Belém Tower – Lisbon Portugal

If you have even once looked up information about Lisbon you have probably seen a picture of the Belem Tower. The image seems to be synonymous with the city itself. The tower was originally built in the 16th century as a ceremonial gate to the Tagus river continues to stand today as a UNESCO word heritage site today.

I could go on and on about it’s history and architectural style but there are plenty of sites that will give you far better information than I ever could.

Instead lets talk about getting there and what to expect.

I was having a hard time getting a picture of the tower itself, we were there at about sun down, and no matter what angle I approached the exterior it wound up in deep shadow. Despite the poor lighting for exterior shots I would probably go back during the same time of day. Being on the waterfront at sun down was nothing short of stunning.

There are also several food and beverage carts in the area, a wine cart (which my mom recommends), a hot dog cart (which my husband recommends) and a froyo cart (which I really wanted to try but it was too cold). So I would highly suggest timing your visit toward the evening on a warmer day, so you can tour, then sit and relax with a treat and enjoy the sunset.

The tower is in the Santa Maria de Belem neighborhood. To get there take tram 15 and exit at the Belem stop. Tickets for the tour are bought at the Jerónimos Monastery where you can also get tickets to tour the Monastery itself, and several other sites in the area (except not the Maritime Museum as discussed here). To get there, walk toward the water and west along the river bank. You can walk straight there along the highway and cross over on a foot bridge, or walk under the highway near the Padrão dos Descobrimentos and walk west along the river bank. Though if you do this, since there are a few small boat moorings you will have to walk around them in a couple locations, it is however the prettier route.

The structure itself is quite small, you enter via a small bridge weaving around all the selfie takers and slightly confusing lines at the small door entrance. One line for getting in, one line for getting out and a small line coming the opposite direction to get back up onto the platform and tower.


The bottom of the structure holds a small prison and gun slots. The upper platform has small turrets for keeping watch, and then the tower itself which I did not go up because of the sheer number of people waiting to go up a VERY narrow stair case, leads I am sure to some very stunning views. My lower views were just fine by me. Looking west you can see the large opening of the Tagus where it meets the Atlantic. And looking east you can see the 25 de Abril Bridge and the Crito Rei statue up toward to the Tagus estuary.

The 25 de Abril Bridge is the largest suspension bridge in the world and while it looks nearly exactly the same as the Golden Gate Bridge it was not built by the same maker. It was however built by the same US maker that built the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge. Side note a fact we learned from one of our drivers, the Tagus River while quite large is actually very shallow, you can see in the picture above a large shipping barge which is about as far as larger ships can make it up. The cruise ships dock just past the Alfama district and after that the river estuary is impassible for larger boats.

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Baixa – Lisbon, Portugal

Another one of my favorites in Lisbon was the Baixa neighborhood. This is the area of town that was flattened during the giant earthquake in 1755. When it was rebuilt it was rebuilt in the “modern” style (modern for the time) and with straight roads. It is one of the only areas of Lisbon with straight roads. It reminded me a lot of the main shopping district in Vienna, though Vienna’s pedestrian only shopping street seems to be endless, where as Lisbon’s is just the right size.

The central street is a pedestrian only street choc-a-bloc full of restaurants, cafes and shops. The side streets off the main pedestrian only space are also pedestrian only, though as you get further out more and more streets have car traffic as well. At one end you have the Terreiro Do Paço a public square on the waterfront that is ringed by cafes and restaurants. And at the other end a rather busy square that houses hotels, public transit stops and the Rossio Train Station.

The mix of architecture in the area is overwhelming, sings from the 1920’s standing on buildings built in the 1700s and everything in between. The main square which I think may be called Rossio Square though I couldn’t find any definitive information, has a large fountain in the center and is surrounded by a stunning array of services from old shoe shops, tabaco shops, modern hotels, pawn shops, fancy restaurants, bars,  jewelers, and even a McDonalds.

