Disappointments on our last day

I slept so well last night. The bed was nice, but the temperature was just right! It was a beautiful night so we slept with the windows open instead of the AC. We went to breakfast and it was buffet style again. It was set up very nicely and had lots to choose from. It even had french toast (according to them, “The best french toast in the world.”)! it should be said, it was NOT the best french toast in the world, it was too eggy. I think they put break on a baking sheet and cover it in egg and bake it. Its very soggy and wasnt enjoyable. I did enjoy some granola and yogurt and of course cheese! We also decided to try the “Royal Cake” pastry. I didnt care for it. It was almond and fig leaf, but one of the spices in it made it taste horrible to me. Chris enjoyed it, but we didnt finish it.

After breakfast we went for a walk around the grounds. We discussed our plans for the day – heading to the new walking bridge I saw on the Today show, heading to a monastery turned nature park and then onto Coimbra. The monastery would be removed if we ran out of time. However, when I went to google the 518 bridge, there was a message about how you needed a TICKET! A month ago when I looked, it said nothing about appointments or tickets or anything – I mean, its a bridge! But sadly when I went to look at tickets, I found out that the earliest ticket I could get was for the last day of the month, so the bridge was out!

We ended up heading right to the monastery instead. It was about an hour and a half drive from us – so off we went! You had to pay $5 to get in per car, so no big deal! We parked after figuring out which way to go and then took off to find all the stairs we had seen in pictures. We started up the hill and found the first set of stairs. However after that we got a bit lost and decided to go back down and find a map. Of course you have to pay for a map, and we didnt want to, so we took a picture of the one they had set up and started walking.

We ended up behind a group going to the same place we were, but we were also following the blue trail. Turns out the blue trail, while it looks like it goes to the fountain stairs, doesnt actually go there once you are on the trail! We all got turned around at times, but ended up at the bottom of the stairs. It looked like a natural spring route that had been tamed by humans and made to look pretty, in between a set of stairs.

We kept going up the stairs to the top and followed that path, it took us right to our car. We probably walked about 3km out of the way to get there, but its fine. We were not in any rush.

After that we headed to our final town for the trip: Coimbra. Chris drove us to the town and even managed to get a parking spot right in front of the hotel! We lucked out! We got to check in early. Once we settled in, the lady at the front desk gave us a map and showed us what to see. First stop was a church in the lower part of the town.

We stopped for lunch to get pizza (I asked for pizza before we go home since its so good in Europe!) We enjoyed some olives, pizza, water, and then we both had some lemon gelato. While we were there a family came up and they looked very interesting. The dad was tall and lanky, didnt have a shirt on, just a vest and didnt look great. He told the waitress he wasnt feeling well (and of course he wasnt wearing a mask). It was dehydration, but still, put on a mask and get away from people, in the world we live in in right now, none of us know if you are really sick or not.

Turns out this town is built on a hill (or Everest as Chris’s friend called it). One of the streets is called “back breaker” and that was very true. It was essentially an alley with stairs, a lot of them. it took us near the top of the town to the church area.

We walked around inside and then took off to the top of the city where the university is located. The front desk lady said to check out the library, Chris’s friend said to check out the library, but guess what? You need tickets. And guess what? No tickets available. Im not sure if this is a Covid thing for the tickets, or if it is always like this, but it is very disappointing.

We walked around the university and then decided to head to the pedestrian bridge the hotel had recommended taking a look at. That meant we had to get down off the mountain. We ended up finding this stair alley. It was cool, basically straight up, Im glad we were walking down, but it was still really hard! We walked over one bridge and through a park, then came back across the river on the pedestrian bridge. It had a great view of the city in the background. We had to stop for a mini photoshoot. We do it for the ‘gram.

We talked about how we hadnt gotten massages yet, so I googled some. When we got back to the hotel, we asked them to call and everyone was full. It really made me miss Thailand and the ease at which you could get a foot massage at the end of a long day!

We head for home tomorrow. Im hoping everything works out alright – and that maybe I get stuck in London for a bit. I am really dreading going back to the states where people fight over masks, guns, wars, and rights. I just want to stay in my travel bubble a bit longer.

