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We made it!

Last Wednesday, we were checking on the animals, getting some chores done, watching the barn swallows…a very typical day on the farm for us.

The next, Jack and I were racing through airports, hopping on planes, and coasting above the clouds on our way to Portugal. Not so typical for us.
A beautiful sunrise at 30,000 feet.

Though the trip was lengthy, it was much more enjoyable than our flight to our Bahaman cruise. Splurging on ear tubes and motion sickness patches really paid off. Of course, there was still the cramped seating, long hours of sitting, hours worth of layovers, jetlag, and horrible, horrible airport food.

Don’t eat it, Jack. That meat they put on your sandwich hasn’t been in a fridge all week.

By the time we got to the hotel, we were wiped but I was pretty insistent that I didn’t want to go all the way to Portugal just to sleep my time away. I sat down on the bed and somehow, fell asleep anyway. Oh, well. I probably would’ve fallen asleep on my feet while out walking around. We woke up with plenty of time to take to the town, walk around, and find some real food.


Let me introduce you to the Francesinha. Basically, it’s a sandwich with multiple layers of meat, draped with cheese and an egg, and smothered in a spicy tomato sauce and served with a sea of french fries. Weird for sure but oddly addicting. If anything, it reminded me of my time in Montreal and the plentiful poutine that’s served there.


With the last of our energy sapped, we went back to the hotel, called the kids (I love technology!) and crashed for the night.

The kids basically only want to see themselves with silly face filters, not actually talk to us.

The next morning, we woke up refreshed and ready for breakfast…only to realize we’d accidentally slept until eleven and completely missed breakfast. Jetlag is a real thing, people! By the time we got out the door and walked…

Sad but really cool old doors.
…and walked…
An awesome park with old, oddly deformed sycamores lining the road.
…and walked…
Lions and old, blue tile buildings pretty much sum up Porto.

…it was actually time for lunch. In typical European fashion, meals are long and late and the only really trustworthy water comes out of giant bottles. Thankfully, there are quaint little cafes on every corner. The trick is finding one that’s open when you want it to be. Some close at four in the afternoon, while others don’t even open until seven in the evening. Once we’d found one that was ready to serve food and we’d eaten our fill, we were off again.


In the touristy part of Porto, the city is always bustling. I heard every language from French to German, Japanese to Spanish being spoken. Plus, there are hilarious, talented street performers, the locals who live in every nook and cranny of the city, beggars, gypsies, and stray dogs who are well-loved by their neighborhood residents.

Getting all decked out for the San Joao festival.

One of the places we definitely wanted to visit on our trip was the Livraria Lello. It’s an incredibly interesting, tiny bookshop with a magnificent staircase. It’s most recent claim to fame is that when J.K. Rowlings lived and worked in Porto, she spent her time writing there and the unique staircase inspired the moving staircases of Hogwarts.


Not surprisingly, the place was packed. Plenty of people were crowing the space to try and get their glamour shots with the stairs and due to their twisty, turn-y build, it’s basically impossible to get a good shot with all the stairs in it. It’s one of those things you really have to see in person.

So crazy. I want some in my house!
I seriously considered taking my laptop, setting up shop, and seeing if some of Rowlings book writing mojo might rub off on me.

Instead, we stopped by Platform 9 3/4 on the way out.

After the library, we stopped at a tourism office and signed up for a couple of tours around the city. The first was a boat tour that required us to walk down to the Doruo river to catch the ship that would paddle us around.
By far my favorite mural: the giant blue cat.

The cityscape along the river is so fantastic. There’s colorful housing, impressive bridges that span the river, jagged rockfaces, and medieval architecture, all mashed together in a sum of what Porto is.


The boat ride was relaxing (because we didn’t have to walk to see stuff) and it gave us the first glimpse of the ocean.

They love their bridges there.

Once we were done on the boat, we hopped on a bus and toured the south side of the city from the top deck. It definitely is the “newer” section of town, with new apartments, grand mansions, and enormous businesses.


When we’d made the final loop, we decided to stretch our legs a bit and do some walking while looking for a place to eat.

Another old, blue-decked-out church.

As we strolled, we came across some of my favorite street performers. One was a gold fairy, who stayed statuesque until someone tossed her a coin. Then, she bowed and graciously offered a small token of appreciation. I think the girls would have really gotten a kick out of her.


Then, there was a guy who churned out music on a mini roller organ, while his slightly creepy marionettes stared at the audience and his pet chicken stood on a garbage can, occasionally clucking along with the music. It was just the right combination of weird to make it really interesting.

We also discovered the country’s love affair with Nutella. I had no idea there was a place in the world where I could buy a three-gallon bucket of chocolate hazelnut spread. It’s every chocoaholic lover’s dream come true.

The train station was in our way, so we stopped to gawk and see where the train might take us. Once we decided that traveling outside of Porto was going to be too time-consuming, we looked around the incredible edifice and appreciated the handiwork that went into building it.

Such a cool train station.

Finally deciding on a place, we both ordered salads. We’d had our fill of meat, cheese, and potatoes and needed something a little more balanced to replenish us.

It was surprisingly difficult to find vegetables in Porto, besides potatoes.

And, of course, ended the day with gelato. It’s only natural when next to every cafe, there’s also an ice cream shop next door. Since we walked the equivalent of nearly a half marathon every day, a couple scoops of gelato didn’t hurt.

I think we ate gelato every single day I was there. Is that so wrong?

Once again, at the end of the day, we drug ourselves back to the hotel and barely crawled into bed before we were asleep.

Jack made a new friend.
The first few days were wildly entertaining but we had no idea what was to come. Let’s just say, Porto knows how to throw a party!


They graffiti EVERYTHING. Some of it is cooler than others, though.


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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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