local newspaper, I saw the Alvor Carnival was until the 26th, so I wandered into town to see what’s happening. I just need to follow the music and the crowds, well, crowds for a small village. My favorite costume of choice is a butterfly, with large, brightly coloured forewings, antennas and a long hindwing fluttering behind me. I will order mine from Amazon for the Sita Festival in Alvor, May 25th; or maybe I’ll be a cat again. This is one party I won’t miss! There’s already a large group of friends gearing up for it, in eager anticipation!
After some soul-searching, I think I’ll stay local this year. The weather is warming up to 18 in the daytime; the sun shows its bright face most days; the sea-shelled beach is beckoning me with its off-season scantly-clad bathers braving the cool waters; short trips are planned for the spring; there is dancing 3 times a week; fitness and Portuguese lessons; lunches and dinners; a writers group has started up, not to mention my daily writing and blog.
When I find the time, I’ll check out hotels online in Loule for 2024.
Gotta think ahead!

Leslie, Laura, Tatiana and little furball Tessa

Travels With the Crazy Cat Lady ‘Yesterday’   

                                                                                                                                     Junebug Jorgensen

    The hit song was born on a trip to Portugal. It was May, 1965, and Paul McCartney had a melody to a song playing in his head, and during the long chauffeured ride from Lisbon to Albufeira, in the Algarve, southern Portugal, with his girlfriend Jane Asher, he scribbled on a brown envelope the words to Yesterday, the iconic song of the Beatles.

     In 1968, Paul came a second time to southern Portugal with Linda Eastman, near Praia da Luz, a half-hour drive from Alvor. The famous Beatle didn’t pen a famous song, but he did write ‘La Penina,’ about a resort he unexpectedly showed up at 1:30 in the morning, playing impromptu piano with the band. He did propose to Linda on his holidays here, and around the same time, they found out Linda was pregnant with their first child, Mary.

     In those days, most of Portugal was a relatively unknown tourist place, full of fishing villages and quiet beaches.

     British and other Europeans holidayed for the warm weather to escape the damp, cold winters. The road from Lisbon to the Algarve was a five-hour drive on a dusty, narrow road. Nowadays I takes two hours on a modern double lane highway.  There were tourists in the ’60s and ’70s, but it was not until the ’80s that tourism started to grow with better infrastructure, promotions, investments, and Portugal’s entry into the EU. In 2002, the euro replaced the escudo as the currency.

Many other celebrities live and invest in Portugal, Cliff Richards, Bonnie Tyler, John Malkovich and Madonna, George Clooney, Princess Eugenie, just to name a few.

    Paul also loved animals. When he married Linda, the woman who was to be his soul mate, they moved to a farm in the Scottish highlands and had loads of different animals, sheep, goats, dogs and cats, to name a few.  It wasn’t unusual for him to slosh around in the mud milking one of his goats and balancing a toddler in his arms.

    “Sir Paul was my favorite Beatle, you know,” I said to my friend Julie.

    “Mine too, although George was really cute too,” she replied, as we sipped vino verde in a Portuguese restaurant one warm afternoon in Alvor. My new friend from Winnipeg, Manitoba, had already lived here for over twenty years, but still had the accent of a Canuck. Julie learned the language by helping her three children with their homework in Portugal and working part-time.

    “Do you want me to pick up the girls after school tomorrow?” I asked, as we both dug into our chicken curry.

    “Yes, thanks. Maya is finished at 2 o’clock and Taliya at 4:30. They can go to David’s place until I finish work.”

     Besides speaking Portuguese, the girls learned English at a young age in school, as did most children and adults. Struggling to learn the local language, I joined a group of newbies Thursday’s at 4:30 pm in a little restaurant in the village. Between noisy local chatter and children running around, us ex-pats did our best to learn Portuguese with our very patient teacher Rebecca. And learn we did, some more, some less. I seemed to fit in the latter category, even though I found writing the language easier as it was similar to French. Anyone who tells you it sounds like Spanish is bullock’s!  At least to me. The little Spanish I knew didn’t compare to Portuguese, well maybe ‘cerveza or por favor!’ When I first heard it on the television, it sounded Slavic to me. What did I know! Luckily, there was always, it seemed, a local amigo, who was willing to forgive my laziness, and it was quite easy to slide back into my old habit of speaking my native tongue.

