We have visitors! After touring the North of Portugal we were excited to welcome Karen’s sister, Lisa, and eventually our friends Bryan, Rachel, and Charley! Lisa is attending Physical Therapy graduate school in Maine and decided to join us for her “Last Spring Break Ever”! But we weren’t going to let her get away from studying that easy; since she was traveling with us for 8 days we invited her to be a guest blogger! You’ll see a few excerpts from her throughout this post.
Lisa arrives in Lisbon! For those who know Karen, you know she loves animals, especially sea life, but what you may not know is that so does Lisa! What better first stop then the Lisbon Oceanarium, which is known as the second biggest aquarium in the world! The design is spectacular. You can visit each of the four oceans of the world and see the marine life from all angles, the surface, middle, and ground floor. The inner tank of the exhibit is huge and is like taking a glimpse into the ocean; there are sharks, otters, stingrays, schools of fish, and bottom feeders all existing together.
Lisa shares a funny story from the aquarium: “First, Karen decided to compare me to a fish in the aquarium… which one? Well, the sun fish of course. Thanks Karen. Arlen then decided it was the ugliest fish in the sea. Thanks Arlen. So here I am, the sun fish…”
Heading South. Lagos in on the Southern coast of Portugal and is a popular European vacation destination because of the beautiful beaches and massive cliffs. In the spirit of the area we started off each morning with a fresh squeezed glass of OJ, thanks to Arlen’s quick reflexes and miles and miles of orange fields. Since it’s not quite summer yet there was no sunbathing or swimming in the ocean, but the lack of crowds allowed us to soak in the beauty of the area.
Our days down South were simple but beautiful. We enjoyed morning runs on open sandy beaches, a boat tour of the caves created by the force of the waves hitting the cliffs, walking around and exploring the cliffs falling into the Atlantic ocean, and celebrating St. Patty’s Day at one of the only Irish pubs in town.
From Lagos we visited the Southern most point of Portugal, near the town of Sagres. Legend has it, Portuguese sailors would say goodbye to this land as the last they would see on their long sail to America. Lisa says “standing on the huge beach surrounded by ginormous cliffs makes you feel very small, especially when you are the only ones there”.
Up the West Coast. The great part of having a rental car is getting off the main road and visiting small towns that can’t be easily accessed by public transportation. We took advantage of it on our way North by stopping in small beach towns along the way. Lisa describes one stop in particular: “Driving by we spotted a nice patch of untouched sand dune- we had to stop. We definitely had fun jumping around the dune and jumping down the hill- which required running back up. Definitely earned our next meal with this one”.
More Visitors! Our friends Bryan, Rachel, and their surprise guest Charley, flew from Paris to meet us in Sesimbra, a beach town West of Lisbon. We rented what we thought would be a great beach house, perfect for cooking dinners, having a beer on the porch, and enjoying the sunshine. Unfortunately the house was a bit older and mustier then advertised. Nonetheless it was so fun to reconnect with our friends, enjoy laughs, and watch Bryan play endless games of Candy Crush on his cellphone. With Karen not feeling well (first bout of food sickness on the trip) and Arlen staying home with her, the rest of the group went out for a fun night, setting the stage for the rest of the weekend. They tell us legends of endless seafood, many bottles of wine, and hitching a ride home in the back of a van in the massive downpour; truth or lie we’ll never know but it sounded like a great night.
After a great week with Lisa we said our goodbyes. The rest of the group enjoyed a day in downtown Lisbon and danced the night away to an American coverband rolling out 80s rock and Move Like Jagger.
Next up . . España!