Our first winter trip went to Lithuania, to see Elvyra's family. It was early December and supposedly a good time to visit, because winter was only starting out. In February, -30°C is apparently not unusual. A few hours layover in Belfast airport allowed us to check all our UK SIM cards into their home networks, in the hopes of resetting the 6 month out-of-country countdown on EU roaming.
We met much of Elvyra's family and friends, sweated in a Banya (Russian Sauna - but don't call it that) and were stuffed to the ears with delicious home-made food and moonshine. In Vilnius, we went to a restaurant where you can eat delicious asian food while watching the local ice hockey team practice. And saw a figure skating show where some excellent Russian skaters performed, because they were banned from the Olympics and had nothing better to do.
Vilnius is a really nice town and has a lot to see and do, not least of all their Artist Republic, which is full of wonderfully odd stuff. We also visited Trakai castle and ate some Cornish pastries there. Okay, they're actually called Kibinai and because they don't stuff so much potato in they're much better than the Cornish ones.
One snowy night, we got home a bit late and possibly a bit tipsy from a neighbour and ended up building a big snowman that made the dog nervous. Elvyra's Dad explained the next morning how he thought aliens had landed in the garden, because there were inexplicable patches of green grass showing in odd patterns where the snow had gone missing, a bit like crop circles. Of course it was where we'd rolled around the giant balls of snow that formed the head and body.
On the way back we had a long layover in Eindhoven and used this to explore the town a bit, buy some fresh made Stroopwafels and admire the excellent bicycle paths. Back in Portugal, the boat was luckily still floating, and the weather warm enough to get the chill out of our bones even without a Banya.
In January a friend of Elvyra's dropped by for a few days to visit us aboard. The boat was in maintenance mode, so we couldn't take her sail, but I think we did manage to show off the sights of the Algarve despite that, including a trip to Faro.
In March we had time for another trip, this time to Germany, to see my family. The Germans had heard about our trip to Lithuania and cleverly arranged a cold wave to match, so most unusually (especially for March), it was freezing cold with lots of snow, something I hadn't seen there since my childhood days. More stuffing occured as we introduced Elvyra to lots of German foods as well as the concept of a Backstube.
After fixing the internet at home (nothing ever changes), we visited some of Würzburg's 60 odd churches, the market, a bunch of historical sites and the cafe in my favourite bookstore. We also of course ate some of Germany's most popular food, which is Türkischer Döner Kebap (mit schaaf). A few walks were needed to work at least some of it off.