Sunday, January 6, 2013

Portugal...cobbled stone streets, castles in the sky and cinnamon in my coffee, Oh my!

Now that Jessica is walking she just takes over the airport. She walks around like she owns the place and Connor is right next to her to make sure she is not getting into trouble. They are quite a pair.

We were so excited to go to Portugal and get some sun and see some palm trees. I haven't seen a palm tree since we left SB :( Unfortunately the weather was a bit colder than I had expected but still warmer than Holland.

This is the Tower of Belem. It had nice views (not great, just nice).  Climbing up or down the narrow and crowded spiral stone stairway SUCKED. If it's crowded I'd skip it. 

This is the April 25th bridge and April 25 is Connor's birthday. It's the longest bridge in Europe and looks like the Golden Gate bridge in SF, CA in fact  it was built by the same company (American Bridge Company) that constructed the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. We called it Connor's bridge. He felt pretty special that the longest bridge in Europe was named after his birthday. He even requested a painting of the bridge.

Here is your 1st painting Connor I hope you take care of it and still have this when you grow up. 

Bath buddies at our ghetto apartment in the Bairro Alto neighborhood of Lisbon. I totally screwed up on this one. I normally pride myself on finding great hotels or apartments that are roomy, clean, in great locations and of course safe. Well this one was in the ghetto next to a bunch of bars. When we opened the door in the morning this was the sight across the street. 

WOW get me out of here. We spent as little time there as possible. The guide books recommend taking a walk through the Bairro Alto area and the Chiado neighborhoods but its not a place you want to linger and let alone book an apartment in . . . 
The inside of the apartment was fine, but outside, as you can see, lots of trash and graffiti. Sadly much of the city of Lisbon was just like this..... lots of trash and lots of graffiti. Which is such a shame because there is so much beauty in this city.  Gorgeous centuries old architecture, beautiful cobbled stone streets, hand painted tiles all over the city and an old world European charm that you expect when in such a historic city. Connor and I actually saw 3 separate people just litter right in front of us. Lisbon needs a little TLC and it could be such a charming city.

The Bairro Alto neighborhood did have lots of funny the one above.
We had to take a picture of this cute cat with a Santa hat on just hanging out in a random window.

My handsome guy at the top of the Santa Justa Elevator (yes that's really the name of the elevator). It connects the Santa Justa street, in the center of Lisbon, with the upper Carmoplein. The next few pictures are from there as well.


Happiness at the Hard Rock Cafe. We were really craving a little piece of home one evening, a burger and these margaritas were just what the doctor ordered :)

The next day we visited St. Georges Castle.

I love this peek of a view of the cathedral off in the distance from St. Georges Castle.

I mean WOW look how big she is getting!!!!

Cascais, Portugal
(Thank you Holley for great tips on where to go from your local Portugal friend, you guys saved our trip).
Cascais was definity one of the highlights from our trip. We loved the beautiful dunes along the coast, the small Santa Barbara like harbor, palm trees and sunshine. 

Cascais we will be back.

Sintra, Portugal

 A magical land with castles in the sky, green green everywhere, amazing views, fresh air, underground caves to explore and one very happy family. Yes after the experience of being in the dirty city in a terribly located apartment we were beyond thrilled to be out in nature and staying in a very charming B & B in the sweetest little town in Portugal. (Again thank you Holley for your friends tips. This place was amazing!)

 Nice view but wait they get better way way better.

 Connor is a fantastic hiker! I promised him he could pick out any dessert he wanted for dinner if he did not complain and it worked. Hiking with a 5 year old can go either way and you never know. But we hiked from 10:30am until 5:30pm or 17:30 as they say in Europe  climbed a million steps, saw 2 castles and not one complaint. YAY! Connor! Great Job! (Uncle Bobby, when ever we hike Chris tells us stories of the hiking you did with him and his brothers in the Sierra mountains, we wish you were with us to enjoy this experience. oh and maybe to have a turn carrying Jessica. HA HA!).

There were lots of precarious spots with a small to huge drop off on one side . . . it made my tummy turn at times and my knees get a little bit like jelly, if you know what I mean.

 Chris and I took turns lugging baby Jess around. Wow is she heavy. I was pretty proud of all of us especially since we are so out of shape. (yes that is going on the new years resolution list - Get in Shape!!!)

I'm in the white jacket and Connor is in front of me in the black. Top of the world ma! 

  A little hobbit house if I ever saw one.

 Checking out the breathtaking view and look no grafiti ahhhhhh.

 I mean seriously this view is one of the best views I've seen in my life. These pix are from the Moorish castle in Sintra. I don't think you can capture it with pictures. It really is stunning. 

Here is Connor coloring in front of the fire at the B & B we stayed at in Sintra. It was so charming and cute. Below is the sign painted on the wall next to the small but full bar available to the guests.



 We all loved exploring the caves under the  Quinta Regaleira. If you are ever in Sintra it is a must see.

 In the caves.

You step out of the cave into the bottom of a well . . .  it was such a unique experience.

Highly recommended cafe in Sintra.
Translation: Life and art of the Portuguese 

Coffee in Portugal is amazing. They sprinkle a little cinnamon on it. Seriously it will blow your mind!!!! It's my new favorite thing. Chris has informed me that lots of places in the US have been doing this for years but this was my 1st experience with it and I was just giddy over it. I mean it. I was giddy of coffee with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Try it! 

The new way of transporting the kids around the airport. 

 Both kids thought they were pretty special getting their own toiletry/activity kits on the plane.

Good night you two. 

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