Friday, October 10, 2014

The Happiest Place on Earth

Yesterday as I crossed the finish line at the Lisbon half marathon I was thrilled to be done running. And then one minute later (literally) I realized my driver's license had fallen out of my cell phone running case when I was eagerly receiving my finishers' medal. I retraced my steps and tried an English-Spanish combo to explain to security, race officials, and police that it was missing. I was exhausted but much more concerned about losing my backup ID at the beginning of a two month trip. Eventually I gave up and decided there was no point crying over spilled milk.

The starting line. Photo courtesy of Vanna Saelao


Immediately after the race - sad face for lost ID. But I FINISHED!

Celebrating - it's over!

We wore our medals around town like CHAMPS! Photo courtesy of Stephanie Lock

After taking an extremely necessary shower we headed out for an afternoon of sightseeing, picture-taking, and the best dinner I've had so far in Portugal. We sat upstairs in a quaint little restaurant (Belém 2 a 8) in Belém while two waiters scurried around serving the entire restaurant.

Photo courtesy of Vanna Saelao

The service wasn't fast but we were in no hurry and we enjoyed the slower pace, removed from the hustle and bustle. Our waiter, Fernando, was in great spirits and didn't seem to mind letting us six girls linger into the late evening hours, sipping wine and oohing and aahing over the delicious entrees. My black pork (pig...figures) was cooked perfectly, crispy on the outside and succulent and tender on the inside. Even though my plate was delicious, the most surprisingly tasty dish was the breaded, grilled octopus. I've never tried octopus that was so tender and flavorful without being chewy.

Chestnuts on the street...I'll pass next time.

Meat pie for me, egg tart for her.  MUST eat these in Belem!

To work off our indulgent dinners we hiked back up the hills to our apartment. This morning we continued the walking (my legs are sufficiently sore now) on a tour to Sintra, "the home of princes and princesses".  I don't think that's an official tagline, but I saw it on a marketing pamphlet and it stuck. It resonated with me as I walked through the grand palaces and imagined what it would have been like to have lived in these extraordinary structures centuries ago.  Plus, Palacio Nacional da Pena looks a LOT like Disneyland.  So I didn't need to imagine much.  I love Disney.

Photo courtesy of everplaces.com


When entering the gift shop, we were immediately drawn to the kids' costumes and our dress-up session had our tour guide dying with laughter.  It’s been a new adventure to travel with 5 girls in a foreign country since I’m typically solo on the road.  While on the train back from Sintra I was reflecting on all the moments I've had with these wonderful ladies.  It’s been such a joy to share our Lisbon travel adventures and everything has seemed effortless and fun.  I've laughed harder than I've laughed in a long time, I've eaten, I've gotten lost, I've played, I've eaten some more, and the best part was sharing those moments with friends.

Photo courtesy of Vanna Saelao
Photo courtesy of Vanna Saelao

My thought for the day is that although I can enjoy journeying alone, I realize how enriching it is to travel with somebody else.  When an experience is shared, stories are made, conversations last longer (or should I say “exist” since I don’t normally converse with myself), and the moment itself is extended.  Appreciate and enjoy the person(s) with whom you share your journey and your life; these people enrich your everyday experiences and give more meaning to your life.

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