Bom Bidi Bom Jesus

Our Porto hotel has by far been our favorite. It was very nice, excellent customer service and we LOVED the location. I mean, in reality it was Chris and his research into the hotels that allowed us to have such great stays. We had a patio off our room, robes, a great bathroom – it was just grand. And to top it off, breakfast was the best we had so far!

After we indulged our stomachs with some excellent breakfast food – we headed off to the pharmacy down the street so we could get our Covid tests and not have to worry about getting the results too late before our flights on Sunday. We made our appointment for noon and headed out to check out our sites for the day.

First stop – the Stock Exchange, or what used to be the stock exchange. The stock exchange in Porto started before the one in Lisbon by a few years, but more recently it has been shut down in Porto and is strictly in Lisbon now. Anyway, one of the rooms is where Gustave Eiffel worked! This town also has a bridge by him and one of his students! The building is still used for commerce things, but also weddings and fancy shin digs. it has some amazing wood working but also FAKE wood, one room looked like all wood but it was in fact plaster from the shoulder height up. We had to take a tour with a guide as it is an active business building.

After our visit to the stock exchange we headed to the Capela das Almas – a church covered in the Portuguese blue and white tiles. It was about a mile away, up hill to get to. The church it is on is a shopping street – and that district has hung some aerial art – which sadly now impedes thee view of the church in its entirety.

From there Chris was kind enough to go with me to the Ponte Luis I bridge. We had crossed the bottom yesterday to go Port tasting, but since it was such a high point of the city I wanted to get on the top portion. It has a walking path and tram paths. The view was so pretty. This bridge was designed by Eiffel’s student. It is still used to this day. I love bridges and enjoyed getting to experience both levels of the bridge. It also allowed us to check out two more bridges, Eiffel’s and the vehicle bridge in between.

We had to head back to the hotel and check out at that point. Once we were packed, the front desk held our bags and we headed off to get swabbed for the Covid test. The upstairs of the pharmacy was a little pharmacy museum. These stupid swabs are not fun, but this one was better than I had in the states as the swab was thinner.

Now, its time to shop! I got some Port wine for my cousin (Mike, if you read this, your birthday present is coming early) and Chris was able to get some other gifts for his list. He likes to do his Christmas shopping on our trips, I had shopping and lugging around so I try to avoid it. I like pictures better.

Once we had what we wanted, we headed back to the hotel and grabbed our luggage and off we went to pick up our car at the garage. It is very silly. If you pay in the machine a 24 hour period is $37 – if you pay the guy working in the office is $23. So thankful I read google when we found the garage.

Chris was lucky enough to drive back out of the city and onto Braga. In reality the only thing we went to see there was Bom Jesus, a pilgrimage site that the Portuguese has built in the 16 and 1700s. It became larger and larger over time. We parked above the church and walked through a park to get there. Then we climbed down the stairs and back up. Its a lot of stairs, but the landings for sure help it not feel so horrible.

I drove us away from Brage to Guimares. Here we are staying in an old monastery. It is basically 15 minutes from the nearest town by foot – but has beautiful gardens, a pool and a restaurant. We decided to hang by the pool once we got here. It was a nice relaxing end of the day. We even decided to eat dinner at the hotel so we didnt have to get back in the car. It was much fancier than yesterday (when I dressed up!) and of course I did not dress up tonight.

The food was great, and the service was the best we have had so far.

Tomorrow is our last day in Portugal and then it is back to real life. This is something I am most definitely not looking forward to. It has been so nice to be around people who know that wearing a mask means that we can keep living our lives safely. They are being selfless here and I have appreciated every last person doing their part to open the world back up.

More bones, duh!

We got up earlier than breakfast today so we could walk around town since we didnt get here until basically it was closed for the night yesterday. On our way out we asked to move breakfast to 10 so we could stop at the bone church (wooohoo) BEFORE we ate. They had an opening, so we moved it and set off to explore the waking city.

We didnt have much in mind to check out, just meandered around and witnessed the city come to life. Shop owners setting up for the day, cafes setting out tables and pastries. It was a wonderful way to start the day, along with the rest of the city.

We got to the church at opening, we beat the crowds (maybe there is a crowd?) and hit the church first (the bone chapel is next door). The church was pretty bland. I was actually very disappointed because it looked very cheap. Like the outside had PAINTED grout lines on it (it was stucco made to look like blocks) and the inside was the same way!! It was just shocking, so cheap looking!