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The apartments at the top of each building in the square reminded of apartment’s in Paris though I suppose that shouldn’t have been surprising given they probably belong to the same architectural time.

We spent a lot of time in the Baixa, it was close to where we were staying and given the time of year and that it is a fairly bustling tourist hub a lot of the services were open where other areas may not have been. There were loads of shops for me to spend my evenings wandering around in, as a non night-scene person it was really nice to have a reason to be out without all the drama of bars and clubs. There was also this ridiculously cute pug having a ride about town.

There was also several pastry shops that we visited on more than one occasion. They were crowded and frenetic and made amazing coffee. They were always stuffed full of locals and severed everything from pizza to Portuguese pastries like our favorite, Chocolate Salami.

Chocolate Salami in fact has nothing to do with meat but is a chocolate fudgy dessert that is rolled up with cookies and nuts and then sliced to serve.  We ate a lot of it, and I mean A LOT OF IT. I think I probably had some everyday. Lisbon is known for the Pastel De Nata which are very good but I Chocolate Salami really blew me away.

Part of the draw for me to the Baixa was the use of it in the filming of the Spanish Language TV show El Tiempo Entre Costuras or The Time In Between. Which is adapted from the book of the same name. Most of the show is filmed on location in Moracco and Madrid but the later part of the story heavily highlights Portugal and Lisbon and Estoril were used in filming.

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One such filming location, though technically in the Chiado district it is only a block or so down from the Baixia, is the glove shop Luvaria Ulisses which has been operational since 1925. As a lover of all things Art Deco I knew I had to go there and buy a pair of handmade gloves. The shop is so tiny there is only room for the shop attendant and one or two customers. What you see below is literally the whole shop, when you walk in there is nothing more but the small door to the closet like stockroom. But it was charming and wonderful and we all of course walked out with gloves.

 

 

Museu de Marinha – Lisbon Portugal 

One of the things that was high on my families list of must see’s in Lisbon was the Museu de Marinha also know as the Maritime or Navy Museum. As you may know Portugal was kind of a big deal there for a long time. In fact once upon a time they were the wealthiest country in the world.

They were the first country to sail around the Cape of Good Hope, they corned the market on trade with India and had some of the most expansive territories across the globe. Columbus the man who “discovered America” was actually Portuguese sailing for the Spanish. However, after the devastating earthquake in 1755 most of the countries money went to rebuilding the city and the royal houses. Following this a lengthy occupation by Napoleon that caused the royal family to flee and rule out of Brazil. Then came the world wars which inevitable broke up countries foreign holdings in the end resulted in a Portugal that is no longer the mighty power it once was.

The museum which covers early discovery all the way through modern uses of the coast guard and navy is one of the most robust I have ever visited. I thoroughly enjoyed the care and time that was taken to display such a vast history.

There was so much to see I was a little overwhelmed and as such the only picture I remembered to take was of the figurehead below. I couldn’t stop laughing for so many reasons and at the same time cannot begin to describe why it struck me as so funny. Other than the obvious, that people of all ages can’t seem to keep their hands off her. Shameful, immature and so hilarious.

The museum itself resides in the same building as the Jerome Monastery however ticketing is handled separately.  From the street car stop walk toward the monastery and to the end of the building, turn right and you can’t miss the museum’s entrance. When you first go in, go upstairs first, it is easy to miss but there is a large collection of model ships up there that we nearly didn’t get the chance to see. Then come back down and continue through the historic timeline from the golden age of discovery up to modern day.

Bathrooms are downstairs near the end of the indoor exhibit, as well as in the cafeteria. The cafeteria at the end comes highly recommended from my family. Simple food but fresh salads and delicious meat pies hit the spot after a long day.

