Patchwork Progress and the Eiffel Tower Stitch

I’ve collected a lot of cotton yarn over the last couple of years, and I decided to try to use it up by making a knit patchwork blanket.

It’s a great excuse to try out some new stitches as well. One of my favorites is the Eiffel Tower stitch (far right, second row from the bottom).

Eiffel Tower Stitch

Row 1: [k4, yo, k2 tog] until the end of the row.
Rows 2-6: k4, p1, [k5, p1] to last stitch, k1
Row 7: k1, yo, k2 tog, [k4, yo, k2 tog] to last 2 sts, k3
Rows 8-12: k1, p1, [k5, p1] to last 4 sts, k4

I think I’m probably about half done with this blanket. Right now, it could pass for a crib-sized baby blanket, but I think I’d like it to be bigger and more useful past the baby stage. I certainly have enough yarn to keep expanding!

Portugual Highlights: Cascais and the Estroil Coast

We were so happy with our decision to stay on the beach and explore the Estroil Coast on our quick trip to Portugal. Our hotel was in a sleepy town called Carcavelos, but our favorite little spot was the little city of Cascais.

Carcavelos attracts dozens and dozens of kite surfers. The fort in the background was pretty cool-looking.

Graffiti is a fact of life in Portugal. It is everywhere! Sometimes it had a friendly message, though, like the graffiti on the wall outside the airport that said “Welcome.” I thought this one was appropriate for our beach experience.

The hotel was just a couple blocks from the ocean. Traditional blue and white tiles covered the balconies. We stayed on the 7th floor, which was just below the top-floor restaurant.

The pool looked refreshing, but we never did get the chance to try it out when it was warm enough. See the diving board? It was a serious high-dive: quite unexpected for a hotel pool!

The restaurant, where a huge breakfast was served each morning, overlooks the ocean.

Cascais is just a 20-minute ride down the coast from Carcavelos. We ventured over for the late afternoon and had dinner there. The photo above shows the old fortified citadella.

For dinner, we had lobster soup and then Seth and I shared a huge platter of fresh seafood. It was too much to finish!

The next morning we headed to Estroil to catch a bus to the hill-top city of Sintra. We had a little time in Estroil, so we walked a bit along the water.

This tile work adorned the wall of an otherwise unimpressive train station in Sintra.

This old villa was for sale. Just a little fixer-upper.

Street view in Sintra.

Note the castle on top of the hill.

Cheesecake is a specialty, so we couldn’t pass up the chance to taste it after lunch.

The modern art museum is supposed to be one of the best in Europe. After walking for 30 minutes looking for it, we found out it was closed until mid-June! At least we got to see this gigantic torso…

We took the (long) scenic busride back from Sintra to Cascais, because it stops at the westernmost point in continental Europe (above).

Back in our favorite little town, we hung out on the beach and near the docks for a while.

The most bizarre boat decor we’ve seen yet.

On the beach, Seth found a canine friend…

…who had the funniest way of drying off after a swim!

On the walk back to Estroil to catch a train to Carcavelos, we saw the coolest paddleboats ever: check out that slide!

Back at the hotel, we took advantage of the last hours of sunlight by the pool.

Portugal Highlights: Lisbon

We took a “farewell Europe” trip to Portugal during the last weekend in May. The country had many pleasant surprises in store! Since we wanted to see some sights but also have a chance to relax and breathe amidst all of the traveling and moving, we booked a hotel on the beach about 20 minutes from Lisbon, on the Cascais Coast.

The plane landed around 9am and so we spent the first day exploring Lisbon. First stop: the elevator built in the early 20th century by a student of Gustave Eiffel’s.

It’s bizarre-looking, to say the least, but it took us up high enough to see some beautiful panoramic views of the city:

…as well as the 14th-century Carmo Convent, severely damaged in the 1755 earthquake which practically razed Lisbon.

We took the hilly streets back down to the 18th-century squares that now make up the center of Lisbon.

Seth carried our bag for the whole day, since we hadn’t checked into our hotel yet.

In addition to the unusual elevator, there are many other modes of transportation in Lisbon. The most picturesque are the old trams that are still in service.

We heard great things about the barbecue chicken at one restaurant, so we had lunch just in time to take cover before a downpour.

We leisurely walked to the train station in the afternoon, crossing many plazas on the way. There are tiles all over in Lisbon: they cover entire buildings and street signs are made out of them as well.

The train ride to Carcavelos, where our hotel was, is not too long, but was a chance for Seth to catch up on some sleep (we did get up at 3:30am, after all).

Best of all was the view from the train window. The tracks follow the coast, and at times we were right next to the crashing waves.