Home sweet home

Well our travel day yesterday lasted about 24 hours.

Now not all of that was on a plane, but more than half certainly. We woke before alarms, probably around 6a.m. By 7:30 we were showered, packed and checking out. We took a taxi to the airport, got checked in, actually checked our luggage so we wouldn’t have to fight for bin space or keep track of them.

We had several hours before we boarded, So we had a coffee and split a sandwich for breakfast, spending the last Euros on a couple of bottles of water for the plane. We are very fortunate that we travel so similarly. We would both rather be at the airport hours early rather than rush or worry about lines.

Once we were on the first flight we had a delay while on the plane, not getting going for nearly an hour. Because the incoming flight was late and we missed the window for the Atlantic airspace we had to wait for another one.

It wasn’t a big deal for us, as we had three and a half hours worked in for the transfer. This was not the case for some who were already complaining and panicking.

About 12 hours later we landed in Washington DC, now with just two hours to transfer but it ended up being plenty of time. We went through customs, picked up our luggage and had to walk it 10 yards away to the connecting flight belt and then on to go find our next gate.

The flight from WDC left on time and we landed about 6 hours after boarding. My dear brother who had stayed with the cat and watched our place also picked us up from the airport.

I had tried not to sleep at all on the flights, my own personal jet lag strategy. I did doze off and on from WDC because it was late and dark. But we were home about midnight and actually quite awake. So showering off the travel day and unpacking took place. I read for awhile and then fell asleep about 2am.

Six hours of sleep and we were wide awake, I got up and started the travel laundry. We had some errands to run, grocery shopping, pet store a few more stops and we washed three weeks of pollen off both cars.

Tonight after I made dinner and the sitting watching TV put Lori to sleep, I was getting sleepy it was just to early to fall asleep so I did some weeding in the back yard until I lost light. Cleaned all the bird feeders and made sugar water to refill them. Now I’m blogging to make it to at least 10pm

I am avoiding looking at the time in Portugal, hoping this jet lag strategy of mine works. Stay awake for 24 hours while traveling and then just make myself conform to the current time zone.

Wrapping Up Lisbon

We are all packed and tomorrow morning we will leave Portugal. We have a long day of travel ahead of us that includes a four hour layover in Washington DC. Figuring we will have to collect our bags and go through customs there, it is probably not as long as it sounds.

The last few days have been packed. Several museums, a historical walking tour, Monuments, Belém Tower, Botanical garden, dinner with a friend from home, and lots of yummy food.

We found a great place for breakfast on our first day here and went through every day except the day we had the walking tour. We made friends with our server, yesterday he gave me is number in case we had any questions or problems finding the Tower or the jazz festival he thought we should go to.

We also met a friend and her sister who happened to be traveling in Lisbon at the same time. We met out for dinner a couple nights ago and had a lovely time, great food, wine and conversation.

We made it to Belém tower which was much more interesting after our fabulous walking tour and the 7,000 year history lesson we received.

Today went to the Botanical garden, wondered through it and took our sketching stuff although we never did break it out. We spent a couple hours there, then we wondered through the city again, toward our hotel and our final packing.

Good Bye Lisbon, you are now on the list of places to retire!

The Rouge Historians: A tour company

Today we were up early and met Ian the owner of The Rouge Historians. We had booked this tour on-line and once we where there and found no one else had booked and we basically had a private tour was astonishing.

This blog just becomes an advertisement for his company! This tour was awesome and paled only to Ian himself. A full three hours long, The Archeologist turned tour guide wondered through Lisbon imparting both its history and changes over 3,000 years.

We started not far from our hotel where we happened to stop yesterday and take a picture of an old juniper tree. What we learned today was that tree is older than the United States at 750 years old. We wondered through the Bairro and onward to the Church of Sam Roque and the most expensive chapel in the world. But he told us how and why it was the most expensive and the amount of history was both amazing and overwhelming.

At some point I kept listening but my brain was overwhelmed with all of the information. I think if we were here longer I would take this tour a couple more times; or just bribe Ian with a few pints to learn even more.

Ian was very informative if not down right brilliant going through all the different periods and rise and fall of Lisbon and Portugal over the centuries. He covered the 1755 earthquake that shook for SEVEN MINUTES and the deaths and subsequent flattening, clearing out and rebuilding of Lisbon.