 

You can learn more about the museum and Portugal’s maritime history with the links below:

Location: Praça do Império, Belem

Open Hours: 10AM-5PM (Oct.-March), 10AM-6PM (April-Sept.) (Closed Mondays)

http://www.maritimeheritage.org/ports/portugal.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navy_Museum

Lisbon, Portugal

Twenty sixteen, the year many have called a monster, was the year that my family will forever call the year we went to Lisbon. We spent Christmas in Lisbon, and it was magical. Not ice skating in the park, seeing old timey Santa’s and baking cookies magical. But peaceful, relaxing, goodwill to mankind kind of magical.

We knew we wanted to go somewhere for Christmas, while I love the season it gets to be a bit much and it is nice to escape with a few people and concentrate all your energy on them.  Rather than spreading yourself so thing you get tried of everyone and just retreat until sometime in March when the sun comes out again.

We knew we wanted to go somewhere warmer, though knowing this we still picked a location with averages hovering around 60 in December. So while it was chillier than any of it probably had hoped the sun was out every single day.

We started off our Portuguese adventure in Sintra, Portugal. We spent a couple days wandering around small towns and then we yet again braved the traffic to return our rental car at the airport. I will say in general for us Oregon residents, it isn’t the easiest place to actually get to but even knowing that I would do it all over again. And probably will. It is a smaller country with significantly less air traffic than the larger likes of France, German and England. Thus two flights minimum are needed to get there, if not more depending on how you are trying to cut costs. Though this would be different for those lucky enough to live on the east coast which also cuts flight time down nearly in half.

All my research indicated that the Lisbon airport is very hard to get out of, cabs tend to rip you off and public transit is a nightmare. We didn’t use public transit to go to and from the airport. It was a tad confusing flying out of the airport (partly due to the early hour we did it) more on that later. After we had returned our rental car we had a shuttle driver scheduled to pick up us up. We were a tad apprehensive after hearing all the horror stories. But exactly at the time we had originally planned a very nice man with my Mom’s name on a sign came bounding across the roadway all smiles and pleasant greetings. Took all our bags, helped us in the car and off we went. He gave us a tremendous overview of the city on the way to our apartment.

We got in to Lisbon midday due to our slower pace with sick family members in tow. Settled right in and headed off to the grocery store. I LOVE grocery stores in other countries. I also really love cheese, and Portugal and cheese are BFF’s, so now Portugal and me are BFFs. Needless to say, my cart was mostly cheese and local breads.

After putting our food stuffs away we wandered down to the waterfront to catch the sunset and get a feel for the area. And I can honestly say without a doubt no place has ever felt more comfortable and welcoming. It seemed like the whole city was out to sit on the waterfront, drinking and laughing, lounging, catching up with old friends. It was a work week but everyone had the relaxed air of vacation. Like I said magical.

The first full day in Lisbon we hit the road (tram) and went to visit the Belem area of town. It was quite a trek from where we were staying and we didn’t really want to have to make our way all the way back over there so we crammed a lot into a single day.

Our second full day was actually Christmas eve so not much got done. We did eventually manage to find the Thieves Market but most sites were closed due to the holiday and that was mostly fine by us. We wandered, snacked, and enjoyed just being in a new city.

The third day was Christmas and of course nothing was really open. We had all been secretly shopping for one another all week so we had Christmas stockings full of local candies, cheese, mini port bottles and random trinkets. We drank coffee, snoozed, ate too many pastries and then went on a nice long walk around the city. We did find one restaurant in the tourist area that was open which had a spectacular view of the Baixa and Alfama area’s of town so I ordered a giant tuna steak and watched the tourists milling around below us.

The day after Christmas was a Monday and as such most tourist sites are closed, however we lucked out and the Sao Castle was open. We got up there right when they opened and lucky for us, by the time we were done the line to get in was out of control.

Tuesday we made our way up to the Carmo Convent and stumbled on a lovely free museum next door. It ended up being one of our favorite sites the whole trip. It was put on by the Portuguese National Guard and offered a more recent history of Portugal’s political and military happenings. It was really impressive and well curated. Sadly there wasn’t a donation box otherwise I would have given them loads of money. We also made our way across town to the Military Museum which seems small and unassuming from the outside but was ridiculously comprehensive and wound up taking us most of the day to go through.

