The Portugal Diaries

Since I didn’t have wifi for the majority of the trip, I took to writing notes on my iPhone (starting to understand the beauty of these devices). So here are The Portugal diaries:

Day 1: Getting There (Grenoble-Munich-Lisbon-Faro)

Is this a day? It feels like 5 rolled into one. We’ve been traveling since 3am this morning. Bike to bus to airport, to another airport, to another bus, to a train we missed because our flight was delayed, to finally waiting in the dark streets for our airbnb host to let us in. We’ve feasted like hobbits having a meal or snack every few hours because our internal clocks are askew and as a hobbit might think, eating helps pass the time. 18 hours of travel. Antoine and I have been through something like the seven stages of grieving- denial of how long this day would actually feel, anger, and then guilt, from being grumpy with each other, and ultimately acceptance and hope that in spite of missing our train we might actually make it to our destination. Reminder- if possible avoid insanity-inducing long travel days like these.

Too early

Too early

Although I must admit- seeing the sun rise over the Swiss alps is pretty stunning.

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Day 2: Exploring Faro

Good news- we didn’t sleep on the streets! Even better, we met our German host who let us in to our cute little Faro apartment, and informed us that there’s a fall fair starting tonight in our honor! Well…there’s a fall fair on the day of our arrival. Coincidence? I think not. But it’s a gorgeous day- there’s a semblance of summer lingering just outside of my window! How can this much sun and warmth exist in October? I won’t waste my time asking questions- time to explore the old town, take a boat ride around the lagoon and go enjoy the beach. Finally a real vacation with Frenchie!! Continue reading

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Snippets of delirium

I always thought you could judge a couple by how they travel together, until we became that couple.

You learn someone’s true colors when you wake up at 3am, having only gone to bed 3 hours prior.

And you can discover what a person’s made of when you bike to the train station at 3am, going off of 3 hours of sleep, with a 30+ pound backpack strapped to your back. Heck, you discover what you’re made of.

Antoine can’t function without coffee. Unfortunately I had to learn this the hard way. Traveling with him is like trying to motivate a grumpy, incoherent, sleep-walking child. And watching the effects of coffee on him is like watching a baby grow up.

Sweaty, delirious, 3 am bus ride- check. Now only 2 flights (one in the opposite direction), 1 bus, 1 train and hopefully a taxi left. Maybe we’ll throw in a boat to cover out bases. Either way, were headed to Portugal!

This, is exciting!

In my delirium (proof- I spelled prior as pryer), I decided that rather than writing a post, I’d relay the start of this trip in snippets. Aka the many beginnings I had in my mind but couldn’t choose from.

Grumpy start aside, I am on my way to Portugal! Finally getting a vacation with frenchie in a country neither of us have explored.

Tales to come.

“We’re deep in Chartreuse now”

I was lost in green. As the green grass whizzed by rolling green hills, I secured the Chartreuse in my lap. Feeling content in the passenger seat of Antoine’s loud campervan, I surveyed the scenery as green turned to grey and we slowly ascended into the mountains. I was pretty sure we were lost, but I didn’t care. As if to read my mind, Antoine smiled at me, “We’re deep in Chartreuse now”.

With past weekends filled with house projects, Ikea runs and general post-week recoveries, we were well overdue for a day trip. And the idea of a small visit to the Chartreuse cave seemed ideal- it would be short and simple…and delicious.

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Deliciousness

We entered into a space covered in Chartreuse (both the color and liqueur). I was surprised to learn that not only was the tour gratuit, but with that lack of ticket payment, you got to survey the distillery, watch a unique 3D film of Chartreuse history, tour the longest liqueur cellar in the world (you heard that right folks!), and sample a Chartreuse flavor of your choosing. Impressionnant, non? Continue reading

Sasquatch

It’s official. I’m a crazy cat lady.

Alright. Alright. I’ve always been a crazy cat lady. But I didn’t really have a choice, since loving cats is all part of my namesake. No really. Kotecki means cat lover. Or so I’m told.

But it’s officially official because I have one of my own. One who both terrorizes and amuses me. One who drives me insane in one instant and melts my heart in the next. One who goes by Sasquatch.

So in an effort to introduce this charismatic cat to the world and appease my crazy cat ladydom, (or maybe the claws of insanity are slowly tightening their grip on my mind), I decided to write a poem. Continue reading

The Return

I meant to share this post when I first returned to the states….a.k.a. before I got all distracted and procrastinatey. But now I’ve decided to share it- just in time for my return to France! 

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This is a strange place.

The pipes in Texas are so hot that it’s impossible to get cold water from the sink. Even cool water. I’m lucky if it comes out lukewarm as I’m brushing my teeth. On the other hand, the air conditioning is so ice-cold, that by the time I go outside, I welcome the oven-like furnace heat as the thick air thaws my frozen flesh. And the cars- oh how the cars continuously catch my eye- all shiny, and giant, and new. Slick SUVs and Trucks consuming the large roads. SO. Shiny.

I’m not just back in America. I’m in Texas.

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Continue reading

The Waiting Game

I wrote this a while ago, and while I’m finally back in France (and travel stories will ensue), I wanted to share.  

The thought of entering that waiting room terrified me. Because then it was real. Then I actually had to face the fact that my grandma was undergoing intense surgery. That the tearful laughter we shared the night before in the hotel lobby, might just be the last time we laughed together.

That was a possibility that no part of me was willing to face.

I was terrified that the waiting room would be sterile, dark and bleak. That it would feel oppressive and daunting. And that the hard shell of denial that I had so diligently worn for the past month, would crack in seconds. But I was surprised to enter an area that was spacious and open, filled with sunlight, and the buzz of cheery conversation.

Feeling mildly relieved, my family settled in with our breakfast tacos and nervous chatter about the weather and how long we thought we’d be in the waiting room. Would it really be over in 8 hours? Could it possibly be shorter, with good news that would end this unsettling wait? Continue reading