Strolling Around Lisboa

We started our last day in Lisbon out just right for me. Breakfast at a French cafe complete with a gigantic croissant roll. And see that little jar of jam? It came with it, and of course, I brought it home with me. Who can resist a miniature glass jam jar?


We didn’t have big plans for the day, so we simply walked around the old part of town, around the fortress and up and down old streets with tiled walls. It was a grand anniversary vacation and perfect for Daniel and me to get away alone for a bit.









Now, it’s time to take another family trip, and this time, it’s New Zealand. We leave…in about 2 hours for the airport. Me oh me oh my, I think I need a piece of pie! Ever heard that saying? It’s just the thing to say when feeling ever so slightly overwhelmed. Ever tried packing for 3 months with 3 carry-ons and personal bags, with a 15 lb. weight limit for the carry-ons? It’s challenging to say the least. No checking bags for us this time; we are flying light. More details later, I’m sure.




Sintra, An Underground Tower, A Moorish Castle and Port

We had breakfast in the center of Lisboa two mornings in a row. The same cheerful waiter served us each time. When he asked us where we were from and heard, “United States” in response, he grinned broadly and said, “Obama!” We smiled cordially, but do not share his enthusiasm. We did make it a point to find out who the president of Portugal was, just so we could be in the know. :)



On this particular morning we caught the train to Sintra and began a full day of sight seeing in a dreamy, fairy-tale like town.



We walked to Quinta da Regaleira where I was very excited to see the famed inverted tower. We toured the garden, and just happened to come upon the entrance to the tower, unexpectedly, across these stepping stones:



After walking a little ways in an almost complete dark tunnel, not knowing where it was leading, we came to the bottom of the Initiation Well. This is the view from the bottom, looking up.



We climbed the wet, dripping circular stairs up to the top, and then looked back down. And yes, it was just as magical as it looks. Standing here is where I had one of those overwhelming feelings of amazement. The thrill of being in another country and seeing real places that are on Pinterest can really overtake a person. It’s such a grand feeling.




The garden was full of towers and small stairways and little bitty steps and walkways everywhere.



It was nice to look up the mountain to our next destination, The Castle of the Moors:




We chose to walk all the way up, and the view from the top was rather rewarding.




How many people can say they’ve done push-ups in a Moorish Castle?

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We didn’t really spend that much time in the town of Sintra itself, but on the way back to the train station I captured some of the daily life in Portugal. Our one souvenir purchase was here, in a little antique store. I spotted some old broken, chipped tiles in a wooden box and decided that was the perfect take-home item. I could have bought a new tile with a shiny painted picture on it from a touristy shop, but why have a brand-spankin new one, when I could have one that was really on a Portuguese house at one time? It’s one of my favorite pieces in our house now.



For supper, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Cafe Buenos Aires, back in Lisboa. Daniel read about it beforehand and knew that reservations were a good idea, but we stopped by without just to see. Happily, they said we could have a table as long as we were finished by 10 p.m. (It was 7 p.m. when we arrived.) Of course we said, “Yes!” and were seated near the wall in the most authentically decorated restaurant I’ve ever been to. Meaning, it wasn’t a forced decor. It was so real…!

We came at just the right time because several other couples were turned away after we were seated. They do have a “sister” restaurant up the street a few doors, so perhaps they found a table there. You can’t really tell by the picture below, but our table was about 5 inches away from another table, so it was a rather tight space. We could have carried on a conversation with the couple beside us, had we wanted to.

Dining for dinner in Lisbon was just different than in the States. Folks don’t sit down and scarf up their food; it’s an experience that begins late (say, 8 p.m.) and can last for hours. And personal space wasn’t such a big deal, so having another couple practically sharing our table seemed like dining-as-usual for the patrons.

Daniel had steak and {white} sweet potatoes. He even asked for a second serving part way through the meal and they willingly obliged. I had fish over sweet potatoes and greens and…we splurged on a glass of port. It seemed very fitting that we should taste our first port in the country that it originated from. Am I ever glad we did. It was incredibly good. Sweet, almost chocolaty, smooth, warm and delicious. Do I sound like a wine connoisseur?



Photography Session and New Friends in Portugal

The second surprise Daniel had for me was a private photography session in Portugal with Kali Jade Photography. Maya and her husband Miguel were very accommodating and drove us all around the area for fabulous locations to shoot at. We started at the Palace of Monserrate at Sintra, where we toured the gardens complete with waterfalls and moss covered rocks. The palace itself was stunning too of course. From there we went to the western most tip of Europe and admired the sea at Cabo da Roca. Oh my was it pretty. Green, green grass, the bluest water and sky… We finished up with a spontaneous stop on our way back to Cascais, along the side of the road at a ruins for some last minute pictures with the sunset.

So, because I’m lazy, I’ll just send you over to Maya’s blog to see these pictures they took! Please click here. :)

Before catching our train back to Lisbon, we snapped a picture with Miguel, Maya and their children after having supper with them at a local restaurant in Cascais. It was such fun to get to know them and now we have connections in Portugal! It’s really fun having friends all over the world.


6th Anniversary Surprise

Now that I finally finished up the family trip we took to Germany last fall, it’s time to share some pictures from a trip Daniel and I took alone  for our 6th anniversary back in February. He knows me pretty well by now and has figured out that surprises are the way to go. But I still love trying to guess what the surprise is, so he supplied me with a few clues of our anniversary destination:

Clue #1: It’s near an ocean.

Clue #2: It’s famous, but used to be more famous than it is now.

Clue #3: The weather would be about like it was in Austin for our 5th anniversary. (Springish)

I guessed California. But yet, not all those clues matched up properly, so I still didn’t know till a few weeks before we left.

Turns out, we landed in Lisbon, Portugal.



Folks, this is a city you’ll want to visit.



There are fun red trolley cars. What more can you want?



Even the world famous trolley car that goes up and down a steep hill, all while keeping the passengers quite level. We rode it and it worked just fine.



The food, and this meal in particular, was bursting with flavor.



Our hotel and “home base” was in Lisbon (or Lisboa in Portugese) for the week, but we took the train for a couple day trips down the coast. Our first outing took us to Cascais which had a large fortification, an older couple walking in the rain {holding hands nonetheless}, lots more tiled buildings which I fell in love with, and yet more tasty food. I had squid for the first time and liked it. :)