Wednesday we made our way over to the big cathedral, found a nice park and also visited a burial site under a bank.

Thursday we left at 2am ugh. I would not recommend this, and it wasn’t actually our intention. We made our reservations well in advance and between the making and the actual going the flight patterns changed and we got bumped to an earlier flight. I chose not to sleep as I get very anxious the night before flying, waking constantly thinking I have slept through my flight. We were also worried our shuttle would forget us, but just like the last he was prompt, helped with our bags and chatted with us the whole way. He told quite the story about his father who is the calmest kindest man in the world, but when he drives around the city he turns into a sailor (swearing at everything) we laughed and couldn’t disagree with the driving habits of the locals.

 

Some sites I found helpful in planning:

 

Quinta da Regaleira – Sintra, Portugal

One of the main draws of Sintra is Quinta Da Regaleria a romantic style palace built in the 19th century. Though it does own quite a few gothic elements including a fair share of gargoyles affixed to the many towers on the house.

However, Quinta da Regaleria is not just the house, in fact while we were there the house was a very small portion of the self guided tour. The house was turned over the municipality only recently, restoration work and public viewings began in the late nineties. Most of that work has been done so far on restoring the gardens, tunnels, Initiation Wells and grottoes.

We didn’t know this going in and assumed that the house itself would take up quite a bit of time, however at the point of our visit it was only the first floor with a small display providing some history of the house.

 

I loved touring the house all the same, they had velvet doors which I could not stop touching. It was a good thing there wasn’t a security guard close at hand I would have been in serious trouble. There was definite groping.

The views of and from the house were spectacular but I am not sure I could say otherwise for a single place we visited in Sintra. In the picture above you can see both the Castel of the Moors and the Pena Palace, which I took while standing on one of the many exterior walkways on the house.

However as I mentioned the real draw to the house is the grounds, which have been extensively restored. The ground had expanded over the years and as the property changed hands. One or more of the owners had an interest in ancient symbolism and as such you can see references to the Knights Templar, the Masons and dark alchemy littered through the many garden structures.

 

One such structure is the Initation Wells which were thought to be used in initiation ceremonies for either Masons or Knights Templar depending on the source. There are two wells on the property one is finished which are the pictures above and below. And then other is only partially finished though there are subterranean tunnels that connect the two.

 

My favorite part of the property was the tunnels and the grotto. When you leave the main well and walk straight forward through the main tunnel you come out to this spectacular grotto with a small waterfall flowing over the opening. Please note to be careful in the tunnels, while the main one is average adult height that height does vary throughout the tunnel and the side tunnels can become quite low and mostly unlit.  My mom smacked her head on the side of one not realizing how low and narrow it was. I am pretty sure everyone in the tunnels heard it and she had a nice goose egg on her head for a couple days.

 

If you carry on to the left you come out to a small forum type area that over looks the house but if you go to the right you go through another small tunnel and come out on some stepping stones that go over the algae covered pond. From there you can cross the pond, and go up a couple steps to go over the small bridge that also crosses the pond. It was quite enchanting we wandered back several times during our visit.

Other fun features of the property is the small chapel and greenhouse. The green house was closed when we were there but the building was lovely and I couldn’t help but snap a picture of the tiles on the exterior.

The chapel is extremely small, but incredibly ornate and surprisingly several stories including a basement level that also has a small tunnel that shoots you out close to the main house .

Before we left we had an afternoon snack at the café on the grounds. They had a pretty complete lunch menu, meat pies and pastries along with coffee and soda. I had a delicious chicken pie that I ate WAY too quickly and a cappuccino. We also shared some orange cake and soaked up the sun before heading off back to town.