   I still try to learn though, practising with the cashiers at the supermarket or with the locals at the charity shop on Saturday’s, out of respect for this lovely country.


By the time I got here, it was a fairly quiet haven of sunshine and bliss in the winter. I settled nicely in the camp in my own caravan, and easily made friends.

One Easter Sunday in 2019, I had my first encounter with feral animals in Portugal.

 I was sitting on my deck-covered patio recovering from a duel hip operation when a neighbour came over and asked if I would speak with two ladies about some kittens. I said sure, and I met Sally and her sister Penny. They said they were walking nearby and had seen two baby kittens in a ditch with no mother around. Not knowing what to do, they tucked them in their coats and asked at the camp for help. They said ‘try the cat lady,’ and were directed to me.  Overnight I was ‘mama,’ bottle-feeding a three-week-old brother and sister every two hours. Their eyes had barely opened, and they wouldn’t have lasted another night. And if this wasn’t enough, a friend from the other side of the camp told me there was a litter of kittens born under a caravan and asked if I could help.

 Now I was the surrogate mother of six!

Thankfully, I had help from my new friends, Sally and Penny, who bought kitten milk and helped with the bills. One little ginger was so sick we didn’t think he’d survive and went several times to the vet for meds. They all had the cat flu and I nursed them round the clock. After two sleepless months, they were ready for adoption. Remember the brother and sister? I put an advert online with a local animal charity and a very nice young Portuguese couple came and immediately fell in love with the two kittens, now called Ben and Billie; they happily went off to live with their new family.

 The four little brothers were old enough to be adopted. Asking around, I was put in contact with a dedicated Portuguese woman named Zélia, who helped me sterilise and re-home them.

  After sterilization, the mother went back into her environment. It was time to say goodbye, but I just couldn’t part with Bo-Bo, the little ginger kitten who was now a playful, healthy, and oh-so-cute boy. One of his brothers, a black-and-white, looked at me with big green eyes as if to say, ‘take me’. It’s true that cats sometimes choose their owners— he puffed out his little chest and smiled at me, and that was that. Bo-Bo and Scooter were my new fur-babies. They joined Bella, a sweet female who I rescued from the colony in Lagos. All three were vaccinated.

The remaining two brothers were adopted into loving families. I organised a fundraiser with Zélia’s help and raised enough money to cover most of their costs. The rest came from private donations and out of our own pockets.

 I haven’t been a ‘surrogate mama’ for a while, but I make my food rounds and do my best, following the example of many.

“The kindest thing you can do in life is to give selflessly of yourself


     I befriended Barb and Jamie, a retired couple from Ottawa. Barb is a talented dancer and teaches us dance on Thursday’s. After Covid, more of my fellow countryman made this beautiful country their winter retreat, bypassing Mexico and Florida. There is Gerry of Irish descent who worked in Jasper and Vancouver and was proud to call Canada her second home; she now lives part time in Alvor. Diane, a retired nurse and sailor from Vancouver, who also discovered Portugal by chance and now makes it her winter home. And Amanda from Toronto who married a handsome Portuguese man.

     Almost overnight it seems, Canadians and Americans are discovering Portugal, not just in the Algarve, but in Lisbon, Porto, Madeira and Azores.

     It’s called the New California because of the similarity between the two countries – scenic landscape and beaches, warm, sunny climate year-round, first-class golf courses, cuisine and wine, and friendly locals.

     In 2022, 35% of real estate was snapped up by the US and Canada is expected to invest 1 billion euros by the end of 2023. The UK makes up around 40% of the ex-pat population and invest billions in real estate. A great many French live here for the tax incentive, Brazil for the opportunity to work in the same language, and EU members for the quality of life.

     Because there are no restrictions for foreigners who want to buy property in Portugal, including the UK after Brexit, the market is hot and burning brighter every year!

