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The High Mountains of Portugal

After watching Yann Martel, author of The Life of Pi, on BBC Breakfast talking about his new book, I was instantly captivated by him. Yann talked about how he found out the former Canadian Prime Minister (not the current pin-up one) didn’t read fiction, so he sent him a range of books over the course of four years, and never once received an acknowledgment from him. However from the blue, he received a personal, hand-written note from Barack Obama after he read the Life of Pi telling him how much he enjoyed it.
From the short interview he gave, I knew I had to read this book and luckily for me, I bagged myself a signed copy too.

The High Mountains of Portugal – If it’s journey you want, it’s a journey you’ll get. A magic and bizarre one.

The book is made up of three separate stories that and interlinked. Part One is called Homeless, set in 1904 and features a man called Tomas, who practices a grief-stricken quirk everywhere he goes. Strange, but guaranteed you will try this quirk yourself – not in public, but perhaps to the kitchen. You’ll understand after you’ve read it. We follow him as he discovers a journal of a 17th century priest which takes him to the high mountains of Portugal in one of the first cars in Europe.

Part Two is Homeward. Set in 1938, this entire chapter takes part on one night, New Year’s Eve. A Portuguese pathologist and his wife talk in his office comparing Agatha Christie novels to  Jesus. She then leaves, and someone else arrives…..
I finished this part asking myself the simple question – wtf? wt actual f? Granted, the book takes a ‘weird’ turn. But not weird for the worst necessarily.

The final part, Home is set around a Canadian senator who misses his deceased wife terribly. He decides to move to a village in the high mountains of Portugal (aptly enough), where his parents were originally from. He brings along with him a beautiful character, a chimp called Odo, and here concludes and entwines the three stories.

After I finished the book, I wanted to talk to someone else who had read it just to clarify a point or several. The High Mountains of Portugal is a wonderfully odd and full of the unexpected. If you have any thoughts on this book, I’d love to hear them!

 

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6 SouthWest USA Road-Trip Musts

ONE: HIRE A KICK-ASS CAR. 

We hired a black, convertible (we didn’t realise how cold it would be) Mustang or similar, with Alamo. After phone calls, emails, tweets to make sure we didn’t end up with ‘or similar’, it worked! Do not underestimate the power of a good badgering to get what you want. Top down, heaters on, AC/DC on full volume and off you go….

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TWO: STAY AT A RANCH.

Not only do you get to go horse-riding through the cactus-lined desert and pretend you’re an extra in a Western, you also get called ‘ma’am’ by cowboys and wranglers. Not that I really noticed or anything.

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THREE: HELICOPTER RIDE OVER THE GRAND CANYON

As much as you’ve seen the movies and pictures to death, nothing compares with standing on the edge and seeing it for yourself. It’s big. The best way to see the bigness in all its glory is on a helicopter. It’s not the cheapest thing to do, but there are a few different companies offering it, so don’t just go for the first one.

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FOUR: PHOTOS IN ANTELOPE CANYON

Antelope Canyon is seriously cool. The winding path through the bottom of the canyon at certain times of the day is breathtaking. Filled with colour and light (but no actual antelopes, sorry) is breathtaking. Though it can be busy at times, the guides are pretty good at keeping the small groups apart. Click away!

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FIVE: DRIVE THROUGH ZION NATIONAL PARK

If you like driving, you’re going to LOVE Zion Nation Park in Utah. Once through a mile long tunnel, you’ll emerge into a Jurassic/Never-Never Land landscape full of hairpin bends and jaw-dropping scenery. I literally think our photos do not do it justice. It’s incredible. Go. Go now. Also it’s a hikers paradise with lots of walks/hikes/climbs available.

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SIX: VIVA LAS VEGAS

Of course, no trip to the Southwest is complete without going to Vegas.  Love it or loathe the idea, it is a must-do at least once in your lifetime. It’s a feast for the senses shall we say. Don’t forget to pop along to Old Vegas in the evening if you can, and experience the Freemont Street Experience!

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