Anyway, after the blasé church we headed to the bone chapel. This chapel even had two mummies! It is said that the mummies had been found hanging in the corner and stayed that way for a while. It was much more recently (like within the last 10 years or so) that they have been removed from their hanging position and placed in glass boxes. Their origin is unknown. The chapel was created by some nuns to show the fragility and temporariness of human life (kind of ironic in today’s world). Anyway, as always the bone churches are a site to see and really do speak to the temporariness of humanity.

After the bone church we headed back towards our hotel and the church behind it was finally open. We also decided to check this one out. This one had a tower you could go up to, so of course, we must climb! Turns out, it wasnt a tower, it was the ROOF! It was cool to walk around the whole roof of the church. Wasnt much more than that to see there, but the views were great and it was a nice site to see before we left!

We went back to our hotel to eat breakfast and to grab our things and hit the road! We had super lucked out with our parking spot last night, so it was a nice easy walk to our car with our bags. Getting out of our spot was another story. I had to park against the block wall on the drivers side, which meant I had to climb over the passenger seat to get into the driver seat. Since this car is diesel, the gears are a bit different in automatic. You arent “held” in place on a hill like a gas automatic. You still need to wait for the gear shift to happen. That being said, the spot was tight and made for a long process to get out. I kept panicking I was hitting the van in front of me, because of course I was left with very little room to navigate out of the spot. Chris so kindly got out to ensure that I wasnt hitting the cars or the wall.

Once we were on the road I realized we would need fuel again before we got to Porto, so about an hour and a half in I pulled over at a station and got some diesel. Diesel is so dirty that they provide GLOVES for you when fueling up. It is just so kind! This little Benz is getting great gas mileage – it was only our second fill up, and it wasnt even on empty – it just wasnt going to make it all the way there.

We hit the road again and in another hour or so we switched drivers. Chris drove the rest of the way and into Porto. Porto is a CRAZY city for driving. random turns, one way streets, things Google thinks are streets, but Americans think otherwise (still dont know if it was a street, but it wasnt worth it to figure it out). We turned down this street and I said “We should really find parking” and BOOM, 100 meters behind us was parking, we just passed it when I said it. Thankfully no one was behind us so Chris backed up and we got in line. The garage was full and so until vehicles leave the gate wont open. It is great that the system is so smart, but annoying when you want to park.

We were the third car, but all of a sudden 3 cars came out and we were able to get in. The spots are tighter than the ones in San Francisco, CA! We found the last spot in the garage and parked for the night. The hotel was about 500 meters from the garage, we couldnt have had better luck!

We got to our hotel room and Chris had to take a work call (stupid work getting in the way of life!). I went outside to read for a bit and enjoy the outdoors (its much cooler here and provides much a more comfortable experience). His work call was postponed until tomorrow, so he called the front desk to get us reservations at a Port tasting room and dinner reservations.

The Port tasting room was a 30 minute walk, it wasnt far, its just downhill to the river, then back up hill on the other side. Needless to say, I climbed more than 50 sets of stairs today according to my watch! Anyway, I learned a whole lot about Port wine, and that it actually isnt horrible (I thought it was a bitter wine, its much more fruit and smooth than regular wine). I took a sip of both red and white and then gave them to Chris. We ordered some olives, because SO GOOD!

After our Port tasting we had a hustle back to the hotel so we wouldnt be too late for dinner. Tonight was our “nice” dinner. For me that meant a button down and jeans. For Chris is meant the same….just nicer haha! He ironed my shirt so I wouldnt look like a hoodlum. We then headed back down to the river for dinner.

This place was super cool. We ate right on the water and enjoyed wonderful food, beautiful views, perfect weather and excellent company! We have been enjoying the snacks menu at dinner. Tonight we got bread and olive oil, sheep cheese and olives. All were very good! My meal was a “calzone,” a salad and potatoes. What it was, was a veggie omelet wrapped in a tortilla, shoe string fries (like the ones that come in a canister at the store) and a salad. It was good though. Chris got veal, a salad and au gratin potatoes (his really was all that).

After dinner we were heading for gelato and everything was already closing. It was only 9pm (I know REALLY late for me, but Im doing “Europe”) and so we knew there had to be something open with gelato. We walked past our hotel and found a place. This one had the best gelato yet. I got oreo and nutella. Chris got chocolate chip cookie crunch. It was excellent!