One of the most fascinating stories was of the fall of Salazar’s dictatorship and the speed and efficiency of which it happened.

If you need a tour in Lisbon or Rome, go with The Rouge Historians. You will not be disappointed.

Walking Lisbon

Tomorrow we booked a walking tour at 9:00 a.m. It is about three hours long. We are also probably going to go to a 2:00pm tour of the Tower of Belem.

So today we walked even more.

We slept well in our posh hotel, got up and ready to head out and found breakfast. Then walked toward the water, admiring all of the tile buildings and heading from one Piazza to another. I needed a restroom so we stopped for even more coffee and tea and watched as clouds rolled in and then past us.

We walked to the National Museum of Ancient Art, following along all the Renaissance art we saw in Sienna. The most exciting was famous Bosch, that I frankly new nothing about before going but Lori was so excited when she saw it, having only seen photos and studied it in school.

We walked back after the museum, wondering through all kinds of side streets being directed by google. If we hadn’t trusted google, we would have just back tracked but some of the best photos today came from those side streets. There is so much tile work, full sides of buildings. They don’t photograph well with my phone, but I still tried.

Hotel Britania; Lisbon Portugal

We arrived today, more like we arrived this evening. Wanting just to shower and to be away from the craziness that were the airports we were in today.

This part of the trip is our planning, just the two of us, no sketching group, no pre-arranged tours or cooking classes.

After last night is the hostel because that is all we could get and not wanting to shower in the shared bathrooms this hotel would have been a dream either way.

Except it is more than that. It is stunning. The lovely robes, slippers and decanter of port are just a few of the extras. The room is beautiful and comfortable and HUGE in comparison to all of our hotel rooms, and frankly our house.

We took a taxi here from the airport and checked in, unpacked and showered. We then just ordered room service and are heading to bed because we are exhausted from not sleeping much last night due to the room, the noise and the heat.

We have four full days in Lisbon and that starts bright and early tomorrow.

P.S. Do not fly Lufthansa if at all possible!!

Fashion Week and Hostel Living

We traveled back to Florence today via train. Not to much drama there except close connections. Good thing we have experience with trains even if its a couple years old. Judy who was traveling alone and part of the sketching tour changed her ticket so she could travel in with us because she was nervous on just how to do it.

Good thing because as we are rushing from one (late) train to another that was to leave in three minutes I rushed up to the platform with my bag on my back and carrying Loris. That left her to help Judy with one of her bags. I jumped onto the car with Lori right behind me when the doors closed, leaving poor Judy outside. She couldn’t open the door from outside but I was able to open from inside and she joined us and her bag for the rest of the event-less trip.

We then got to Florence where it is fashion week and packed full of beautifully dressed people. Lots of us regulars as well but so very much fashion. Our goal in getting back early in the day was to make it to Boboli garden.

We dropped our bags at the only room we could find during fashion week (well there were severely overpriced rooms around) which is a hostel. Then we trecked over to and through Boboli garden. It is huge and it was hot and we found ourselves moving from one shady spot to another but I am very glad we made it.

We leave early tomorrow, we already have a taxi set up for 6:45 so for now we are just chilling in our hot hostel resting some very tired feet.

Departing Cinque Terre

Tonight is the farewell dinner for our sketching tour. The time has flown by. This has been a dream crew. Everyone gets along great. There are no complainers or kvetchers. A few food issues, but no one makes it the center of attention and just makes do. The “while in Rome” analogy. In fact the entire group there is only one smoker and even though it is a smoking country and people smoke in restaurants, on the street, in lobby’s and there has been a lot of smoke I have not heard a single complaint. Just to say, this group gets that we are in a foreign country and it is up to us to get along and not up to them to make it easier on us.

Today was pretty low key. We went and got our train tickets for tomorrow and just to see where we needed to go in the morning. We also took ALL of our laundry except what we wore today to a local woman who does laundry for those visiting. It seems like such a luxury to head on the rest of this trip with everything clean and not needing to think about it. Since this is such a small local economy we were also completely happy to pay the money to support her. We picked it up and everything is repacked for departure tomorrow.

Yesterday we took a boat to the other islands and walked around. Lori and I had a beverage and shared an anchovy and caper pizza that was pretty darn good. Today we just sketched and relaxed.

We are about to go meet up for the farewell dinner. So I am just including a bunch of photos. Tomorrow we train back to Florence and the next day fly to Lisbon.