To get to Quinta La Regaleria all you need is to be in Sintra and have a pair of legs. It is a very easy walk, though the side walk is narrow so take caution.  If you don’t feel safe walking or would rather take a more leisure way up there are Tuktuk rentals in the city center you can use. There didn’t seem to be a single place they are just meandering around and are all easily approachable and friendly.  My final note would be, when visiting illogically you walk past the main entrance up past the house and most of the ground to buy tickets and enter the property. This was confusing for us even though there were signs and volunteers helping steer us to the right entrance, it was especially confusing for non English or Portuguese speakers and cause some upset in a couple cases while we were there.

 

 

 

 

Castelo dos Mouros – Sintra, Portugal

Another day another castle. Actually this was our second castle of the trip and it was only our first full day. We are a little crazy. In the picture below you can see in the foreground the Castle of the Moors and in the background the crown of the Pena Palace we had just left.

We chose to split our 10 days adventure in Portugal between two, albeit close, locations. The first half of the trip as I have mentioned we stayed in Sintra, a small parish outside the Lisbon city center though close enough to still be considered part of the Lisbon area. We really wanted to invest some time out here and didn’t want to waste time on public transit each day we came out. So we rented a house and drove. Yikes. Not for the faint of heart.

The first day was stressful, all day flying, then driving, then getting our bearings, finding food, etc. But the second day, our real first day was magical. We started at the Pena Palace which I wrote about here.

Then we walked over to the Castle of the Moors and spent the rest of the day admiring the old ruins and the beautiful views.

Things of note that I could not find anywhere else, you can absolutely walk between the Pena Palace and the Castle of the Moors. I couldn’t find a lot of information on this fact when we were planning. Some sites hinted at it but didn’t outright say it was possible. And when I say they are walkable, I mean they are in the same park.

Now I say this as a healthy 30 something, it is steep and the pathway is uneven. However the all of perhaps half mile jaunt between the two is totally doo-able, and if you can’t do it, you can hire a Tuk Tuk. Plus if you are planning on touring the Castle of the Moors you need a pretty strong constitution to begin with. Look at all those stairs! I think this was the point my husband considered giving up as he was well and truly sick by midday.

And yes we hiked all those stairs from start to finish and then halfway back again to exit. It made the jaunt from Pena seem like child’s play. Once we were all tired from the climb and all that pesky fresh air and sunshine we walked back out toward the exit and down the road to our car. The GPS has a bit of trouble finding us in the trees, luckily there isn’t much guessing to get out of the park, just a long single road that takes you into Sintra. However it does take you back to the opposite end of town, so be aware you won’t be exiting in the same area you entered.

Address and Additional Information:2710 Sintra, Portugal

 

 

 

Pena Palace – Sintra, Portugal

OH Pena, you old beauty you. Pena Palace is a romanticist castle that sits on the Sintra Mountains overlooking Sintra and Lisbon.

The site started as a chapel in the middle ages and over the years was built on and updated by various key figures in history. The chapel was reduced to ruin during the infamous 1755 earthquake which you will hear a lot about in all my posts about Portugal. It wasn’t until 1847 when King Ferdinand and Queen Maria II with the help of German architect Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege  built it up into the royal summer palace that you see today.

There is an abundance of German, Islamic and Medieval detail which makes for a fascinating tour.

We made it up on our first full day in Sintra area. We were all still pretty tired and a couple of us were starting to get sick. But we braved the new streets in a our big rental car and wound our way up the narrow hill to the Pena Palace. We parked somewhat randomly after the third or so parking section within the park fearing that we wouldn’t find another. Truth be told there was plenty of parking but I could see if you were there during tourist season you wouldn’t want to drive at all. Instead choose to catch one of the tour buses or TukTuk at the Sintra city center.

Ticket our bought for both the palace and the Castle of the Moors in a somewhat unassuming hut in one of the larger parking areas (and by larger I mean there are 7 spots). We bought our tickets and started off on a random path that looked like it might lead up to the palace and quickly got shouted at and herded up a slightly different path. Not uncommon, my family seems to have a penance for getting in trouble when traveling oversees. Blame it on our go getter attitude and unbridled joy when it comes to new experiences.