We did some souvenir shopping after that and headed back to bed! What another amazing day in Portugal!

Gibraltar!! We are HERE!

This morning we started out with breakfast on the roof at our little B&B – it was pre-plated for us, so we just took what we wanted from each other’s plates. I had two hard boiled eggs, grilled cheese sandwich and some water. Chris has ham and cheese sandwich, watermelon and some tea.

After breakfast we headed to the bone church (Capela dos Ossos). This was basically the only thing we came here for – but also it was a great halfway type point for our adventure to Gibraltar. We stopped at a supermarket on the way back to the hotel looking for Gatorade and some good snacks. We failed, so we tried another – failed there too!

So we basically got back to the room, checked out and got in the car for the drive to Gibraltar. We took the longer way thinking we would get a view or feel for this national park, also nope. We just drove back roads that didnt have any national park stuff. It was fine though, we got to see towns and real life in the country side.

On our drive we witnessed some fresh new fires, an argument about right of way between towns people, and saw billboard sized bulls all over the Seville area. Once we got to Seville, it all looked and felt like driving down I-5 in California from Sacramento to LA, including the Grapevine. All of a sudden we were getting closer. After the 3.5 hour drive we had made it, to the line to get into Gibraltar!

So for people who dont know, currently, in order to get into the country you have to cross OVER the runway (the active airport runway). This will be changing at the end of the year as they have put in a tunnel under the end of the runway so that traffic wont be held up because of landing planes AND because the military doenst want to lease the land back to the government for use (ie, allowing you to cross into the country). As it stands right now, this is the 5th most dangerous runway in the world – and that will disappear when the tunnel opens. I am VERY excited I got to drive over the runway!

We found our hotel – its VERY nice, right on the water. It has beach access and a pool. Our room is very nice and the shower was spacious. The room came with robes and slippers on our beds! Once we settled in, Chris was KIND enough to go with me to take the gondola (they call it a cable car) up to St. Michael’s Cave on top of the rock. Well turns out, they are VERY slow to handle the people who want to go up AND you have to walk down or stay near the top and take the round trip.

A taxi driver ended up talking me into taking a van up the rock to the caves, the skydeck and some of the tunnels. It was roughly the same price, but we had AC and didnt have to walk to any of those locations. It also consisted of MONKEY TIME!

First stop was the cave, it was amazing. They do this light show on the stalagmites and stalactites and it brings them to life. Recently they added sound to that show and its just amazing. The acoustics in there are phenomenal. They have chairs and rows set up for concerts that happen in the summer under normal conditions.

After the cave we went to the sky deck. There were some monkeys up there and the kid with us was SO OBNOXIOUS about them, I felt bad for them. They are well versed in human interaction and will do it if they feel like and wont if they are annoyed. Some people had the monkeys jumping on their backs and looking for snacks.

From there we went to the Great Siege Tunnels. These tunnels were hand dug by the Brits in the late 18th century. It was pretty amazing to see. While the tunnels were never used for battle, they did provide lots of help during many battles and wars in the area. The country remains a British zone. The language is English, but almost everyone speaks Spanish since Spain is all of like 3 miles away at the farthest point.

After the tunnels Chris was kind enough again to let me drive to Europa Point – it houses a lighthouse a mosque, Harding’s battery and their only cricket oval (who knew thats what a cricket field was called??). We got our pictures – but unfortunately it was too overcast to see Africa. On a clear day you can see Africa and its only like a 35 minute boat ride of 12 minute flight. Due to covid and normal people being safe – the flights and boat trips have been put on hold.

We headed back to the hotel after that and decided to eat in the hotel for dinner. It was very nice, sitting on the deck with a Mediterranean view and some good food with great company! Chris went with a steak and I got minestrone soup and yellow curry! Some of the best curry I have had!

From Lisbon to Faro

Today we left Lisbon, but not before checking out the last two things on our to do list: the oldest bookshop in the world and the Cathedral (Se Cathedral).

We first headed to the bookstore that opened at 9am. Google told us it would take about 10 minutes, so we went walking. Of course, its up on a hill and that required some steep hill climbing to get there, but it was worth it. The bookstore is from like the 1790s or something and has been in operation the whole time. It has been updated, but the location and idea stayed the same. They had a small English section, but I didnt find anything I wanted/needed so I ended up empty handed.