Move over Sir Paul!

The Calvary’s on it’s way!

Travels with the Cat Lady 2

The End of the World   Sagres, Portugal  Junebug Jorgensen    

Looking at the deep blue ocean that stretched over the horizon, I came to understand why Sagres, Portugal was believed to be the end of the world.

“Do you know that for thousands of year’s people thought sea monsters lived just over the horizon, and the earth dropped off into a terrible black hole?” I said to my son, pointing westerly, one warm Sunday in 2017.

“Oh really?” It must have been a long time ago,” Marc replied, standing on the cliff’s edge while the wind whipped his brown hair around his face.

“Yes, before the fifteenth century, when this area was one of the busiest shipping lanes, with vessels having to maneuver around the dangerous tip of Cape St. Vincent’s.  I read about it in this brochure,” I said, holding up a small booklet.

“I don’t know how they made it around these cliffs. That sea is incredibly wild,” Marc marveled, staring down steep rugged cliffs into the foaming sea below. Fisherman could be seen hugging the rocks edge like seagulls , casting lines out into the unforgiving Atlantic ocean.

“And it’s the most southerly point in Europe. They also believed that the setting of the sun off the point made the waters boil. It was considered Gods country for centuries.”

“I thought Christopher Columbus sailed around this point.”

“No, he sailed from Spain to the Canary Islands northwest of Africa looking for a new route to China but ended up in what is now called the Bahamas. It’s now widely believed that he didn’t discover the Americas. The Vikings were there five hundred years before 1492, and it is widely accepted that the Portuguese landed in Labrador and Newfoundland in 1473; Indigenous people lived in North America centuries before that.

“He sure missed his point.”

“Columbus wasn’t trying to discover a new continent, only a new trade route to East Asia. By the way, did you know Columbus was Portuguese? He was born north of here in the Alentejo region, but there’s still controversy about this fact, depending on which history books your inclined to believe.”

“Hmmm…interesting,” muttered my son, staring at some surfers breaking the waters edge and coasting to the sandy beach far below.

“Henri the Navigator sent Portuguese explorers on their journeys around this point to charter expeditions in South Africa about the same time. The era was called the Age of Discovery from the 14th to 17th century.”

Nodding his head in affirmation, he turned his attention towards a few food and souvenir stands scattered on a hill nearby. “I’m starved, let’s get something to eat.”

Munching down on a foot long hotdog and cold drink, we sat in the April sunlight, observing a handful of tourists wondering by.

“Sure is quiet here,” said Marc.

“”Yes, it is. Tourist season doesn’t begin until June. And sometimes it’s overlooked being an almost two-hour drive from Faro.”

Afterward, we walked to the Sagres Fortress and spent the rest of the afternoon looking at the mystical sundial (de Rosa dos-Vintos) carved in the ground, protected by the cannons and 16th-century towers with the lighthouse in the distance.

“What a beautiful place,” I exclaimed, as we drove towards Vila De Bispo, a small town a few minutes drive north, filled up with gas, then drove the forty minutes back to Alvor on the N125.

This was Marc’s second visit to Portugal; with only a 2.5-hour flight from Zurich, he found coming here easy and inexpensive, not to mention the warm weather to greet him, fantastic scenery, and great restaurants and cafes around every corner.

“I need to get back to Alvor to feed the camp cats,” I said, as we drove past Lagos, gazing into the distant hills full of orange and lemon trees. Turning onto the M531 at Portimao, we arrived home just as the red sun was sinking behind the clouds.

I still pinch myself for stumbling on this little jewel called Alvor. Located in the most southerly part of Portugal, the quintessential fishing village of 6,000  (swelling to +20,000 in the summer high season), with 3.5 kms of beach, is the meaning of Portuguese charm – the unscathed old town – picturesque harbour – the Church of the Divine Salvador de Alvor.


Parking at my caravan, I fed my two cats, then left food outside and fresh water under a bush for the local four-legged residents.