The correct path has us walking up and around through the royal gardens. Which was lovely. We had every intention of going back and walking through more of it but it was a long day and we wound up heading for dinner after touring both Pena and the Castle of the Moors.

There were quite a few lovely details in the gardens including a number of sacred spaces meant for quite contemplation and rest. I was only contemplating how on earth I could tile my whole house to match.

The interior was a mix of architectural styles, I of course couldn’t keep my eyes off the chandeliers (see above) and the copper pots in the kitchen (see below).

Then there was this guy that we took to calling “Angry Poseidon”. It took a lot of research to even find mention of the statue and it turns out it Triton instead of Poseidon.

Toward the end of the tour there is a lovely little gallery displaying drawings of former residence, hunting trophies and small statues. This guy below was my favorite, most especially the missing fingers. It reminded me of the running Arrested Development joke “and that’s why you always leave a note”.

From the top of the palace you can see across the small valley the separates the palace and the Castle of the Moors. As well as the greater Sintra area and the Atlantic Ocean.

We exited the palace the opposite side we came up and walked down the steep cobblestone walk to the main entrance of the palace, where we exited, crossed the street and spent the rest of the day at the Castle of the Moors.

Address and Additional information: Estrada da Pena, 2710-609 Sintra, Portugal

 

 

 

Sintra, Portugal

Despite all my research into the area I was expecting Sintra to be a flat dry small town. It is certainly in no way flat. It is a beautiful charming semi-Mediterranean hamlet living on a hill. A town which I instantly fell in love with and will dream of until I can somehow weasel my way into living there for good.

We very purposely split our 10 day trip into two locations. We wanted a chance to experience both the country side and the city atmosphere of Portugal a country that was a first for all of us. We rented a house and a rental car, and after a 48 hour travel day, my husband very bravely hoped behind the wheel of our Ford Focus and instantly experienced the horrors of Lisbon freeway traffic. That may have been a mistake. But after only missing one exit we made it safe and sound to our house, in the country and promptly drank two bottles of wine and fell asleep.

Our first full day was spent touring Pena National Palace and The Castle of the Moors, both of which you could see from our bedroom. What a way to wake up! Well, I was actually so horribly jet lagged that I woke up at 4am and couldn’t sleep so I laid on the couch watching some pretty horrifying BBC children’s shows and some sort of Antiques Road Show game show type thing until the sun came up and I could make coffee without seriously damaging my sleep schedule.

But! Once the sun came up the views were breath taking and I vowed I would someday live here. Or at least in Sintra, there is no way I could afford to live in the house we rented.

Sintra is both a small town and a municipality within the Lisbon state. The city area is where we concentrated all of our time, but the area is general is quite large and makes up several small town areas that total in a population of around 300 thousand. So while our house was in Sintra, we were not in the city center, and still needed to walk or drive a few miles to get to the actual town of Sintra. When making plans be sure to check maps for exact locations and transportation options. Also remembering that while things may be walkable by distance that doesn’t mean it is walkable when considering your safety. European town are quite old, side walks are rare.

We chose Sintra specifically instead of the hundreds of other pictures small towns in Portugal because of the concentration of things to see and do. There were a lot of sites claiming Sintra is a perfect day trip out of Lisbon, which I suppose if you picked two or so things you HAD to see and took the train out it would be a great day trip, but there was an inexhaustible list of things we wanted to see. Even at three full days (not including our first day settling in) and we still missed over half the sites. You could really spend a week or two just in the area. In fact when we go back this is exactly what I plan to do.

 

Sintra on it’s own is a UNESCO world heritage site, it has a large concentration of romantic architecture due do it’s long history of being a sort of playground for royalty and the uber wealthy. In fact there wasn’t a single view I found that didn’t have some sort of palatial house sitting in the middle.