After the bookstore we walked back down towards our hotel, and headed up the other hill in town to the Cathedral. That opened at 10am, and we were a little early so we just sat and tried to take pictures from the outside. A construction crew decided to park their van right in front of the cathedral and not move it the WHOLE time that we were out there.

Once it was open we entered. This cathedral was like the life blood of the city. The money from taxes on the spices from Africa paid for so many of the religious buildings in the city, this being the main one. It has stood for hundreds of years and basically survived the earthquake from the 1770s. Inside the church is actually pretty boring, not gaudy at all! (which I mean I appreciate). However our little tour for $4 took us upstairs to see some of the artifacts of the church, including robes and other Catholic things I dont know what they are?!

After we finished at the Cathedral, we headed back to our hotel to finish packing and head to the airport – time to pick up our ride! We learned that the taxis we both took probably ripped us off a bit (I paid $30, he paid $19 on the way into the city). To the airport it cost us all of $12, very different pricing!

He dropped us off at the rental car facility, however I learned the hard way that we to go TO the counters INSIDE the airport in order to start the process. Their desks in the rental car facility are pointless. And the guys were rude. So Chris stayed with the bags at their remote desk and I headed into the terminal to get in what I thought was going to be a very long line to check in and get the paperwork taken care of. Thankfully Sixt rental car (our company) had a short line!

I had a really nice guy help me and talked me into upgrading (I NEVER do this). His argument was that we would save more money on fuel and have a more comfortable car if we upgrade. So….I did. It should save us over $100 in the end AND we ended up with a BENZ! So win!

I drove us out of Lisbon and over the April 25th bridge. It looks EXTREMELY similar to the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. It was built in the the 20th century by the San Francisco bridge company. They are the ones who built the Bay Bridge (originally). Anyway, it was a cool bridge to drive over, and just experience, mainly because of the twinning factor with the Golden Gate. That and I love bridges.

We had about a 2.5 hour drive ahead of us. I was really trying to hydrate after another hot day yesterday, so I was guzzling the water and Gatorade. After a bit I needed to stop for a bathroom break – a perfect time to get some snacks! Apparently every single person on the road decided it was a perfect time to stop as well, so the stop was PACKED. They have gas stations, restaurants, car washes and bathrooms all in one stop, like America would have a rest stop. There were so many cars there we had to circle the parking lot! After my bathroom break, we hit the road again, with a nice cold bottle of water and some snacks!

Chris navigated me to what we called the “heart shape.” He found it on Trip Advisor or something like that and it looked so cool! A natural rock formation that would line up to look like a heart at the right angle. So of course, we must go! (That and we didnt have much to see in Faro anyway) So the heart shape is near a beach and the roads were PACKED! We ended up parking in a lot that others had parked in. We started what we believed would be a short walk to the rock formation. I decided NOT to bring water, and lets just say that was the dumbest thing I have done in a long time! Our little hike became an adventure that was about twice as long as we expected.

It didnt help that we couldnt find a marked path, so we just meandered around and kept going to where we thought it was, long after Google had told us we were there. Me being, well me, decided to climb the rocks instead of attempt to find a path, so Chris and I scaled the wall of stone in flip flops on a mission to find the heart. We had some amazing views of the ocean, tons of kayakers and boaters out exploring, some cave like things, etc. However, we just kept striking out, until finally we found it. On our way to it, we realized we were on the wrong side of the warning signs….oops! Surprisingly we saw one other couple up where it was and that was it….but also it was EASILY 100* wit NO shade and we had no water.

After we got our pictures for the Gram (instagram that is) we decided to head back to the car cuz it was so darnnnnnn hot! This most definitely did not go as planned! I ended up getting so hot, having to pee AND starting to feel a bit nauseous. I felt heat stroke coming in. So Chris watched out for people while I jetted off to potty in the dust/clay and then we got on our way. However at this point I was really struggling. Chris was so kind and was making shade for me with his shirt above his head, making sure I was doing ok and pausing at every bit of shade we passed. He was going to get the car to meet me but was afraid I would just stop – he was probably right. Until I knew where we were it was probably best he didnt leave me, I think I would have sat down and struggled to get up. Once we knew where we were, he ran to get the car and I continued on the path. It was only about 5 minutes from the time he left to the time I got in the car, but I had never been so thankful for a car ride (lets be real, it was for the AC and water).

