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.

Muster Point 6: July 1, 2019

Today my friend Julia and I headed out of Sacramento on an early flight to Seattle to catch our cruise – heading to Alaska!!

Our day started early – we grabbed a LYFT around 4am. Once we had checked our bags at the airport, we breezed through TSA with plenty of time to wait at the gate. It was a very easy morning. Could this be the calm before the storm? Or will this trip really be a breeze?

Once in Seattle we grabbed our luggage and headed to the LYFT pick up spot in the parking garage.

Our LYFT picked us up and we headed to the city to have breakfast. I had looked up places on the way to Pier 91 where our boat was launching from. I settle on a place called 5 Spot. Their menu looked pretty good.

Turns out they are an ethical restaurant who does good things! Some of their menu items have a donation that go with them: Order plate A and 5 Spot will donate $1 to a charity.

We both settled on an egg dish, but then of course had to have the sweets: beniets and  cinnamon rolls!! The beniets were so good!! The cinnamon roll was not. I sent it back, and even the second time it wasn’t good. Hard as a rock. I love cinnamon rolls – they hold a special place in my heart from when I was young going to Saturday breakfast with my dad and grandma at the Fryin Pan in Fargo, ND.

After our breakfast we headed to safeway about 5 blocks away to get some candy!! From there we snagged another LYFT and headed to the boat early.

Our cruise is on the Holland America’s ms Amsterdam, however the whole boat was taken over by about 1,300 LESBIANS through the Olivia Travel company. We arrived before boarding so we checked in and hung out in the check-in building. About 30 minutes in I realized many of the people on the boat would be older than Julia and myself. I was actually really excited about that – the older groups tend to be ones I can relate to more.

Photo Credit: Julie A. Booher
Photo Credit: Gina Teddone

After about an hour we boarded, found our room, got settled in and were hanging out in the room to take a nap! After nap time, it was time to Muster!! this is when you have to go to your life boat station (normally with your life vest) so you know where to go in an emergency. Unlucky for me, I only took Instagram videos that disappear after an hour, so I have no shots for this….So Im stealing….

We headed out to the Lido deck for a sail away party.  The moment the boat took off from the pier I got queasy. Like, seconds. Luckily I had my patches and ginger snaps (thank you Mark!!) to get me through. I was super prepared for all the sea sickness I was expecting. I brought eastern medicine patches and Dramamine as well!! I really don’t want to get sick on this trip.

After the party, no actually I started feeling queasy, Julia and I headed down to the room to nap. (I know, party poopers, but we were so tired). When we woke up from our nap it was time to go to the Solos introduction meeting. The Solos are a group of people who are single OR traveling single. It lets everyone be part of a group – even if you came along. The first two people we met were Lori and Julie – how crazy right? Lori was sitting across from me and Julie was sitting across from Julia!! We also met Becca right around the same time. Little did we know, these would become our people.

After that Julia and I headed to the Spa because they were going to be raffling off gift certificates. The lady in charge says she loved us so much she offered us even more!! I volunteered to pick a ticket – and guess what?? I picked Julia’s!! Not many people figured out that I had picked hers – later on I think they did. (Sadly this gift certificate never got used – it was only usable during dock time, but we didnt realize that until it was too late).

Julia and I went to find food before going to a comedy show with Vicki Shaw. We discovered the Lido deck and it has pools, hot tubs and a buffet line. Most of the day the buffet line is open – things to note when traveling on a cruise ship! I ended up having pretty bland food to avoid upsetting my stomach (mash potatoes and mac n chz!!).

After dinner we headed to the show and sat in the Solos section. I found Vicki very funny, she managed to make a terrible horrible disease (Alzheimer’s) have some humor. It was a great fire night option. We were both really tired after and headed to bed early. I slept so well I could have kept sleeping – for much longer than I did!

Travel Day, Pompeii, and Vesuvius!

Yesterday was an extremely long, extremely boring day! We got up a 6am, ate breakfast, then headed to the train station (via water bus!) We had to go to the main land to catch our train to Naples. We were early, but it was good, because we got to store our luggage in our compartment on the train. Sadly, one stop away from Venice, we picked up 3 lovely children (9, 6, 3) and their parents, who could not control them. I got kicked, a Kleenex thrown on me, and some kid kept pulling dads leg hair! Thank goodness they left in Rome, so we only had to ride with them for like 4 hours, instead of the 8 all the way down to Naples. In Roma, some slutty girls and their nasty male friends hopped in our cabin, because they didnt think anyone else would join, thank goodness our Indian friends came along and had seats next to us. These folks were just so nice, they told me to go to India and that it was safe in certain areas, so I should check, but that I could have a great time there. They were very nice, and were going to Pompeii and Herculaneum today, but we didnt see them. We finally made it to Naples, then had to find our car. Dad ROCKED! the driving through Naples. We missed one turn (my fault) otherwise, we were right on que! Dad just amazes me at his driving ability, I think it might have something to do with the fact he has to drive in Chicago a lot now. Our hotel is AMAZING! we have the most beautiful view of the city, and the bay. Oh goodness, its just wonderful! As soon as I have enough time I will label all my pictures, probably in September… (sorry)

Today we headed out around 930 for POMPEII! I was here like 4 years ago now (woah!) and just loved it. I never realized how big it was, and neither did dad when he saw it. It was amazing, again! It was nice not to be freezing while I was there this time, except this time I got sunburned. No happy medium for me. We saw all the best things to see there, in about 2.5 hours. I saw the place where Ben and I broke in last time, and its still not open to the public. It looks like they are doing new excavations as well. Its never ending! After Pompeii, we at a quick lunch, then headed on the bus to Vesuvius. HOLY ROAD TRIP! It took us like an hour to drive up, all the twists and turns, and the road is 2 ways, but in the States, it would be lucky if it was a legal 1 way! Our bus did a lot of honking on the way up! Once we go there, it was a 30 minute hike to the top. They mean climb, hike, crawl if you have to. Its gravel, like pee gravel, and awful. But we did it, WITHOUT STOPPING! It had the most beautiful view of the Naples Bay and Sorrento and Pompeii was down there somewhere, I just never saw it. This was the first volcano I had ever seen, and climbed, and it was beautiful! It even steamed a little for my camera to take a picture!

We got back, and missed our shuttle to the hotel, so we decided to eat in town. Rick Steve’s book got us a great little restaurant, and the owner was so nice. He brought us Lemonchillo after dinner, I think I was drunk off a little shot. But it was so much fun to eat at this restaurant. It had lemon trees, and no roof!

Tomorrow we are going to Capri!