Having a special place in my heart for animals began on my grandpa’s farm in Lethbridge, Alberta, when I was young; watching the barn cats being born, or playing with them for hours in the hay. Over the years, I was blessed with many of my own. There was always a fur ball on my lap, a dog yapping at my feet, or a cockatiel sitting on my shoulder. I fostered and rescued animals in Canada, and this carried on to my places of travel: Mexico, the US, Europe, Thailand and Portugal.

When I first came to the Algarve, I always carried a bag of cat and dog food, and a jug of water in my car in case I came across stray animals. I often ran out I food before I got home. Colonies of cats were in abundance, and dogs ran freely in packs, although the numbers have diminished over the years because of donations and dedicated individuals and organizations who give selflessly of their time to help them.

For a while, I fed the marine cats in the lovely city of Lagos with another volunteer. Nandi, a charitable organization in Lagos, sponsored the food, medicine and sterilization of the cats. (I eventually had to give this up because of my arthritis).

I volunteer at the APPA animal charity shop on Saturdays in Alvor, and support SOS Alvor and SOS Algarve, and other charities. Over time, my friends called me the cat lady, but what I do is a drop in the bucket compared to other volunteers.


“Where do you want to eat tonight?” Marc asked me, as we put empty cans in the trash and bags of food in the storage shed and locked up.

“If doesn’t matter to me, what do you feel like?”

“A pizza always is my first choice mom, you know this,” he laughed.

“Let’s walk into town and look for an Italian restaurant.”

Walking on the cobblestone streets winding through the narrow streets in the old village, music could be heard from the restaurants and cafes. People sat in busy patios eating their evening meal. A cat scurried across the road and disappeared behind a food grill. Dogs barked at each other on strained leashes.

The Sunset bar was next on our list for a cocktail special, then on to Pizzeria D’Alvino, where we munched down on two large ham and pineapple, and bacon, mushroom pizzas. Yum!

Dancing and music seduced us from the discos and bars….but not tonight for this gal!  Eleven was my curfew because of an early morning appointment.

I waved goodbye to Marc and walked the fifteen minutes home.                                ***

The next day we had a late breakfast at the Wild Sandwiches cafe, collected sea shells on the beach and counted the sailboats and fishing boats dotting the deep blue Atlantic.

Then on to Portimao for some shopping.

“Did you know that Portugal is older than Switzerland?” I said to Marc over a coffee at the Aqua shopping center.

“Do you mean the country?”

“Yes, Portugal became a new independent kingdom in 1143, and Switzerland in 1291, making this small peninsula the oldest country in Europe.”

“Hmmm, interesting,” my slightly distracted son said, finishing a long text to his girlfriend in Switzerland. “Angela says hi.”

“Hello to her also.”

“So, what do you want to do later mom?” he asked.

Well, maybe head back to Alvor, go to a sushi place for supper, then see what’s on Netflix.”

“If it’s alright with you, we’ll go to that sushi restaurant you want to try, after that I’ll drop you at home, then I’ll walk down to a few bars on the strip. A good band is playing at Beer & Co.”

“Let’s meet for breakfast tomorrow morning at Jolly’s,” I cheerfully said, waving goodbye to my son later that night as he walked up the camp road.

Watching the moon through my curtains later in bed, I heard Bobo come in through the small window in the bathroom, jump on the bed, snuggle at my feet with his sister Bella – another rescue – and settle in for the night.

As my eyelids became heavy, I thanked the Gods that the end of the world was not over the horizon, and the Portuguese, one of the greatest explorers of that era, were brave enough to cross the Atlantic, as did other expeditions, and discover a new world.

Blog: Travels With The Crazy Cat Lady

Travels with the Crazy Cat Lady

     The following blogs, that I will publish once a week, I will introduce you to the countries I have travelled to: my stories and anecdotes, some crazy, some full of adventures, others hopefully inspirational.


     First on my list, is a country that was once a little known gem in Europe. This is quickly changing as more and more people are discovering this tourist destination that is being described as the new California of the western world.