He kindly drove us to the Faro hotel (which I navigated us to the CENTER of Faro before realizing that wasnt the hotel – but hey I was out of it when I typed it in!). Its a little B&B that is almost more like a hostel, but we have our own private bathroom, and we are only here for the night. Once we checked in we cooled off in the AC since it was still well over 100*. Around 7pm we headed out for dinner at this place on the water thinking it would be cooler. It was NOT! But it was a nice restaurant. We got a cheese and meat platter, Chris got sangria and I got a Sprite. Chris got an omelet for dinner and I got the “cod and cream” which was really more like a cod cake – that was DIVINE! Apparently if you dont finish your cheese tray they dont think you are ready for dinner so we waited over 40 minutes for our dinner until we grabbed someone’s attention and they apologized because they didnt think we were done. All in all, very good restaurant though!

After dinner we walked through the old down, it was so quaint and pretty at night. We ended at a gelato place near the hotel, got our daily scoops and headed back to the hotel for the night.

It was a HOT and fun day. Note to self: ALWAYS BRING WATER.

Lisbon Day 2!

I was EXHAUSTED last night. Apparently I read for about 1 minute before falling asleep. That being said I woke up and felt rested and ready for another day of exploring. But first, breakfast.

They have a breakfast buffet downstairs, but you have to wear a glove when you are picking up your items. They provided one on the plates at the table. I had my European usual of muesli and yogurt along with some cheese, fruit, orange juice and of course bread. It was all very delicious!

After breakfast, off we went! We hopped on the tram right outside our hotel – the goal was to get to Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. It was about a 20 minute ride on the tram and right before our stop we noticed a park with a statue so when we got off we backtracked to that park to take pictures and also to kill some time because the monastery wasnt yet open. We had about 20 minutes to kill before opening and there was a queue forming already. We decided to walk over once we saw the people moving.

The monastery was pretty cool. It was a bit expensive at $10 to get in but worth it for the beautiful architecture. The church was closed to guests as it was Sunday and they do like 6 services throughout the day….

After the monastery we headed to Torre de Belem (the Belem tower). We were expecting things to be closed today because its a holiday (The Assumption of Mary) – however the tower was closed due to renovation. Interestingly enough google didnt mention this (its usually pretty accurate). So that adventure went much quicker than expected. After being disappointed with not being able to access the tower we decided to head to the National Museum of Art. Of course we had to climb like 100 steps to get there – there is always a theme with Chris!! (Stairs, stairs, stairs!) We saw silver and gold tableware, toiletry sets, furniture and more. It was pretty interesting as it was the first bed I had ever seen in a museum.

After the art museum we decided to head back to the hotel for a water fill up and refresh. We got super lucky and our tram ended up being an old trolley this time! The guy started yelling at this lady on the trolley and the driver kicked him off. It was nice to see rudeness being taken care of.

We got back to the hotel and decided on a snack before taking a break. I got a code fish ball (cheese, dough, codfish) because its a staple here and Chris got gelato and some pastries for our drive tomorrow.

After our break we went to the last museum we planned to see here in Lisbon, the tile museum. They made a QR code out of tiles that would link you to their audio tour (we didnt download it, neither of us had headphones). Anyway, it was pretty cool. Lots of tile art and lots of stairs. There were also two sets of bone set ups in the chapel. By the way, many of the museums here are in old monastery – they make an excellent location for museums as they have many rooms and have a flow to them.

We were able to catch a cab back to the hotel where we attempted to figure out where to eat. We had found this one place online and then the hotel also told us about it. We asked if they could make reservations – they didnt have another opening until NEXT Sunday. So back to Google we went. We found this place called Eating Bear. The hotel was able to make us a reservation and we headed over for dinner.

We got a nice window seat and sat down to enjoy our meal. The staff was amazing, service was great and food was flavorful! It is supposed to be tapas style, but Chris doesnt like fish and I dont like meat. So instead, we just ate our own main course and shared others. He even got to cook his veal on a grill at the table!

