Ian and I are back from our 10 year anniversary trip to Portugal, feeling elated and refreshed and reinvigorated! My mom and dad watched Lil Dude while we were away (he missed us but was mostly happy being spoiled rotten). It was a truly blissful and relaxing trip, and I don't want to wait ten years to do the next one...
We spent ten days in Portugal, traveling up and down the Atlantic coast by train-- three days in Lisbon, two in Sintra, two in Porto, one in Aveiro, then two more in Lisbon again. (I'll focus on Lisbon in this post.)
So, I chose Portugal because I wanted a place where Ian and I had never been before-- I wanted us to explore it together, and have that magical sense of shared discovery. (That's how our honeymoon trip to Morocco felt ten years ago, too.)
I also wanted to be near lots of water, since I miss it terribly, being land-locked in dry Colorado. We stayed in places on large rivers and canals leading to the Atlantic-- it definitely satisfied my water cravings!
I also wanted a place where I didn't speak the language. Portuguese has lots in common with Spanish and French, so I could get by... but it was good for me to be in that humbling position where I have to struggle to communicate. (Hmmm, maybe most people wouldn't like that feeling, but for some reason I find it exciting and mentally stimulating... I really, really love languages, and I think Portuguese is especially beautiful.)
The first couple days in Lisbon, we lazily recovered from jetlag, and just wandered the streets, ate good food (goat/sheep cheeses, olives, cured meats, fresh baked bread, fresh fish) drank good (delightfully cheap) wine (vinho verde is my new favorite.) We loved the streetcars going up and down steep, cobbled roads... loved catching glimpses of water from lookout points...
The buildings were old and gorgeous and many were covered with tile (azulejos) or painted pretty pastel pinks and yellows and blues... As always, I wonder why most house colors in the US are so darn boring (which is why ours is mango-colored, post-renovation, and why I refuse to live anywhere with a HOA. Thankfully, our funky little neighborhood in Ft Collins embraces COLOR. ;-)
Such sweet little balconies...
View after stunning view...
I'd packed some cute sandals, including a kind of wooden, platformy pair, but they stayed in the suitcase the entire trip. Every day we walked for miles up and down steep cobbled roads and sidewalks, so I was forced to wear my practical pink tennies (and actually wore some holes in them by the end of the trip...)
Portugal was everything we'd hoped it would be and more... and it was delightfully off the beaten American tourist track. We met lots of European travelers at hostels there, which was fun-- I got to practice my French a bit. A cool thing about Lisbon (and Porto, which you'll hear about in a future post) is that although they're beautiful, ancient cities with fascinating history, they're not as giant and overwhelming as some other European capitals I've spent time in. We didn't need to use the metro or buses at all... it was manageable on foot and bike, so we could really get a feel for the different neighborhoods.
In my next posts, I'll tell you about the other places we went, post-jet-lag.... stay tuned for castles and fantastical gardens and forest romps and bike adventures! Thanks for swinging by!
Many readers have been asking me if Portugal will be a setting in an upcoming book! Wellll... as you know, I don't like to divulge much about a book before it's even written (not good for my creativity), but I will say that one reason I chose Portugal for our trip was because of the coastline, castles, and mysterious gardens... all of which play parts in the two new YA manuscripts I'm currently working on. I'm having lots of fun with it. For me, it's so important to engage in a setting with all my senses, to really make it come alive for readers.
Anyway, thank you all for asking, and I hope you like the books that will eventually materialize from this latest travel adventure!