Allow me to introduce you to Portugal:

*Why I came to Portugal- my Journey

   *The history of the country and it’s people

   *Favorite places to visit and attractions

   *My furbabies and cat rescues in the Algarve

   *Why is Portugal a popular tourist destination

   *Crazy and interesting anecdotes in each story.

     I hope you will follow me on my journey of fun an adventure, and feel free to comment or review any story.


Why I Came to Portugal – My Journey

  A chance encounter and a sense of adventure brought me to Portugal. In the beginning, it was not my country of choice.

 Not that I had anything against Portugal. I just knew so little about the Iberian Peninsula tucked away in the most westerly corner of Europe, and only that it bordered Spain and had nice beaches. (Columbus used it as a jumping ground to launch his voyages of discovery, one being a new gateway to China – but stumbled instead upon a little known continent named North America).                            ***

 The idea was seeded in my mind on an autumn day in 2016 in a café in Switzerland.

 Recently retired, I was searching for a winter retreat in Europe to be closer to my son Marc and grandson, Rafael, who lived in Winterthur, Switzerland. So I crossed the pond once again from my home country of Canada in search of my Shangri-La.

 Spain tweaked my interest, where I’d spent three sun-soaked weeks in Majorca drinking margaritas a few years back, but a conversation with a friend changed all that.

 “What sort of place are you looking for?” my friend asked, as we sipped cappuccino’s in a busy café in the heart of the little Swiss city of Winterthur.

 “Somewhere warm, sunny, close to the ocean, and inexpensive,” I said. “And with a good flights to Switzerland and Canada.”

“Why don’t you try Portugal?” he replied.

 My curiosity got the better of me, and I asked him why        Portugal.

“Because the people are friendly, the food and wine are superb, the climate, especially in the Algarve, is sunny and warm in the winter months, and it’s affordable to live there.”

Having my undivided attention, he went on to tell me more about this tiny country. How safe it was, how the clean, sandy beaches stretched to eternity, how one could wear a t-shirt in winter, and sip local wine or a cerveza for a couple of euros.

And flights between the two countries were less than three hours door to door.

After sleeping on it, I thought, what do I have to lose?  If it didn’t work out, I could find another warm place in Europe to hang my sandals, or go back to Mexico.

 Two weeks later, on a warm September day, I was on a plane from Zurich to Faro, with no real plans, and going it solo. I wondered if I had lost all my grey cells flying to a foreign land not knowing a soul, and at my age!

Making our descent towards Faro, the capital city in the Algarve, the most southern region of Portugal, all I could see out my port window was beach and water! I held my breath as we raced towards the blue water, only to feel the plane level off and slowly dip towards the coastline;  I sighed upon seeing ‘Aeroporto Faro’ in the distance.

Landing with a light thud on the tarmac, I stared at the green hilly countryside as the plane taxied to the grey, modest airport, not realizing how much my life was about to change.

The sun was setting as we drove west out of Faro. It was the most beautiful red sunset I’d seen in a long time, sinking slowly into the Atlantic Ocean. I was in the Algarve, but at that moment, I had no idea what that meant.

The shuttle bus dropped me off in Porches, a small town I randomly chose on because the hacienda-style hotel reminded me of Baja, Mexico, where I had spent four winters.

 After a few days of sightseeing, Alvor caught my interest online in my search for a village closer to the ocean. So I hopped on a local bus, and an hour later I dragged my suitcase through the entrance of Camping Alvor just as music began playing in the local bar.

Settling in my room with a glass of wine, chatter and music could be heard through the shutters. Peering out the window, I saw a white building, a stones throw away from me, packed with people sitting outside on red plastic chairs and tables under big umbrellas, with many more dancing in front of a band playing very loud, strange music, with bursts of laughter filling the afternoon air. A huge grin appeared on my face, and I thought- this isn’t so bad. Later, I was serenaded to sleep with Portuguese music ringing in my ears.

Exploring the quintessential village of Alvor in the weeks that followed, I savoured  the scenes of everyday life in Portugal—locals drinking coffee in the little cafés dotting the cobblestone streets, sipping wine in the many colourful flower-decked restaurants down by the harbour, watching fishermen gut their catch and sell it to the local restaurants, buying local fruit and vegetables at the nearby market, taking in the natural beauty of the beaches, and swimming in the  ocean.