After dinner we walked back to the hotel and got some gelato nearby before heading back to the hotel to rest before another fun filled day tomorrow!

We are driving to Fara, Portugal tomorrow! Onward and upward (ok really down, because its South).


This morning I woke up and wanted to eat some breakfast before heading to the airport – turns out our hotel didn’t have breakfast (even slummy hotels have breakfast, and this wasn’t a slummy hotel!). I had to wait about 30 minutes for the shuttle, but then was dropped off right by ticketing.

There were a couple other people from my canceled flight yesterday, they were having a rough time – their bags were all over! They were apparently in Birmingham, AL – you should ALWAYS have a change of underpanties (haha) and a toothbrush in your backpack or purse if you check your bags. Anyway, turns out we had to redo our covid test/approval paperwork. I barely made it under the wire – though I did have to point to the ticketing agent that my test was done at 2:34 PM and not 2:34 AM…..

Anyway, after my paperwork I headed to TSA precheck and walked right through. I then went to the gate. I was looking for a Dunkin Donuts, but it was the opposite direction as my gate. Turns out, there was a Panera Bread right at my gate – so lets talk about a morning win!! Already better than yesterday!

Our flight was on time and I had a nice nap on that flight.

When I landed in the horrible Miami Dade airport – I noticed that the drunk girl had made it on our flight and was in the same clothes as yesterday (even though she had two bags with her??). Anyway, I headed to the closest Admirals Club to enjoy some more cheese and grapes! Of course I did have to add a Cherry Sprite Zero in there and some cookies! I watched some Bosch, check on some work emails and then downloaded a few new episodes for the flight.

I had forgotten to write in my One Question a Day journal, so I did that and then headed to my gate. I decided to walk to 30 gates, instead of taking the tram. Sounded like a much better idea than it actually was – it was a LONG way with a duffel bag!

I was starting to get worried about an on time departure – the tropical storm was headed our way and if we missed our take off slot, we would be screwed for hours. Thankfully, everyone boarded in a timely manner and to much of my delight, my row was EMPTY! So not only did I get a row to myself, the flight also took off on time! Woohoo!!

And now, I am in the air. After enjoying a dinner of vodka sauce and pasta, with a 3 piece of lettuce salad, cheese and crackers and cranberry juice. We have about 6 hours left of the flight, and I am just so happy to be back on the road. Nervous for what Europe will be like with this Covid crap – but excited for the world to be open to me again.

It should be noted….one should not eat vodka sauce when they have acid reflux. I barely slept on the flight – each time I fell asleep I was startled awake with acid reflux. Made for a long flight. I ended up taking all my tums I had brought for the whole trip (like 6).

Once I got off the plane we had to walk like a MILE to get to customs. After customs we had to ride a 5 minute tram to another part of the airport – then go through security. Security of course here is all automated. Rarely do they even open your bag if they think there is some sort of contraband. The person manning the Xray machine is remote. The person who verifies stands at the end of the bin collector and uses 3D imagery to verify what is in your bag. Water was tagged, but its not contraband, so off it went. That’s right folks WATER ISNT CONTRABAND! Anyway, on my way out of their security area I noticed a bright yellow version of their x-ray stuff. Turns out, they have a kid friendly line. Anyone with kids is encouraged to use that area, its bright has pictures on the wall and the x-ray machine. Still no one has checked my Covid 19 paperwork – maybe they will when I take off from here?

Anyway, after a 25 minute voyage, I made it to the right part of the terminal and immediately headed to the lounge. Lounges that are NOT owned by American companies are so much more luxurious. I was able to get breakfast, drink some water and relax. I then noticed they had lockers – HOW COOL!! So I decided to use a locker to hold my bags while I go find some European Tums. Turns out though, these lockers are cooler than I could imagine. Need to charge something while you walk around? They have an outlet in the locker!!

Im heading over to my gate shortly – looking forward to meeting up with Chris at hour hotel in a few hours!!

Well, just my luck – I did not get out of Madrid unscathed. My plane had a loose screw, literally, in the engine there was a loose screw. So, instead of canceling the flight, they found us another plane 10 gates down. So off the plane we went, walked 10 gates over and boarded AGAIN.

We ended up being about 2 hours later than our originally scheduled arrival. Somehow I never went through customs here. I followed signs for exit and not customs, on purpose. So I hailed a taxi and headed to the hotel.