And of course amidst all the wealth and splendor are broken buildings waiting for someone to come along and love. Which I love, and very much wish I had the funds to do something about.

Due to the narrow streets and small amount of parking navigating the area can be difficult. While we didn’t have too much trouble finding places, we were also there at the low season and always got into the town area in the morning. I would not recommend driving here during the high season.

 

Could you imagine trying to move a couch into here? Images of the infamous Friends episode “PIVOT” come time mind. We wound up eating at our apartment a lot but we did have one quite nice diner at a place whose name I have inexcusably forgotten. We went in for tapas but wound up having burgers. Calf burgers to be exact, which means veal, you have been warned. The food was great, the service impeccable, we shared a dining room with a bunny and a staff who kept apologizing every time the power went out. We didn’t mind, we loved the whole experience.

The second full day we spent wandering around the gardens of Quinta Da Regaleira a mansion and gardens turned museum as recently as the 1990’s. On our walk up to the entrance I came across what I think may have been coffee trees. Hot cuppa anyone?! They didn’t look ready to pick.

We also spent a good portion of our days just wandering around the town. Drinking coffee, sampling pastries and getting a feel for the area. I couldn’t get enough of the sun or the details on all the buildings. The tile work is incredible.

Above a panel of glazed tiles on the upper balcony of a typical apartment building in the area. Below the entire façade of a house covered in blue patterned tiles. I plan on writing an entire post dedicated to Portuguese tiles.

The third day we were planning on going to the Sintra National Palace, a building that is now dedicate to art and specifically tile work. However both my husband and my mom had gotten the flu on the flight over and we chose to take the third day as a bit of a rest. We woke up late, packed up the apartment, and moved up our timeline to get into Lisbon. It would up being a blessing really. We hit the airport and car rental return without traffic and without incident. Our shuttle driver showed up bounding across the pickup area with a sign and a giant grin on his face. More on that in my later posts about Lisbon.

Additional information:

Where have I been and where am I going?

Hello! And welcome back to our regularly scheduled programming. As I mentioned on Instagram back in December I and the blog took a break over the holidays while I traveled to Portugal with my family to celebrate Christmas. This meant no posts for a month, but it also means lots of new material and posts coming soon on our Portuguese adventures.

We also brought our puppy Seti home on December 30th (the day after we got back from our trip). And will be busy over the next couple months training her and getting her ready for hiking season. 2017 will probably be kept closer to home, some road trips with the dog. At the very least a trip with my dad in either Taho or Ojai as well as a third trip to NOLA with my stepdad and stepsister. We don’t have any major trips in the works right now, 2018 will likely bring some hiking in Ireland.

In general it will continue to be slow going over here on the blog for 2017. As I still work from home full time, so I cannot dedicate the time to make things really sparkle around here. Expect weekly posts covering past travel, travel tips, yoga and local favorites.

I also wanted to briefly mention pictures. I love taking pictures, I also love enjoying myself and living in the moment. So if pictures ever seem lackluster know that is why. I could spend the entire day at a new location getting a single perfect shot, or I could spend five minutes snapping a  few shots and the rest of the time actually having fun and experiencing life.

I had been originally thinking I should try a little harder on this front, but after seeing so many people in Portugal absorbed with themselves and their selfie sticks I made the hard decision to not worry about it. I felt sad for these people. I bet they have some killer Instagram photos, but I wonder what they actually saw. I couldn’t image missing all the things I would have had I spent my entire trip behind a camera rather than sitting down with a  cup of coffee and just living. So I could apologize for some poor quality pictures, but instead I will just take a second to remind you to go out there and really live. Forget documenting the perfectly curated life go enjoy it instead, I know I will be.

Finally, if there is anything you would like me to talk about, places you are curious if I have been, tips you want info on or just want to say hi I would love to hear from you. Please do so by leaving comments or contacting me through this blog or Instagram.

Much love and adventures for the new year!