The fishing village lifestyle seemed perfect for me, growing up in a small city and on a farm in Canada, and later when I was married, living in a mountain village in Switzerland.

I loved the contrast between the new and old Portuguese. One can find white, tall, modern, five-star hotels on one side of the street, a bearded Portuguese sheep herder tending to his bleating flock of sheep grazing in rolling green pastures with old ruins scattered about—all in harmony with one another.

As the weeks flowed by, I wondered —was I crazy to come here? Was it a safe country, what was the cost of living, accommodation?

I also wondered what others thought of me beginning a new life past sixty. Wow! I had never considered myself as being older. I was told I looked younger than my age, and my marble were in pretty good shape- but in retrospect, my confidence was waning—just a little.

 Following my beliefs of fulfilling my dreams – being close to my family and living in a warmer climate for the winter had to be the right path…..right? And did it really matter what people thought. In reality, they probably gave little thought to my life, and if they did, they over-all supported me, and were proud that I had the courage to come here in the first place.

The warmth and friendliness of the people peeled off and  doubt and nervousness, and slowly I integrated with the people – expats like myself  from many different European countries, UK, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Finland, Sweden, also Brazil and China, the US, and my home country. English was the common language spoken.

If I needed company or a good chat, I only had to step out my door and there was always a friendly face to greet me. I would often walk around chatting with friends or stopping for a coffee – play darts or pool at the restaurant, karaoke, or join a quiz game. In retrospect, approximately a third of the people I know are single, half of those being men. I say this because statistically women normally outlive men. Maybe part of the reason there are more single men is the lifestyle—men seem to be more independent here and overall more active, hence they live longer—maybe it was also the good wine and first class golf courses!

 Determined to give it a go, I read the local English newspaper, watched   local television, trying to make sense of the Portuguese language, (which was difficult as the language is unique and one of the most difficult to learn; many moments were spent frantically searching in my Portuguese dictionary for a word or phrase to explain what I wanted in a store). So I took lessons to try and learn basic Portuguese, read books on the culture and the people, and experienced first hand what the country was all about – slowly but surely, it began to grow on me.

 One day I saw an advert for a fitness group at the local community centre and joined in, meeting other ladies who were friendly and supportive. Our instructor was a lovely lady called  Marie. We not only broke sweat together, but everyone was encouraged to go for a coffee afterwards in the downstairs café.

 Before I knew it, there was show dancing with Shelley on Mondays, line dancing with Joan on Wednesdays, Barb on Thursdays, yoga, swimming and walking on the beach in between.

 I  joined a writers group, (eventually writing a book, but that’s another story), Jayne’s social group – ‘Let’s Get it On,’  having fun at concerts, lunches, dancing, walks, drinks/coffee, and day trips around Portugal.

 I came to realize that if I make the effort to meet people and be willing to try different things and have an open mind, I will love life and find happiness– and I have!

   I pinch myself every morning as I wake up to sunshine and t-shirt weather in January.  My confidence has returned. It feels right. It was all that my friend said and much more.

A chance encounter brought me to this beautiful country, and I am glad I had the courage to take that first step. I really was crazy, but in a good way.

“Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” Buddha


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Free Book Giveaway!

I am having a one-time ‘Free Book Giveaway ‘ on Amazon for five days:

October 19th to October 23rd, 2022

Don’t miss this great offer! It’s a promotion to give readers a chance to read my book, and to say thank you to those that have supported me for the past year.

Go to Amazon books (the country of your choice):

Name: ‘I Heard The Alps Call His Name’


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Thank you so much,


Newspaper Article about my new book

I’m grateful but humbled by the great article in the Portuguese News, November 20th, 2021, about my book and the story behind writing it.

I think it gives an excellent outline of the plot and the struggles I had accomplishing the task of getting it written and finishing the book. If you have any problem reading it, you can find the newspaper online at ‘The Portugal News, 20 Nov 2021.’