Chris was still out exploring, and was going to meet me at the hotel about 45 minutes after I arrived. I showered, changed and walked down to the water before coming back to meet him in the room. However, his phone was dying and he wasnt responding. I waited for a bit in the room, then decided to go get a big gallon of water and then read in the square outside the hotel.

Chris finally came about an hour later. Why might you ask? He got on the wrong train, to no fault of his own. The trains are not labeled in English so he guessed at which one would get him back here. He ended up in a taxi.

We game planned in the room for a bit, then headed off to find the big church in town. We went to the church I had found earlier. It was not the church we were looking for, so we headed to the elevator to nowhere. Ok thats not really its name, but it basically just stands in the middle of this staircase and takes you up about 6 flights of stairs so you can go and see the Carmo Convent. Due to Covid 19, this elevator wasnt in operation. So, we walked up and around.

After checking out the Carmo Convent (which was majorly damaged (almost destroyed) in 1755). It had some cool pieces in the museum portion, including two mummies. It should be noted that the museum had little to nothing to do with the actual Convent, and more to do with how archiology helped shape the city.

After the Convent we decided to head back down the hill and get some dinner. We stopped at an Italian restaurant. We ended up splitting a quartro formagi pizza and pesto gnocchi. We made good life choices.

After relaxing a bit after dinner, we headed to Saint Jorge castle. It was a HIKE to get there, Straight up hills BOTH WAYS. Ok it wasnt that dramatic, but it was a toughie. It was cool to be able to see the city from such a high vantage point and check out the castle. It felt very authentic to me, with the columns, bow and arrow holes and the attitude.

After St Jorge Castle, we headed back down the hill to find some gelato. I got a Kinder Bueno and Chris got a caramel. As always, extra tasty. We hit the grocery store on the way back. Got some Fanta in a can, snacks and water.

Tomorrow is another busy day, that does NOT include me getting on a plane! Woohoo!!

Trying to get to Lisbon

Well, today is the day – international travel is back! (I mean for me at least, its been back for a while, but I was waiting for the right time). Chris and I are meeting in Lisbon tomorrow. I started my day early – around 5am. I was so excited to travel, I couldnt sleep. I slept at moms house last night to make it easier to catch an Uber or Lyft – however, that didnt work out right and there were no Ubers available (it said NO CARS?!) and Lyft was over $75….so mom was kind enough to take me to the airport.

From there, it was an easy peasy flight to DFW. The middle seat was open, and I was able to crash for the last 2 hours of the flight. However, that is when then easy peasy ended.

I was able to get into the Admirals Club lounge because of my status (all that flying has paid off). I sat in there for a few hours, eating far too many purple grapes and cheddar cheese chunks. I downloaded more shows for my tablet, ate some cookies and rice crispies.

I packed up and went to the gate about 5 minutes before we were boarding. However, when I got there the gate agent was telling someone “this is a maintenance issue.” So, I hung out by the gate for over an hour. During that time, I heard the gate agent say that it was a cracked windshield. At that point, I knew we were going to be delayed for longer than 2 hours.

A drunk woman approached the gate agent and the gate agent took her boarding passes because she was too intoxicated to fly. It was great. Major props to American Airlines for NOT letting her on. She could barely walk in a straight line, her words were slurred and she just didnt look good. She also did not understand they were not going to let her on the flight.

I waited for about an hour, then decided to head back to the lounge. When I was walking away they announced it would be at least 2 hours. At the two hour mark I checked the status of the flight, they had switched gates – we got a new plane!

This gate was like a 20 minute walk, so I took my time to get there. Once there the pilots got on board, they had to reissue us tickets because the plane layout had changed. We got our new tickets, they delayed the flight again and then all of a sudden the pilots walked back off the plane….the tower had not agreed to let us go.

Once the pilot crew was gone, they attempted to get us another one, but they knew we werent going out tonight. they issued use hotel vouchers via text or email and I took off with my new friends from Sacramento (Kelly and Bobby). We shared an Uber to our hotel and then checked into our rooms.

We kept texting and calling each other for the next hour – the flight status kept changing and things. We finally got texts about an hour after we got there, our flight had been officially canceled and I was going to Miami in the morning….they were on the same flight, just a day later.