Monday, May 31, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Trip to the Algarve and soccer tournament

It was nice to finally get down to the south coast of Portugal. We had an excuse, as the Embassy soccer team was playing in a tournament. It was organized by having different countries' teams play against each other in 30-minute games on Saturday and Sunday. John's team ended up doing really well, going all the way into the final match against Brazil. However, no surprise, Brazil won.

The picture above is the resort where we stayed. It wasn't on the beach, but had nice views of the countryside. Here are some more pics:

Outside of the Brazilian-style churrascaria restaurant we ate at, which serves all-you-can-eat meat. These types of restaurants are pretty popular in Portugal, given the Brazilian influence.

Orange grove on the way to the beach

We forgot to take pictures of the beach, but here we are on the promenade

John playing his best

There was a random performance by this group who were dressed in a very old style. Apparently they were from some tiny mountain town in Portugal, where they still celebrate their heritage by doing dances. We couldn't really figure out why they were performing at the soccer tournament.

During one of their "dances" they stopped, embraced each other, and started miming an act you wouldn't normally do in public! It was hilarious, and I was trying not to laugh too loudly as I took some photos.

Here is John and his team winning their second-place medals.

And here are the Brazilians. Can you tell they are very enthusiastic in their celebrating?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

First Houseguests in Lisbon

We had a fun time showing Elise and Heather around Lisbon. The two of them took a very relaxed approach about seeing the city and its sights, which was fine by us!

The night we got in was Saturday night, so we took them down to the Bairro Alto, which is Lisbon's hopping bar scene. It doesn't get going until after midnight, and by 2 am the streets are filled with people talking, walking around with their beers, just hanging out. We stopped by a Cuban place that is always good for dancing, and then on to a place we'd been before that always has live Brazilian music.

Check out the guy walking around with his own personal jug of wine!

The next day started with Lisbon's best pizza

On to Lisbon's beautiful castle up on the hill overlooking the city. Here is a view from up there.

After seeing the sights in Belem (the area of Lisbon associated with the Portuguese Age of Discovery), we stopped to have the world's best pasteis de natas, or custard tarts. They may not look like much, but they are absolutely delicious. It's a must for anyone visiting Lisbon to try them.

We had dinner and listened to traditional Portuguese singing, called Fado, that night. There were quite a few different singers performing, and it sounded more beautiful than I had expected it to. The best part was the main singer had a huge crush on Heather and was singing to her throughout most of the performance!

The next day was a beach day.

Wine, bread, cheese, fruit and......Texas Hold 'Em!
Oh yeah, the Pope decided to come visit Lisbon at the same time as our guests! Here is the stage they built him right on the water in Lisbon's old town.

It was fun to have our first visitors. Who's next??? My mom and sister in July!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ah, Paris

The nicest thing about our trip to Paris was that we didn't have any specific plans, and no tourist attractions were on the agenda. Well, besides shopping and eating, of course. It made for a very relaxing time, just enjoying Paris for what it is. It was supposed to rain the whole time, and in fact, we never got a drop until we were boarding the plane to Lisbon! Here are some pictures of the fun we had.

This is how we started off every morning. Yum.

Heather and her family lived in Paris for a few years after she finished college. We went to her neighborhood, and visited the places she used to frequent. The first stop was the local bistro, where one of the waiters Heather knows well gave us free kirs and served us a wonderful lunch. (Warm goat cheese salad and steak frites was had, so in my opinion a pretty perfect meal...)

We stopped in the local chocolatier beneath her family's old apartment. The guy there remembered her and her family and gave us a tour of the kitchen and chocolate-making facilities. And yes, we received plenty of free samples!

Then we stopped by the local bakery, fromagerie and wine shop to buy our dinner. I love buying everything from the individual local shops. At the wine store, we showed them our cheese and they selected two different wines that would complement them.

Cutest cheese shop ever!

Dinner of cheese, baguettes, fruit and wine


General street cuteness

Buddha Bar - chic but expensive

A break at Cafe Angelina for their world-famous hot chocolate and desserts

I had visited Paris a few times before this trip, but it wasn't until this trip that I felt that cheesy, from-the-movies, "Paris is the best city in the world" sort of feeling. I think it's because we just enjoyed it the way a local might. And the crepes didn't hurt. Or the croque monsieurs, or the salted butter caramels. Or the falafel, the croissants, the cheese, the baguettes, the wine, the......

À bientôt, Paris!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pictures from Paris

I don't have time to write much about Paris, because John and I are leaving in an hour to head down to the Algarve, on the Mediterranean coast of Portugal. He is playing a few games in a soccer tournament tomorrow night, so we are making a weekend vacation of it. We haven't been to that area yet, and the weather should be perfect. I don't think the ocean will be warm enough yet, but there's always the hotel pool....

I had such a wonderful time with Elise and Heather while they were visiting. I'll leave you for now with some pictures we took (and we took a ton of pictures - quite a few of them silly). Our hotel was right by the Eiffel Tower, so we played around there on our walks. And really, what's a trip to Paris without a baguette war and jumping pics? :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I leave tomorrow morning to meet two of my friends, Elise and Heather, in Paris!

The two of them actually met in Paris while they were both studying there. (And I met Elise in Jakarta.) They both speak French better than I do and know the city better as well. So, who better to visit the city of light with? John gets to stay home and work. I guess one benefit of STILL not having a job is that I can up and go to France on short notice.

I haven't been to France since I studied in Lyon back in 2001. Here is a random picture of me doing dishes in the apartment I lived in. (The kitchen looks pretty bare because the table was in the hallway for a dinner party. The apartment had no living area or dining area.)

We'll spend four days in Paris and then Elise and Heather and I will all get on the same flight back to Lisbon, so they can get to see Portugal! Updates to come soon.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Westernmost Point of Mainland Europe!!!

Do you know what is so amazing about the westernmost point in mainland Europe? Well, nothing, really. But it's so close to Lisbon, we had to check it out.

There's a lighthouse at the point, as well as a monument with a cross on top to mark the bluff. You can walk along the cliff overlooking the ocean, and take the obligatory photo. Oh, and there's the gift shop which sells one of our favorite wines here for 14 euros as opposed to the 3 euros it costs us at the grocery store!

The scenic drive

The lighthouse

Obligatory photo with the sign