Solbit Hops on the Train in Portugal

*New reader? Get oriented below.

Dear Nicalai,

What a day!  Seeing the Portuguese countryside on the train.


Making a new friend. Taking a taxi ride.  (We almost never take a taxi.)


It was a full day.  By the way, on an early morning walk to the train station, I saved someone’s life.  I screamed, “STOP!” just before Papa stepped on “Two Tone Tony,” our friendly neighborhood stink bug.  Tony paused and said to me in a squeaky, little voice, “Thanks, kid! You saved my life.” Of course, he squeaked it in Portuguese, but I could tell what he meant.


We arrived at the station in Porto and hopped on a modern train.  The train wended (cool word, that Papa taught me) through beautiful country side, to a smaller town called Guimarães The sights along the way were so good that Papa didn’t even fall asleep this timeã

DSC09056 - Version 2

We have a lot of photos of Papa sleeping when we’re riding planes, trains, buses, and even in automobiles.

Second, when I tell you this, you’re going to say, “That’s our Nona!”  Once we got to Guimarães, Nona didn’t want to pay the big price of a round trip taxi out to Citânia de Briteiros, an archeological site. That would have been 40 Euros (or about 52 US dollars), but she and Papa really wanted to go.

So, as soon as they got off the train, she walked right up to a perfect stranger at a taxi stand, and she asked him, “Are you going out to Citânia de Briteiros?”

Daytrip to Guimarares

In surprise, he stared at her a moment, and then nodded yes, yes that’s where he wanted to go.  “Want to share a taxi?” she asked excitedly.  I guess her excitement was catching, because, almost without thinking he said, “OK.” Nona had him and Papa in a taxi before they knew what was happening.  The taxi fare would now be split three ways.  I could tell that made her happy.

Oh, also, about that new friend.  That’s the guy Nona picked up for the taxi ride.  He turned out to be a really good companion for exploring the archeological site.  Guess where he is from!  Hint: somewhere in the U.S.  Another hint: well known song by Stephen Foster.  Yeah, Kentucky.

What are the chances of us running into a guy from Kentucky at a taxi stand in Guimaraes, Portugal?  Also, what are the chances that he’s going to the same place that we’re going?  Amazing.  He’s a professor at a university and was here to give a paper at an academic conference.  So, Nona’s strategy for saving money also worked well for finding a new friend.

Now, back to the ancient city.  … Oh, no! Nona says I have to send this now, because we have to leave on another walk.  Oh, well, I promise that my next email will be all about the Iron Age city walk that we did with our new friend from Kentucky.  Gotta go.

I’m your friend.



P.S. To Be Continued with “Solbit Visits an Iron Age Fortified City”

September 2014

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit meets Leo in Guilin

*New reader? Get oriented below

Dear Nicalai,

“Where are we?” Solbit demanded.  “Let me out of here!”  She wanted out of Nona’s purse.  Nona took her out and showed her where we are now.  “This is different.  This isn’t Shanghai.”

DSC06983 GuilinLake

Nona said, “No, we aren’t in Shanghai any longer, Solbit.  We’re in Guilin, now.” Solbit asked, “Oh, yeah, I was just starting to get used to being in China and now you’ve moved us to another country?”  Nona said, “No, Solbit, we’re still in China. We just moved to another part of China called Guilin.  Guilin has lakes and very old worn down mountains.  A lot of us tourists come here to see the lakes, the old city, the knobby mountains, and the terraced rice paddies.” Continue Reading

Solbit Takes Her First Train in Japan

Dear Nicalai,

Today, Solbit took a train with us. Her first train ride.   The train took us from Tokyo to Kyoto.  We told Solbit that we’ll be in Kyoto for more than a week.

Solbit said that she’ll miss Tokyo and that she didn’t know if she would like Kyoto.  She had gotten used to how big Tokyo is. Nicalai, did you know that Tokyo is the capital city of Japan today?  Tokyo is big, too. Guess how many people live here.  Give up?  OK. Almost 13 million!  Compare that to where you live, Nicalai, about 1 million. So Tokyo is 13 times bigger than where you live.

We told Solbit that she would probably like Kyoto, because it is smaller than Tokyo. Also, Kyoto is an old and historic Japanese city.


Tokyo is a big capital city.

Continue Reading